HE DOES BUSINESS HIS WAY – and business is booming!

“I do business on a handshake. If that  isn’t good enough for a customer, they might as well get someone else. I can be that independent.”

Among many other things, Bill Grom makes curved molding. "Quality product, price, and service" has done him well.

Among many other things in his woodworking business, Bill Grom makes curved molding. His “Quality product, price, and service” policies have served him well

“When I retired, I thought a Woodmaster would help me get a little trim and molding business going. I knew a lot of builders locally and they gave me a try. It just started rolling from there. Last year, I was making trim for eight houses at the same time!

$10 to $38 a foot

I started making crown and base molding plus corner blocks for each — the blocks go in inside and outside corners so homeowners don’t have to make compound angle cuts. I made 200 blocks for one job. I sell curved molding at $38 a foot, and straight molding for $10 or $15.

Business has snowballed and I’m as busy as I want to be. I’ve got my hands full. I provide quality product, price, and service. If you can provide those things, you’ll stay busy no matter what the economy is.”

Bill tells his story…

“I was a teacher and guidance counselor for 39 years and figured I’d need something to do when I retired so I wouldn’t be under my wife’s feet all the time. That’s when I got Woodmaster information about the machines and making trim.

I started making crown corner blocks for do it yourselfers. People are afraid of making compound miter cuts. These blocks just go up into the corner and the crown molding butts to it in at 90 degrees so there are no angles to cut except scribing it into the block if the walls aren’t square. I make crown molding to match with the Woodmaster.

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Business snowballed. Right now, I’m doing trim for a restaurant downtown. I do a lot of work that nobody wants to mess with. We’re working on a lot of the detail work that I can do with the Woodmaster.

Bill Grom can't quite retire -- he's finding success in a second career as a Woodmaster woodworker

Like so many men, Bill Grom can’t quite retire — he’s finding success in a second career as a Woodmaster woodworker

Custom knives from Woodmaster

I make bullnose corner blocks to match the base molding I make. They’re hard to find. I worked with Woodmaster to design my own knives. Woodmaster made me pattern knives from my drawings for base blocks and outside corners. I just got another knife from them so I have both 90 and 45 degree bullnose blocks.

I can buy knives cheaper other places but since I’ve started with Woodmaster I’ve had really good working relationships with everyone I’ve worked with there. I really enjoy it. I toured Woodmaster and put faces to the names of people I’d worked with and it was good to work with these people.

“There’s money to be made in curved molding.”

I also make curved molding in 3 or 4 different arcs and ellipses. I profile the curved molding on the Woodmaster. I got a curved molding jig from Woodmaster; I also made my own as well as my own patterns and templates.

Curved molding is labor intensive. I laminate everything. The finished product is really nice. There’s money to be made in it. Around Kansas City, they get $70 a foot for it. The most I could get around here would be in Telluride in the ski areas in the condos – they pay about $38 a foot. I sell straight molding for $10 or $15 a foot. I’m not in it to make a killing but to get the word our about the uniqueness and craftsmanship of what I do. It’s hard to find.

His winning policy: provide a great product, at a low price, back it with great service

A lot of what I make goes to homeowners who are their own general contractors, and a lot to contractors who’re building houses themselves. I sell a little to cabinet shops but not much. Lumberyards get a little ticked at me because I can produce the same product for a lot less money and they get fired up once in awhile.

Ingeniously simple? Or simply ingenious? Bill's corner blocks make it simple for DIY'ers to mount his molding -- compound angle cuts are eliminated.

Ingeniously simple? Or simply ingenious? Bill’s corner blocks make it simple for DIY’ers to mount his molding — compound angle cuts are eliminated.

For example, a customer went to the lumberyard for some Anderson 2-1/4” curved molding for a door was about $130. He asked me and I said I could do it for about $50.

Home Depot marks up their trim 300%. That’s where I check my prices. They get $3.50 a foot for crown molding; I make mine for about 50 cents and I make money at it. They have a huge overhead I provide price, product, and service – that counts for a lot.

Word of mouth works

I don’t have a storefront. I live in a subdivision with a small shop out back, about 16 x 30’ so when I get 16’ material, I have to open the door to run it through my Woodmaster. I do business out of the house and advertise in the phonebook. But I’ve cut back on advertising because I don’t want to get more business than I can handle. Right now, word of mouth is how I get most of my business.

Word of mouth works. I do fireplace surrounds and mantles. I had a woman called me from 250 miles away. She somehow got my name and number. The world gets awful small the more you talk.

“The spiral cutterhead prevents tearouts. It works.”

I have two recommendations for anyone buying a Woodmaster: if you’re going to do much at all. Get the forward/reverse switch for the feed rollers, and get the spiral cutterhead.

The cutterhead was about $1200 but I do a lot of alder and it tears out a lot, no matter how slow you go. Woodmaster recommended the spiral cutterhead. I got it and it works. If you’re going to do a lot of planing, get it. It prevents tearout and I saved most of what I paid for it in about 6 months simply because I’m not wasting material now with tearouts. It works great; it’s off the charts.

Planer blades go head-on with the grain. The spiral cutterhead goes diagonally to the grain. If I knew then what I knew now, I’d have gotten it when I bought the machine.

I like the forward/reverse kit. I don’t know how people would do without it. When you’re trying to size something up for thickness when you’re planing, you have to run the piece all the way through to get the depth. If you’re too deep, you’ve lost that piece of wood. With the forward/reverse feature, I just run it in a bit, then back out, then put a micrometer on it, then run it through. It’s efficient; you save waste and time, too. It works when you’re matching molding, too. Just run it in, back it out, and you can see if it matches.

“I can be THAT INDEPENDENT!”

There's ALWAYS good work and good money for a motivated woodworker

The key components for SUCCESS as an independent Woodmaster woodworker? A good head on your shoulders, good ideas, persistence…and a Woodmaster!

I never take money up front. I want a check when I deliver, before I unload the order from my truck. It’s really been good. I haven’t lost any money doing business this way.

Business is based on relationships. I do business on a handshake. If that  isn’t good enough for a customer, they might as well get someone else. I can be that independent. I don’t need contracts.”

— Bill Grom, Bill’s Custom Trim, Hotchkiss, CO

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2 thoughts on “HE DOES BUSINESS HIS WAY – and business is booming!

  1. How do you get people to buy your moulding, when you have so many lumber stores out there, How would you get started enough to start paying for the planer and some moulding knives, oh, and a good powerful dust machine? Oh, I am in Maine, the greater Portland area.

    Thanks, Jon

  2. The key is that you can’t compete with the big box stores. Woodmaster allows you to offer specialty stuff they can’t compete with, whether it’s custom molding to match antique patterns in an older home or using types of woods they don’t sell like walnut or oak. The easiest and cheapest place to advertise is Craigslist.

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