John Mahoney: Mahoney Woodworks

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John Mahoney: Mahoney Woodworks

Welcome to a brand new episode of the Woodpreneur Podcast. In today's episode, your host Steve Larosiliere speaks with John Mahoney, owner of Mahoney Woodworks. John owns his own contracting business, and he's been doing woodworking on the side for about fifteen years. Much of John's career has been focused on general contracting, including everything from electrical to custom cabinetry and carpentry.

One advantage of his career is that he has used many of his contracting tools to help create projects on the side. Over the last eight years, in particular, he has been honing his woodworking craft to make a more marketable product.

Currently, John is in the process of transitioning away from his contracting business so that he can take his woodworking passion to the next level. A central turning point happened at the start of the pandemic when his contracting work began to slow down.

"I had an assistant working with me, and I wasn't able to really support him in the way that I wanted to. So we parted ways, and I said, "I really want you to blossom, and this is not the time for you with me."

During that transition, I was able to work from my home and focus on my woodworking, and I started on Instagram and met a lot of people in the community. My page took off pretty well. I got a lot of followers, I've had some transactions, and my wife and my family have given me the opportunity to focus on this.

Over the next few months, I'm going to work exclusively on doing some woodworking from my house and trying to turn it into a means of income and reach out to the community and make it a lifestyle."

  • John Mahoney

Building an Audience

Compared to many fledgling businesses, John considers himself very fortunate compared to other people woodworking from home. The combination of a garage workshop (with no cars allowed!) and the numerous tools that John has picked up through his career as a contractor has given him a leg up when it comes to initial investments.

Additionally, people have already been very receptive to John's designs in the early stages of his business. As such, his current focus is on creating a customer base, developing word-of-mouth advertising, and getting specifically commissioned pieces from that expanding customer base.

Over the last several months, John has been focused on doing craft shows to give people the opportunity to feel and handle his products in person. He believes that those who aren't woodworkers can't get a good sense of scale through a photo, so these events give him the ability to provide context for people to experience his work.

Although the Philadelphia area is full of craft shows and other trade events, John finds that their prevalence means that the spots are often very full, preventing him from gaining access.

"Many of the shows are completely full. I'm talking like the Oaks Convention Center, which can hold thousands of vendors, and they have a craft show coming up. Actually, they have three of them coming up, and they're all indoor, which is really nice because I'd like to have my products indoors. But they're full, and I've also had a few issues getting contacted back about signing up for vendors.

A lot of these places seem to be grandfathered in, with people getting annual spots. So that's one of the hurdles that I'm working on, but I think that would be one of the best things, as opposed to a social media platform, to really get out there, interact with the community and get a local customer base."

  • John Mahoney

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