Thanks at Christmas


Overall, 2018 has been a banner year for Canada and Canada’s “occupied space” supply sector, for those of us that design, install, create and sell products to enhance the spaces where people live and work. As a benchmark, our lowest value of building permits in 2018 was higher than the highest value posted in 2014. It is time to make hay while the sun shines.

Kerry Knudsen

Speaking of making hay, December is an anniversary for Wood Industry magazine. Ten years ago Dec. 1, I spent half the day signing away on incorporation documents and bought the outstanding shares of the company.

Hindsight is 20-20, and I doubt I would have done what I did then, had I known that the U.S. housing market was about to crumble and that virtually every trade magazine in North America would crash. We were up to the challenge, but there were nights when that week’s payroll was not secure. In fact, it didn’t exist.

As we have reported before, those days were made harder by the decision of a group of suppliers to try to form a conspiracy, pull their ads from your attention and direct the revenues to another magazine they could control with threats and bribes. As I said, we reported that before, but we didn’t report the whole story, and it is one worth telling. Maybe one day we will, as it bears heavily on teaching wanna-be marketers and “big-deal” guys that the value in the market is in your reputation, not how low you can force weak, so-called publishers to kneel. As a hint, it’s called “branding” in current vernacular, but it means how much your customers trust you, not how many times before noon you can stuff your logo up their noses “on digital.”

Customers trust suppliers that win the confidence of trusted agents. Google is facing a confidence crisis, Facebook is facing a confidence crisis, and every pawnbroker, bail bondsman and fly-by-night finishing-booth scammer is facing a confidence crisis. They are not trusted agents. Wood Industry is. We can’t sell Canadian products if we have third-world reputations.

We at W.I. Media have paid a high cost in lost revenues for our reputation, and we are proud of it. However, it is critical that you understand this is not something that we did. It was you. Your responses were proof-positive that you exist and read. Without the unfaltering support of our readers, all our verbal posturing would be Google blog-o-spam, flying off into the void for nobody. It was you that called to wish us well, it was you that filled out our surveys, and it was you who wrote to us that you understood and cared that we were fighting against the demands of marketers that never went to school, and salesmen that are more comfortable with a blackjack than a contract. Urban hillbillies.

For reference, Homag is one such outfit. Biesse is another. There are others, but rather than miss one in a list, I’ll just say we have not needed Homag or Biesse since they pulled their ads 10 years ago, and we don’t need them now. Nor do their competitors need Homag or Biesse — sullen, cold and pompous. Nor do you. As I noted last month in our U.S. e-letter, many of these machinery “big boys” rushed to set up sales in China so China could process primary-side wood products into cabinets, millwork and furniture to compete against you, so I imagine it’s time for them all to come back to the Canadian industry, this time asking instead of telling.

Since the beginning of time, suppliers to any industry have known it is in their best interests to add energy to their customers so the relationship will last. And there have always been a few that suck energy where they find it, whether it benefits them or not. Even farmers, at the low end of the current socio-political scale know they have to put back into the land and you don’t eat your seed.

Manufacturers know that loyalty and strength of relationships beat price in the long run, and it’s those suppliers that will sell out your interests for a buck and that barter hurt for harm that you don’t need. Not everybody on a team is a team player. You can look around and see the suppliers that have been loyal to you in this magazine, in this market and in this country, and you can see the ones that have not. Not everybody can afford to advertise. However, those that can, and do in every issue of a competitor, are not exactly invisible. Like a guinea pig with its head under a towel, the only one that thinks its big end is not exposed is the pig. If you are concerned and want to know more, send them a copy of this e-letter and ask what’s up. They will already have seen it, so they should know what to say. It’s up to you to tell them when to say it, like, “by January 9th.”


Loyalty counts. Nicholl Spence of NS Graphic Design has been our designer since before the buyout 10 years back. What a champion! She can take a request for an ad change on the fly at 10:00 p.m. and turn it around the same day. She has always been there and has always been positive and energized. It is a privilege to work with her, and to watch her and Scott’s boys, Kyle and Ben, grow from industrious children to drivers’ licences and pilot school.

Stephen King came on as our associate publisher nearly nine years ago, under the most unhappy of circumstances. One of our sales staff, David Smith, died suddenly in his 30s, leaving everybody stunned and lost. Steve came in, and in his high-energy, all-business, never-quit manner, kept the boat afloat as we continually took the torpedoes of random fortune and premeditated attack. His wife Patti, and kids Matthew and Zoë, have graced our annual Christmas parties and events, as well as Patti representing Wood Industry at WIC, the new WINS ski trip (contact me if you haven’t heard) and shows.

I have worked with Mike Edwards for over 20 years on the editorial side and Lee Ann and I spent time with Mike and Luanne as their girls, Laura and Alice, were born and grew up, now in college and chasing careers. When Mike started his own company three years ago, it was a no-brainer to bring him on as a major organizer and contributor to our editorial content, as he is a wealth of knowledge on manufacturing, engineering and writing — a rare mix.

Adrian Holland is the force behind Omni Data Services. We have known Adrian and Manyee for over 20 years, and have watched their children, Jasmine and Min, grow as they moved from home in Markham to Hong Kong, where Omni manages our circulation and IT.

And then there’s Lee Ann. The love of my life and my guardian angel. She was there every night when the bombs were falling, and stood like a rock when everything said, “run.” She is one of the toughest people you will ever meet, except when it comes to the grandkids. A publisher in her own right, Lee Ann and I will celebrate our Silver (25 years) Wedding Anniversary this Friday on the 21st. (No, Nicholl, it’s not the Diamond Anniversary, as you attempted to coach her at the party.)

So I am grateful this Christmas, for all the value in my life. The company, the staff, the suppliers — everybody. In fact, I am grateful for the detractors, assassins and wanna-be promoters. Without them, nobody would know what goes into Wood Industry, and what comes out. We may be just a little trade magazine in the white spot above the States on a map, but we have a personality, a family, a goal and an identity that seems to be good for what we do.

But most of all, we are grateful for you. You are the men and women that read all the way to the very end of every article and e-mail. You give us your attention and your loyalty, and you sustained us through the dull days.

So thank you.

And Merry Christmas from Wood Industry.

You matter.

  • Merry Christmas Kerry,I don’t normally read and definitely never respond to E-letters, but I do read Wood Industry’s regularly and this will be the first time I respond, today I took the time to register on the website so that I could comment.My company Woodrose Woodworking Inc. in Vancouver, BC has been a subscriber for at least 15 years, possibly even longer. We make sure to leave a copy in our office as well as a copy in our lunchroom so that our employees can all read as well. We are a small millwork company with 40 employees, but it is has become my world, my family and my center.Your words today have moved me, your words have left me thinking of our situation, the troubles we’ve encountered and the glory we’ve received. I’m glad I have taken the time to read your article today, it has given me new life.I agree with your comments today, trust matters, it truly does.Merry Christmas, Kerry and Wood Industry.From your loyal subscriber, Robert Rivard & my Woodrose Woodworking family.

    • Hi, Rob,

      You certainly made my day. Thanks for your support.

      On the one hand, we are such a small industry and we have so little support. On the other, all the politicians intuitively know that family owned businesses are the heart and soul of the economy. There is actually a lot of political leverage in our collective businesses, and letters such as yours let us know we are headed in the right direction. Up.