Getting to know you…
In this modern day and age, with instant price access and multiple suppliers of everything you can think of, customer loyalty has become rather a quaint concept. Purveyors of wood, tools, glues, and abrasives have a battle royal on their hands trying to offer a competitive price whilst still squeezing out a small profit. And don’t get me started on Amazon!
Bespoke makers should consider themselves fortunate that our own market isn’t nearly so rapacious. In the main, our clients seek out specific individuals for their design and making skills. And that allows us to think of ourselves as a band of brothers (and sisters, ahem) that fight together against mainstream mediocrity and lacklustre mass production. Better that than fighting each other.
Being in this rarified atmosphere of congeniality, it probably serves us well to think of our suppliers. And while I can assure you we will haggle with the best of them over the price of a bolt, there are one or two suppliers that can and do deserve the same respectful treatment our clients give us.
Here, I’m thinking of our local wood suppliers. In the UK there are a small handful of wood yards that dominate the market. They supply nationally, always have tons of stock and have an enviable customer base. But sometimes I get the sense that they see small workshops as being, well, just a little bit irritating! We like our wood just so, ideally consecutive boards, minimal sap, and knot free. On a big day we might even buy five of them! Orders such as ours barely pay for the administrative costs of writing the ticket. If you’re lucky they will know the country the wood is from, and that’s it.
Think global, act local
Not so the small local yards.
Our local yards can often tell us what woodland or property the tree came from, when it was cut down, how it was dried, and who by!
We have three or four wood yards around the South West that will select the best boards for your work, even allow you to come to their yard to select the best for yourself. One will go find a board they think you’ll like, based off a phone call, photograph it for you, and send the image to you so you can ponder the purchase over a nice cup of tea, sitting on your sofa. Give them a cutting list and they’ll even cut it down to size to minimize the shipping costs!
So spare a thought for the local wood yard. They try to provide (and quite often succeed) a customer service that is every bit as personal and bespoke as we do.
Until next time,