PART TIME JOB PAYS A FULL TIME WAGE — MOLDING BUSINESS EARNS up to $100 AN HOUR

Many Americans are under stress these days — the stress of everyday living compounded by the difficulties of today’s tough economy. Here’s how one Ohio family took a double dose of adversity and turned it into a profitable and rewarding business.

Larry (left) and Chris Perkins run 3 Star Molding in New Philadelphia, Ohio. Three years in, they've got plenty of work supplying molding they make on their two Woodmasters to a nearby manufacturer who sells to national retail chain stores.

Larry (left) and Chris Perkins run 3 Star Molding in New Philadelphia, Ohio. Three years in, they’ve got plenty of work supplying molding they make on their two Woodmasters to a nearby manufacturer who sells to national retail chain stores.

Adversity hit the Perkins family of New Philadelphia, Ohio pretty hard over the past few years. First, Mrs. Perkins passed away. Then, the local steel mill closed down. There went Larry Perkins job — the one he’d held for over 30 years.

The Perkins are a close family and son, Chris, had a bright idea. “I had a Woodmaster 718 Molder/Planer I’d bought a few years earlier,” Chris told us. “Dad was looking for other work and I started thinking we could put the Woodmaster to work.”

Here's the Perkins' Woodmaster 718 set up to run molding. They buy stock precut to size and run it through their Woodmasters to mold it to their customers' spec.

Here’s the Perkins’ Woodmaster 718 set up to run molding. They buy stock precut to size and run it through their Woodmasters to mold it to their customers’ spec.

They make up to $100 an hour

This father-and-son business makes thousands of feet of premium quality molding on their two Woodmaster Molder/Planers.

This father-and-son business makes thousands of feet of premium quality molding on their two Woodmaster Molder/Planers.

Today, Chris and Larry are in the molding business. They run “3 Star Molding” out of Chris’s 25’ x 60’ garage…and business is great. “We can make up to $100 an hour on some molding patterns where we charge by the hour. Others we charge by the foot and can make up to 43¢ a lineal foot.”

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Chris’s business connections made startup pretty simple. “I work full time for Marlite; a manufacturer that make all kinds of wooden wall panel systems. I help design Marlite’s new products, build prototypes, test them out, and troubleshoot in the field when needed. I started thinking we should bid on making molding for Marlite — we might get the contract if our prices were low enough.”

Part time job with full time income

Three years in business and Chris and Larry are already selling thousands of feet of molding to national retail chains like Pilot Travel Centers, Firehouse Subs, Jersey Mike's, Ruby Tuesday, Texas Roadhouse, and many more.

Three years in business and Chris and Larry are already selling thousands of feet of molding to national retail chains like Pilot Travel Centers, Firehouse Subs, Jersey Mike’s, Ruby Tuesday, Texas Roadhouse, and many more.

The price was right and, “Marlite said go ahead,” says Chris. “That’s how we got started. Now I’m in business with my dad. He’s in the shop running molding every day. I work at Marlite from 6 am to 2:30. When I get home I help him, sometimes until 8 pm. Working with Dad’s my part time job with full time income.”

“Dad and I make molding out of oak, poplar, and maple. We also make crown molding,” says Chris. “Our average order is usually about 1,500 lineal feet. Large orders have been for 20,000 lineal feet of molding.”

“We did a big order for Pilot Travel Centers; they’re remodeling all their stores. We make molding for Firehouse Subs, Jersey Mike’s, Ruby Tuesday, Texas Roadhouse, and more. They’re all chain restaurants. We just took an order today for 9,500 lineal feet going to Japan, all out of poplar. They ordered some coves and some 3/8” S4S – surfaced four sides.”

“We’re talking with another manufacturer now. They make cornices for over windows. We did a test run for them of a product that’s supposed to go in 266 stores. And they have another customer that has 800 stores. We sell some molding on Craigslist and eBay and we’ll sell some locally to the public. Everybody knows we make it and it’s a lot cheaper than Lowe’s® and Home Depot®. We’re the lowest cost around.”

Keeping costs LOW is their strategic advantage.

“Being a small operation – just me and my dad – we can afford to have low prices. We have a nice niche.” 3 Star Molding is two men and two Woodmasters — Chris’s original 718 and a 712. “When we started, we saw we were going to need another Woodmaster. Dad will run wood through one Woodmaster and I’ll flip it and run the other side through our other Woodmaster. Then we put it on the forklift, wrap it up, and load it on the trailer.”

“When we bid on jobs we come in a lot less than our competitors,” Chris told us. “We find every way to keep costs down – like having our lumber delivered ready to mold. It’s cheaper that way because you have to figure extra operations dull our knives, use time, and use electricity.”

When they started, the Perkins ripped wide boards into strips for molding. “But our first order was for 9,500 feet of chair rail,” says Chris. “We were buying everything rough and by the time we ripped it, we didn’t have enough room with all the cutoffs.” Chris says, “These days, it’s easier and just as cheap to buy 3/4″ S4S and just profile it. It’s already got good edges on it. We just mount the open end knife and run it through.”

Chris shares more cost-saving tricks of the trade

• Eliminate sanding — “We’re running one piece at a time. We have a 9” dual-knife head on the Woodmaster with two corrugated molding knives in it. It’s better than a single knife:  you get better quality out of it that way. We can go 12-1/2 feet a minute and get a fine enough finish we don’t have to sand it. If you’re going faster on bigger machines, you need to sand. Going at our speed, we don’t have to sand and that saves time and money.”

• Recycle scrap — We create a lot of sawdust, a lot of it poplar. I have folks who come and get it for bedding for horses and cows. But we’re going to buy a pellet-making machine – we’re going to start turning our sawdust into pellets. We’ve already got people who say they’ll buy them. Meanwhile, we heat the shop and the whole house by burning scraps.

• No salespeople — 3 Star Molding sells to manufacturers, and the manufacturers do the selling and shipping. “My fiancé does web design,” says Chris. “She posted our 3 Star Molding online and when customers type in ‘molding’ our name pops up.

 • 5 times more business over same month last year — “Our business is moving right along. We’ve been in it 3 years and each year we’re getting bigger and bigger. In just the first few weeks of this month we did five times what we did in the whole month, same month last year. If all goes well, we’d like to build a bigger building.”

They’ve got all the work they can handle

It all started when Chris received an advertisement about Woodmaster. “It said, ‘You can make money with a Woodmaster’ – I asked for information and they sent it to me. Woodmasters are good machines. They’re not $20-30,000 machines, obviously. But for the price, they’re good. We use them harder than most people do.”

Chris adds, “We don’t have a website. We’ve got enough work now, I’m afraid if we had a website we’d get more than we can handle. Everything’s word of mouth and that’s plenty enough.”

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2 thoughts on “PART TIME JOB PAYS A FULL TIME WAGE — MOLDING BUSINESS EARNS up to $100 AN HOUR

  1. I bought a 718 and love it… I agree it machine of machines…My problem is finding wood with a low enough cost to make any money… I have been looking for clear pine for a month and it almost impossible to find it a profitable cost. The contractors that have showed an interest in my molding do not want molding with knots. Rough cut wood has not worked out for me either because it seems like the lowest quality of all (Big knots). Unless I am doing something wrong, rough cut also is very labor intense. I could really use some suggestions… I have many contacts for sales (which I thought would be the hard part)… Maybe I am trying to sell to the wrong clients… I live in Utica NY (dead center of NY)… If anyone knows where to find a good supplier please let me know.. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated…

  2. Hi Dominick:

    Thanks for the kind words about your Woodmaster.

    In your part of the world some of the nicest and clearest native wood is white pine. I would try to find a local sawmill and kiln operation to supply you. Give TimberKing a call at 800-942-4406 and they may be able to help. One of the cool things about the Woodmaster is that it can plane. I would suggest that rough cut white pine is going to be better for you (if clear) because it will be less expensive.

    Best,

    Will

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