Chad Schimmel runs a woodworking business in the Phoenix area and he is one of the few woodworkers I know who earn a good living from it!  Chad does a lot of woodturning, but that is just the start of how he keeps his business going.  Chad revealed some of the secrets to his success during a candid interview with me in February of 2016.

Chad has an 1100 square foot commercial space that includes and office.  He has a laser engraver, a CNC, two metal lathes, and a complete wood shop.  He also hires people to help him with the office work and to assist him in the shop, too.

Charlie and Chad at Schimmel Woodworks in Chandler, AZ

Chad’s primary focus is on extremely fine hand made pens.  He also does one of a kind custom woodworking, but his real passion is designing and making some of the finest pens imaginable!  One of Chad’s many specialties is fountain pens made from vintage watch parts.

Vintage Franck Muller Watch face Fountain Pen

Chad also found a market for pens made from historical materials.

Lambeau Field Bleacher Pen

Chad used wood from Abraham Lincoln’s office for this one!

If you go to Chad’s Impeccable Pen website you will see that he made a point of offering a wide range of products.  One common theme is that he focuses on gift items such as gifts for bridesmaids and groomsmen, gifts for dad, and of course gifts for pen collectors.  He also sells a whole line of pen accessories.

Pen Display Trays

Walnut Fountain Pen Desk Organizer Pen tray

Ah, but how to sell all these great products?  Many if not most of Chad’s sales come through Arts and Crafts shows.  He says you need to create interest in your products and it is important to engage people as they walk by.  He is amazed by the people who go to the trouble and expense to set up a booth at a craft fair and spend their time reading a book or playing on their phone rather than talking to potential customers.

Chad has pens that sell for thousands of dollars!  When I asked him about pricing he said he believes that you need high priced items to sell lower priced items.  If someone sees that you have a $2700.00 pen they might think the $60 pen is a bargain!

Chad also makes sure that he prices his work high enough to ensure that he can make a profit.  This sounds obvious, but many craftsmen don’t actually do this.  You can’t just count the materials in the piece and your time in the shop.  You also must account for vehicle costs, equipment costs, and all the time you spend outside the shop to keep your business alive.  Things like accounting, buying supplies, marketing, time on the computer, and all the other time you spend to keep things going.  Don’t cheat yourself!

Chad Schimmel

Chad is a friendly guy and I enjoyed meeting him.  I was also very impressed by his keen business sense.

Check out my article about how David Marks turns a 400 pound hollow vessel!