General Woodworking Corp.
General Woodworking Corp. (GWC) has been building customer and supplier relationships as solid as its carpentry since 1985. The Maryland-based company has grown from a small installation firm to a big commercial player in the greater Washington, D.C. metro area.
When John and SuAnne Yanowitz founded the company in 1985, GWC was a small-scale woodworking installer with only a few employees. However, it didn’t take the husband and wife team long to build the business. “John started forming relationships with Omni and Hyman Construction, which are predecessors to what is now Clark Construction and still our largest customer,” shares Bryan Lieberman, current president of GWC.
As GWC began to take off, John and SuAnne neared retirement and turned to a long-standing relationship with Bryan and his family. “I’d been in the D.C. area working for general contractors since 2002,” recalls Bryan. “My family saw the investment opportunity in GWC but needed me to head up the efforts because I had the necessary experience.”
As the new point- man, Bryan assumed active ownership of GWC in 2007. “At that time, John and SuAnne stayed on to help with the transition and we’ve been operating ever since,” adds Bryan. “My family – siblings, parents, uncles, aunts and cousins – maintain ownership, but I’m the only one who plays an active role.”
Today, the company remains based in Rockville, Md., and still serves the greater D.C. metro market. “We cover all of suburban Maryland, D.C., and northern Virginia,” notes Bryan.
When GWC started out the company had just a handful of employees, including John and SuAnne. Now, GWC employs 40 experienced tradespeople. “Our employees take great pride in what they do and who they work for,” points out Bryan. “They’re loyal tradesmen.”
“The quality of our craftsmanship is only as good as the work we’re putting in,” continues Bryan. “It’s one thing to win a project but it’s another to turn it over, impress customers and build repeat business and that’s what our team is committed to. The credit goes to our carpenters; they’re really the core of this business.”
With such precise skill behind all of its work, GWC is pressed to find high- quality individuals. “We partner with the Associated Builders and Contractors [ABC] organization,” reveals Bryan. “ABC has an apprenticeship program and offers vocational training in carpentry. We have students enrolled and a database of young people in school, looking for their next career opportunity.”
Jack of All Trades
GWC’s team provides full carpentry contracting with a focus on the highest quality craftsmanship for the private commercial sector. Over the years, the company has left its mark on the D.C. area.
“We’re nearing the end of a two-yearlong project on City Center located downtown on N.Y. near Mass. Avenue.,” shares Bryan. “It’s a complete revamp of the old convention center encompassing several blocks and six buildings.”
Bryan says this project has given GWC an opportunity to showcase its expert craftsmanship. “We’ve done everything from door, frame, and hardware installation to in-wall and roof blocking, wood trim to specialties, including toilet and bath accessories, but the part of the project that really shines is the custom wood decking,” he details. “There are two exotic hardwood rooftop decks. The wood came from South America – it’s quite outstanding and definitely going to be the highlight of the venue.”
In partnership with one of the company’s lead suppliers, Galliher & Huguely, GWC has also had a recent opportunity to take charge as the lead general contractor on the supplier’s retail showroom. “Galliher & Huguely has been our top lumber supplier since we opened,” reveals Bryan. “They’re celebrating the company’s 100-year anniversary and we’ve helped them fit-out the entire showroom. We don’t normally operate as a general contractor but our relationship with Galliher & Huguely is an important one.”
Relying on repeat business and trusted supplier relationships has helped GWC weather the effects of the economic downturn. “Although we have the D.C. government market to tap into-where construction never really stopped- things were very slow over the last several years,” admits Bryan. “We’re finally approaching the same volume we were at before the downturn.”
Although Bryan says growth is a relative term for GWC, he admits he’s seen a significant improvement in the market. “It’s been slow across the industry, but as it picks up, we get busy and so does everyone else,” he explains. “But we can draw business through our skill and expertise. Most of our employees have been with us for five years or more.”
Over the next few years, Bryan hopes to keep building repeat business and adding new clients to the company’s roster, as well. “This industry is growing and we have the opportunity to grasp more and more of the market share,” he adds. “There are still problems, but there are better problems than in the past.”
Since 1985, General Woodworking Corp has established a competitive position in the D.C. market with advanced trades people and a solid network of relationships.
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