Comgate is a custom mill house specializing in creating architectural woodwork in the form of wall paneling, custom cabinets, and other products for the local residential market. After initial losses and several thin profit years of competitive bidding construction projects, Comgate is creating this business plan in order to bring its mission statement into clearer focus. Prior years were characterized by hectic efforts to bid as many jobs as possible. Margins were thin as pricing policy was “flexible” for fear that there would be insufficient work for production staff.
However, with the growth of sufficient sales, Comgate has the opportunity to create greater margins, increase efficiency, and improve overall profitability through long-overdue restructuring and focusing on our target market. These changes will assure more accuracy in pricing, billing, and tracking of costs for comparison purposes. Profits are expected to increase.
Comgate’s mission is to compete profitably in the high-end residential market for custom woodwork within the state of Connecticut. It will emphasize custom work of the highest quality, and specialize in the most demanding needs of new and remodeled designer homes in the $3 to $15 million price range.
Comgate is engaged in custom architectural woodwork in the form of wall paneling, custom cabinets, molding, pilasters, radius units, circular staircases in special woods, elaborate dressing rooms, specialty kitchen work, etc. The recent addition of state-of-the-art CAD capability will help substantially to increase sales of higher-end products by targeting design professionals who are in a position to influence choices of subcontractors building “trophy” homes costing over $3 million. “Custom” is the key word at Comgate. The average home would not use our products. Custom woodworking of the type carried out by Comgate is made to order only. No finished goods are made up for stock. For this reason, there are rarely very long production runs.
The industry is mature and well-represented. There are many mill shops in the same market area which are focused on specialty areas. One mill shop may concentrate on custom furniture and form special alliances with upholstery shops. Other mill shops may specialize in standard kitchen cabinetry. Comgate is targeting the highest end of the residential market ($3-$15 million homes). This work is less price-sensitive and relatively steady, even during economic valleys. The most critical competitive weapon which the company holds at the moment is its CAD capability. The program is especially formulated to suit the custom woodwork market, and is expected to make substantial in-roads into the chosen highest end residential market. Comgate should be able to set itself apart from the competition, and be able to fully utilize its recently expanded production capacity.
With greater and greater demand for high-end trophy home construction, coupled with the increasing difficulty of attracting and keeping skilled workers, Comgate is moving toward linking its CAD capability with the practices of design professionals that will allow the company to out-source certain simpler parts in a project to other mill shops, while keeping the more demanding work for itself. Being able to present another mill shop with exact detailed CAD drawings, together with precise dimensions and material lists, will allow Comgate to increase sales and profits, and to concentrate on the more challenging custom woodwork products.
The recent addition of over $110,000 in advanced new Computer Numerical Control (CNC) machinery, coupled with the building of an in-house industry-adapted Computer Aided Drafting (CAD) capability, will propel sales to nearly $800,000 by the end of Year 1, and $1.2 million by the end of Year 3. Profits will grow as well. A desire to shorten accounts payable in Year 2 to take advantage of all available trade discounts, together with rising receivables, will result in a short-term need for increased bank lines of credit of approximately $30,000.
Comgate’s mission is to compete profitably in the high-end residential market for custom woodwork within the state of Connecticut. We will emphasize on custom work of the highest quality, and specialize in the most demanding needs of new and remodeled designer homes in the $3 to $15 million price range.
1.2 Keys to Success
The most important keys to success in the contractors’ mill shop industry are:
- Avoid bidding projects which are likely to be awarded based primarily on price, projects being undertaken by those who are disreputable (no matter how badly the company needs work), projects which are too big (more than 20% of last year’s sales), or projects which do not fit the company’s niche market and thus unlikely to advance the company’s marketing strategy.
- Price the job correctly. This requires:
- Accurate take-off and listing.
- A clear understanding between the company and the client, in reference to quality and terms of payment.
- Correct calculation of material (including wastage) and labor required to complete the project.
- Correct application of overhead factors and profit margins, plus any special considerations.
- An administrative system supported by operating procedures that accurately tracks the job costing and compares the job as bid with the actual costs of completing the job. Constant adjustments to bid formulas.
- Reliable production staff that communicates well with administration to assure that the job is produced on time and as bid, making maximum efficient use of labor, materials, and available machinery.
Comgate’s major objectives are:
- Increase production. Given the new machinery and four production staff, full productive capacity has been carefully measured. The goal is to reach, on a monthly basis, 80% of this capacity in the last quarter of Year 1, 85% in Year 2, and 90% in Year 3. This 80% of capacity translates into monthly production of 342 feet of crown molding, 22 pilasters, 54 doors of various grades, and 77 linear feet of cabinets (or some equivalent combination of these items). This will result in monthly sales of $60,816.
- A much simpler task is to maintain site contract workers (six) at present, full employment levels will generate monthly revenue of $34,623 which (after expenses) nets the company $21,794.
- Continue efforts to bring the company’s in-house CAD capability to the attention of more design professionals, especially those in Hartford, New Haven, Stamford, Norwalk, and Shelton, as these are the areas with the greatest concentration of the chosen $3 to $15 million residential homes.
- Join the Connecticut Chapter of the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID) as an industry partner as well as the Connecticut Society of Architects (CSA). Get listed in their resource directories.
- Complete the planned administrative changes to ensure that all work is properly billed, in a timely manner, and to ensure that jobs are correctly tracked so as to facilitate later cost comparisons with bid prices.
- Work to complete an operations manual that has been started.