Gerry Phelan – Midwest Woodworkers

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A woodworker for over 30 years, Gerry Phelan discovered Midwest Woodworkers after moving to Omaha 12 years ago and became a regular customer.  When he learned the previous owners were interested in selling, he immediately went to work on a business plan and was able to purchase the company.  Midwest Woodworkers has served amateur and professional woodworkers for over 30 years by providing domestic and exotic hardwoods, quality tools and a wide range of woodworking supplies.  They offer classes to enhance woodworking skills and encourage new woodworkers to get started.  They also have a light manufacturing business segment that ships carving supplies all over the US, Canada and Europe.

Tell us a little about your family. – I have a wonderful wife and three fantastic kids.  We are working empty nesters at this point.  My two daughters (and son-in-law and grandson) live in Kansas City and my son lives here in Omaha.  Hanging out with my family and their significant others when we can all get together is the best.
What do you see as one of the biggest turning points in your life? – Moving to Omaha.  I came here for the opportunity of a lifetime that lasted about three years.  I threw myself into the new job and three years later found myself looking for work with few local connections and no prospects.  It forced me to reinvent myself and branch out into consulting.  I had to draw on all of my business experiences to pull it off.  It also taught me to get busy networking.

What is your favorite thing to do on a day off? – That’s an easy one: golf.  I don’t do it very well but I do enjoy getting out.  I can’t seem to control where the ball goes, but I do make sure the company is good.

What is the most unique or interesting thing about you that most people probably don’t know? – I’m a speaker for the Greater Omaha Business Ethics Alliance.  I’m not a trained ethicist, but it’s a subject that fascinates me.  Being part of the Alliance Outreach Committee is a chance to give back and help make Omaha a better place.

What are you the most proud of? – My three amazing kids – they are smart, principled, motivated and successful.  Now if we could just figure out what we did as parents to make that happen…

What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received? – David Deford, consultant, trainer and friend, always reminds me to ‘try stuff.’  Don’t wait for things to be perfect.  Do small scale experiments.  If it works, do more of it, if it doesn’t, try something else.  That way the risk is low and you are always making improvements.

If you could have a super power, what would it be? – Stop time.  There is never enough time for everything I’d like to do.

What is your greatest talent that you don’t utilize in your daily work life? – My woodworking.  I’ve been so immersed in my business that I never get any time in my shop.  I really miss creating.

Which talent would you most like to have? – Play lead guitar in a power trio.

What is your favorite book or the last good book you read? – Self Marketing Power by Jeff Beals.  It’s practical advice you can use every day.

What is your favorite movie? – The Lord of the Rings Trilogy – I read those books years ago and Peter Jackson’s movies nailed it.  It’s a great adventure.

What is your favorite local restaurant? – As the Delbert McClinton song goes “You need a right place to eat barbeque.”  Big Horn Mountain Barbeque.  They have killer beef brisket.

If our readers would like to contact you, how should they do so? – Email works best: gerry@midwestwoodworkers.com.  Or say hello at a Chamber networking event!

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