Positioning for growth.
Go to Market Strategies
Stories suggesting a renaissance among wood manufacturing businesses have been reaching editors Karen Koenig, Rich Christianson and Michaelle Bradford over the past months. Some come from woodworking firms, others are passed along by suppliers who seem in awe of what their determined-to-succeed customers are doing.
This year we expand the WOOD 100, to celebrate both those who have grown, and those who have grown better. Acknowledging the travails of 2009, we list year-end results of publicly-traded woodworking firms--a sobering benchmark--from which improvement has already begun for 2010. Listed also are 2009's fastest growing firms.
Preparing for Recovery
Ideas shared here can benefit you, whether you are a 15-employee shop, a 50-employee architectural millwork company, or among the multimillion- or multibillion-dollar cabinetry or casegoods manufacturers. All types of firms shared ideas:
* Architectural millworkers are adding materials handling and quality controls to rival firms in other industries.
* Casegoods giants are implementing production processes that cut waste and energy consumption, and meet environmental benchmarks.
* Cabinetry, millwork and furniture firms are coaxing financial support from local governments and the SBA to upgrade plants or relocate to state-of-the-art facilities.
* New product development and new go-to-market strategies are opening doors for woodworking business expansion.
* Firms are automating materials handling and installing enterprise resource planning.
More WOOD 100 ideas are online, and in webcasts. Register at WoodworkingNetwork.com/webcasts.
1 WHEN THE MARKET GETS TOUGH, the tough start marketing. Wood manufacturing firms did so this year. Whether positioning for green leadership (Steelcase, Kimball), launching Websites (JK Concepts); rebranding (Stow); joining social media (Paul Sturch NY Times blog); or going online (mainefurniture.com), marketing is the now the middle name for woodworking businesses.
MERILLAT, Taylor, MI, a unit of Masco Cabinetry, launched its first-ever marketing campaign aimed at consumers, using television, online, events and publications to drive demand from end users up to its dealers. Susan Dountas, Merillat brand and communications manager says this lets Merillat show off its cabinets. "We're determined to let homeowners know, 'Merillat has the tools to help make ... living in your kitchen easier.'" The campaigns feature TV cooking hunk Chris Stone rifling through drawers and cabinets from Merillat's Tolani cabinet line in a dark Maple Chiffon, on a set built by Merillat. Ads run on HGTV, FoodNetwork, DIY, and the Cooking Channel, in magazines and online.
An online kitchen planner also ties in with Stone as a talking guide to consumers visualizing virtual renderings of kitchens that can be shared with their Merillat dealer. "Our research also tells us that homeowners don't always think about how they are going to use their kitchens before making the investment to build or remodel" says Susan Prater, Merillat director of marketing services. "Merillat wants to educate homeowners."
Merillat also tied into the TV show "Today's Homeowner" with Danny Lipford dream makeover contest (cabinets from Merillat, of course). The company found more than 50 percent of homeowners who remodeled kitchens wished they'd included more storage features.
Paul Downs Custom Tables, Bridgeport, PA
Custom furniture maker sees bids up 267% Q1 as he pours his heart out as New York Times small business bloggist.
Craftsman Tables, Port Perry, ON
This manufacturer of solid wood custom dining room tables grew last year, in part, because of its complete custom service in terms of style, size, color and type of wood, owner Bob DeFlorio says.
Eureka Woodworks, Dallas, TX
A provider of turnkey woodworking business opportunities, Eureka expanded its sales efforts into other markets with an aggressive ad campaign and by staying on top of internet marketing trends.
Keystone Wood Specialties, Lancaster, PA
This component manufacturer launched an aggressive marketing program, added new products, including products made with thermal wood, and expanded its budget to increase exposure in downturn.
Black Hills Molding, Rapid City, SD
This wood manufacturing and wholesale business became a sales rep for Dakota Panel and is developing closer relationships with its vendors.
The Simple Furniture Co., Brownsburg, IN
Its environmentally friendly children's product line is on the cutting edge of latest modem styles arid a flexible marketing strategy allows the company to switch focus on its diverse product line when needed.
Clingerman Doors, Clearville, PA
This custom wood garage door manufacturer uses its marketing strategy to differentiate itself from competitors as a high-end product.
Miller Woodcrafts, Rancho Cucamonga, CA
A wallbed and home office company, Miller grew sales by increasing internet marketing and looking for new marketing opportunities.
Go to Market
2 WOODWORKING FIRMS RESET TACTICS: To find and reach customers in the downturn, wood industry firms adopted new Go-to-Market Strategies to reach target audiences, especially home organization suppliers--Wellborn Cabinets supplies closets to builders; Closet Works launched a wholesale division; PremierGarage partnered with Closet Tailors; and Windquest became Stow.
THE STOW CO., Holland, Ml, formerly The Windquest Companies, rebranded. "The name brings clarity both within our organization and externally," said Eric Wolf, CEO. "It's very specific to our identity. It defines what we help people do: Put things in order." Stow reaches customers through multiple brands: ORG - consulting, design and installation services sold by authorized dealers; Easy Track - closet organizer kits for the DIY market; EasyClosets.com - an online DIY consumer portal; and ProClosets.com--custom products sold to builders and remodelers.
Aaron Inc., Atlanta, GA
Furniture built at 14 green Woodhaven factories are sold/rented at 1,730 company or franchise stores. Its Q2 sales rose 7% to $445 million.
Masco Corp., Taylor, Ml
Lowe's adopted an exclusive Masco line branded as Home Options Storage Solutions.
U.S. Home Systems, Dallas, TX
Since January new kitchen cabinet refacing displays went into 1,660 The Home Depot stores. Sales rose 38% second quarter
Closet Works, Chicago, IL
Closet Works merged its Space-Metrics and Plus Closets divisions to form Space Plus, a wholesaler to closet retailers who don't manufacture.
Wellborn Cabinet Inc., Ashland, AL
The cabinetry manufacturer pushed its closets line to builders/remodelers with Synergy Builders of West Chicago, IL, taking on Wellborn's mud rooms, pantry rooms, laundry rooms, garages, linen closets and craft rooms.
3A THE BUSINESS SIDE of the woodworking business touches on finance, new acquisitions, management shifts, pursuit of government investments and restructuring.
TAYLOR GUITARS, El Cajon, CA -- Founded in 1974 by Bob Taylor and Kurt Listug, Taylor Guitars produces 80,000 high-end guitars in 100 models each year. Top musicians (Dave Matthews, Taylor Swift, Jason Mraz) swear by them. Sold in over 60 countries, Taylor's brand strategy requires its 800 dealers to provide a "full Taylor experience", stocking its full line. But a pricey guitar can take up to six months to sell after it arrives at a dealer, and buyers often ask for financing. So Taylor used GE Capital inventory finance for stock purchases, dovetailed with a retail sales financing for end customers. Sales volume through GE Capital has increased 25 percent year-over-year. Taylor also clinched a marketing award for ads linking advanced manufacturing to quality instruments.
A-Ward Design, Winter Haven, FL
A-Ward President Kevin Ward sees lumber and panel costs as a top concern at the custom cabinet company, so he trims costs by shopping more carefully and buying in bulk, Higher margins have resulted: 2009 sales rose to $919,000, from $802,000 in 2008.
Stevens Industries, Teutopolis, IL
Stevens Industries began 2009 with 100% ownership by an Employee Stock Ownership Program, launched in 1998 when the ESOP acquired 46% ownership of the 525-employee firm, Stevens sells cabinetry to schools, hospitals, medical clinics and laminated panels to manufacturers of office furniture, store fixtures, and shelving systems.
Expo Holdings, North Wilkesboro, NC
When management, sales, design and some operational staff of Builder's Choice cabinets and countertops transitioned into Expo Holdings, a custom cabinetry firm, it resulted in a doubling of the sales force and opportunities for 2010, said President Glenn Harris. The publicly traded Expo Holdings acquired D&D Displays in 2006, and founded the Easy Transitional Cabinetry brand in 2009.
3B WILY WOODWORKERS: Positioning is an important part of a firm's business strategy. Carving out core business identity can separate a company from its competitors.
MARK RICHEY WOODWORKING, Newburyport, MA, says positioning with its technical competency helped it win an Inventor award for expert use of Autodesk Inventor software in developing precision millwork for the 1,600-seat Helzberg Hall, home of the Kansas City Symphony. The software "preflighted" fabrication and installation of the acoustically demanding wood Interior (shown), ensuring wood parts aligned perfectly. "Creating digital prototypes of the various wooden elements allowed us to identify and fix problems ahead of time, before we'd cut a single piece of wood," said Ritch Winokur, engineering manager. Mark Richey Woodworking is certified as a Minority/Woman-Owned Business Enterprise by the State of Massachusetts.
L.L. Johnson Lumber Mfg. Co., Charlotte, MI
Last year's competitive mover included delivery trucks and employee training. For 2010 planning, additional equipment and added warehouse space are being reviewed.
Herman Joinery Co., Joshua, TX
Owner Max Harman reports 10 percent growth at his firm, which manufactures and installs high end cabinetry, mouldings, entry and interior doors. New equipment, including a high-end sander may be added.
Stanton & Stanton Inc., Sylva, NC
President Charles Stanton eyes hardwood purchasing efficiency as one of the strategies for increasing profitability at the architectural woodwork company. "We see it is going to be harder to purchase as demand goes up and supply as been cut." A gang ripsaw, CNC and moulder may be added to help increase productivity.
4 IT'S MORE THAN MACHINERY: Throwing technology at a productivity program is not always the solution. It's actually more important to take dozens of small steps, advancing productivity incrementally. This section celebrates companies that have made the journey of a thousand paces to productivity beginning with a single inventive step.
KIMBALL OFFICE, Jasper, IN, enhanced productivity while reducing the environmental impact of its operations and its casegoods and furnishings. Continuous improvement brings steady steps toward sustainable production, part of an integrated package that begins upstream at design, with life cycle analysis and environmental impact planned in. This has allowed Kimball Office to attain e3 level certification by the Business and Institutional Furniture Manufacturer's Association (BIFMA) for 98 percent of its lines.
Kimball is no slouch in technology. A first-of-its kind Cefla coating system cures the proprietary Kimball Pura coating, giving off virtually no volatile organic compounds. When furnishings are coated with Pura, which is then UV cured, wood materials are effectively encapsulated, reducing or eliminating offgassing and so the products can meet indoor air quality standards set by LEED and BIFMA.
Pura is now used across most of its wood products. "Because Pura is water-based and robotically applied, material overspray can be recovered and reformulated with pure water, to circulate back into the system with new finish," says Steven Brewster, sustainability director for Kimball Office. An independently certified internal testing standard verifies that products meet performance standards, also troubleshooting items. Kimball Office, part of $1.2 billion Kimball Intl, was named an Office Furniture Dealers Alliance outstanding manufacturer.
A-Cab Custom Woodworking, St. Joseph, MN
A commercial casework firm, A-Cab added door manufacturing equipment last year. While planning no capital expenditures in 2010, owner Adam Hansen says productivity is up and expects higher sales in 2010.
Cabinet Components, Bessemer, AL
Producing wood components for custom cabinetry, interior and exterior doors and moulding for residential and commercial construction, the 50-employee firm automated rip sawing; 2009 sales hit $3.23 million, up from $2.97 million in 2008.
Closet Factory, Raleigh, NC
"We took a hard look at how much we were paying for supplies, how much workforce we were employing for our given output and just tried to maximize our productivity," says Suzanne Pail, owner. Her 12-employee firm added a CNC router last year; sales grew three years running to $590,000 in 2009.
Eyewood Design, Interlochen, MI
Just 37-employees, this custom woodworking operation's 5S manufacturing improvements would be the envy of any large manufacturer, updating CNC cutters while reworking materials handling, inventory, and raw materials placement.
Hooker Furniture, Martinsville, VA
Despite a 22 percent drop in 2010 fiscal sales (the year ended Jan. 31) Hooker Furniture reported net sales of $203.3 million and net income of $3 million, all the profit derived during Q4 on sales of $52.7 million, helped "by reductions made in our cost structure, improved work schedules and capacity utilization in our upholstery division and lower warehousing and distribution expenses," says Paul Toms Jr., chairman, CEO and president.
Provincial Store Fixtures, Mississauga, ON
This 100-employee retail and commercial fixture firm last year added case clamp, dowel inserting machines, a multi-head hinge inserter and automated paint line, and this year adds a new finishing area, dust collector and table saws. Sales rose $3 million last year to $19 million.
P.R. Bean, Washington, IN
Providing institutional and plastic laminate casework for educational, lab and architectural woodwork (it's also an OEM of office furnishings), P.R. Bean added material handling equipment in 2009 and may upgrade existing CNC equipment. This 11 -employee firm saw $2.4 million in 2009 sales, up from $1.6 million in 2008.
Northway Industries, Middleburg, PA
Northway manually improved physical flow of materials in its 93,000-square-foot plant. Then employees assessed a simulated warehouse makeover in a weekend analysis of automated materials handling and workflow, before implementing changes, all integrated by Northway's Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system.
5 OPTIMIZING PRODUCTION with new and existing technology: In order to be profitable and productive in today's economy, woodworking facilities need to optimize their resources: equipment, supplies and their workforce. Many companies have done so through investments in new technology and production methods, including lean and sustainable manufacturing methods.
FOLIOT FURNITURE, St.-Jerome, QC, recently expanded its presence in North America with the opening of its second U.S. facility. The contract furniture maker, which caters to the hospitality, university and military market segments throughout North America, said the addition of the almost 400,000-square-foot Las Vegas, NV, manufacturing facility, will help it better serve customers on the West Coast, allowing the St.-Jerome and Greeneville, TN, facilities to focus on needs of clientele on the East Coast.
With the completion of the new plant, Foliot Furniture now has in excess of 600,000-square-feet of manufacturing space and in peak periods will employ approximately 600 workers. The company says it has invested the necessary capital in order to have the manpower and technical resources to complete numerous orders, large and small. Foliot Furniture designs, develops and produces its furniture using state-of-the-art machinery, giving it the ability to manufacture every product with extreme precision for perfectly assembled and consistently identical furniture.
In addition to being a lean manufacturer, Foliot Furniture focuses on sustainable manufacturing practices and offers furniture constructed of Nu Green no-added formaldehyde panels, which are certified as an Environmentally Preferable Product by the Composite Panel Assn. The company is also pursuing GREENGUARD certification for its laminated products.
Custom Cupboards, Wichita, KS
This Kansas-based cabinet company is the first in the nation to use robotics in conjunction with RFID and bar coding technology in the production process. At full capacity, the robots should be able to build up to 400 face frames a day.
BriMar Wood Innovations, Goshen, IN
"The ability to manufacture larger projects with significantly larger individual quantities has allowed us to grow our production capacity," said Brian Roe, president. "This balance has contributed to our success by keeping our production areas focused and efficient with large batch quantities, increasing efficiencies by adding minimal direct labor and driving improved margins."
Banner's Cabinets Inc., Newland, NC
"Our company has purchased several pieces of computerized machinery to keep our production more competitive in a downsized economy," said Joseph Banner Jr., president. "The new equipment enabled us to expand not only production, but also our highly prized total custom capabilities. We [also] upgraded and revamped our 1,000-square-foot display and began production of a new 3,800-square-foot display."
Cleora Sterling Corp., Mebane, NC
"We continue to adjust our plant layout and work cells since we moved the plant almost three years ago," said Chip Cappelletti, president of the architectural woodwork firm. In addition to new equipment, including CNC machinery and a second panel door/layup line, "We have also been able to hire extremely talented employees, given the large layoffs that have occurred in the furniture and millwork industries. Finally we have been able to reduce most material prices and subcontracts as a result of the low margins that we all must face together."
GCW Custom Kitchens & Cabinetry, St. Thomas, ON
According to President Ron DeWeger, GCW has increased productivity through gain share implementation plus improved customer service and quality control. Recent purchases include new software, a second CNC router and edgebander and a dowel insertion machine.
Karhu Woodworking Inc., Carleton Place, ON
In 2008, the company implemented a focus on training and efficiency improvements, said Alan Lester, partner. "This resulted in a short-term drop in income for 2008, but a large increase in 2009 (17%) as the improvements started to pay off. This year we are opening a showroom that is closer to our customer base. To handle the anticipated sales we have been increasing our capacity and will continue to this year."
Wallwood Furniture, Richmond Hill, ON
"We found in order to compete in today's market we could not simply reduce our prices," said Bill Kocjancic, president. "We evaluated the processes we used and streamlined them ... we were able to manufacture faster and the quality of the finished product actually improved."
Cohen Architectural Woodworking, St. James, MO
Implementing a continuous improvement program as part of lean manufacturing had an added benefit of eliminating negativity in the workplace, said President Phillip Cohen.
6A BUILDING OR BUYING CAPACITY: Manufacturing consolidation, relocation and expansion is driven by reductions in workforce, initiatives to consolidate operations to improve workflow and productivity, or moving to sites to lower-cost labor or nearer raw materials or markets. Despite, or because of, the downturn, the reformation of plants continued apace the last 18 months.
IRONTOWN HOUSING CO. INC., Spanish Fork, UT, builds high quality energy efficient homes by high profile architects, and inside a factory. Within its 60,000-square-foot climate-controlled facility, which opened in March, all resources are centrally located, allowing Iron town to focus on its strict quality control process, precision scheduling and material waste prevention. To accommodate large gantries for construction of two-story homes, the ceilings are set at 45 feet. The approach cuts down weather and material delays, vandalism and cost overages.
Both structural and exterior work and wood interiors--right down to the cabinetry, flooring, architectural moulding and window casements--are built inside Irontown's plant. Homes are 95 percent complete at the factory when they are broken into sections and transported on up to eight semi-trucks to be married to their foundation--a process can that can be completed in a day, with detail finished in a few weeks.
A million dollar home shipped to Beverly Hills July 14, featuring hand-hewn cabinetry and built-in woodwork, exposed ceiling beams, hardwood doors and case mouldings, custom painting, majestic fireplace, exotic granite countertops, custom granite showers, upgraded insulation and Pella windows, along with a tile roof.
Irontown says city building code bodies like the speed. "Municipalities are realizing we are a help to them and to the construction process. With tight space constraints on so many California properties, building a home can be a nightmare for the entire neighborhood. Our homes are set on the site in one day instead of having a noisy, messy construction site for 12-15 months," says Jason Valgardson, Irontown's vice president.
Homestretch LLC, Nettleton, MS
Homestretch set in motion last year plans to start up operations in a former cabinetry factory, aiming to hire 140 people over four years. Monroe County, MS provided $1.5 million; the Mississippi Development Authority $298,000 and the Appalachian Regional Commission $240,000.
Miller Cabinet, Plain City, OH
An added 11,500 square feet of plant space brought 53 more workers (tripling its workforce) to privately-held, 27-employee Miller Cabinet Co. A 45-percent $190,945 Ohio job creation tax credit led Miller Cabinet to spend $525,000 on expanding its cabinetry, commercial casework and millwork operation.
Lane Furniture, Tupelo, MS
Expanding operations, Lane plans for 186 new jobs, with an assist from the Mississippi Development Authority's Manufacturers Job Rebate Program. Lane and American Furniture Co, shared a $650,000 grant to upgrade lighting, cooling/heating systems, aided by the Franklin Furniture Institute.
Kitchen Magic, Nazareth, PA
Kitchen Magic invested $5.6 million to bring 189 jobs over three years to a new 62,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art plant and showroom, returning after 30 years in New Jersey. The Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development provided $1.48 million in funding.
Bassett Furniture, Bassett, VA
Bassett announced in April it would reopen its Newton, NC, plant, with staffing from an existing 430-employee facility and new hires. "We are elated to be able to take advantage of a strong workforce in Newton," said Robert Spilman Jr., president and CEO.
MasterBrand, Jasper, IN
Kitchen and bath cabinetry firm MasterBrand Cabinets reconfigured its 200-employee plant in creating 334 new jobs with $3.75 million in investment planned by the Fortune Brands division. In August 2010 MasterBrand revealed it is supplying a new Martha Stewart cabinetry line at The Home Depot, beginning September 2010.
Northern Contours, Mendota, MN
After purchasing V-Carve Pro to do carvings, mix stains in house using Gemini products, and upgrading AutoCAD, Northern Contours will next expand its paint room, show room and add offices. This 385-employee firm did $47.4 million in sales last year.
Drawer Box Specialties, Orange, CA
DBS opened a 51,500-square-foot manufacturing and distribution center in Grand Prairie, TX, in 2009. The expansion helped cut shipping costs to customers in the eastern United States by more than 40 percent, plus reduce delivery times significantly.
6B AS BUSINESSES CONTINUE TO GROW, they are looking to manufacturers to supply them with casegoods and products, providing these manufacturers an opportunity for expansion.
Gilmore Furniture, Warwick, RI, announced this summer that it is expanding its main manufacturing facility--the 27-year-old company's fourth expansion in five years. "Orders for products from our various new and established customers of contract furniture [casegoods, upholstered seating and tables] are steadily rising," says Robert Clark, spokesperson. The Gilmore expansion includes adding metal fabrication services along with 15 new employees. Gilmore's main facility is 68,000 square feet in a modern, one-story industrial plant and office nearby. The planned manufacturing addition is 21,000 square feet plus 2,500 extra square feet for additional office space to manage that growing business.
7A TAKE ONE PART WOOD, another part tools, add skilled hands and creative minds, and you have a recipe for innovation. Either the slow down allowed more open time for creativity, or demanded new product solutions for survival.
CABINOTCH, Owensboro, KY -- When expert millwright Phill Crabtree founded his cabinet shop 35 years ago, he never envisioned Cabinotch would spring to fame and clinch a 2010 Challengers Award for professional-quality ready-to-assemble RTA cabinetry. The patent-pending Cabinotch system is coupled with an agile online ordering system that gives the firm a national reach. (Sample order: a base corner cabinet in alder, 30 x 48 x 24 inches, UV-coated interior prices at $137.50.) Cabinotch cabinets assembled from slide-together, lock-in-place components are strong, come precisely cut and drilled by Cabinotch's three CNC cutters (a fourth CNC is on the way). Since it was developed five years ago for its own use, the Cabinotch product has moved the company from a garage operation to a 32,000-square-foot plant. The business is driven by a passion to share their approach for the betterment of other woodworking firms. Savvy web marketers (videos at cabinotch.com explain the process), they renamed their firm to match their product.
Cavco, Phoenix, AZ
A recreational vehicle builder found this wood products niche, building tiny cabins (400 square feet) mounted on wheels to deliver to campground operators.
Wellborn Cabinets, Ashland AL
Wellborn's Media Life cabinetry comes with multimedia components (Apple computer, docking stations, remotes, wireless keyboard, Bose speakers, software, surge protectors and 160 GB hard drive).
Ovation Cabinetry, Salina, KS
The introduction of an ONU product has increased sales and allowed the firm to target new markets.
Prince Aircraft, Whitehouse, OH
Designing and manufacturing prototype and mass production aircraft propellers provided this specialty woodworking firm with a background that allowed it to enter the fast-growing wind turbine market. Its droop P-TIP propeller controls air spillage, reducing vorticies, which cause drag and turbulence in the propeller arc.
Barbosa Cabinets Inc., Tracy, CA
This residential and commercial cabinetry firm added granite fabrication capability to allow it to move into new markets.
7B THINKING OUTSIDE THE BOX: Developing products that tap changing lifestyle trends, or with an altogether new value proposition for commercial applications, opens opportunities.
INTERIOR WOODWORKING SPECIALISTS, Redmond, WA -- When partner Tracey Hepner of I.W.S. foresaw the downturn, she started immediately to look "outside the box" to reach new and diversified markets. She hoped to sustain I.W.S. through the downturn, then catapult it "to being recognized as an industry leader," Hepner says.
"To bring new products to market takes time and money, of which I.W.S. had little," Hepner acknowledges. "And I wanted to vary the product offerings enough to allow for growth in a number of different cabinet arenas." I.W.S.'s first product is in the outdoor patio cabinet market. (See it at mypatiocabinets.com.) Other products are close to being marketable both in the healthcare and the modular products industries (shown).
SpartaCraft, Connelly Springs, NC Expanding from its traditional base of display cases for members and veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces, SpartaCraft has given heavy emphasis on expansion into custom home theater and related cabinetry.
Stone Age Millworks, Oak Harbor, WA
"We've worked very hard on standardization of product components which has improved assembly time and reduced rework," says President Lee Steigerwale. "Most of this is a result of the front end submittal drawings and software/CNC programing."
Vorst Custom Cabinets, Findlay, OH
Improved organizational systems and job materials flow are being implemented, as the firm establishes a new cabinet manufacturing facility location.
8A WALKING THE WALK ON GREEN: As adoption of sustainable operations become pervasive a parallel move is afoot among woodworking firms to adopt corporate social responsibility. This steps beyond concerns about wood sourcing, VOC emissions or industrial pollution, to embrace longer-term impact of manufacturing on workers and communities.
OFS BRANDS, Huntingburg, IN: This furniture manufacturer for corporate, healthcare, and hospitality markets, says it invested millions of dollars to develop the Euroluxe finish, a chemically re-engineered urethane clearcoat that reveals wood finishes, but is chemical-, heat- and scratch-resistant and seals wood to achieve indoor air quality standards set by LEED and BIFMA level. OFS also earned GREENGUARD certification on all its products. Euroluxe finish is applied with a patented nano-technology spray process. A new SilverBan technology using silver ions was infused into the Euroluxe wood finish to create an antimicrobial protection on wood surfaces.
Steelcase, Grand Rapids, MI
EcoCradle packaging (shown), made from cotton seed hulls and plant roots, is used by Steelcase to package casegoods. It composts in 45 days.
Kimball office, Jasper, IN
The Pura-fect proprietary coating system is roll or spray coated, then flash cured under UV lamps. It emits no VOCs, sealing wood to stop off-gassing.
Shaw Woodworking, Cotuit, MA
Customers seeking LEED points appreciate its use of formaldehyde-free hardwood plywood with PureBond technology as its standard material.
Spectrum Industries, Chippewa Falls, WI
A on-demand box system eliminated waste of obsolete Inventory, In February 2010 Spectrum was awarded ISO 9001:2008 certification.
8B IN RECENT YEARS, polyvinyl chloride (PVC) has become a source of global environmental concern, as a growing body of scientific evidence points to the potential long-term human and environmental health dangers. This hampers recycling and creates challenges in reducing environmental impact over the office system life-cycle.
STEELCASE, INC., Grand Rapids, MI: This spring, the nation's largest manufacturer of casegoods ($2.3 billion in 2009 revenues) announced that all 17 of its active solid colors and seven woodgrain 3mm and 1mm edgebands are PVC-free on 12 of its systems furniture product lines. Steelcase has offered PVC-free edgebanding in Europe since 1995, and says it leads the office systems' industry with this offering for work surfaces in North America.
9 MEASURE TWICE, CUT ONCE: Quality control is critical to mass production as well as custom applications. Woodworking firms must meet specs for demanding clients--and always get it right.
LLOYD'S CUSTOM WOODWORK, Concord, CA: Time is money, so this 17-employee woodworking firm doesn't waste a minute during installations, by building out elaborate high-end home interiors completely in its shop, first. Principal Jeff Cronk says the strategy is only possible "by collecting quite an arsenal of high-quality woodworking equipment. Much of our equipment is precise to the 100th, even 1,000th of an inch. From a quality perspective, by putting those kinds of tools in the hands of quality craftsman, the results are better quality work produced more efficiently." From a motivation perspective, says Cronk, "it means we are paying guys for technical assembly and finishing, not routine tasks," and the result is higher job satisfaction. "A culture of excellence is vital," Cronk says. "It starts by keeping an incredibly high standard and sticking to it. Our various managers do not let faults or blemishes slip through the system. We have quality checklists that are completed as work moves from milling, to assembly, to finishing to installation."
Certification & Quality Standards
Verifying quality can be done through audits and established protocols from standards organizations. For example, AWI QCP, the Architectural Woodworking Institute Quality Certification Program, confirms woodworking firms can meet architectural specification. ISO 9000 and ISO 14000 verifies quality and conformance to a range of standards including environmental controls. Labs can also tea the performance of home and commercial furnishings to meet the requirements of established BIFMA (Business & Institutional Furniture Manufacturers Assn.) and ANSI standards as well as other industry standards and regulations.
Every company within the industry practice some measure of quality control in the operation. Below is one example.
10 MORE THAN LIP-SERVICE: Many firms say they emphasize customer service, but structuring it into the culture of an organization is easier said than done. In smaller organizations it can mean that everyone on the team accepts personal responsibility for customer satisfaction - following through to make sure clients get the service, support and answers. Larger organizations must structure it into the mechanics of operation.
JUST MOULDING, Gaithersburg, MD: A highly defined business focus (think Just Blinds or Just Tires) and methodical approach to measuring, cutting and installing, constitute the systematic approach to moulding installation services offered by Just Moulding, a new franchise operating in three East Coast cities (Washington, DC, Richmond, VA, and Boston). This summer Richard Hayman became CEO of Just Moulding Franchising and president of Wales Woods, the back-end millworks that cuts moulding precisely to fit measured specifications for individual homes. (Hayman had been regional vice president of Micros Systems and CEO of Bid4Assets.) Just Moulding offers custom design and installation of interior architectural mouldings such as crown, chair rail and wainscoting, for both commercial and residential customers.
"With our proprietary methods resulting in the perfect cope and dust-free installation process," says Hayman, "moulding is a very affordable yet elegant enhancement for every home. It's all about making beautiful crown moulding and trim available to everyone because we do it in a way that is exceptional, efficient, and guaranteed." Just Moulding systems for precise measurements and cutting are based on the premise that no corner where two walls meet the ceiling is a perfect 90 degrees in all three planes. Quick in-and-out installation process is its essence.
Appalachian Woods, Stuarts Draft, VA
"We looked at our company-wide attentiveness to the needs and request of our clients and aggressively moved to meet them," says Ray Hochstetler, general manager.
Bella Homes, Patchogue, NY
The remodeler and custom interior firm warranties all labor against faulty practices and poor installation practices for the life of the homeowner.
Decor Cabinets, Morden, MB
"In tough times like this you need personal contact and excellent customer service to differentiate yourself from the competition and add value to the customer," says Dave Schellenberg, vice president of finance.
Island Custom Cabinetry, Sidney, BC
"When a project has a glitch the test of a company is how they will respond. We will do what it takes to resolve the issue. This is how we developed a great reputation," says Jack Van Domselaar, president.
CWC Architectural Millwork, Abbotsford, BC
"We make every attempt to meet our clients deadlines, no matter what," says Ted Bostrom, president. "This has demonstrated to our customers that low bid is not always the best value. We are passionate about our work and our customers get a comfort level with us knowing the job with be done right and on schedule."
Northern Contours, Mendota Heights, MN
"We formalized our approach to assisting customers in adding our new products to their lines, taking away much of the pain usually associated with expanding their product lines," says Missy Sjerven, marketing manager at this cabinet components firm.
Premium Woods, Lincoln, NE
Customer service is the biggest contributor to growth (12% last year), says president Bob Long. "It's the little things: returning calls, meeting delivery, quick response to problems," he says.
Village Handcrafted Cabinetry, Landsdale, PA
"We pride ourselves on customer service," says Gina Trave, marketing director. Working closely with designers and contractors to exceed clients' expectations, "makes them look good in front of the client and leads to referrals which benefits us both."
The Lists 2009 Totals
Fastest Growing Wood Industry Firms [Source: WOOD 100-company filings] Company Headquarters 2009 Sales in Change vs $ '08 CWC Architectural Abbotsford, BC 3,400,000 100% Millwork Inc. Cohen Architectural St James, MO 4,057,000 98.1% Woodworking Prince Aircraft Co. Whitehouse, OH 336,000 71.4% Black Hills Molding Rapid City, SD 9,200,000 64.2% Stanton & Stanton Sylva, NC 365,000 48.9% Inc. P.R. Bean Co. LLC Washington, IN 2,369,700 40.4% The Simple Furniture Brownsburg, IN 572,000 39.8% Co. LLC Wallwood Furniture Richmond Hill, ON 4135000 34.8% Ltd. Lloyd's Custom Concord, CA 4,710,000 31.3% Woodwork Inc. Island Custom Sidney, BC 648,000 30.9% Cabinetry Ltd. Banner's Cabinets Newland, NC 2,553,000 28.5% Inc. CraftsmanTables Port Perry, ON 700,000 27.3% Miller Woodcrafts Rancho Cucamonga, CA 421,109 24.1% Inc. Eureka Woodworks Inc Dallas, TX 1,404,957 22.0% Shaw Woodworking Cotuit, MA 752,238 21.6% Inc. Vorst Custom Findlay, OH 652,000 19.6% Cabinets Provincial Store Mississauga, ON 19,000,000 18.8% Fixtures Ltd. SpartaCraft Inc. Connelly Springs, NC 3,900,000 18.2% BriMar Wood Goshen, IN 2,843,709 18.1% Innovations Inc. Karhu Fine Cabinetry Ontario, ON 1,400,000 16.7% and Millwork Stone Age Millworks Oak Harbor, WA 645,000 15.2% NW Inc. A Ward Design Winter Haven, FL 919,000 14.6% Appalachian Woods Stuarts Draft, VA 1,431,000 11.3% LLC Premium Woods, LLC Lincoln, NE 650,000 10.5% Cleora Sterling Corp Mebane, NC 6,238,000 9.9% Cabinet Components Bessemer, AL 3,231,000 8.6% Inc. Harman Joinery Co. Joshua, TX 1,378,000 6.9% Nova Global Realty Orlando, FL 800,000 6.7% LLC Spectrum Industries Chippewa Falls, Wl 25,547,000 4.2% Inc. Clingerman Doors Clearville, PA, 741,000 4.1% Closet Factory Raleigh, NC 590,000 3.9% Bella Homes Patchogue NY 470,000 3.3% Trinity Furniture Trinity, NC 12,901,984 2.1% Inc. Source tables: SEC filings, other published reports. Compiled by Jo-Ann Kaiser Cabinetry Manufacturers Company Headquarters 2009 sales Change vs '08 Masco Corp Taylor, MI $1,660,000,000 -25.56% Master Brand Cabinets, Jasper, IN $1,200,000,000 -25.00% Inc. American Woodmark Winchester VA $450,000,000 -25.30% Corp. RSI Home Products Anaheim, CA $400,000,000 -16.67% Elkay Cabinetry Group Waconia, MI $300,000,000 -20.00% Norcraft Companies Eagan, MI $240,000,000 -31.43% VT Industries Inc. Holstein, IA $175,000,000 -36.36% Armstrong Cabinet Addison, TX $153,000,000 -23.50% Products Cardell Kitchen & Bath San Antonio, TX $150,000,000 -25.00% Cabinetry Woodcraft Industries St. Cloud, MN $150,000,000 -25.00% Inc. Wellborn Cabinet Inc. Ashland, AL $125,000,000 -18.83% U.S. Home Systems Inc. Lewisville, TX $120,000,000 -9.09% Wood-Mode Inc. Kreamer, PA $120,000,000 -40.00% Continental Cabinets Dallas, TX $100,000,000 -9.09% Inc. Foremost Groups Inc. East Hanover, NJ $85,000,000 112.50% Bertch Cabinet Mfg. Waterloo, IA $80,000,000 -25.93% Inc. ClosetMaid Corp. Ocala, FL $75,000,000 -16.67% Kitchen Kompact Inc. Jeffersonville, IN $75,000,000 -5.78% Republic Industries of Marshall, TX $70,000,000 -72.00% Texas LP Showplace Wood Harrisburg, SD $68,000,000 0.00% Products Dura Supreme Inc. Howard Lake, MN $67,500,000 -10.00% Leedo Mfg. East Bernard, TX $64,000,000 -3.76% Huntwood Ind. Spokane, WI $60,000,000 -16.67% WW Wood Products Inc. Dudley, MO $60,000,000 -30.23% Canyon Creek Cabinet Monroe, WA $59,500,000 -11.85% Co. Crystal Cabinetworks Princeton, MN $45,000,000 -21.05% Inc. EMI Industries Tampa, FL $45,000,000 -7.22% Woodharbor Doors & Mason City, IA $45,000,000 -17.28% Cabinetry Marsh Furniture Co. High Point, NC $42,000,000 -61.08% Contract Furniture Manufacturers Company Headquarters 2009 sales Change vs '08 Steelcase Inc. Grand Rapids, MI $3,180,000,000 -7.04% Herman Miller Inc. Zeeland, MI $1,600,000,000 -20.40% Haworth Inc. Holland, MI $1,110,000,000 -33.13% HNI Corp. Muscatine, IA $1,385,000,000 -28.05% Knoll Inc. New York, NY $790,000,000 -29.78% Global Group Toronto, ON $750,000,000 -16.67% KI Green Bay, WI $600,000,000 0.00% Kimball Intl Inc. Jasper, IN $564,600,000 -9.23% Teknion Corp. Toronto, ON $400,000,000 -36.61% Brown Jordan Intl Inc. St. Augustine, FL $300,000,000 -14.29% OFS Brands Inc. Huntingburg, IN $225,000,000 -10.00% Virco Mfg. Corp. Torrance, CA $205,000,000 NA Bush Industries Inc. Jamestown, NY $150,000,000 -25.00% Sagus Intl Inc. Oak Brook, IL $120,000,000 -7.69% American Seating Co. Grand Rapids, MI $115,000,000 0.00% Kewaunee Scientific Statesville, NC $104,000,000 16.20% Corp. Mayline Group Sheboygan WI $101,000,000 -3.81% CF Group Morristown,TN $100,000,000 -20.00% Exemplis Corp/SitOnlt Cypress, CA $90,000,000 -19.64% Tennsco Corp. Dickson, TN $86,000,000 0.00% Inscape Ltd. Holland Landing, ON $82,900,000 -12.28% AIS Hudson, MA $80,000,000 -12.95% Irwin Seating Co. Grand Rapids, MI $75,000,000 -25.00% JSJ Corp, Izzy Plus Spring Lake, MI $75,000,000 0.00% MTS Seating Terrance, MI $75,000,000 -6.37% Store Fixtures Manufacturers Company Headquarters 2009 sales Change vs '08 Leggett & Platt Inc. Carthage, MO $475,000,000 18.75% idX Corp. St. Louis, MO $180,000,000 0.00% L.A. Darling Co. Paragould, AR $150,000,000 0.00% Colony Inc. Elgin, IL $80,000,000 -12.09% Impressions Marketing Lorton, VA $80,000,000 -10.61% Group Aritalia Group Montreal, PQ $65,000,000 -13.33% Boden Alexandar Group Portland, OR $45,000,000 -16.67% EMI Industries Tampa, FL $45,000,000 -7.22% Fetzer Architectural Salt Lake City, UT $40,000,000 -11.11% Woodwork Hamilton Fixture Co. Hamilton, OH $40,000,000 -25.93% Huck Group Quincy, IL $40,000,000 0.00% Monarch Industries Inc. Warren, RI $40,000,000 -25.23% CSC Worldwide Columbus, OH $35,000,000 -12.50% Array (Marketing Alliance Chattanooga, TN $30,000,000 -33.33% Group) Residential Furniture Manufacturers Company Headquarters 2009 sales Change vs '08 Ashley Furniture Arcadia, WI $2,500,000,000 -15.54% Industries Furniture Brands Intl St. Louis, MO $1,250,000,000 -36.55% La-Z-Boy Inc. Monroe, MI 1,220,000,000 -18.12% Klaussner Furniture Asheboro, NC 500,000,000 -16.67% Industries Dorel Industries Inc. Montreal, QC $424,000,000 2.17% Ethan Allen Interiors Danbury, CT $590,100,000 -91.25% Inc. Flexsteel Industries Dubuque, IA $324,100,000 -20.11% Inc. Caye Home Furnishings New Albany, MS $225,000,000 -4.26% Hooker Furniture Corp. Martinsville, VA $210,000,000 -33.54% Berkline/BenchCraft Morristown, TN $200,000,000 -33.33% Holdings Bernhardt Furniture Lenoir, NC $200,000,000 -20.00% Best Chairs Inc. Ferdinand, IN $189,100,000 -8.69% Standard Furniture Mfg. Bay Minette, AL $180,000,000 0.00% Palliser Furniture Ltd. Winnipeg MB $175,000,000 -12.50% Stanley Furniture Co. Stanleytown, VA $160,451,000 -29.17% Inc. Bassett Furniture Inds. Bassett, VA $179,534,000 -37.66%
By Bill Esler, Associate Publisher
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|Title Annotation:||100 Strategies for Success|
|Publication:||Wood & Wood Products|
|Date:||Sep 1, 2010|
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