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Q&A with Pete Schoonmaker, Founder and Owner of Viking Woodworking

Pete Schoonmaker, Member (on left) Katie Robison, Membership Manager (on right)


Who: Pete Schoonmaker, Founder and Owner

Company: Viking Woodworking

Where: South Side, Pittsburgh


Every so often we conduct a Q&A with one of our members where we highlight who they are and what they’ve gained since becoming involved with the Institute for Entrepreneurial Excellence (IEE). Recently, we talked to current member and 2014 Entrepreneurial Fellows Class (EFC) graduate Pete Schoonmaker.

Pete is the owner and founder of Viking Woodworking, located in Pittsburgh’s South Side.  Founded in 2005, the focus of the company is their specialization of design and build of custom cabinetry. They also offer complete renovation services, wine cellars, home offices, bars, entertainment centers, closets and built-ins.  Viking Woodworking aims for sustainable practice by harvesting hardwoods locally and utilizing environmentally friendly materials.

Since becoming involved with the IEE, Pete has found an outlet to exchange ideas and share issues with other business owners.  We asked Pete a few questions, check out his answers below.

Q: How has the IEE helped your business?

A: The membership at the IEE is comprised of business owners who are just like me. Although we are all in completely different industries, we all have the same struggles and victories. We exchange ideas and share our issues on “typical business owner problems.” That is one of the aspects of the IEE that is truly unique. I have also learned more about myself as a person, business owner and leader to my staff. The experience with this organization has allowed me to look at myself more objectively. Interacting with the membership and staff is always fun and enlightening. I am always able to leave an event having met several more people and having solidified at least one more relationship.

Q: How has the EFC program helped you improve your business?

A: It has created an entire new network for me. It enabled me to gain a better perspective on myself as a business owner. I view my business differently now and realize that I am not alone when it comes to the tough decisions, pitfalls and general stress of owning and operating a small business.

Q: Since becoming involved with the IEE through the Entrepreneurial Fellows Class and membership, do you have any key takeaways from class or educational programs you’ve attended?

A: Leadership- I learned more about myself and to take my passion for my business and transfer that passion to my staff without being over bearing.  Also, to identify my weaknesses as a leader and utilize my staff to perform the tasks that I don’t do as well as they do.

Strategic planning- The EFC program helped me hone my vision for the future of the company. By developing a long term plan and keeping the staff informed it helps enforce the culture of teamwork and keeps everyone focused on where we are going.

Building an effective sales process- At the end of each year, I would look back on all of the jobs that we did not get. I felt as though there were about 50% of the projects that we should have had. The EFC program made me realize I needed a more consistent sales process.

To learn more about Viking Woodworking, please click here.