Timber Products of Iron Mountain, Inc

Timber Products of Iron Mountain, Inc

March 2010

Sometimes, entrepreneurial opportunities arise when you least expect them.  Events occur that turn many small business owners down the path of entrepreneurship that they may not have considered before.  Some entrepreneurs are able to prepare for these opportunities and others must simply address them as they come.   Candy Lauk, owner of Timber Products of Iron Mountain Inc., is an example of an entrepreneur who was able to create a successful small business from an unforeseen opportunity.

Lauk began working for Timber Products in 1991 by helping them with their everyday bookkeeping activities.  Timber Products is a shipping and logistics company that specializes in assisting local manufacturers with their transportation logistics.  In the beginning, they were able to operate with one truck leased from another company.   As their customers in the saw dust and liquid smoke businesses grew, so did Timber Products.  For almost 17 years, Lauk worked every day for the business, however, in recent times, the company’s financial position was discovered to be more serious than previously anticipated.  It was decided that the business would be turned over to Lauk who was now faced with the task of turning around the business.

Candy-Lauk-Owner-Timber-ProductsWhile Lauk had been an integral part of the company before 2009, she did not have a lot of experience running the business.  Not only that, but one of Timber Products’ biggest customers had recently declared bankruptcy.  She decided to seek help and contacted MI-SBTDC Region 1 office.   She was referred to Jim Beauchamp who had experience with manufacturing and shipping companies.   Beauchamp was excited to help new entrepreneur Lauk with understanding the intricacies of running a business.

“The MI-SBTDC is an excellent service.  All of the consultants were very professional and very helpful.  Jim really took me under his wing and showed me a lot,” exclaimed Lauk.  Due to the past problems, Lauk knew that she would need help with managing the company’s financials in the future.  Beauchamp began to work with her on understanding the cash flow of the business.  They created a cash-flow chart for the business for monthly budgets and Beauchamp suggested Lauk keep a daily diary in order to keep track of everyday expenses.

“Jim was really great in helping us get a grip on our important details.  We needed help with things like overtime which can really affect a small business,” recalled Lauk.  Together, they also worked on being able to forecast their income and expenses in order to create budget guidelines for the business which had not existed before.   In addition, Lauk and Beauchamp needed to address their external financing problems.  Beauchamp assisted her in creating a business plan which they could use when approaching banks for financing.  Along with the business plan, they worked on organizing and presenting their finances.  Because the business was struggling, Lauk worked hard on showing their banks that the business was turning around.

“The SBTDC has been an excellent resource.  I feel that I can always go to them if I have any questions on finances, human resources or any subject,” noted Lauk.

All the time and hard-work paid off as the business has experienced good growth in the recent months.  Timber Products currently employs 22 full-time and 5 part-time staff.  They have brought on 2 additional owner/operators, and with additional financing, were able to buy an additional truck for their business.  They now have a fleet of 25 trucks and provide logistics transportation to all 48 states.  And as a tribute to their efforts to control their finances, the business has recently seen a profit.  However, Lauk insists that the business will also continue to provide excellent customer service and quality in all areas while ensuring that the costs are closely monitored.

“I would 100% recommend the MI-SBTDC to anyone looking to start a small business,” said Lauk.  She also advises that small business owners should set serious goals and budgets.  She encourages small business to watch their finances closely and control their expenses.  As for the success turnaround of a business she has owned for just 7 months?  Well, Lauk has set goals for the business to reduce their debt and start giving back gradually.  She also hopes to hire more employees soon.  Wherever the business goes in the future, Timber Products remains a great story of entrepreneurial success for all small business owners.