Small shop expands during COVID-19 restrictions
January 28, 2021 | 10:44 am CST
Adam Page of Page Woodworking in Grand Rapids, Michigan, knew he had to make changes to grow his business.
In late 2019, his business was on the rise and he knew he would soon outgrow his present location in Wyoming, Michigan.
He had already expanded several times in his existing building going from 16,000 to 18,000 square feet. He finally decided it was time to bite the bullet and move to a facility that could better handle his increasing production requirements.
The dust collection system services the full 24,000-square-foot shop including a CNC router, a moulder, and other woodworking machines. The shop reports business is booming.
He spoke with several commercial real estate brokers and found a location in Grand Rapids that would suit his needs, offering 24,000 square feet for his shop with 13 employees. He met with his employees, and with their help and support, they determined that the new building could be configured to accommodate their workflow.
Page then began the arduous task of securing financing, negotiating terms, satisfying the local inspectors and locking down all the necessary permits to move ahead.
But in February, he started to hear rumblings about a devastating virus that could upset all his plans.
Although Adam Page started out in a garage shop, today his company prides itself on providing top quality and service to high-end customers. This is a corner detail from one of their projects.
By March, his concerns had become reality. He had to decide to either put everything on hold or move ahead despite the growing pandemic. He met with customers, suppliers and employees and chose to forge on with his plans.
Page Woodworking’s new location was ideally situated to take advantage of his supplier connections while being convenient for any client who might want to meet in person.
Although his employees would need to alter their commutes to accommodate the move, they were all able to make the switch.
Custom residential kitchens like this are the leading product for Page Woodworking in Grand Rapids.
Page Woodworking’s new building is located near neighborhoods where there were individuals eager to work in this new opportunity, but training had to be done without the help of agencies there were shut down due to the coronavirus.
Everything was compromised because of COVID-19. Equipment was delayed, inspectors were short staffed, and progress was slow. But Page kept working at it.
With the move came the addition of some new machinery. Key additions included two new spray booths from Global Finishing and a new sprinkler system that proved to be especially challenging. The installation had a number of unexpected surprises, Page said, including having to connect to a larger water main across the street, which meant ditching under the street, and the installation of an electronic monitoring system that Page had not anticipated.
The Homag moulder required a custom manifold to be connected to the dust collection system.
Page has always tried to stay current in providing the best equipment he could afford. A self-described “machinery geek,” he often studied the best machinery at trade shows and online. He has long relied on Stiles Machinery because they are based in Grand Rapids.
Another area Page knew demanded his personal attention. It became clear in conversations with his stakeholders that he needed to consider upgrading his dust extraction.
First and foremost was the air quality his employees deserved. While growing the business, they had patched together several dust collection systems to try to suck up as much of the chips and dust as possible – with nominal success.
These corbels add a distinctive touch to a kitchen island done by Page Woodworking.
It was agreed that a priority of the new facility was a sophisticated system dedicated to providing maximum extraction at the source and clean return air for the whole shop. Page set about locating the appropriate dust extraction supplier and equipment. After much research, he contacted Ada, Michigan-based Hocker North America. He had met owner Ben Dipzinski, who found him a collector unit that had been used in a recent trade show.
The process of engineering the installation of the collector and all subsequent ducting began, but again, things were complicated as work went ahead during the height of the shutdown. To get the installation done, Page used a team of his employees, other suppliers and Hocker NA to accomplish what seemed impossible to many. No professional rigging crews were hired.
Together, they moved the old machines, installed new ones and at the same time assembled a new state-of-the-art dust extraction system. And all of this work took place without interrupting any client’s requirements.
In addition to kitchens, Page Woodworking does other projects like this custom bathroom sink installation.
The new factory has since become a showplace for clients and other stakeholders to highlight his capabilities and attract new opportunities. Visitors were treated to a safe and efficient landscape. New dust extraction kept all areas of the shop comfortable and clean.
It is a far cry from Page’s humble beginnings. “I started in my garage doing built-ins for trim carpenters,” he said. Then he expanded into kitchens and other projects, eventually graduating to a freestanding professional shop.
From those early days, Page Woodworking has become a model of efficiency utilizing a flexible workforce and modern equipment. Hard work and the cooperation of employees, suppliers and clients came together during a pandemic the likes of which had not been experienced for almost 100 years.
Kitchens from Page Woodworking are all custom and encompass a variety of styles.
“The (state) government shut us down for six weeks,” Page said. “But most of our customers were also shut down, so it worked out.” Since then, Page said, “We’ve been booming really.” He attributes the business to people stuck at home in the pandemic wanting to improve their homes, as well as a growing Grand Rapids economy.
Today Page Woodworking is on its way to record growth, while at the same time providing employment to community members not used to such opportunity. Confronted with all the difficulties of a project of this magnitude, in the middle of the worst pandemic in 100 years, Page, his employees and suppliers overcame every obstacle.
“I couldn’t have done it without my team of employees, suppliers and Hocker,” he said.
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