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About Us

Woodboys by Jim Simpson

Woodboys had its beginning as Simpson’s Supply, the retail sales division of Simpson’s Cabinets. The founder of Simpson’s Cabinets, my Dad, Bill Simpson, began selling the plywood and lumber he used for building cabinets to other wood workers. In 1978 he employed me straight out of high school, to handle the purchasing and selling of supplies in the store. After a couple of years, my Dad had the idea to sell me the store. He figured if I owned the business, I might work harder for myself, than I would for him. He was right of course, because all of a sudden the store became profitable. Unfortunately, nobody told me you have to pay taxes when you make a profit. This was my first lesson in the joys of running a business.

Another thing I credit my Dad with, he had the good sense to put our agreement in writing. If you know anything about father, son relationships, you know things don’t always go smoothly. Every now and then, I would think to myself, "Why in the world am I selling him material so cheap?" Only, to remember, "Oh yeah, it’s in the contract."

After several years, I began to question whether a business devoted solely to selling cabinet making supplies could support my family. I decided to expand my inventory into more of a hardware store. I reasoned that in both good and bad economic times, people need to buy hardware. Unfortunately, I learned my second lesson in the joys of running a business. As anyone in retail will tell you (except the salesman who’s selling you hardware), the first three rules of retail are, location, location, location. Whereas, our location was fine for cabinet-making supplies, it stunk for hardware. After much deliberation, I hired an auctioneer to come in clear out my entire hardware inventory. This was a costly experience, however it allowed me to regain my focus on the part of the business that our customers demanded.

Overall, the business ran smoothly for fifteen years. It had its ups and downs, but nothing I couldn’t handle by myself. Then, very slowly, we began to lose money each month. Try as I might, I just couldn’t figure out what the problem was. I was working as hard as I could, and doing everything pretty much the same as always. After several months of this, it hit me; I owed my suppliers about Fifty thousand dollars. They had me paying COD, and were constantly calling for payment. If this weren’t bad enough, I had no idea what was wrong with my business. I had reached a point of desperation, and I didn’t know where to turn for help.

Fortunately for me, I had gotten saved about a year earlier. After that event, I guess I was like many new believers, because I really didn’t do anything to grow my faith. However, I’m thankful that I at least had enough faith to take my problem to Him. I asked God to help me fix this business that I couldn’t fix; to show me the problem I couldn’t see. I might add that when I made this request, I also promised Him if He would help me, I would use the business in anyway I could to honor Him.

His response was clear, within a week it was obvious that two of my three employees, were stealing from the company. Once this was known, I quickly dispensed with those two employees. It’s amazing how getting a simple prayer answered will increase your faith. After that, it was like I had a new partner in the business; someone I could consult with any kind of problem. Going to work was no longer such a chore. It seemed I no longer had to carry the burden of the business by myself. As I began to read His word, I discovered one day, in the verse that gave me the strength to get through this struggle (James 1:2 - 8), that He promises to give wisdom to those who would ask for it. This was great; because it was clear to me that this was something I was in short supply of.

It was interesting to see God working in the business. Shortly, after my firing those guys, He provided me with the first of many great workers to replace them. As my trust in God has grown, I’ve learned that I don’t have to worry about getting good help anymore. Several times they’ve simply shown up on my doorstep. In fact now, when an employee leaves, I’ve come to expect God to send me an even better worker in their place.

Then began the long hard road to rebuilding the business. Just to give you an idea how bad it was, we were ordering plywood ten sheets at a time, instead of by the bundle. The store was so low on inventory that I had to display a sign in the store informing customers "We’re not going out of business, we’re recovering from embezzlement." While all this was going on, I wrote all my vendors telling them what had caused my indebtedness, and asking them for some grace in paying off the debt. Virtually, every one of them was willing to work with me. Then the humbling part came. I began paying off my suppliers. To some, who I owed as much as twenty thousand dollars, I could only pay twenty dollars at a time. In spite of this, I believe God helped me to send every vendor a payment every week, for a year and a half, until they were all paid off.

Another hurdle I faced, was trying to figure out how someone goes about honoring God in a business. It seemed like the right thing to promise Him in return for His help, but then I realized I didn’t have a clue how to do it. As I thought about this problem, I decided to give it to my problem-solving partner. It wasn’t long until I got the idea of putting Proverbs up on my marquee in front of the store. I liked this idea because it was encouraging to others, and it let people know what I believed in a very inoffensive way. This went fine for a year or so, and then I hit a dry spell where it became a chore to find a new message each week. That’s when I asked one of my most spiritual employees, Matt Taylor, to take over for me. As I recall, the first message he wanted to put up, was something with Jesus’ name in it about ten times. I immediately realized, you can say God to the public all day long, but when you say Jesus, you’ve really chosen sides. If there was one thing I knew when I made my promise to God, it was that I didn’t want to cram Jesus down people’s throats. But at the same time, I knew God had saved this business and I wasn’t going to be ashamed of letting people know it. This became a pivotal event in my life. Not that it made me a preacher, or Bible thumping evangelist, it just forced me to decide what I really believed.

Later on, God gave me another idea how I could honor Him. I remembered some radio ads I had heard on WKCL, a local Christian radio station. They were real funny spots that shared something about the gospel in a very non-threatening way. It occurred to me that playing these spots on Christian radio was like preaching to the choir. I decided I would sponsor them on secular radio. This was great because it made people think about spiritual matters, plus it got me dealing with various radio stations. Many of the stations were happy to give me a low rate to so they could play such positive messages in the midst of the usual radio trash talk. Later it occurred to me, with these low rates, why not try promoting the business on the radio too. Radio advertising seemed like a great idea, since after fifteen years in business, nobody really knew we existed, or what we sold. This began our whole advertising program, which has led significant growth for the business over the years.

On a related subject, another of God’s inspirations was to change our name, from Simpson’s Supply, to Woodboys. As I said, it seemed nobody knew we existed, possibly because our name was so similar to our parent company, Simpson’s Cabinets that most people thought we sold cabinets too. In hindsight I wonder why I didn’t recognize that problem sooner. I tend to think this is another example of how God gives wisdom to those who ask.

Let me close by saying, I believe that our God searches the earth, anxious to bless those who serve him. Let me encourage you to get to know your Creator. Go re-open that dust covered Bible you’ve been using for a doorstop. God’s faithful. I hope that by publicly sharing how God has been faithful to bless my life, that people will see the wisdom of trusting Him with theirs. As Jesus put it...

"You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven. .

God Bless.

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