Battle-Tested Tips

I share what I’ve gathered from years of experience. It’s not theory or theology for me; it actually has worked.

Biblical Application

Read the Bible, apply it to your life. Start small. Then go a little bigger. It’s that simple!

Radical Advice for Broken People

Real answers for those who wonder if God can help them

Raw & Unvarnished

We’re taking off our “church face,” going deep, uncovering pain, and getting real.

“Healthy Leaders Create Healthy Workplaces. Healthy Workplaces Make Our Families Better.”

When we create a workplace where people know they’re loved, where everyone brings out the best in each other, and they’re all paid fairly, we go home feeling fulfilled.

Many families struggle with many things. When people know they’re loved at work, they bring some of that love home, and their families get better.

Does that sound like your workplace? If not, how will you get there?

We believe the answer comes through business leaders who take their calling as employers seriously and journey toward God’s definition of success, not only for themselves, but their employees and their families, their customers and vendors, and their local community.

That’s bringing heaven closer to earth, and why we want to invite God into every aspect of our workplace.

Phil’s Quotes

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Simple Systems that WORK

“The principles that Phil taught us put us in a position where we had a financial cushion for the 1st moment in our lives.”                                                                       

Ira Huber, Business Owner

Ira Huber, Business Owner

Bridging Business and the Bible

“Any time we have an issue, we go to God for wisdom and the Bible.”

Justin Palmer, Plant Manager

Justin Palmer, Plant Manager

Practical Steps to Breakthrough

“Putting in place Phil’s systems helped grow out organization from 6 employees to 30, and I have stronger relationships with God and my family than before.”

Jon Reinagel, Director, Equip Mozambique

Jon Reinagel, Director, Equip Mozambique

1975 – Humble Beginnings

I started working with wood in 1975 in a pigpen inside a neighbor’s barn, building porch swings. Having grown up in the violent neighborhoods of Chicago in an abusive home and later overcoming drug use, I found woodworking to be therapeutic.
Gina and I married in 1976.

1976 – My First Saw

I couldn’t afford new tools, so I had to take what I could find at yard sales and flea markets. Click on the video to see how God seemed to be with me, even then.

1977 – Wooden Trucks

Half our house was a woodshop. I made wooden trucks big enough for a child to ride. Gina added the artwork. We charged $10 for these. I also made baby cradles with wooden canopies. Gina sewed a slip-on flannel sheet, and handstitched a little quilt. Those were $100.

1982 – A Business is Born

We built our first house from rough lumber and used building materials. I purchased my first business license and named our business Country Woodshop. I built cabinets on a gravel floor, with an old 8” table saw and a rough lumber workbench.

1984 – Our First Shop

A local car dealer gave me his old mechanic shop if I would tear it down and move it. I spent weeks cleaning cement blocks — until my hands were bleeding. We poured a concrete floor and purchased new metal for the roof. By a miracle — we completed the shop debt free!

1985 – Opportunities

Soon we were building cabinets for hospitals, stores, and other businesses. In around 1985, an opportunity opened for us to build cabinets for Walmart Stores. Over the next several years, we would build cabinets for more than 850 Walmart Stores.

1994 – Forced to Change My Focus

We moved to Flemingsburg, Kentucky and built a new shop. Through hard times, we nearly lost our business. A friend told me, “Phil, you can’t build cabinets and run the business.”
I reluctantly turned the shop work over to my sons and began learning how to run a business.

1998 – Trials & Errors

We moved to Summersville, Missouri and built another shop. Times still were hard as I was trying to learn everything I could about running a business.

2004 – A Leap Of Faith

We moved one final time. We built a 12,000 square foot shop in the Saint James Industrial Park. We renamed ourselves Cohen Architectural Woodworking. In 2007, we added an 8,000 square foot warehouse.

2016 – A Modern Facility

We added 33,250 square feet to our Saint James facility, for a total of 54,250 square feet. We grew to between 75-80 employees.

2017 – SBA Person of the Year (MO)

For most of my career, we operated debt free. In 2017, I was named the SBA Small Business Person of the Year for Missouri.

2018 – Lifetime Achievement Award

I was given a Lifetime Achievement Award in the Saint Louis Small Business Hall of Fame.

2020 – Forbes Small Giants

Our company was featured in Forbes magazine for our healthy culture that put people ahead of profits.

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    Building Tips

    Building Tips One
    Use "Mountain Guides" whenever possible. These aren’t always people with degrees and resumes, but those who have climbed the mountains you're facing for each facet of your business. They’ve been there and done that. Many of these mountain guides are eager to help you for a reasonable fee—sometimes even for free—if you just ask.
    Building Tips Two
    Approach the Bible experimentally. Your eye doctor will have you cover one eye to read the eye chart. If you’ve been given a churched version of the Bible, try covering your “church eye,” and reading the Bible. You’ll be surprised at the whole world message you’ll receive.
    Building Tips Three
    For the core part of your business—your service or product—develop an insatiable hunger to learn as much as possible about your line of work. Never lose that hunger.
    Building Tips Four
    Don't be surprised if starting or running a business is harder than you ever imagined it would be. And never quit on a bad day. Breathe, read the Bible, take some serious prayer walks, and wait for better days that WILL follow!
    Building Tips Five
    Structure how you start your day and stick with it. Have a finish line at the end of each day when you can go home to your “other life.” I talk about this in the "Importance of Self-Care" podcast, which you can access here.
    Building Tips Six
    ALWAYS tell yourself the truth. “If you don’t tell me the truth, life will.” Confusion enters when you're NOT telling yourself the truth about something. Don’t fudge or fizzle the truth. Meet life head-on.
    Building Tips Seven
    Become as ORGANIZED as you can! If your day-to-day is organized, then you have more energy for spontaneity. Like Jazz music, running a business is a healthy tension between structure and improvisation.
    Building Tips Eight
    When we hire people, we look at our "Five C's": Character, Competence, Cultural Fit, willingness to take Correction, and Commitment. Use mine or come up with your own. Also, no decisions about employees ever should be made by one person. Always use a team to get you multiple views of the employee.
    Building Tips Nine
    Consider what makes your organization—or any organization—TOXIC instead of HEALTHY. Make lists of what healthy and toxic organizations do. Stop doing toxic things and start doing healthy things. Ask employees to help create those lists.