Back Story:

 

 

Since our humble beginnings in 2005 American Workbench has been a self-sustaining company. The growth of the company including its assets has been developed strictly by cash flow. Who were our investors? Our Clients. . . . 

John Zirpola Sr. was a Hotel Administrator for over 28 years. Prior to his Hotel/ Restaurant career, he served in the Navy as a Photographer with an Aerial Antisubmarine segment. Notably V.P. 40 Stationed at Moffett Field,CA and Deployed to Misawa, Japan. Prior to his service to the United States Navy, He attended Southern Oregon State University at Ashland Oregon with a Major in Psychology and Minor in Theatre.

What does this have to do with American Workbench?. . . 

Like many, he always dreamed of starting a company from the ground up, BUT, he didn't have a Clue as to what it could be. . . Sound familiar?

Three years after taking a position as a Hotel General Manager at "Charleston on the Beach" Holiday Inn/ Folly Beach, he was approached to refocus the opening of a brand new Next Generation Holiday Inn that had been mismanaged.

 

John and His wife had an interesting challenge ahead. He was faced with the reorganization of a new Hotel Opening gone bad, and Emily had been hired

by Hilton Focused Division as the Opening Sales Director of a Downtown Hampton Inn & Suites. They with their 3 year old Daughter Nina had to settle in to a new home very quickly so as to face their new challenges, not to mention the big transition for little Nina. They wound up in a small community outside Savannah, GA . The move was fast and crazy settling in to a one and a half acre home, no lawn mower, no work area, 2 Hotel Openings, new child care. John always felt that the Garage was the place to stage a move. . . "Put this Here, oh and Put this there" and "Oh Put that in the Garage for now, it has to be repaired". John was so frustrated because the house they moved from had a built in Workbench that couldn't join them.

 

Emily saw his frustration and searched the internet to save time, as Time was the one thing they were both short on.

In 2005, the internet wasn't what it has become today. When she Googled "Workbench" Computer terms came up in the search, Wikipedia came up describing workbenches, and then Home Depot came up. Even Home Depot's site was Archaic. But. . . she saw the sold workbenches. She couldn't buy it online the way we can these days so she visited the Local Home Depot and Bought John a WORKBENCH!!!! Yay, or so she thought.

 

She put the big colorful box in her Jeep Cherokee and brought it home to surprise John! He was so pleased at first! The picture on the box was colorful and looked just like what he needed. He opened the box and found a catalogue. Page three... Make sure all of the parts are in the box! Now this was a thick instruction manual ( Hey remember the days when you'd buy a Gas Grill and had to assemble it? or pay $100.00 to get it assembled?) There were 256 individual parts and screws in that box! MADE IN CHINA!!!!!

 

It Took 1.5 days for John to assemble it (one weekend Shot!) . Once assembled it was shaky at best. The drawers didn't fit right and worst of all when he had to work on the used riding lawn mower, people from yards away could hear the clanging of the banging on the bench!!!! The following weekend John decided to build a bench out of some left over 2" x 4" s from repairing the Hot Tub that had also needed attention at this Rental Home. Problem: He only had basic tools...Hammer, Nails, Screw drivers, Pliers etc., oh and a handheld Skillsaw. Built in 2 hours he had a very Primitive Southern Yellow Pine (30" x 48") Workbench. He Sanded it and then Wood burned  a Name on it...... American Workbench. Lastly, he put a Rich Coat of Polyurethane on it. He didn't have Plywood so the worktop was 1.5" -2" x 4"'s. It was sturdy and if you had to bang on it, it absorbed the sound....Happy Camper! End of Story......Right?

No Way... Little did we know that the "Big John was Born" ~ Light Bulb!!!!!!

John was so proud of this primitive bench! He never really worked with wood. He loved the smell of wood so much that he would actually read the Sunday paper at the bench. Emily always knew where to find him. Once a week, John's neighbors would come over to play Guitar and have a few Beers. His Buddies would say," Dude, if it was that hard to find a bench like that, why don't you start selling them?" and " Heck at least it would keep you in Cigarettes and Beer".

While the Hotels that John & Emily were managing were doing well, he kept reflecting on the fact that he was 52 years old and his goal was to one day build a Company from the ground up using all the tools he garnered through his career. Psychology, Photography, Business Administration, Hotel Marketing, Pricing Strategy, and a few other tricks he had learned along the way. He was also very aware of what he Didn't know:

  • Woodworking.

  • Product Development.

  • Packaging.

  • Shipping.

  • What Market to Choose.

  • Manufacturing.

  • Websites and How to build them.

  • Website Advertising.

 

 

and a few other things like Insurances, Liabilities, Overheads, and Negotiating Space. The reality set in when after a year of correcting the opening of a Multimillion Dollar Hotel and winning the 2006 "Torch Bearer Award" from IHG ( Holiday Inns Worldwide), and Emily's Hotel opening was a Great Success, they found that they missed Charleston. Through a lot of prayer, John decided to try to sell one workbench style on eBay. Heck he was buying on eBay all the time, why not try selling workbenches. They say "Faith can Move Mountains"! The Internet was like the Wild West, a New Frontier for small business to enter an opportunity for success. If done prudently the cost of investment could be controlled.

He called his first product " The Big John" thinking not of himself but the old "Jimmy Dean " song. It was offered in one Color ~ Honey Gold. That color was derived from the Golden hue of Polyurethaning the bench. The Gold of the SYP was so warm.

The Business Product Model:

We wanted to offer something no one else did in Wooden workbench Manufacturing

He and his friend Tracy went to Home Depot and John  bought 1 - Ryobi contractors table saw, 1 Ryobi 12" Planer, and 1 Ryobi small Drill Press and enough lumber to build a 8' x 8' Big, Big, Big John Production Bench

So in early 2006 he offered a one color, one size, 30 x 48" Workbench for $169.00. You could buy it on eBay, pay up front, and have the bench shipped to your door. It was guaranteed that it would only take 15 - 20 minutes to assemble, and last a lifetime. The other perk? John would Wood Burn your name on the bench for free. Within a few months John & Emily were averaging 5 - 6 orders a week, Yikes......

Order to Ship time? 30 Days. So in essence, he was getting front money ahead of time via eBay & PayPal to pay for materials and Shipping.

Obviously, the rest of the story wasn't that easy. You can follow the growth by the Milestones below:

Milestones

 

  ~ September 2005 ~ The Big John Designed.

 

  ~  August 2006 ~ Website and Shop created in My Garage.

 

  ~ September 2006 ~ The first products ordered and delivered.

 

  ~ January 2007 ~ Another Prayer answered: We moved back to

     Charleston, we missed it so much. John was called by the Beach

     Hotel owner he once worked for to come back an assist in the sale

     of the Hotel. Great News the new garage was a bit bigger!

 

  ~ June 2007 ~ We sold our 200th bench! John received a call from 

     a writer by the name of Charlie Self. Charlie said that he was working

     on a new book for Popular Woodworking that would be called

     "Creating Your Own Workshop"and wondered if he could get a bench

     to test and Photograph for the project! John agreed. American Workbench

      was featured in two sections. 

 

  ~ March 2008 ~ When the Hotel was finally sold, John asked Emily

    if he could take the risk leasing a 700 Square Foot space and try to business

     model full time. If it didn't work, he could always go back. We moved to our

     commercial shop location on Signal Point Road James Island, SC

 

  ~ June 2008 ~ We sold our 540th Workbench! And added

     the Palmetto Workstation inspired by

      the "Serve You" Corp of Wisconsin!

 

  ~ January 2009~ We have expanded to an additional

      1,500 Square feet of Industrial space which will allow

      for dedicated finishing and shipping space 

 

  ~ June 2009~

      We added 2 more Workbench products to our line of

      custom benches-- The Constitution Reloading Bench, and the

      Palmetto Grande!

 

 

  ~July 2009~ We have negotiated and additional 3,000 sq  

      ft for our shops. We will now have 4500 sq ft

       of manufacturing opportunity.

 

  ~ September 2009 we sold our 1700th Bench.

 

  ~ December 2009 ~ New ! Jewelers Bench.

 

  ~January 2010 ~We introduced Hard Rock Maple tops on All

   of our Workbenches to enhance the longevity and value.

 

  ~ December 2010~ We are growing! We have added 3

     new staff members to create Benches. Our production

     is currently 24 benches every 12 Days,

 

  ~ January 2011~ Lyman Products has endorsed our

      reload products and placed our "Constitution" on the Cover

     Page of their catalog.

 

  ~ February 2011~Introducing the Ben Franklin

      "Low Boy" Hobby Bench. This is a merger between The Poor Richard

       Jewelers Bench and the Fly Tying Bench.

 

  ~ July 2011~ Jimmy Buffet Purchased one of our Ben

      Franklin benches for his Sag Harbor Home.

 

  ~ September 2011~ We just added 1,500 SQ Ft to our

     shop giving us a total of 6,000 Sq Ft.

 

  ~ October 2011~ Business Tripled and we had to Hire 3 More

     Wood Crafters.

 

  ~ January 2012~ Thank you America! 2011 was our Best year

     yet.

 

  ~ March 2012~ The Microsoft Corporation Purchases 5-

      Non Conductive custom Test benches for delivery in June.

 

  ~ April 2012~ We negotiated a 17,000 SQ Ft Building to

     allow us to grow into over the next twoyears. (Move scheduled for Oct 1.)

 

  ~ June 2012~ General Electric orders 9 - 48 x 96"

     Custom Non Conductive benches for

     their new facility in Markham, Ontario

 

  ~ January 2013 ~ The Paul Revere Woodworking bench was introduced

     on our webpage 

 

  ~ June 2014 ~ Introducing The Ashley Hall Four Station Workbench!

 

  ~ August 2014 ~ We began Advertising in Garden & Gun Magazine and

      sales have increased by 20 orders per month above or normal sales.

 

  ~ January 2015 ~ Total sales hit $900,000.00 and we now have

     10 Wood Crafters on board! 

 

  ~ September 2015 ~ Supported by the SBA we purchased our 17,000

     Square Foot building and have began our Capitol improvement plan        

     to renovate the property.

 

  ~ January 2016 ~ Our New Showroom opens to the Public!

  ~ April 2019 ~ John Decided to downsize the the Business in preparation to

     find a Buyer and Retire. The Building is Sold and the Company is moved to a

     leased location in North Charleston.

 

 ~ October 2019 ~ Due to (Personal) Family Illness John was forced to Close

     the Business forfeiting current orders and future sales. While there were many

     choices to stay in business, there was no way to assign John's Duties without

     a key person to train. John also decides to either sell the Company as a Package

     with or without the assets with Plans to train the new owners the craft. 

American Workbench.Com

For Sale! . . . . finally!

The Return of the Ashley Hall

The Best Made in U.S.A. 4 Station Workbench.

The Ashley Hall ~Though originally designed as a versatile bench for School Industrial Arts and Science Classes, the Ashley has found its way in to many Woodworking facilities as a center assembly table. Legs, Frames, and Bottom shelves are honed from 2" x 8" Dense Select Southern Yellow Pine.

 

This wood type is highly resistant to wear therefore, it is suitable for Post & Beam Homes, Flooring, Decks, Patios, Marinas, Boardwalks and other high-traffic applications. The 2 1/4 " rock-hard edge grain construction of our Wood Welded Butcher Block Top assures you of the maximum durability and the greatest construction strength available. Tops are finished with DURAKRYL 102. This tough, acrylic coating will repel alcohol, bleach, even paint thinner! These tops are hard at work in factories and on shipping and receiving docks around the world. In the material handling business there is no better top than a solid Laminated Wood Welded Maple Butcher Block. For the money, this is the Best Custom Made in USA Wooden Workbench available anywhere and will give you lifetimes of hard working service that can be passed to generations.

Heirloom Quality . Built to Last Several Lifetimes

   The Constitution Reloading Bench   

The Constitution was originally designed by the request of a few clients back in 2009. We listened to the needs of these enthusiasts and created a balanced counter weighted bench that uses the rear top tier shelving for balance when using a reloading press. We also added the optional “Side Splashes” to assist in keeping everything on the table.

Paul Revere Woodworking Benches

This is an All Time Favorite in our family of American Made Workbenches, it has an "American"style top that provides a larger contiguous area to support your work compared to a European-style top with a recessed tool well. 3/4" round dog holes are strategically located to afford you multiple options of positioning & holding your work using round bench dogs (sold separately).

Workbenches

Our Custom Workbenches are stand alone  against a wall or a Center workstation placed in the middle of a workshop. As a centerpiece, it can be modified to have the worktop centered on the frame and the backsplash sent unattached, allowing for work to be performed around the workstation. Choose your Size, Height, Color,Finish, Bottom Shel Recess with Free Engraving.

  The Ben Franklin Hobby Bench  

The Ben Franklin was originally designed to merge our original Jewelers Bench and Fly Tying Bench. Since then it has attracted a multitude of hobbyists. Modelers, Gunsmiths, reloading enthusiasts, Guitar Builders, and Leather Crafters , to name a few.The Pigeon Holes and Side Compartments lend to a strong organizational ethic assisting in orderly project completion.

Shelving and Organization

Check out or Accessories Page! You'l find this GEM! Years ago we built these for our shop. Add some Casters, Heck, Even add Drawers to the shelving. Available in all sizes, you can Add shelves. Great for Storage, Showing off Models and Project. Its all up to your Imagination.

  Accessories for your Workbench. 

Enhance your bench by adding Accessories, Like: Drawers, Casters, Side Lift Casters, Side Compartments, Cabinet makers vises, Catch Trays, Stools, Additional Shelves, Shelving Racks,Shop Fox Vises, Bench Dog Pups, and Hats ; just to name a few. Some items can be added later however most are Custom installed/ 

Building a Special Bench

as a "Fan"

What goes into the beginnings of a Great Work area?

The 4 Funniest Workbench Buyer's

 

We have sold and Built over 9,000 Workbenches over the past 14 years. During this time, I have encountered four distinct personalities of workbench buyers. These are four small angels[ or Devils] that rest on my shoulders every night as I pass into dreamland. While its not difficult to please them, it becomes obvious they each require different levels of attention. Keep in mind there is absolutely no gender difference here. I'd like to introduce you to all 4 of which I have become quite fond of, But. . . .All Four can make me a bit more crazier than I already am. . . . . But

At the End of the Day, I love what we do and meeting the many callers.

The Engineer

Phone Call #1: " Hello, I really like what you'er doing there with Workbenches. I was wondering if you could build a bench to my specifications if I sent a Blueprint of what I want?"

Me: Thanks, we love building our benches, but when we say Custom, it is strictly Variations of the bench styles we already offer. . . . .

Phone Call #2: " Hello, it's me again... I was wondering if your workbench Tops are perfectly Flat?"

Me: While I can't imagine what your projects are, I attempt to explain how Flat a Top needs to be for typical projects and that if his project calls for an "Exactly Flat" Top, he would need a Torsion bench top....

Phone Call#3: Hello, It's me again[?]. . .Are all of your Joints tight and Glued up? I see that the Legs that you build have a seam, as though they are 2" x 4"s Glued together. . .isn't that cutting corners using Scrap wood?

Me: [Biting my tongue] Well, pertinent joints such as Dadoes are Glued up and pin nailed, the rest are Lag bolts. Wood is in constant motion forever, therefore there needs to be room for expansion. As for the legs. . . they are actually more expensive to produce. They are cut from 2" x 8" stock, then positioned cross grain, then Laminated, this prevents the legs from twisting through the life of the bench.

Phone Call #4: Hey Hello, you probably don't remember me, but I'd like to order the Plantation Workbench.

Me: Oh Hi, Sure let's do this. . . . 

Later that night I received an email from him with a Blueprint. . .an exact replica of the Plantation. . . .I guess we all have to play a Part...

The Undecider

2012

Phone Call#1 Hello I've been looking at your stuff over the past few years and have a few questions. Do you have anything already built that you can ship out? I've been looking at the Woodworking Bench.

Me: I'm sorry , we do not. All of our benches are built to order so their built to your requirements based on our offerings. Do you have a specific timeframe?

Caller: No, No time frame, Just wondering. Thanks.

2013

Phone Call #1 Hi, I called and spoke with you about the Paul Revere Woodworking bench. I noticed there was a price increase.

Me: Yes, We try to keep pricing skinny, but the cost to build does go up due to Materials and overheads. Have you worked with wood before? We do have a sale going on.

Caller: Oh okay, I get the pricing thing. I've done some woodworking and plan on retiring this year. Can you do custom colors to match the shop I'm Building?

Me: Yes we can do a fair job at matching Color Via Sherwin Williams. When will your shop be ready.

Caller: Not yet, I'm still working on the plans.  By the way my name is Bob.Thanks I'll get back to you.

2016

Phone Call#1: Hey John! This is Bob! I'm ready to order.

Me:Ummm Hi Bob, Help me remember . . . . .

The Cheapskate

What are the different types of workbench  owners? What do each expect from a workbench? 

I tend to go for the cheap things when it comes to things I don’t care about, or when it comes to things that are of comparative quality regardless of price.

 

For things that vary greatly in quality, I tend to come down on buying the quality item instead. After all, just because something is cheap, doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s frugal.

If the cheaper item wears out before it’s time you’re going to be spending more money to replace it.

Furniture: cheap furniture usually isn't worth buying, mostly because it'll either fall apart or cost you more money to repair or shore up, but the bottom line is that you should buy based on how long you plan to live in a specific place, and how frequently you use a piece.

 

Buying a cheap couch is going to wind up making you miserable if you spend a few hours on it every night, and skimping on a bed and mattress will make you miserable no matter what. However, if you move regularly then less-durable, easily replaced furniture can be better than large, long-lasting pieces.

 

Overall though, it makes more sense to buy long-lasting, timeless pieces that are sturdy enough to move with you than it is to re-buy every time you move, or every time your desk falls apart.

Phone Call#1: Hi, Do you just sell Bench Tops.

Me: I'm Sorry we do not, we only order what we need for our Workbench Orders.

Phone Call #2: Hi Again, Would you be willing to sell the legs and Frames, and how much would that cost?

Me: I'm Sorry we don't Sell Bench parts. . . 

Email#1:  Hi I called yesterday and asked about selling Legs and Frames, How much to make me an unfinished bench.

Return Email: Hi, so sorry to disappoint, our benches are guaranteed for life, if we sold unfinished it would void the warranty.

New Order.....Comment Section, Hi I had been calling & Emailing Just Placed my order, I liked the Warranty idea!!!!!

The Traditionalist

A Traditional Buyer is somewhat different than a typical online shopper. He/She sees something they like, but don't really know how to judge is value or understand the concept of customizing something they only see in a picture. They are also uncomfortable ordering online ~ and That's OK. While very close to the "Undecider"they Play Differently.

Phone call #1: "Hi, I was surfing online and will soon be retiring. I really like your Reloading bench and think I'll have plenty of time on my hands and Plan on learning from my neighbor.

Me: Thats very cool! Have you given much thought to what size bench you'd like?

Caller: Not really, What do most people buy?

Me: Well it's really not about what others buy or on an average. Where would you plan on putting the Bench? Also What height would you be thinking of getting?

Caller: I think I need to measure my space in the spare room. What Height do most people buy?

Me: That sounds Great, you may wish to check with your neighbor to see what equipment he uses as well as his size. About the Height....There really isn't an average height... Since World War II it has always been an assumption that the average height of a bench. Not everyone is the same height, so in the kitchen it may be okay to use an average 35" height as your not in there so long. When performing a Hobby, many spend hours & hours at their bench. How tall are you?

Caller: Oh, I'm 6' 3"and your right, I do get a back ache at work at my station.

Me: Absolutely, Call me when you've measured and consulted with your Mentor/Neighbor.

Phone Call #2 Hi, I called while back and I think I have all the info I need to place the order.

Me: Super!! Let's get started.... Size? . . . Okay, Height? . . . .  What Color and Finish?

Caller: Oh......[Silence] Can I call you back?. . . . . . .

Questions?
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OPENING HOURS
HELP

The Cheapskate

What are the different types of workbench  owners? What do each expect from a workbench? 

I tend to go for the cheap things when it comes to things I don’t care about, or when it comes to things that are of comparative quality regardless of price.

 

For things that vary greatly in quality, I tend to come down on buying the quality item instead. After all, just because something is cheap, doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s frugal.

If the cheaper item wears out before it’s time you’re going to be spending more money to replace it.

Furniture: cheap furniture usually isn't worth buying, mostly because it'll either fall apart or cost you more money to repair or shore up, but the bottom line is that you should buy based on how long you plan to live in a specific place, and how frequently you use a piece.

 

Buying a cheap couch is going to wind up making you miserable if you spend a few hours on it every night, and skimping on a bed and mattress will make you miserable no matter what. However, if you move regularly then less-durable, easily replaced furniture can be better than large, long-lasting pieces.

 

Overall though, it makes more sense to buy long-lasting, timeless pieces that are sturdy enough to move with you than it is to re-buy every time you move, or every time your desk falls apart.

Phone Call#1: Hi, Do you just sell Bench Tops.

Me: I'm Sorry we do not, we only order what we need for our Workbench Orders.

Phone Call #2: Hi Again, Would you be willing to sell the legs and Frames, and how much would that cost?

Me: I'm Sorry we don't Sell Bench parts. . . 

Email#1:  Hi I called yesterday and asked about selling Legs and Frames, How much to make me an unfinished bench.

Return Email: Hi, so sorry to disappoint, our benches are guaranteed for life, if we sold unfinished it would void the warranty.

New Order.....Comment Section, Hi I had been calling & Emailing Just Placed my order, I liked the Warranty idea!!!!!

Address: 3292 Ashley Phosphate Rd

Charleston, SC 29418

Phone: 843-864-1075

Email:  john@americanworkbench.com

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© 2005 ~ 2019 American Workbench, LLC  Charleston, SC All Rights Reserved ~ American Workbench is a Registered Trademark.

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