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Q&A: 10 Years Later …

Shed Builder Magazine launched its first issue in April/May 2015.

And it’s come a long way (to Shed Business Journal!).

A first issue is always challenging, but this industry was searching for something to call its own.

We were blessed with several folks willing to be interviewed and contribute to the editorial, and, even more impressive, 10 shed product/service providers took the leap and advertised in a brand-new trade journal.

That’s almost unheard of.

Apple Outdoor Supply, Capital Forest Products, Cardinal, Davis Frost, identiGROW, Innovations Manufacturing, Pine Hill Trailers, Roseburg Forest Products, Union Grove Lumber, and WK Machine were the first advertisers.

So, we thought it would be fun to talk with as many of those pioneers as we could to talk about that first magazine, their businesses, and the future.

Why did you decide to advertise with Shed Builder Magazine, an upstart trade journal in 2015?

ERICA GOODNIGHT, CEO and Board of Directors president for Union Grove Lumber: After having an in-person conversation with Marty Boltres during his inception stage, we made the commitment to him that we would stand behind his journal. 

Marty seemed to have the drive to push the magazine to heights that we knew needed to be achieved in our niche industry. And, quite frankly, we were just as excited as he was to have something published just for sheds! It was thrilling. 

We only service the shed industry and we have never felt like any publisher really took the industry seriously enough to make a shed-specific magazine; this was right up our alley. 

STEVE BORNTRAGER, sales/customer support for Cardinal Manufacturing: I was very excited for the industry to finally have a magazine. With my interaction with Marty prior to the magazine’s introduction, I was impressed with his honesty and integrity and felt confident that he was the right person to spearhead this venture. 

A trade magazine for the industry was something I had dreamed of for a long time and saw as necessary to help the industry network and grow and become more stable and profitable. 

We always strive to be active and on the cutting edge of the industry and if the industry was getting a much-needed magazine, we wanted to be a part of it.

JONATHAN LEE, founder and CEO of identiGROW: When a trade magazine associated with the industry came out, we immediately wanted to be a part of it. 

NORMAN BEACHY, trailer and Mule sales for WKM: Because Shed Builder Magazine was like the bull’s eye of our market.

BEN JERKINS, lumber trader for Capital Forest Products: Back in 2015, there was a strong need for a trade publication for the shed industry. Capital Forest Products originally partnered with Shed Builder Magazine in the very beginning as a grass-roots effort to help support the industry.  

Shed Builder Magazine was brand new and growing and needed a strong partner to help it grow. Capital Forest Products founded a shed show in 2006, therefore partnering with Shed Builder Magazine in 2015 seemed like a great idea to enhance awareness throughout the shed industry.  

Capital Forest Products originally started in 1982 and possesses deep relationships with shed builders, so it seemed like a great partnership then and continues to be a great relationship to this day. 

OWEN BUNKER, president of Innovations Manufacturing Inc.: Marty called to tell me he was starting a new shed industry magazine and asked if he could interview me for an article in the first issue. We did the interview and I asked to place an ad. 

Being a shedder for 20 years already, I was excited to see someone create this magazine and believed if done well it would be very popular for people like myself.

DAN PETERSHEIM, owner and founder of Pine Hill Trailers: They showed up in our office, and we were excited about an industry-specific magazine. I knew we were a large part of the industry and needed to be in there.

If I were to redo it today, I would look at strategically positioning ourselves differently because they really grew, and it’s such a well-known magazine now.

From an advertiser’s standpoint, what was your first impression when you heard about and received a copy of Shed Builder Magazine?

GOODNIGHT: We had only ever published marketing materials online, which doesn’t reach our entire audience. So, to see our marketing efforts in a magazine was exciting. 

The first magazine published had its hiccups—paper quality, stapling, stories covered, etc.—but Marty was always open to constructive criticism. 

Dad (Mo) and I wanted to give all kinds of feedback to help make the magazine as perfect as ever. 

BORNTRAGER: I was impressed. I thought the staff had done a great job at putting it together with their limited experience (at that time) in the industry. 

LEE: My first impression was that it needed to go glossy.  

BEACHY: I was excited to get in front of more potential customers.

JERKINS: As an advertiser, our first impression allowed us to assess how well we thought the magazine aligned with our advertising goals.  

We felt the magazine’s content resonated with our target audience and allowed us the opportunity to showcase our products and services effectively.  

We believed that Shed Builder Magazine would help Capital Forest Products achieve our marketing objectives in a very precise manner. 

BUNKER: I was excited about it and wanted to be part of it.

PETERSHEIM: To be honest, the first one was pretty basic. It had a lot of room for growth.

I didn’t like the paper quality, and it needed more color, but we saw the potential and that it was the start of a good thing.

What expectations did you have for a trade publication focusing exclusively on the shed market?

GOODNIGHT: Dad and I were all in. We expected to be educated as well as read stories from those in the industry that we care for and have respect for. The magazine has done just that. 

Still to this day, we read the magazine—front to back—and we are always proud as a peach when a current customer has statements and/or makes the cover.

BORNTRAGER: I was confident that it would be a hit. We had customers calling us looking for resources to network with other builders and with suppliers and we had nothing to offer. This gave the industry options to network and grow.

LEE: I figured it was a no-brainer. It was our target market. And it certainly was. 

BEACHY: A great way to help others in the industry, find new suppliers, and meet with fellow people in the same industry.

JERKINS: As an advertiser, we expected the trade publication to aim specifically at our target audience, provide industry insights and trends, advertising opportunities, engaging content, and have wide distribution and reach.  

BUNKER: I expected to reach the shed industry in a way no other method could. I felt it would grab the attention of those like me who love the industry. 

It was exciting to think we may get a little recognition that we never really had before. I looked forward to receiving the issues and seeing what others were up to.

PETERSHEIM: Thinking back, I was so busy and focused on building shed trailers that I didn’t think about expectations. I just knew we wanted to get in front of our target audience and collaborate with our industry.

How has your business changed in the past 10 years? What does the future look like for your company, your customers, and the shed industry overall?

GOODNIGHT: Our business has changed drastically. With Josh and I purchasing the business from Dad in 2018, we changed the way Dad navigated the industry. Not saying any certain aspect was done wrong or right—just things changed. 

We went fully electronic (hallelujah!) and we also started stocking items that Dad didn’t want to stock. We also began our Notched Runner program and hit precision end trimming head-on. Dad had bought the Holtec in 2008—we just refined the process. 

COVID didn’t help matters; as a new business owner, that rocked my world. But, what it taught me is perseverance in storms. We couldn’t (and didn’t) make everyone happy, but at the end of the day, we were able to stand behind our integrity—which matters most to me.  

In our office, we have a wall that is covered in this statement: “To give real service you must add something that cannot be bought and that is sincerity and integrity.” I hold no bars when it comes to achieving those two things. 

As I will always say, “No one has a crystal ball,” and I cannot waste today worrying about tomorrow. However, the question remains: How do I feel about the market? Our market is stable. Always has been, and in my opinion, always will be. 

In 2023, when sales “slowed” back to the normalcy of pre-COVID, many other wholesalers started navigating to other revenue sources—commercial, housing, industrial, etc.—the differentiation into other sectors is fine, but it is not what Union Grove Lumber is. We are staying laser-focused on our industry and how we can improve on what we already do and already offer. 

So far in 2024, we have already brought two brand new items and one new spruce mill to the table that have never been used in our industry. That’s not easy. We are going to continue to service our industry and service it well. 

Our industry is amazing, and owners/builders always find joy in hearing (and trying) our latest offerings. 

BORNTRAGER: Business has grown with more models to fit specific customer’s needs. 

The shed industry has grown in volume and has also diversified into many different types and uses for sheds. Shed sizes keep getting bigger and bigger, which keeps us on our toes to develop machines to deliver them. 

LEE: During the past 10 years, we switched our focus completely to nameplates, whereas it used to be a side show. 

You can never tell the future of course, but unless there is a major catastrophe, I see a bright future. There is still room to grow for all of us. I see the shed industry recreating itself all of the time, which is a positive sign. 

If the economy booms, people will need a place to store their stuff. If it crashes, they will need an economical place to live. It may slow down, but I don’t see it stopping anytime soon. 

BEACHY: Our company has grown to about four times the size of 10 years ago. The shed industry overall has been a strong and fast-growing industry. 

It still looks strong, and the going trend is bigger and/or more customized sheds with more unique options creating a wider range of uses. This, in turn, demands larger, more modern equipment to transport them.

JERKINS: Over the past decade, the shed industry has witnessed significant shifts, impacting businesses and customers. Capital Forest Products has remained fluid in the everchanging market so that we have the ability to change with the times and demands.  

Demand for sheds over the last decade has steadily increased. Customization is now a key trend and has become somewhat standard. Outdoor living has gained traction, driving sales of sheds and storage boxes.  

Shed materials have evolved increasing durability, weather resistance, and low maintenance. So, to answer your question, a lot has changed in 10 years.  

When we think about looking into the future, we see innovation leading the way in this business. Sustainability and multifunctionality will shape the industry, and digital marketing will remain crucial for reaching customers.  

The future of the shed industry looks very bright, and we look forward to growing and changing each year. 

BUNKER: It has been amazing! I started production of our first product in 2013 and have never looked back. I love designing and bringing to market innovative new products that solve problems and make our industry stronger and our products better. 

We have been able to establish ourselves as a quality industry partner that our employees and customers can count on. I am very excited about our future and looking forward to the continued challenge of serving this industry with new solutions and great products.

PETERSHEIM: The company has a bright future, and our customers are the reason and inspiration behind what we do—the reason we keep pushing forward to innovate and deliver exceptional quality trailers.

The shed industry is more of a nationwide industry of its own and is more recognized today than 10 years ago.

REUBEN MILLER, custom sales manager at Pine Hill Trailers: Our manufacturing focus has shifted from reactive to proactive as we continue to meet the needs of our customers.

How does Shed Builder Magazine fit with your overall marketing plan?

GOODNIGHT: Shed Builder Magazine is our only marketing plan. We have been offered spots in other publications and platforms, but why? When Shed Builder Magazine is hitting all of the targets we consider fruitful, why change course? We don’t. 

Our customers seem to really enjoy the magazine and of course the show, so we will stick with what we know well.

BORNTRAGER: We use several different market strategies, but Shed Builder Magazine remains one of our main ones. 

LEE: As long as it pursues the shed builder with free subscriptions and logical places for shows, I expect it will continue to be a viable resource. 

BEACHY: It fits very well by keeping readers updated on new designs/options or even just a way of giving our contact information to everyone in the industry—not just shed haulers, which is still the main target of our market.

JERKINS: Shed Builder Magazine allows us as the advertiser to do several key things. The publication allows us to reach our target audience to showcase products and enhance and reinforce the Capital Forest Products brand.

BUNKER: Shed Builder Magazine along with the shed show are our primary marketing tools.

PETERSHEIM: Working with Shed Builder Magazine has given us a solid foundation to communicate our story to our customers.

So much of the shed industry is about partnership, moving forward as a community to meet the diverse and growing needs of those we serve.

MILLER: Choosing to partner with Shed Builder Magazine has allowed us to share how the story of Pine Hill can serve the story of every customer, vendor, and partner we serve.

What do you find most important about Shed Builder Magazine?

GOODNIGHT: The stories! We absolutely adore reading stories about how businesses started and how they are growing. The customer base in this industry is unique. To hear each of their stories is a wonderful privilege. We take pride in educating ourselves in each of them. Oh, and of course, Jason Kauffman’s stories. He’s a riot. His stories always give a chuckle.

BORNTRAGER: The ad on the back cover! Shed Builder Magazine has been a good place to reach a lot of customers and also get the pulse of the industry. 

LEE: It is targeted and relevant to a primary market. 

BEACHY: Valuable articles and good advertisements.

  • JERKINS: For Capital Forest Products, it’s not just one thing.  We would have to say that the things we find important to us with Shed Builder Magazine are:
    Advertising Opportunity & Brand Recognition/Reinforcement
  • Networking and Community
  • Industry Insights
  • Quality Content

BUNKER: I believe it is the best and most effective way to connect with others in the industry.

PETERSHEIM: We enjoy being a part of the Shed Builder Magazine because of the people—the shed building and hauling community. The magazine’s ability to bring people together from all walks of life, grounded in the shed community, is a really unique thing that we are proud to be a part of.

How would you describe the impact that Shed Builder Magazine has had on the industry?

GOODNIGHT: If we didn’t think Shed Builder Magazine was having a positive impact on our industry, we would have never turned the shed show over to them. 

The impact is positive in mindset and growth. It’s great being able to open something written and not fearing reading about the negativity in the world. We can turn on the news for that, but we can open Shed Builder Magazine and be filled with smiles. 

BORNTRAGER: As I mentioned before, it has been a great place for industry networking and keeping up with trends. The Shed Builder Expo has also had a huge positive impact on the industry. 

LEE: I believe it’s a place that promotes collaboration among the whole shed industry. Collaboration promotes innovation and growth. Growth helps everyone by giving them a stable platform to build on.

BEACHY: It has had a very positive impact. I would describe it as a meeting place for everyone in the industry to be able to share stories, experiences, and show their latest products or services.

JERKINS: The impact of Shed Builder Magazine on the industry has been significant over the years and in many ways.  

The magazine serves as a valuable knowledge hub for builders and suppliers, fosters a sense of community within the shed industry, provides visibility to shed-related businesses, acts as a bridge between buyers and sellers, tracks trends and innovations, and inspires shed builders with creative ideas.  

BUNKER: It has certainly brought more attention to it. 

MILLER: It’s bringing everyone together, from corporate companies to the father and son building sheds at home.

What do you expect and where would you like to see Shed Builder Magazine go from here?

GOODNIGHT: I recommend that all businesses stay focused on their area of expertise while continuing to improve on what is already being done. 

With that being said, continuing to have constructive feedback is paramount, and responding to those. Our customers and fellow vendors live in this industry. They/we know what would be fruitful for not only the magazine, but also for the show. 

As for me, I would like to see more articles with interviews from builders, suppliers, and mills. Reading about our customers is important to us. Being able to read about us, as vendors, and the mills, as product questions arise, is helpful to them as well.

BORNTRAGER: All I can say is keep up the good work. As long as you keep doing what you’re doing, I want to be a part of it!

LEE: Continue to pursue builders, haulers, resellers, and innovators. Produce articles that are interesting and stimulating to all of the above. Continue to be a reasonable place to advertise.

BEACHY: I prefer to see that it stays a free subscription to the readers. Always geared to pull everyone together.

BUNKER: Keep doing more of the same with the magazine and the shed show. Great job, Marty and team!

PETERSHEIM: Like everything, things evolve. Keep their ears and eyes peeled to see ways they could grow and refine their offerings.

MILLER: Continuous improvement is vital. Never get complacent, and take a genuine interest in current market positions and trends.

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