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Jamaica Cottage Shop: Premier Builders of Fine Post and Beam Garden Building
Do what you love the money will follow – Domenic Mangano, Founder of Jamaica Cottage Shop
Have you ever thought that traversing from one corner to another corner of a country can be the source of a million dollar idea? Actually this is exactly what happened with Domenic Mangano – Founder of Jamaica Cottage Shop. After graduating from Green Mountain College in 1991 with a business degree, Mangano traveled for four years working as a carpenter all over the country, from the East Coast to the West Coast and Alaska. There he learned all the regional building styles and techniques. He says, “In Phoenix they build on a slab, in California they build to handle earthquakes. On the East Coast, builders take a project from frame to finish.”
He visited all the states of the US except North Dakota and Hawaii. That experience gave Mangano the background to create the Jamaica Cottage Shop, where he is not only the owner, but also the senior designer. Jamaica Cottage Shop, Inc. is a privately held company, established in 1995 by Domenic Mangano in the town of Jamaica, Vermont. They are premier builders of fine post and beam garden building like tool sheds, cottages and wood sheds. Built by Vermont tradesmen, each structure is crafted with a personality of its own creating a distinctive and aesthetically pleasing sight that will enhance any landscape. They offer complete design to finish solutions for clients searching for a special sanctuary.
Talking about the mainstays of his firm, Domenic says, “We have 15 main do-it-yourself kits but with everything we sell here, we have over 100 designs, and thousands of combinations”. He took his most popular ones and turned them into kits. So far, his firm has shipped them to 36 states (of the US), Canada and the United Kingdom.
Since its conceptualization, the innovation going around the firm has continued through the years with hiring employees, out growing the old farm house moving two miles north and purchasing the old Smith’s Mill. The forty acre industrial sight with seven buildings and a 100sq ft. under roof allowed the business model to begin offering more designs in three different formats do-it-yourself plans, precut kits and fully assembled projects.
Battling the odds and carving a niche
The journey has not been a smooth ride for him, the journey was rocked with hindrances. “Along this journey, I have learned a lot and have continued to teach myself and others a formula for success”, says Domenic. Some of the obstacles include learning to use a computer, accepting cell phones, purchasing the latest technology in moving buildings hydraulically, building and replacing several websites and developing the PCK version of the designs. Developing the designs into kit form took ten years and is now the most popular form of purchasing the designs.
After battling all the odds, he started building doghouses in his backyard with a circular saw, a hammer and a little start-up seed money. “Today, the shop is the leader in the country shipping post and beam shed kits, and anyone close to us is still several years behind where we are”, he says. As present, he builds and sells more than 2,000 units a year, with a constant inventory of 100 to 200 buildings. He still makes smaller items, like a trash can storage shed, but does a major business with his buildings that can be used as a shed, garage, workshop, studio, storage facility or a live in camp or cabin.
There’s even a fully insulated 2-room-and-bath model that comes with a kitchen and is wood and solar-power ready. An even bigger, 20’x30′ timber frame barn has become a best seller. There are all sorts of building sizes in between the garbage bin and large cottage. The 16’x20′ Vermont Cottage Kit can be used as a three season second home or camp, or insulated and used all year long.
Adapting to changes
All the structures are made from locally cut, rough-sawn hemlock framing, and rough-sawn Eastern white pine for the siding and trim, and it’s all cut and built on site at Mangano’s new facility at an old lumber mill on Winhall Station Road in South Londonderry that he bought and moved into in 2004. He sells his buildings either fully assembled or in pre-cut kits, both of which are shipped wherever needed.
The pre-cut cottage kit homes have each piece carefully marked, are shipped shrink-wrapped, and the kit includes very detailed assembly instructions with excellent graphics, cut lists and color-coded instructions. The easy to build cottage plans and buildings can be bought just by themselves as well, for more adventurous do-it-yourselfers.“Basically, if someone knows which end of a hammer to hold, they’ll be fine putting together one of these kits,” he asserts.
Over the years Domenic has seen the industry change with advancements in delivery equipment especially hydraulically driven trailers and shed mules. During this journey, he came to realize that wide loads increasingly are difficult to transport and DIY kits becoming more popular. He realized that a strong digital internet presence is crucial for success. He believed in independence and his abilities. Apart from this, he always had the courage to take on the opportunities presented.
Domenic gives utter importance to creative thinking to upscale his business. A lot of creativity goes into the advertisement, website, product designs, organization and the marketing. About 20% of admin resources are dedicated to prospecting for new leads.
Giving an ear to employees and clients
At present, he has 80 employees and another 20 or so in sub-contracting. He runs numerous servers all over the country. He only keeps a core group of business professionals that he speaks with on a daily basis. To come up with great ideas in the organization, he gives an ear to the employees and the clients’ feedback. Having key people in supervisory roles has been the best decision for increased organization. Additionally he relies heavily on software. Talking about the biggest factors that have helped him become successful, they are dedication, commitment, the desire to succeed and a never give up attitude.
In his leisure time, he runs an Airbnb at his house in Jamaica Vermont. He likes to be in the woods, exploring new places off the beaten path. Apart from this, along with his girlfriend, he runs a small homestead and they enjoy gardening. When it comes to outside interests, he loves ATV riding 4×4 outdoor activities andaBeach Cottage in down east Maine. He keepsa large bird aviary at his house. He is also a Volunteer Fire Fighter for the town of Jamaica Vermont since 2012.
In the short term, he is looking to increase market share and become more socially responsible and become a larger influencer to younger generations. Apart from this, he also aims to become a global supplier.
Words of wisdom
Domenic has a piece of advice for someone going into a leadership position for the first time. He says, “You must want it. No one is going to give it to you. Respect yourself first, no one will respect or follow your lead if you do not respect yourself first. It is not what happens to you but how you react. Actions are stronger than words”. Take the chance, be dedicated and overcome the obstacles. “What has helped me is that I gave myself time to understand myself and the world before I began working to make myself and the world a better place”, he adds further.