Bradley Kimberlin, Columnists, V6I1

Prepping for the Spring Rush

Plan ahead for purchasing the materials you need throughout the year. (Photo courtesy of Ronaldo Taveira/

In most parts of the country, winter is a slower time of the year for shed builders. 

In this column, we are going to look at some ways you can use this time to prepare your shop to be more efficient, simpler, and less chaotic moving into the spring rush.


During the year, various piles of reject lumber and unusable items find semi-permanent resting places in the corners and recesses of your shop. Take a few days and do a deep clean, working from one end of the shop to the other, and deal with these items. 

If it’s warped lumber you can’t use, recognize that. I’ve found that saving warped lumber doesn’t help it straighten out—generally, it gets worse! You may have paint that was a custom order or windows that you no longer offer. Whatever it is, make a decision to rid your shop of the clutter. This will free up space for usable materials to be inside, help make your inventory counts more accurate, and give a sense of a fresh start.

Be sure to sweep out all the nooks and crannies—having a clean work environment goes a long way toward safety and quality.


Now that you’ve decided to rid your shop of the clutter, what do you do with the warped lumber and discontinued windows? You have a couple of options. 

Depending on how bad the lumber is, you may be able to build a shed with it, call it a Class B shed, and sell it with a small discount. But if it’s not good enough for that, I’ve found that you can get rid of most of the items on sites like Facebook Marketplace or Offer Up. 

If you are by a busy road, put out a sign that says “Building Materials Sale!” and people will come. Don’t try to get rich off this stuff—most of it will be sold at around a quarter of its value, depending on what it is. What you will find is that the word will spread, and if you start doing this yearly, you’ll build an audience.


Make sure you involve all of the shop personnel in this conversation. There may be things you aren’t aware of and they see since they work daily in the shop. 

Whoever drives the forklift the most, ask them what they would like to see different. Do they have to move buildings before they can restock the lumber shelves? 

What about the table saw? Is it located near the panel material, or do the builders have to carry material to it? 

I personally like to keep open bundles of material close to where it is being used and store the whole bundles out of the production area. 

As a team, this is a good time to look at your layout and potentially make some changes to speed up the process. Keeping the team involved helps build morale and create buy-in for the changes. If you make changes in a top-down approach, there’s a good chance it will build resentment and breed ill-will.


Quality, 100 percent accurate buildings is the ultimate goal, but as humans, it is never achievable. A good QA (quality assurance) process recognizes this and creates a safety net for human error. The best processes don’t eliminate mistakes; they recognize and resolve mistakes early on. 

Multiple people touch an order in a typical shed business, and a QA process should document those handoffs and transfer responsibility. 

For example, when a builder completes the building, I typically have the shop manager do an inspection and “green tag” the shed. Once it’s been inspected and approved by the shop manager, this transfers the responsibility for the build from the builder to the manager. If the manager finds a mistake during the inspection process, the builder is responsible to fix it as the manager has not signed off on it.

A good QA process should be documented and written clearly. It should also be presented to all stakeholders for acceptance and buy-in. Creating a written, thorough QA process will take time, but once implemented it will actually save you time by catching and resolving mistakes early on. It will also ensure higher levels of customer satisfaction, which is great for everyone!


If you take the number of sheds you built in 2019 and add whatever percentage of growth you are projecting to do in 2020, this will give you a rough estimate for the quantity of sheds you are going to build. 

Plan ahead on purchasing for items like hinges, door handles, screws, windows, etc. by taking the number of sheds and dividing it by four (roughly the number you will build per quarter). Then you can take this number of sheds and figure out how many hinges, door handles, etc. that you need. Don’t over think it; you don’t have to get this number exact. 

Once you have some numbers, write them down and start talking to vendors about these orders. You can often get shipping discounts for certain quantities and perhaps even volume pricing by buying a pallet at a time, for example.

The additional benefit beyond cost savings is you will have material on hand when it’s needed. Few things make production go haywire like running out of materials. Set reminders on your calendar for two to three weeks before the end of the quarter to place the next orders. 

By planning ahead with a quarterly number, you can place orders a few weeks in advance, rather than waiting until you open the last box and now it’s an emergency.


Oftentimes, changes after the order has been placed is one of the larger sources of frustration and chaos in a production process. Depending on your situation, you may not be able to influence sales, but if you can, that is where the process should start. Look at things like a fee after a certain timeframe, for example.

On the production side, you can create a process for what happens when a change comes in. If you use a system to track orders, make sure it can accommodate a change-order process. Ideally, you have a revised order to issue to the builder and take the old copy. 

If the change would require rework on the building that’s already being built, you may decide it is simpler to start a new building instead. If this is the case, document it and turn the previous model into stock with its own serial number right away. 

A change-order process should not penalize the builder. If the sales manager does not want to charge the customer, then the company is deciding to eat that cost. Don’t try to pass that cost onto the builder by having them do the rework for free. Working together as a team will get you further down the road in the long run compared to a few dollars you may save right now.

By taking the slower time of the year and doing some preparation, you can go through the busy season with less stress and accomplish more work. The goal is to create a positive, productive work environment, where each member is satisfied and goes home fulfilled at the end of the day.

Until next time, Be Excellent!



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