LumberJocks

MsDebbieP's Company Tours #17: Barry Wixey Development

  • Advertise with us
Blog entry by MsDebbieP posted 01-22-2008 11:42 PM 3168 reads 0 times favorited 13 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 16: General Part 17 of MsDebbieP's Company Tours series Part 18: Rob Cosman »

Jan. 22, 2008

With our new “Reviews” Feature at LJ.com being only a week old, the Wixey products have already received five reviews. I just had to do an interview to find out what made this company so special. And so, this morning, I was given the privilege of speaking with Barry Wixey, the man behind the Wixey tools.


(photo from www.wixey.com)

The Company History
Prior to starting the Wixey company, Mr. Wixey designed woodworking machinery for Delta and Dewalt tools. Then, in the year 2000, he and his wife Cora were going to have to move to a new city due to some restructuring in the company. (Now, as all LumberJocks know, behind every good man is a great woman, and this case is no different. Barry’s wife, Cora, suggested that he become a consultant and do what he does well but under his own business.) And so Barry Wixey Development was born.

During the next few years Barry had the opportunity to ask many woodworkers what features they would like to see on their tools. The most common response was digital readouts. In the spring of 2005, according to Mr. Wixey, “we put up a web site selling our WR500 Planer Digital Readout and sent some samples out to Woodcraft Supply. Remarkably Woodcraft placed an order and our web sales took off. Neither Cora nor I had ever wanted to sell anything for a living but we soon found this was fun and exciting and we have never looked back or thought again about selling our patents to the big guys.”

He continues to say, “The two of us run the entire business ourselves. Cora runs the web site, internet sales, and sales service; I design the products, handle technical service, and the wholesale accounts. We work together shipping and receiving the product. We have a small privately owned factory in China that manufactures everything for us and we travel there several times a year to work with them. Although we are a very small business, we are this factories largest customer so we get great quality and support from them.”

The Products
Wixey currently has 5 products for sale and they have two more on the way. By March of this year we will be seeing a small and a larger version of a digital protractor. These products will be like the angle gauge except that they can be placed on any surface. This means that, for example, they can be used to ensure mitre saws are set precisely.

The Vision For The Future
Prior to 2007 the Barry Wixey Production company was 95% consulting and 5% Wixey products. As of last year that had switched to 5% consulting and 95% products. The company goal is to strengthen the brand name recognition and continue to introduce innovative new products. They now have a product development wish list that can keep them busy for a number of years. They also plan to keep the business organized in such a way that Barry and Cora can continue to operate it by themselves. This allows them not only keep on top of the business as it is but also allows them to provide customer support directly and efficiently.

As for customer support, Barry says that with the business being conducted primarily online, they can respond to customer questions within 12 hours and often within minutes! They take their laptops when they travel to China, where their products are manufactured, and don’t miss a beat. Barry says, “I personally handle every single technical service issue and can email photos, instruction manuals, or sketches to help people understand how to use our products. Many times some one will send me a digital photo of their machine and I can sketch right on the photo and send it back to them. The biggest benefit we get from this type of communication with our customers is the ideas for our new products. By personally “ talking” to each and every one we get a real feel for product improvement and new products. That’s where our Height Gauge and upgraded Planer Readout came from.”

Favourite Product
When asked what his favourite product was Barry said, “I guess I have a favorite product “feature” that we incorporate in our all our linear measuring tools. We call it “Precise Fraction Technology” For years the woodworkers were telling the engineers that they really wanted fractions on their digital readouts and the engineers were telling the woodworkers that a digital readout with fractions could not be accurate enough. We have resolved that conflict with our technology and have a very precise and easy to understand method of displaying our fractions.”

Misconceptions
I asked Barry if there were any misconceptions that he’d like to clarify. His response was, “When most people first think about adding a digital readout of some kind in their wood shop they think “ Why would I need that much accuracy for working with wood?” As it turns out increased accuracy is just a side benefit of using digital readouts. The biggest benefit is that they are easier to read than a standard scale or tape measure and this eliminates a lot of errors especially for us middle agers whose eye sight isn’t what it used to be. The other benefit is repeatability. If you set your readout on a number and make a cut, you can come back a year later and set it on the same number and make the exact same cut.”

During our conversation the topic of “China” was discussed. At this time in our history many North Americans have a negative impression of products manufactured in China. Barry’s response was that this is HIS product, with HIS name on it and whatever happens with his products is his responsibility. He and his wife visit China several times a year to ensure that the production process is going as planned. He also says that because the company that he is working with is a small company such as his, they too have their reputation lying on their products. Barry says that they bend over backwards to support his needs and to ensure the product is quality.

Advice for LumberJocks
Measure once. Cut once.

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (https://www.facebook.com/DebbiePribeleENJOConsultant)



13 comments so far

View Grant Davis's profile

Grant Davis

616 posts in 2598 days


#1 posted 01-22-2008 11:55 PM

Thanks for the info MsDebbie

-- Grant...."GO BUCKEYES"

View Jeff's profile

Jeff

1011 posts in 2784 days


#2 posted 01-23-2008 12:07 AM

Good article, Debbie. I love my angle guage. I’ll be adding my two bits to the existing reviews. :)

-- Jeff, St. Paul, MN

View Zuki's profile

Zuki

1404 posts in 2767 days


#3 posted 01-23-2008 12:59 AM

Tres bon madame debbie.

-- BLOG - http://www.colorfulcanary.com/search/label/Zuki

View dalec's profile

dalec

613 posts in 2578 days


#4 posted 01-23-2008 01:17 AM

Good report on Barry Wixey and Wife.

MsDebbie, It is hard to keep pace with you as you try to bring up topics that are current for us LJs.

Thanks

Dalec

View Bob #2's profile

Bob #2

3808 posts in 2712 days


#5 posted 01-23-2008 02:05 AM

Bravo to the Wixeys.
They put the fun back in measuring and cutting.

Bob

-- A mind, like a home, is furnished by its owner

View GaryK's profile

GaryK

10262 posts in 2678 days


#6 posted 01-23-2008 02:26 AM

Did he mention the digital protractor that he will be putting out soon?

-- Gary - Never pass up the opportunity to make a mistake look like you planned it that way - Tyler, TX

View MsDebbieP's profile

MsDebbieP

18615 posts in 2851 days


#7 posted 01-23-2008 02:37 AM

Yes, Gary. He has 2 coming out: a smaller one and a larger one for big machines. They are ready to go, just waiting for packaging or some little details. Should be out in March ‘08

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (https://www.facebook.com/DebbiePribeleENJOConsultant)

View cajunpen's profile

cajunpen

14404 posts in 2756 days


#8 posted 01-23-2008 07:10 AM

Thanks MsDebbie for offering us a look at the man behind the digital technology. Good interview and well done.
I have 4 or his 5 products and am thoroughly impressed with the quality and more importantly the Customer Service that they offer. Great Company and good people. Thanks again for posting doing and posting the interview.

-- Bill - "Suit yourself and let the rest be pleased." http://www.cajunpen.com/

View MsDebbieP's profile

MsDebbieP

18615 posts in 2851 days


#9 posted 01-23-2008 04:13 PM

thanks everyone. I hope you find these interviews useful in some way. For me, I like hearing the story behind the products, learning more about the company and what I can expect from their products and service. Getting to know the people behind the products helps paint a picture of the quality of the tool.

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (https://www.facebook.com/DebbiePribeleENJOConsultant)

View Jeff's profile

Jeff

1011 posts in 2784 days


#10 posted 01-23-2008 10:17 PM

They are very helpful. Just yesterday I referred someone back to the Lee Valley article because they were curios about their Customer Service. :-)

-- Jeff, St. Paul, MN

View MsDebbieP's profile

MsDebbieP

18615 posts in 2851 days


#11 posted 01-24-2008 01:42 PM

excellent. Thanks :)

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (https://www.facebook.com/DebbiePribeleENJOConsultant)

View stanley2's profile

stanley2

321 posts in 2485 days


#12 posted 02-11-2008 05:10 PM

It was about 4:45 pm PST when I sent an email to Barry Wixey about an installation problem I thought I was having with the table saw fence reader installation. Supposed to be the end of the work week so I didn’t expect a reply for a few days. When I booted up the next morning at 5:00 am there was a reply and before breakfast I was operational because I didn’t have an install problem after all. Love small family business service!

-- Phil in British Columbia

View MsDebbieP's profile

MsDebbieP

18615 posts in 2851 days


#13 posted 02-11-2008 05:14 PM

oh yah! Now that’s cool.

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (https://www.facebook.com/DebbiePribeleENJOConsultant)

Have your say...

You must be signed in to post the comments.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics

HomeRefurbers.com

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics

GardenTenders.com :: gardening showcase