About Us . .
What Happened to American Workbench?
The old saying “Long Story short” doesn’t always fit in the years leading to the rise and subsequent fall of a small business. Today more than ever, whether it be due to Covid-19, the impact of High Tech controlling the internet, or the rise of companies like Amazon obliterating small neighborhood stores and shopping malls.
In 2005 when we decided to build Custom Wooden Workbenches under the name of American Workbench, LLC, there wasn’t an Amazon, and Big Box Stores were only listings on the internet. At first our platform was actually on Ebay!
Our first primitive website was introduced in 2007 when we decided to pay full attention to AWB as my only source of income. I worked alone in a 700 square foot shop with very few woodworking machines and tools. At 50 years old this was to be my last Hurrah in creating a company that would fulfill what I felt was a need and would satisfy Hobbyist’s, Craftspeople, Gunsmith’s, Reloader’s and a myriad of other platforms for enthusiasts.
We planned on offering three custom workbench products that eventually grew to fifteen variations with added Options such as drawers, vises, enclosures, bench dog holes, bench dogs etc.
From 2007 to 2012 we continued to expand from 700 square feet to 6,000 square feet. Profits were small as the goal was to keep the price point down and focus dollars directly toward hiring staff and purchasing equipment.
During those years based on well pleased clients’ sales grew substantially. I
In 2012 we garnered clients like Jimmy Buffet, Boeing, General Electric, Microsoft not to mention hundreds of individuals like you and me! In that year we negotiated a “Lease Purchase” agreement for a disserted run down 17,000 square foot building.
Interestingly, in 2005 Yahoo was the primary search engine, and Google was on the rise from two college students putting together a website containing hierarchical search similar to Yahoo.
Both search engines were based on a phone book type search. So, if you were searching for a workbench, American Workbench would of course have 1st page placement. While Yahoo stayed a bit stagnant in their research and growth, Google became the pacesetter in enhancing searches based on the popularity of “Hits” on website visits. In addition, to make the search even more specific Google chose certain algorithms from the internal content of webpages.
It all seemed well and good to all, however the interesting caveat was they then added “Paid Search” for those sites that were buried below Page 1 and 2 searches. Web surfers believed going beyond the first two pages was senseless. So bidding wars for pages 1 and 2 became very popular and costly.
Paid search began to pit competitive business against each other. Changing algorithms was a practice of using certain search formulas to push down Pages, Blogs, and Storefronts that didn’t meet their search Criteria.
The big caveat was this "Criteria" was based on Google's "Bill of Rights" and not the "Bill of Rights" you and I know from our paradigm. What was once a simple venue was slowly turning into an enormous revenue generator for Google as well as a controlled stage that we all blindly followed as "Correctness".
Without going into further research of the “History of the Search World”, the continued result is not only a story in of itself, but it has also created a survival of the fit atmosphere.
Many genuinely great small businesses have failed due to algorithmic changes in Googles requirements to even be viewed. “Pay per Click” for advertising seemed to be their primary revenue generation and if companies didn’t make changes, they we hardly visible.
In 2017, small companies either had to now employ consultants, or manage advertising on their own. AWB was able to compete in a reasonable fashion, though spending thousands of dollars per month to be seen. Big Box competitors were inviting us to sell on their platforms however based on our customizable product, as well as their prospective profit margin added to our pricing we opted out of all but one.
Home Depot carried our benches in 2013 with a limited size and color. We found that clients would order on HD, then visit our site. When they saw the other customization and opportunities, would then Cancel the HD order and order through us. I felt that while we experienced growth through the relationship, it allowed me to feel it unethical to use Home Depot in that fashion, so I ended the relationship.
Our growth in sales levelled off in 2018 while the economy was growing at a faster pace. This was directly related to the “Rat Race” of Bog Box competitors out bidding for placement and using keywords so as to show up on all of our landing pages.
On a personal note, my lovely wife’s personality was changing and was noticed by my children and myself. These changes weren’t the age-old stories told by many who experience divorce. She was becoming paranoid and fearful. She lost her job of 12 years with a prominent company. She began a new job shortly thereafter and became a workaholic, working feverishly almost 18 hours a day 7 days a week.
While there were other episodes and oddities I prefer not to share; We separated in 2019. Between operating a small company that grew so large, I was balancing my time with my children and our business.
Something had to give. All that we had worked for during those 16 years of a genuinely happy business and happy family had come to a screeching halt.
Finally in November of 2019, I began liquidating assets to refund clients. When Covid-19 stifled many, there was nothing more that I could do to sell anything.
In February 2020 I received a call that my wife was in the hospital and had a Brain Tumor. It was a Hemangioblastoma at the rear base of her head. The exacerbate this they first had to treat her for the hydrocephalus created by the Tumor. The surgeon had to operate first by installing ventilation to allow the fluids in her brain to circulate again. That night she experienced a hemorrhage in her left frontal section and had emergency surgery again.
During a conversation with hospital staff, I found that with her new job she had not signed up for health coverage, which again was not like her to overlook such an important issue. I’m sure that you can imagine the costs.
In Late February 2020 she received her surgery to remove the Hemangioblastoma and relieve the blockage. The operation was a partial success, however now she had to go into rehabilitation where she had to learn to walk, talk, as well as a few other complications.
In the meantime, I had my 6-year-old son to home school until schools would re-open. I think all of us have stories about the lock down and having children 24/7. Well, me and Johnny were “Joined at the hip” until June of 2020. Emily was released from the Hospital in June of 2020 and the house was made ready for her. It has taken a year and a half for her be finally approved for Social Security benefits in July of this year.
I had to take a consulting Job to support two households plus Medical bills.
Looking back prior to her operation, I can remember a brief feeling of relief when the Surgeon informed me that her behavioral issues that slowly brought us to separate could be directly related to the tumor. I was told that in 99% of these Brain Tumors directly effect behaviors.
While the Cyst around the tumor was removed, the tumor itself was not and she is monitored every 3 months to follow growth. If there is growth, she will have to have the operation done again and have to relearn everything over again.
Unfortunately, she doesn’t recognize this, and while those behaviors are not present, whatever she can remember remains the basis of her opinion, therefore we will not be getting back together.
Though her long-term memory has partially returned, her short-term memory and certain dexterity issues remain. I have stood by my family financially and always will.
For a period of time during the shut down I felt a great deal of remorse. I do believe though that the Lord has a plan for us all so I will take each day and appreciate what I have left and what is in front of me.
My primary reason for sharing this is to explain the reason that American Workbench disappeared.
While American Workbench will not return again any time soon, my commitment to the 2ndAmendment remains. As of late I gathered enough courage to visit the old web page and found hundreds of requests for reloading benches. I will be starting a very small company again to meet that need as well as to hopefully repay the few that I owe, win back past clients understanding and to once again sustain my Family while filling what I believe is an important need…. for America to Reload again with a strong expressive Product. www.americareloads.com will open May 1st to take a limited amount of orders, I hope that you’ll once again welcome a portion of my products.
Lastly, the return of our wonderful "Benches" is a semi-retirement for me therefore we have downsized the operation where myself and another employee are building and shipping our products. This can create a "Waiting list" at times. When that happens you may either see an "Out of Stock" message that will invite you to join a wait list.
My Best, and God Bless America!