About the author

I’m John Whitling. I’ve been in and around the custom woodworking industry my entire life. I started out right out of school by driving the company truck, making millwork deliveries in and around Cincinnati Ohio. Someone saw some potential in me though and my career and love of millwork began. I was taught cabinetry as an apprentice, studying under the tutelage of an old world, German cabinet maker, John Heib. Like everyone I guess, I loved working with walnuts and mahoganies and making some pretty cool stuff. But it didn’t stop there and I eventually put my drawing skills to use doing what we now call engineering but was just shop drawing at the time.

In the 1980′s I was exposed to project management and estimating. In our company every salesman did it all .. estimating, selling, drawings, and project management. You had to be a pretty well rounded person to do all that. Then the computer bug bit me and I started blending computers into my work. It was tough at first convincing my boss that we needed to use them. Computers seemed like so much magic back in those days. Eventually though my persistence paid off and in 1989, as a sales manager, I spearheaded the change .. everyone in sales had laptops and an estimating software system based on real material and labor pricing. It was quite advanced for the day while most companies were still using calculators and pencils.

In 1994 that company was purchased by a fixture work company and I was able to keep the rights to all the software I had developed. Within a few months I had created Alliance Millsoft and was providing systems to companies in the region that had heard of the program. That was the beginning.

Since then I haven’t done anything else. It’s been great designing my own solutions and working with smart people in the industry. I was able to land some really great businessmen as client and friends. I’ve seen the state of the industry just about everywhere, learning and sharing with every contact.

But in this computerized world (am I complaining? No it’s great!) it’s easy to lose that casual time when everyone gets a chance to throw in their 2 cents or float out some ideas about how to make things better. That’s why I’ve created this blog site. I’m going to try real hard to keep this a conversational site, rather than a “this is how it’s done” kind of thing. If you ever find me a bit bull headed call me on it .. please. So let the conversations begin!

Recent Posts

The often misunderstood world of overhead and profit, the preamble

I’ve been giving lots of thought to what often happens when I talk with clients about overheads, profits, and productivity. Often these values are really just taken from the “street” .. the same logic that will tell you to “charge $200 a foot for uppers and lowers” (Please don’t BTW!). So there’s often a vagueness around how these all interplay with each other to create your outcome (hopefully a good profit).

I’m outlining, over the course of the next weeks, my thoughts on this aspect of the business and how we can achieve better and more consistent results, as well as better forecasting. If I achieve what I’m looking to do it will result in a series of postings that cohesively lead from a simple fundamental beginning, through to a nice strategy that you might choose to use in your companies, should you desire.

None of this means that I am the “end all be all” expert on the matter, or that there is one single strategy that works for everyone. I do have, though, 20 plus years of working on these exact types of issues with clients throughout the US and Canada, from high end residential work to architectural millwork, to commercial and institutional casework .. and the many flavors in between. So I do have that as a cornerstone.

If you have some ideas or questions you would like to talk about in the meantime, please feel free to post here. Posts only require a name and an email, and rest assured that your information is never shared with any third party and your email account is not visible to other users .. so post away!

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