Ask an Expert | Matt Moore
COVID-19 updates with Matt of Matt Moore Designs
We checked in with our friend Matt of Matt Moore Designs, a Florida based company that specializes in quality finish cabinetry, furniture and custom pieces to find out how the Coronavirus is impacting his business. We discuss the immediate, short-term, and long-term implications of the pandemic – we discuss how it is affecting his workload and his thoughts on what the future looks like for the woodworking industry as a whole once this is all over.
Doug Mockett: How has the Coronavirus (COVID-19) affected you and your business thus far? What changes have you had to make to your daily routine?
Matt Moore: As of right now, the direct effect on my business has been minimal. Being a small business with a limited amount of employees, we work in isolation most times anyways. On site we may be with 1 or 2 other trades that are in other rooms and can go weeks without the contact of other people. Recently in Florida, the state has started getting tougher with the number of people in certain stores such as box stores. This is one of the main ways the virus has affected my daily schedule because I can no longer just “run to Home Depot”. I tend to work throughout the day and if I come across something I need I make a list for the next morning. I will go to the store first thing to limit any delays and contact with other people.
DM: Have you seen any immediate effects in the short term? Have any projects been delayed or canceled?
MM: With the current jobs we have on the go we have not seen any short term effects. We tend to pre-order materials before they are needed so they are ready and in the shop when we get to that job. We have been very fortunate with the client base we have right now. They have been very understanding of the fact that we would like to continue to work and are taking all measures to keep ourselves and them as safe as we possibly can. In Florida residential construction, especially kitchen remodelers are deemed essential so we have no limitations on the amount of work we can do, it just comes down to the mentality of the client and we have had no negative impact yet.
DM: Have you or others in your market had to close up your office or shop? Are you able to work from home in your own workshop and how are you adjusting to the changes?
MM: I honestly don't follow or communicate with many other businesses like mine in my market so I can't say if they have or have not had to close shop. I do however follow countless similar companies on social media and have begun to see the negative impacts this is having on them around the country. In most accounts custom woodworking is a luxury not a necessity, so when times get hard it tends to be one of the first to fall. Fortunately, we do not have a large amount of employees to have to maintain payroll, so it's slightly easier for us to maintain. We also feel our job spectrum is wide enough that we incorporate those essential jobs as well as the luxury jobs. In hard times people may not want a custom dining room table, but there will always be houses to be built that need cabinetry and clients wanting to renovate their kitchens.
Right now our shop is a small residential shop so we are able to continuously work even if a full shutdown was implemented. When this whole outbreak began and there were talks of shut downs, we took necessary measures to ensure we had shop work staged and ready to go. We placed multiple material and hardware orders, and put in long hours on site to ensure jobs got to a functioning, and more importantly, billable stopping point. We made sure that if we ever had to completely pull off a job that it was not sitting there waiting on us to return.
DM: Do you feel when this pandemic is over that the market will rebound strongly, or will it take some time to return to ‘normal’?
MM: Oh man, I feel that is a very in depth question. I feel the construction market as a whole will rebound fairly strong. It was booming to begin with and has not seen much of an impact from this. I feel it will more or less “pick up where they left off”. However, I do have concerns when it comes to materials in the coming future. With state shut downs such as the one in Pennsylvania, I see there being a drastic lapse in domestic materials. The north east is a large supplier for cabinet plywood, hardwoods, cabinet doors etc. We feel the manufacturing delay caused by a state wide shutdown will cause ripples to continue for the next few months with material suppliers getting orders on time. This is something we are currently already beginning to schedule into projects. However, I feel as if this will continue the push to bring more people to use domestic materials over input in the long term.
DM: If you are experiencing any downtime or having to change your daily operations, how are you using this opportunity to be proactive about tackling areas of your business that you’d like to improve?
MM: Like I said previously, we really haven't experienced much downtime, however, we have all had family members that have. On a personal level my wife was furloughed from a physical therapy position in the effects of the Covid-19 outbreak. With her downtime she has really stepped up helping with the administrative work that no one enjoys. We hear all the time in the trades “I’m great at _______, but not a great businessman” and that definitely applies to us here. Having to juggle workflow, business paperwork, designs, pricing etc. is one of the hardest parts of having a small business. In stressful times like this those things can be compounded with trying to continue working and provided for families. Having someone help bear the weight of some of those stresses has allowed us to continue working as hard as we can while maintaining balance. It really has been a blessing.
Find more of Matt's projects at MattMooreDesigns.com or on Instagram @mattmooredesigns
We want to hear from you! Tell us how you and your business are handling the current situation for your own particular industry and we’ll feature you on the blog. Email [email protected] for more information.