Meet Jim Stechschulte – A Q&A with Washington Woodworking’s New CEO
Jim Stechschulte has always been fascinated by architectural millwork, and his passion has led to a decades-long career in the industry, starting on the shop floor.
Jim started his career in Chicago at Molinari Renovations, working his way up to lead carpenter in only two years. He then spent the next 22 years at Ameriscan Designs Inc., advancing from an apprentice cabinetmaker to Production Manager to Vice President of Operations, before joining Washington Woodworking as its new CEO in September of 2022.
At Ameriscan Designs, Jim was the lynchpin behind the company’s adoption of lean techniques and continuous improvement systems. He continued transforming the company by implementing processes and systems for optimizing workflow and improving communications with employees, clients and vendors. An innovative thinker and a skilled leader, Jim helped guide Ameriscan Designs through the most prosperous time in the company’s 35-year history.
Needless to say, we could not be more excited about the experience and expertise Jim brings to the helm.
As Washington Woodworking celebrates 125 years of imagination, innovation, relationships and milestones, bringing a new CEO onboard could not be a more exciting milestone to kick off the 125th anniversary year.
We recently sat down with Jim to ask him about his new position, and we know you’ll enjoy getting to know the person behind the title as much as we did.
What special expertise do you bring to your new role as Washington Woodworking’s CEO?
Creating systems and processes to streamline and optimize the manufacturing process. Of course, you can bring the most in-depth operational expertise and still not achieve a company’s goals if you don’t know how to support a high-performing team.
My personal leadership style is grounded in respect, and I believe people realize their full potential when they’re listened to and feel ownership over the success of the company.
Where do you think you’ll have the most impact at Washington Woodworking?
In customer experience. I want to ensure we have clear and open lines of communication with clients and are managing their expectations. Ultimately, I plan to take Washington Woodworking to the point where our project process – from bidding through installation and closeout docs – is completely visible to our clients in real time. This will be especially valuable for clients who must coordinate many other trades around our millwork.
What do you appreciate most about Washington Woodworking?
The people. The team here is not only passionate about woodworking and architectural millwork but also about continuing our legacy as the premiere woodworking company in the DC metro area. The sense of pride from the team is immense. I feel it every time I walk through the office and the shop.
What do you think makes Washington Woodworking so unique?
Oh boy, that’s difficult to answer…there are so many aspects of the company that make it unique. Since I’ve talked about the team already, let me share three of our capabilities that exemplify our mastery of the craft and are not easy to find elsewhere.
First, we are the only architectural millwork shop in the mid-Atlantic that buys and lays up its own veneer. In-house veneer fabrication not only gives us 100% control over the end product but also over costs and schedules.
Second, we’ve perfected our high-gloss painted finishes to the point that we’ve created the standard for top architectural firms in the area.
Third, but certainly not the end of our unique capabilities list, is our attention to detail. From shop drawings to the final product, every detail is given equal focus, contributing to the positive customer experience we deliver. It’s one of the reasons our clients keep coming back.
In addition to being our new CEO, you’re a musician. How would you use the world of music to talk about your role at Washington Woodworking?
Yes! I actually earned my BA in jazz performance from Berklee College of Music.
I think the majority of people think the CEO is like the conductor to the symphony, but as a bassist, I tend to think more from the bottom up than the top down.
The bass part or line to a composition or song is its foundation, and I’m always looking at a situation or problem from that angle. If I played the bassline to a song with no other accompaniment, chances are you would know what song it was. That’s how important the bass part is.
When you have buy-in from your team at the “bass” level, it has a profound effect on the success of the project and the company as a whole.