From the Lloyd family garage to a 14,000 sq. ft. headquarters in Minesing, Ontario, Springwater Woodcraft has anchored its roots in the Canadian woodworking field. Now, with 30 years under its belt, the family-run furniture and finishing specialist is eager to see what comes next.
“We’ve come a long way since my dad set up a small woodworking shop in our garage,” says Simon Lloyd, who runs the show alongside his parents, Grant and Tricia Lloyd.
Since hanging the open sign in 1992, the Lloyds have seen their craft-oriented operation flourish into a Canada-wide supplier of over 150 pine furniture products and accent pieces, as well as a robust range of finishes.
“It’s been an evolution,” says Lloyd. “At the beginning, we only offered one finish. It was like the Model T car; you could have any colour as long as it was black. Now, we can mix and match a lot of different finishes with our products, and our retailers and customers love that level of customization.”
Springwater Woodcraft’s growth has made the company change its address over the decades. After moving from the garage into a dedicated space at a nearby farm, the family upgraded one more time before eventually building its own facility in Minesing at the end of the 90s.
The company’s team has also branched out. Today, the shop is home to 15 professional woodworkers, virtually all of whom rejoined the business once pandemic restrictions lifted.
“Staffing is always a challenge, but the pandemic emphasized just how important our people are to us, both my family and everyone who comes into the shop,” says Lloyd. “To have nearly 95% of our team return after COVID is huge, especially when you hear how hard it is to find workers in any industry right now.”
Managing recent supply chain disruptions has also kept the business on its toes. Fortunately, maintaining strong supplier and broker relationships and the choice to work solely with eastern white pine has worked to their advantage.
“In some circumstances, working with one type of wood could be risky because you’re putting all your eggs into one basket. For us, though, it’s been a good thing since we’re able to buy in bulk and have that kind of buying power,” notes Lloyd. “That, and the fact eastern white pine didn’t experience the same price surges as other wood products helped over the last 18 months.”
Adaptation is essential in the woodworking industry. And for Springwater Woodcraft, that adaptation has come in the form of bringing new technologies into its operations and embracing digital sales channels. For example, during the pandemic, the team began taking, manufacturing, and shipping online orders sent to them from suppliers across the region – aka “drop-shipping.”
“Drop-shipping wasn’t something we considered before, but it’s been advantageous for everyone,” says Lloyd. “We have several retailers who have online stores but no physical product. They simply take orders, send them to us with a mailing label, and we take care of the rest. It’s kept us busy and introduced us to customers we never would have dealt with before.”
In addition to exploring new sales methods, the company has also branched out in building shed for various applications – a move that Lloyd admits was “totally out of left field.”
“Building sheds was always something we had the capacity to do, and something we were always interested in doing, so we gave it a shot, and it’s been a success,” adds Lloyd.
With pandemic challenges receding, Springwater Woodcraft joins many operations that are in the process of dusting themselves off and getting back to full business. Speaking to what’s ahead, Lloyd says the plan is to continue exploring its e-commerce opportunities and tackling post-pandemic demand.
“Normally, the industry is very cyclical; it has its busy seasons and not-so-busy seasons. This past year has thrown that model out the window, and now we’re seeing people scrambling for product and asking for much more than usual,” says Lloyd. “It’s a bit crazy, but we’re ready for it.”
Matt Bradford is a writer, editor, and longtime contributor at MediaEdge, publishers of Wood Industry e-digest and magazine. He has spent years reporting on the wood and construction industries and values the opportunity to provide insights into the secondary wood manufacturing community’s successes, challenges, and opportunities.