SCORE

The first impression that a visitor receives upon visiting the Morton Fine Furniture showroom in downtown Lititz is the golden glow of the light that reflects from the carefully selected array of woods Thomas Morton chooses for his designs. Premium-grade cherry, walnut, ash, white oak, and maple are harvested from his privately-owned forest, or the Appalachian mountains of Pennsylvania and New York. 

Thomas Morton discovered his passion for woodworking in high school shop class. “Some kids did band or football,” he says, “I did Shop.” In the late 1980’s Thomas, with the support of his wife Joanne, followed his dream when he established Morton Fine Furniture, Inc. He is now a gifted, respected artisan and has been designated a Heritage Craftsman of Lancaster County. 

While Thomas is an expert in the pursuit and execution of his art he realized that he needed some guidance for changes to his business plan that he was exploring. He decided to reach out to SCORE Lancaster-Lebanon for assistance and was paired with SCORE volunteer mentor Jeff Eberts.

“I was at the point of not knowing how to make an informed decision to introduce my selected furniture on the internet. My SCORE mentor had us slow down and reevaluate the entire business and my decision-making process. He also helped me look at the business in a more holistic and quantitative perspective, which now has made an impact on how I make decisions.”
    - Thomas Morton, founder of Morton Fine Furniture

Creating unique, handcrafted fine furniture in a rapidly changing market poses exceptional challenges for any artist. Thomas was fortunate to have a mentor with the background and experience to address issues like this. Jeff Eberts is retired from a very exciting 32-year career that spanned several Fortune 500 companies. He has had roles in both Global Sales and Sales Leadership and brings that knowledge to the table in his sessions with Thomas.

To lay the groundwork for a new business model, Jeff and Thomas reviewed the total business plan for Morton Fine Furniture. After three decades it was important to look at the procedures with a fresh perspective.

“As this business is not new, its business plan has been in place for over 30 years.  However, we have spent a good deal of time together on assessing the success of their business plan, evaluating transformational changes to the business model as well as building sustainable management tools to evaluate progress.  It is in the areas of balance sheet management, product line decision making, and marketing approaches that I have seen the greatest progress.”
    - Jeff Eberts, SCORE volunteer mentor

Thomas and Jeff have been working together for almost a year now, and it would be accurate to say that their admiration for each other’s expertise and talent is decidedly mutual. Jeff finds it deeply rewarding to be a part of a client’s dreams, vision, hopes, and passion and then helping them build a step by step approach to reaching those goals.

“Working with Thomas Morton and his wife Joanne has been a real joy.  Morton Fine Furniture is a business that encompasses creative design, precise manufacturing, and high touch marketing and sales. Thomas has a unique set of skills where he can: identify and source raw lumber for use in furniture building, design incredible mission era furniture, precise manufacturing of his proprietary designs. His business is the ULTIMATE, vertically integrated business. Over the last several years Thomas has begun to transform his business into a combination vertical/virtual integrated model, which has allowed us to work together to redefine important metrics for his business.”
    -Jeff Eberts, SCORE volunteer mentor

Thomas is grateful for the sounding board, and the informed added perspective to help develop new ideas. The role of a small business owner is often a lonely one when it comes to decision making and having a SCORE mentor to turn to for guidance and advice is an invaluable asset.

“No one knows your business better than yourself. As a small business owner, we like to make informed decisions. With a new set of eyes and an outsider looking in perspective, you can make decisions that are better informed to move your business forward in a profitable way. So, my short advice regarding requesting a SCORE mentor for a start-up or established business is, just do it!”
    - Thomas Morton, founder of Morton Fine Furniture