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gfernandez

Gonzalo
Corporate Member
Two years ago I took a woodworking class here in NC with Gregory Paolini and built a bow arm Morris chair. Although there were a few bumps along the way, the main one being he was short an instructor and we all went home with unfinished pieces, it was still a great time and the 6 of us learned a ton of useful woodworking knowledge. Greg was also readily available via phone and email with the many questions I had after the class ended regarding getting my project completed.

About 6 months later, I tried to get Greg, who advertised private classes in his shop or yours, to come to Cary for a private class for myself and another local woodworker. Long story short, after initially coming up with a tentative date and agreeing to come, he did not return emails or voice mails over the next several months regarding the project we were supposed to be doing or finalizing a date. When he did finally get in touch a few days before we were supposed to start, I told him that since he never got back to us, we had made other plans. To his credit, he did apologize (see email below)

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From: gregory.john.paolini@gmail.com
To: gonzfernandez
Subject: RE: March 13-17
Date: Sun, 3 Mar 2013 20:16:07 -0500

[FONT=&amp]Gonzalo & Sean, [/FONT]

[FONT=&amp]I’m sorry that I won’t be able to see the two of you as soon as I had hoped to – And I owe both of you a huge apology – I really dropped the ball ( a few times) with your project. It really does bother me, not just because it’s unprofessional, but more because it may give the impression that your time was not important to me. Please believe me that the latter could not be further from the truth. [/FONT]

[FONT=&amp]Please know that I fully realize that the lack of communication was completely on my end, and that I take full responsibility for leaving things in a chaotic state. Again, I apologize, and I shall further reflect on this experience, learn, and improve from it. [/FONT]

[FONT=&amp]I hope to work with both of you in the future – And I give you my word, that the next experience will indeed be much improved.[/FONT]

[FONT=&amp]Sincerely, [/FONT]

[FONT=&amp]Gregory Paolini[/FONT]


[FONT=&amp]
GetInline.aspx
[/FONT]

[FONT=&amp]www.GregoryPaolini.com[/FONT]

[FONT=&amp]Gregory Paolini Design LLC[/FONT]
[FONT=&amp]World Class Woodworking[/FONT]
[FONT=&amp]726 Freedom Drive[/FONT]
[FONT=&amp]Canton, NC 28716[/FONT]
[FONT=&amp]Phone:: 828.627.3948[/FONT]



Fast forward to this spring when I signed up to do a Maloof style rocking chair at his shop. My only issue was that as a small business owner it is really hard for me, from a financial and time perspective, to take a full week off of work (the class went from Monday to Saturday). I called and emailed Greg, explained the situation, and was glad to hear he was amendable to me coming up earlier to do the first day of the course sometime in the July-October range, then join the scheduled class on Tuesday for the rest of the week. This would have allowed me to work that Monday and take the rest of the week off.

After talking with Greg in June, confirming I was enrolled in the class, and being promised a list of dates, I never heard back from him again. I sent multiple emails every 3-4 weeks and left voice mails with no response. That's 5 months without hearing back from him.

Why am I writing this? I am disappointed as to how it was handled and honestly, just want to vent. I was really looking forward to the class. I've also now burned 4 vacation days this week. It may not seem like much, but I rarely take off 4 days in a row due to work. The last time I took a full week off was over two years ago to take the Morris chair class. Greg is a nice guy and a good instructor, but he really dropped the ball. Again. Hope the folks taking the class enjoy it, that rocking chair looks really cool.

Thanks for reading, I feel better getting it off my chest. Now I need to go find something to do this week. I've got a honey do list a mile long I'm trying to avoid!

Gonzalo
 
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Endless Pursuit

New User
Jeff
Check out the book, The E Myth.

In short: there are inventors/craftsman/artists and then there are business people. Rarely, very rarely, do they reside in the same body or brain.
 

Stuart Kent

Stuart
Senior User
sorry to hear that my friend. I sure as heck enjoy having you visit my shop! Only one mistake in 20 or so hours of work, not too shabby. You are welcome anytime!

hall table-1.jpg
 

Chuck N

New User
Chuck
It is unfortunate you had a bad experience with Greg. My two experiences taking classes with him have been very good. In late June of this year I took the two day Festool System Essentials class at his Canton workshop. I signed up for the class with Festool directly. Greg teaches the class in North Carolina for Festool. The class was more than worth the time and money expended. Despite having a busy workshop producing for his many customers, Greg was 100% focused on the class instruction which was very good.

Earlier this month (October 2014) I took Greg's Woodworking Fundamentals course. There were four students in the class, instead of the normal six, so we each benefited from more one-on-one instruction from Greg while producing a Greene & Greene hall table. As a novice woodworker I found the course invaluable in teaching both technique and safety. This was a 5 day class and once again Greg's focus was on the class, not his shop business. I found Greg to be a very good and patient teacher.

From talking to Greg during lunch and after class it is clear he is currently going through a busy time. The growth of his woodworking business, as well as the number of classes he teaches, will result in him moving to a larger shop early in 2015. I suspect designing the new space, planning the new move, and integrating new workers has him pretty stretched. I'm not making excuses for Greg in your situation. Obviously when a business makes a commitment to a customer, and fails to deliver, it is not acceptable to the customer. Stories such as yours, posted on an internet forum, will diminish his reputation and cause prospective students and potential customers considering working with him to have second thoughts, do more due diligence, or move on to another supplier.

Fortunately my experience with Greg has been positive on two occasions. At this point I can enthusiastically recommend him to others and I will consider him for future classes.
 

patlaw

Mike
Corporate Member
My comment is not necessarily about Greg since I've never met him or done business with him, but every avocation has its problems with the "rock star" mentality. When key players enjoy a level of fame, such as I've witnessed in woodworking, podcasting, and even business, they don't deal with it well, and they often behave in the manner you describe. They don't return emails or phone calls, they are not responsive to their fans and customers, or they don't have time to talk with you in person. They're just too busy. (Being too busy for your customers is called bad management. If you don't have the time, make sure you make your customers are aware of your availability and that you keep your commitments.)

That's the way Hollywood works: These "starlets" spend their entire lives trying to get people to recognize them. Once they get famous, they spend the rest of their 15 minutes in fame trying to keep people from recognizing them. They don't impress me. If anyone doesn't want to be around me, I enthusiastically oblige them.
 

Chuck N

New User
Chuck
I've seen the "rock star" behavior you describe. I've also seen people who as they become more successful are able to control the "ego" dimension of fame but do experience difficulty managing their increasing time commitments effectively. In many instances they say yes to too many requests and then simply do not have the time to satisfy their commitments. In that case it is a matter of trying to do something nice but really not being able to do so. We all live under the constraint of 24 hours in a day and some busy people sign up for too many tasks.

I had an experience with another commercial resource (I won't name) who is frequently praised on NC Woodworker, and who frequently posts. I called in advance to make a specific appointment at his place of business. I drove two hours to his place of business and arrived on time for our appointment. He was engaged in other activities and asked me to wait. Then another customer of his showed up without an appointment. He attended to the needs of that customer, leaving me waiting. When he got to me he several times interrupted our conversation answering cell phone calls. Finally he told me he just didn't have time that day to execute the special request I had made when I called for the appointment. I left with the perception that he was a nice person but disorganized and overcommitted. Subsequently I found another supplier (also frequently praised on NC Woodworker) who is meticulous in executing requests, keeping appointments, and focusing on the customer in front of him.

Upon further reflecting on my positive experience versus Gonzolo's disappointing experience with Greg Paolini I see one major difference. I took the courses at the time and place they were advertised. I didn't require or request any special consideration with respect to special sessions or adjustments to the posted schedule. Gonzolo's problems seem to be related to Greg not meeting the expectations set for special accommodation. It may be Greg is simply so busy he really can't effectively customize his standard offering to deal with exceptions. I'll keep this in mind should I decide to sign up for another course and not be able to work within the defined scheduling parameters.

My comment is not necessarily about Greg since I've never met him or done business with him, but every avocation has its problems with the "rock star" mentality. When key players enjoy a level of fame, such as I've witnessed in woodworking, podcasting, and even business, they don't deal with it well, and they often behave in the manner you describe. They don't return emails or phone calls, they are not responsive to their fans and customers, or they don't have time to talk with you in person. They're just too busy. (Being too busy for your customers is called bad management. If you don't have the time, make sure you make your customers are aware of your availability and that you keep your commitments.)

That's the way Hollywood works: These "starlets" spend their entire lives trying to get people to recognize them. Once they get famous, they spend the rest of their 15 minutes in fame trying to keep people from recognizing them. They don't impress me. If anyone doesn't want to be around me, I enthusiastically oblige them.
 

patlaw

Mike
Corporate Member
Chuck, I hear what you're saying and feel your pain. My opinion is that it is the rock star's obligation to manage his or her commitments. I'm sure we agree that when someone makes a commitment, they should keep it. Wow, we are so old fashioned.
 

Chuck N

New User
Chuck
I couldn't agree with you more. Quality product, fair price, superb customer service, and operating with integrity to customers and employees are the most critical success factors for a business. When a business starts trying to short cut any of the above, for any reason, it begins to run into trouble.

When I ran a business, before retiring, I insisted my employees keep commitments to customers even if the company lost money on the transaction. I also constantly coached them to avoid overcommitting. Better to under promise, and over deliver, than to fall short of expectations and lose a customer. Amazing how good old fashioned business principles still work in this age of technological marvels!


Chuck, I hear what you're saying and feel your pain. My opinion is that it is the rock star's obligation to manage his or her commitments. I'm sure we agree that when someone makes a commitment, they should keep it. Wow, we are so old fashioned.
 

gfernandez

Gonzalo
Corporate Member
Chuck,
Great posts, thanks. I agree with you that the class I took was very good and Greg is a nice guy. But, however busy he may be, it is a 2 minute call or email to tell me you are overwhelmed and unable to honor your commitment. I set aside 4 vacation days to take the class, and would have appreciated a call or email so I could have made other arrangements. The first time was not about special arrangements, it was for a private class at my shop as he advertised on his website he could do. What else can I say?

In my business, we treat customers the way we would like to be treated. We joke that our slogan is "Your way right away", taken from the old Burger King commercials. As corny as it sounds we have built a reputation on customer service that sets us apart from other companies.

I am not sure who wound up teaching the class, but when I talked with Greg back in June, it was supposed to be one of his employees. That also was not advertised on the website, but I would hope everyone was made aware of it prior to signing up. Part of the appeal of going is to learn from Greg directly, no matter how competent someone else may be.
 

Chuck N

New User
Chuck
Gonzalo,

If I were in your shoes I'd feel exactly the same way. I'd rather hear bad news quickly and directly, with enough time to change my plans, than hear nothing. Much like the experience I described with the supplier I drove 2 hours to see. I'd rather have been told when I made the appointment he had no time work with me than to do it when I'd spent the time and gas money to visit his place of business.

Greg did teach the October Woodworking Fundamentals class. I would definitely have been disappointed if I had showed up on the first day and someone else was teaching it.

I applaud you for competing on the basis of superior customer service. It takes time to develop and nurture a discerning customer base that values service over price alone. In the end a business built on long standing customer relationships is a much more solid enterprise. There are still many customers who respect and value quality, service, and reliability.

Chuck

Chuck,
Great posts, thanks. I agree with you that the class I took was very good and Greg is a nice guy. But, however busy he may be, it is a 2 minute call or email to tell me you are overwhelmed and unable to honor your commitment. I set aside 4 vacation days to take the class, and would have appreciated a call or email so I could have made other arrangements. The first time was not about special arrangements, it was for a private class at my shop as he advertised on his website he could do. What else can I say?

In my business, we treat customers the way we would like to be treated. We joke that our slogan is "Your way right away", taken from the old Burger King commercials. As corny as it sounds we have built a reputation on customer service that sets us apart from other companies.

I am not sure who wound up teaching the class, but when I talked with Greg back in June, it was supposed to be one of his employees. That also was not advertised on the website, but I would hope everyone was made aware of it prior to signing up. Part of the appeal of going is to learn from Greg directly, no matter how competent someone else may be.
 

KenOfCary

Ken
Staff member
Corporate Member
There is a quote I particularly like about the customer service business. I think I originally heard this from someone at Target.

It takes years to develop a good relationship with a customer and only minutes to loose it.

So true.
 

Gofor

Mark
Corporate Member
There is a quote I particularly like about the customer service business. I think I originally heard this from someone at Target.

It takes years to develop a good relationship with a customer and only minutes to loose it.

So true.


or, paraphrasing an old military maxim: It only takes one "Oh Shucks" to wipe out all those "Atta-Boys"!

Go
 

golfdad

Co-director of Outreach
Dirk
Corporate Member
Just a quick note here. Im with Chuck on this one. I have taken a class at Greg's and it was very well run....very professional and even replied to a question I had several yrs later. I would take another class there in a heartbeat.
 

gfernandez

Gonzalo
Corporate Member
UPDATE

Greg called me a few weeks ago, was very apologetic over what happened and offered to do whatever it took to make things right. We talked it over, and I am scheduled to go out in January for a one on one class to build the rocking chair. As far as I am concerned, he went above and beyond to make things right. I am excited to go and will update again after the class is over. Below is a picture of the rocking chair from his website.
 

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ScottM

Scott
Staff member
Corporate Member
UPDATE

Greg called me a few weeks ago, was very apologetic over what happened and offered to do whatever it took to make things right. We talked it over, and I am scheduled to go out in January for a one on one class to build the rocking chair. As far as I am concerned, he went above and beyond to make things right. I am excited to go and will update again after the class is over. Below is a picture of the rocking chair from his website.

Gonzalo, this is great news. I am glad he is going to make it right. While I have not taken any of his classes I have had dealings with him and I thought he was a class act. Thank you too for the follow up.
 

Bapakleo

New User
Leo
Gonzalo, I truly hope this works out for you. But, remember the old saying, "Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me." When this fellow forgets you and then apologizes again, consider getting you class from Hal Taylor of Fredericksburg, VA. He's been a fantastic chair maker and instructor for many years. Again, really hope it works out for you.
 
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