"In this economy, it's been important to go where the action is," said Steven Crook, president of General Woodcraft.
Having already established relationships with mills in Brazil whose wood is certified as "green" by the Forest Stewardship Council
has moved on to work out similar arrangements in Central America, expanding the number of suppliers from whom he
can directly import.
also has worked out a deal to become the exclusive supplier of the Climate-Shield Rain Screen Wood Siding System for the United States and Canada.
At the same time, Crook
is starting to make inroads in another market that General Woodcraft
hopes to reach by offering up supplies of exotic hardwoods to guitar manufacturers.
Interest is keen, he
said, though no deals have yet been reached.
The idea, he
said, is to expand General Woodcraft
's footprint by cashing in on its established expertise and business arrangements.
"It's not just change for the sake of change," Crook
"It's systematic change or synergistic change."
has several six-figure projects under way on the West Coast, where Mataverde decking is already well known among builders and architects.
The West Coast office is being managed by Perry Alibrio, a longtime industry executive that Crook hired last year.
said General Woodcraft
, known locally for its kitchen designs and millwork along with its specialty decking materials, has added other personnel as well, including an executive director to help expedite strategic changes and an in-house counsel who allows the company to move quickly on contracts and licensing arrangements for new projects.
The company, he
added, currently has several seven-figure projects in the pipeline being overseen in New London.
"We are so fortunate to have the team that we have," Crook
"That has enabled us to move forward with these initiatives in an efficient and effective way."
said the company, which had only about 15 employees a few years ago, should have double that number in the next year or so.
's ability to find niches nationwide has allowed the company to ride out a difficult local economy, Crook
said, particularly since the company concentrates on higher-end projects.
"That part of the market has been the most stable," he
Helping out in its national expansion, General Woodcraft
now has the ability to track the 5,000 hits a month it gets on the company website, he
added, and the information proves the firm's reach has become far-flung, with interest from surprising places such as Nebraska, Texas and Florida.
The company also has been looking to get into the Canadian market, attending a show just recently in Toronto.
"Technology has enabled us as a smaller player to get business," Crook
also makes sure General Woodcraft
focuses on the customer's experience, always aiming to make sure that the company meets or exceeds expectations.
To that end, he
is aiming at an "error-free operation" that constantly monitors problems and conducts a "blameless debrief" to try to make sure things go more smoothly the next time around.
"We're interested in doing it better, not in finding out who did it wrong," he
admits that expansion can have its downside, but he
believes General Woodcraft
is now positioned to sustain 50 percent growth because of the infrastructure it already has in place.
"Adding people is a great thing," he
said, "but truthfully our main focus is adding profitable value."
President: Steven Crook