The Modern Settler A Modern Settler Launches Mayflower Landing To understand Thomas Johnson’s vision for the formerly abandoned and dilapidated property on Mayflower Drive in Lynchburg, Virginia may take some imagination—but it is the essence of the American Dream. At the core of his vision are the precepts that sustained the early colonial settlers—and the parallels, both the struggles and triumphs, are uncanny. He is a native of Ghana who studied wood technology and furniture design in Italy before moving to the United States in the early 1990s. He eventually planted his homestead is Lynchburg, Virginia—a historic city of 65,000 residents on the banks of the James River. Thomas A. Johnson
A Ghanaian native, classically-trained in Italy, Thomas Johnson believes that the key to reviving the economy is reclaiming jobs in the American woodworking industry. He is driven by a plan to launch school to develop human capital, optimize our natural resources, and launch businesses to re-engage in the free market
He fervently believes that hard work coupled with a yearning to be selfsufficient will allow the U.S. workforce to right itself. “The early settlers came to Virginia with the full knowledge that they would work incredibly hard every day and would face unknown challenges,” he began. “But using the resources of the land and ingenuity, they were freed from oppression and controlled their own destiny. It took innovation and vision and eventually they created products to be traded with England, and later around the globe. That was their currency—and it was only limited by their desire to succeed.” Thomas Johnson is a modern settler.
While establishing and growing a thriving custom furniture business, he nurtured an idea to launch a technical school to train under-employed adults in the business of fine woodworking to become independent business people. Johnson believes that by returning to the principles of our forefathers— the original entrepreneurs—we can not only reclaim jobs that have been sent overseas, we can foster and create self-sufficient “job creators.” He explains, “Job creators are important as they are the fabric of the economic model. The concept of Mayflower Landing is to train highpotential adults in the business of fine woodworking to become independent business people.” It is vital to help individuals develop and embrace a skill, but also to foster the outlets to continue a capitalism-based employment environment. These job creators will be taught the artistry of furniture design, skills of woodworking, entrepreneurship and business principles, and are given the opportunity to market their output through an established retail channel, James River Furniture, or through their own business channels.
Mayflower Landing is a former lumber yard located on a 33-acre site with easy access to commercial truck routes and rail transportation. The site has loading docks, a retention pond for site water management, and plenty of parking. The property is ripe for re-developmentâ€”and the complex location and attributes help to fulfill the three precepts of the Thomas Johnson School for American Woodworking: human resource development, natural resource optimization and global marketing and distribution of finished goods. Visit www.MayflowerLanding.org for more concept drawings and opportunities to show your support.
Aerial view of 2301 Mayflower Drive. the site of Mayflower Landing in Lynchburg, Virginia
The Village Concept A Model for Sustained Growth Sketch Legend 1. Avenue of Oaks 2. Welcome Center/ Museum 3. Workshop Center 4. Staff Parking 5. Student/Visitor Parking 6. Chapel 7. Meditation Garden 8. Fountain 9. Student Housing 10. Admissions 11-14. Classroom Buildings 15. Student Lumber Processing Center 16. Thomas A. Johnson Furniture Co. 17. Woodworking Business Incubator 18. Railroad 19. Retention Pond 20. Lumber Harvesting Area 21. Future Expansion 22. Thomas A. Johnson Furniture Co. Lumber Processing Center
As the village nurtures wood product manufacturing concerns, proceeds from commerce generating within and between the businesses will be a source of cash flow as well. The businesses will enjoy a synergy of suppliers, of material and labor resources, and cooperative marketing. Thomas A. Johnson Furniture and James River Furniture are already operating on the site. The Thomas Johnson School for American Woodworking will be a source of revenue and a outlet for exchange of solid wood furniture, cabinetry, and specialty millwork and services. There is no limit to the number and variety of business that can plug in to the wood products manufacturing village—either on site, or virtually. Independent business services like finance and accounting, marketing, operations management, and logistics all have a role to play with the wood products entities that choose to affiliate. A long-term goal is to duplicate the Mayflower Landing village concept in many locations throughout the world.
“This is an opportunity for us to train Americans, give them the skill, give them the tools, show them the way to be able Rendering of the school buildings and other proposed buildings of Mayflower Landing Wood Products Manufacturing Village
to penetrate the international market. Americans can afford U.S.-made products,” claims Johnson. “It’s just that we are not giving them anything to buy from us.” — Thomas A. Johnson, a modern settler
Achieving Economies of Scale
Thomas Johnson Woodworking School
James River Furniture
Marketing / Advertising
Small Business Start Ups
Recycle, Reclaim, Reuse The Thomas Johnson School for American Woodworking is the heart of Mayflower Landing. It is a program where the students earn as they learn, build business relationships with peers and mentors, and master a craft that commands an above-market wage. From year 2000 to the present, thousands of jobs have been lost nationally in the wood products manufacturing industry for many reasonsâ€”more sophisticated automation and outsourcing to overseas manufacturers are obvious culprits. However, the demand for welltrained carpenters, joiners, and furniture and cabinet makers in the housing industry is steady if not growing, thus, the need to create a technical training center. Unlike woodworking degrees or certifications at public and private insitutions in North American, the Thomas Johnson School for American Woodworking is based upon three precepts: human resource development, natural resource optimization, and global marketing and distribution of finished goods.
Human Resource Development: Given the ample supply labor, there is significant profit to be made in the manufacture of solid wood furniture sold in the U.S. and to distributors in Europe and Asia. There are plenty of markets for U.S.-made products; we are just not producing and marketing to these markets and have allowed a commoditized low standard products to set the norms. Local labor can acquire the skills and desire to fulfill this need. Employees will be screened and held accountable to embrace and practice the skills training. They will also learn that by re-investing a fixed percentage of their own profit, their own literacy will be developed and wages can be paid at market rate. Employees will each be exposed to entrepreneurial studies, timber technology, and through work and mentorship, will deepen their spiritual awareness. Natural Resource Optimization: The environment and wood processing are both renewable. With increased consciousness on conservation and â€œgreenâ€? building practices, the time is ripe to create a community of industries to renew, reuse and recycle native wood and wood byproducts. Thomas A. Johnson Furniture has developed several products using this philosophy. Global Marketing and Distribution: A separate distribution arm named James River Furniture Company will remarket furniture components (unfinished) to the U.S. parent company, Thomas A. Johnson Furniture Company. Finished goods will retail through designers and builders in the U.S.
Why a Technical School? The purpose of the school is to develop a pool of well-trained, highly motivated individuals to revitalize and sustain the American woodworking trades and to serve as a model for successful re-employment and manufacturing programs. It is chartered to generate both skilled workers and independent entrepreneurs.
In addition to the hands-on skills with wood and tool maintenance, an entrepreneurial training module will teach the basics for the startup of a small business enterprise. Studentswill master skills of marketing, communications, employee and business management, and other skills applicable to securing a job or starting their own woodworking business.
Students will learn to integrate the concepts of sustainable forestry, woodworking, cabinetry, and joinery as well as skills of business ownership. The trade school and the businesses it spawns will reclaim the lost art of American woodworking.
The students will work on real-world marketable products and will have the opportunity to develop their own customer base and sell their output to other students, commercial entities, or to the supply chain accessible through Thomas A. Johnson Industries.
The school provides the opportunity to learn a time-honored trade with traditional and computer-aided design tools under the close instruction and supervision of a master woodworker. As part of the 3-year curriculum, students will craft and market their own products. Students keep the profits to finance their tuition.
Thomas Johnson shares his vision for the Thomas A. Johnson School of American Woodworking at Mayflower Landing with Lisa Fenderson on Living in the Heart of Virginia in August 2013.
Duration of Training: 36 months â€˘ Forty (40) trainees per semester â€˘ Master product design using well-honed math skills as well as computer-aided design software â€˘ Learn on state-of-the-art woodworking machinery with a large inventory of lumber and a commercial spray booth that are currently in place.
Planting the Village Putting Down Roots: Sending Up Shoots
Free Enterprise and the Independent Business Owner
The Mayflower Landing development will truly be a village—a village of independently-owned start-up but complementary wood product manufacturing businesses. Established business can locate there as well. In the village each can enjoy a business relationship with other going and growing business. For example, if a craftsman specializes in architectural product milling, his output could be sold as a component piece to a cabinet maker, or to the production arm of Thomas A. Johnson Furniture, or have a wider outlet through the James River Furniture Company. One business can feed another or, as capacity grows, each business can establish their own wholesale and retail channels.
Dan Danner, president and CEO of the National Federation of Independent Business met Thomas Johnson in 2004. Thomas was a new NFIB member and came to Washington to attend a Small Business Summit NFIB was hosting.
Kimball Payne, Lynchburg city manager, has known Johnson for eight years. “Thomas is somebody who represents the 21st century of the American dream,” he said. “He seeks opportunity not just for himself but for others. He is a modern representative of the early American settlers as one who came here from another country and found allies.” Payne also points out that Johnson uses the traditional and classic designs and themes of the early American leaders who made their homes along the James River. “His appeal is his energy, his love for his adopted country and this community. His revitalization of both the tobacco warehouse property on the river and the former lumber yard property on Mayflower Drive is another way for Lynchburg to show off its uniqueness.” he said. Kimball Payne, Lynchburg City Manager, as a guest lecturer for a class on social entrepreneurism at Lynchburg College, reminded the students of ways to capitalize on a need in the community.
Danner said, “I learned more about Thomas’ vision over the years since then, but one thing was clear from the first day I met him. No one has a greater appreciation of the benefits of free enterprise and the importance of protecting it going forward.” He describes Johnson’s motivations to achieve in this way: “For Thomas I think it starts with his belief that it is his responsibility to give back, and the art of Dan Danner furniture making is what he has to give. That, and his passion for free enterprise, his strong belief that if he can succeed given his background, others can as well.” Johnson states his motivation more simply. ‘It is our responsibility to build for the next generation,” he added. “We are not just passing through this world. We should be expected to build something for the next generation.” The Thomas Johnson School of American Woodworking and Mayflower Landing is about identifying and developing entrepreneurs, not training people who have hobbies. “We are creating an environment where self-starters can gain the background to compete in interstate and global commerce,” added Johnson.
The Opportunity Reigniting the American Dream The $10 million in venture captial funds that the Thomas Johnson is seeking will be directed towards the renovation and repurposing of 2301 Mayflower Drive, appropriately named Mayflower Landing— Woodworking Products Manufacturing Village, and for the purchase of lab computers and software, and additional woodworking equipment. The initial funding will also contribute to the annual operating budget of the school.
You may participate at any one of the executive investment levels: • Founder $ 1 million and up • Patriot $ 750, 000 to 999,000 • Commerce Leader $ 500, 000 to 749,000 • Job Creator $250,000 to 499,000 • Mayflower Villager $ 100,000 to 249,000 • Other naming opportunities
prospectus and overview of Mayflower Landing Wood Products Manufacturing Village Confidential_Not for Distribution Copyright 2013 N. Knab...
Published on Oct 31, 2013
prospectus and overview of Mayflower Landing Wood Products Manufacturing Village Confidential_Not for Distribution Copyright 2013 N. Knab...