Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

How small firms contrast with large firms regarding perceptions, practices, and needs in the U.S

Informally Refereed
Authors: Urs Buehlmann, Matthew Bumgardner, Michael Sperber
Year: 2013
Type: Scientific Journal
Station: Northern Research Station
Source: BioResources. 8(2): 2669-2680.


As many larger secondary woodworking firms have moved production offshore and been adversely impacted by the recent housing downturn, smaller firms have become important to driving U.S. hardwood demand. This study compared and contrasted small and large firms on a number of factors to help determine the unique characteristics of small firms and to provide insights into useful areas for support. Small firms were found to be similar to large firms with respect to the perceived importance attributed to manufacturing capabilities as a business success factor. However, small firms differed substantially from large firms in other ways, such as less attention to information seeking and planned investments. Small firms also tended to make greater use of distribution yards in the hardwood lumber purchasing value chain and requested fewer services from their hardwood lumber suppliers than did larger firms. Small firms were found to be keen on developing their marketing capabilities, including e-commerce, to further their information exchange with customers to successfully produce made-to-order products. Small firms considered the individual characteristics of company owners/managers to be a relatively important success factor to business, more so than larger firms. The results are summarized and discussed through the lens of small firm reliance on niche markets for survival (including fully made-to-order production) and their need to find new revenue during economic downturns.


Secondary wood products industry, Small firms vs. large firms, Success factors, Planned investments, Hardwood lumber suppliers, United States


Buehlmann, Urs; Bumgardner, Matthew; Sperber, Michael. 2013. How small firms contrast with large firms regarding perceptions, practices, and needs in the U.S. secondary woodworking industry. BioResources. 8(2): 2669-2680.