I remember when I was doing a video about how to shutter windows with plywood before a hurricane approaches. I was given a draft copy of the video while my mom was down on vacation. As I showed the step-by-step instructions, my mom turned to me and exclaimed, “How do you expect anyone to do this? No one has all those tools!”
Oh, sure, I was using some clamps to hold a 2 x 4 in place so I could screw it down as a brace, but most of the tools I was using, I picked up at the local home improvement center.
But, when I needed to do more involved work, those basics at the local big box just didn’t cut it anymore. That’s when you need to turn to a true woodworking supply company. One place I have had quite a but of success buying from is Eagle America, located in Chardon, Ohio.
I had the opportunity to ask a few questions of Tim Walter, the company’s vice president – and the son of the founder and president. “We are a family company and everything can trace back to my dad, Dan Walter. He has always been one of ‘those guys’ – you know, the kind of guy who can fix anything in the house. He took his love of home improvement and woodworking and combined it with a little marketing savvy and determination, and here we are today, 20 years later.”
Dan, and his business partner and wife Linda, took a big risk starting this little company two decades ago. With a mortgage, two young children and a dream, Dan and Linda had to follow the woodworking expo show circuit to make their sales in those early days before a catalog and the Internet. “I think the fondest memories for me of the startup were just being a part of something new. My brother and I used to help stuff envelopes and put labels on mailings at the kitchen table at night. I used to walk to the office after school to help in any way I could. There was an energy there, an excitement, that made things fun to be a part of as a child. It didn’t hurt that we also got to travel and occasionally miss school.” Tim paused. “Ah, the good old days! The shows really were a blast.”
Today, Eagle America carries tools, accessories and other sundries for woodworkers of any talent level or interest. “Production shops are an important part of our business as you can imagine but the majority of our customers are woodworkers. They may be weekend warriors, beginners, experts, cabinet makers, finish carpenters, or people who simply play around in their shop. We enjoy novice woodworkers and the questions that they ask as much as we enjoy more seasoned veterans who bring a different level of perspective and critique to what we do. The sum of all woodworkers and the feedback that they give us make us who we are today.”
Eagle America spends a great deal of time evaluating all of the tools they sell to ensure that woodworkers approve. “We have a lot of woodworkers on staff and they are all involved in the product evaluation process. We even survey local woodworkers from time to time to get their opinions on products before we add them to our line. Everyone out there should take comfort in this, knowing that someone at Eagle America who is an actual woodworker has seen, touched and used all of the products we sell.”
It’s not only the woodworkers on staff that come up with all of the creative ideas. Eagle America even offers rewards for new product suggestions that are adopted, developed and sold through the store. “Our customers are very creative and provide us with a number of excellent suggestions. Not all of them can be turned into products that can be mass marketed but each suggestion is taken very seriously and those that are made into products tend to be successful.”
While Eagle America is one of those quintessential family businesses, the ‘family’ concept goes far beyond just those blood relatives. “Our staff is fantastic. We are blessed with the talent that we have on our team. From our warehouse to our call center to our Outlet Store and woodworkers on staff, the majority of them have been with us for a while which means they can handle almost every question that is asked or problem that may arise. We take pride in making the customer experience as easy and enjoyable as possible. If we are not meeting people’s needs, we want to know about it so we can do it better the next time. That mindset is a part of everyone here at Eagle America since we would be nothing without our customers!”
Even though, as with any business, the folks at Eagle America are there to make an honest profit from selling quality products, there’s nothing quite like the reward of seeing how they can help woodworkers turn their visions into successfully completed projects. “That is one of the best parts of what we do, seeing the woodworks of art that our customers create. They use our tools to create beautiful works of art, wonderful pieces of furniture, things that can become family heirlooms for generations to come. They are used to create functional pieces that simply do a very important job, like making shelving or storage bins for a garage. Our products are used to solve problems. They are used to express someone’s creativity. They are used to make an idea in someone’s head come to life. That is amazing!”