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Cabinet doors: the make vs. buy question.

Three companies share some of the reasons behind the decision to make doors, buy doors or do both.

To make a cabinet door or to buy it, that is the question. Judging from the response from three manufacturers interviewed by WOOD & WOOD PRODUCTS, there does not seem to be one universal answer. Rather, there are an assortment of variables specific to individual companies that factor into decision of whether to make or buy cabinet doors. Even variables that may be common between two companies can result in two different decisions.

Among the factors which influence the decision to make or buy are: * Up front costs, i.e. the difference between buying the doors and making them * The cost of purchasing machinery or retrofitting existing machinery to make the doors * Company and employee capability to make the doors * The desire to maintain control over the finished product * Turnaround time.

These are only a few of the considerations that must be taken into account. To get a feel for how some companies answered the make vs. buy question, WOOD & WOOD PRODUCTS interviewed representatives of three cabinet companies. The first company, QuakerMaid, makes doors for three lines while buying doors for another. The second, American Woodmark makes all of its own doors which come in 40 different styles. The third is Custom Classics, a California cabinetry shop that decided buying doors was the way to go after a cost analysis was conducted.

A little of both

While QuakerMaid, a division of WCI Cabinet Group Inc., realizes a 10 to 15 percent savings by producing doors in-house at its Leesport, Pa. plant, it buys hickory and curved doors for its entire J-Wood line of cabinets.

When parent company WCI decided to reorganize its manufacturing facilities, it brought the production of the J-Wood line to the Leesport facility from its Milroy, Pa., plant. At the Milroy plant, which is now being used to produce components for other WCI products, doors were not made but always purchased, said company marketing manager Maryann Stewart, This policy continued when the move to Leesport was made.

One of the biggest reasons for keeping things status quo is that the company does not want to keep the additional inventory around to make the cabinet doors, said Al Gill, materials manager.

According to Stewart, purchasing the doors will "keep the product integrity pure as opposed to setting up all the different machines" needed to make the doors.

At the Leesport facility, the company has a full door department and currently makes between 80 and 85 percent of its doors. Gill said the percentage may go up because business is swinging to the QuakerMaid product line.

The company is also reviewing its policy of purchasing doors. The reason for this is that ordering doors "does not allow any room for changes by the customer," said Stewart. "If changes need to be made, turnaround time is two weeks. Any faster and we pay double the cost of the door," Stewart said.

Makes 'em all

Having complete control over its finished product is the biggest reason why American Woodmark Corp. makes all of its own cabinet doors. Over the 12 years that American Woodmark has been in business, the company has developed an "expertise" in making its own wood and laminate doors, said Tom O'Reilly, assembly operation manager for the $150 million-plus company.

"We are completely integrated, from the dimension mill through finishing and assembly," said O'Reilly. "We can control our own destiny. If there is a mistake made, or a bad door is produced, we can immediately make another one and not have to worry about dealing with another manufacturer. We control our own inventory levels, our supply and demand, forecasting and material availability."

American Woodmark is one of the largest cabinet manufacturers in the world. In WOOD & WOOD PRODUCTS' survey of the "Top 25 U.S. Cabinetmakers" (May, 1991), the company ranked fourth with sales of $154 million. The company operates seven plants across the country.

The company makes "in excess of 3 million doors a year" in 40 different styles for its more than 30 different cabinet lines, O'Reilly said. Approximately 60 percent of the cabinets are solid wood or veneer: 80 percent of these doors are made from oak, while cherry and maple making up 10 percent each.

Buying it

The most important reasons the seven-year-old, Campbell, Calif.-based Custom Classics company buys its doors are cost, convenience and time savings.

After conducting a cost analysis, owner Dana Karren found purchasing the doors would save his company between 10 and 15 percent. Factored into this calculation are machinery purchases, such as a shaper and a widebelt sander, the company would need to make if it manufactured its own doors. In addition, Karren said he would have to hire more employees to manufacture the doors.

The convenience of having an outside manufacturer make his company's doors, primarily solid wood raised panel doors, is also of great importance. "It does take away a lot of the hassles," Karren said. "Doors are their own little things and they have their own little problems, With buying them, if they are not up to our standards we just return them and it doesn't cost us anything."

The company is located 45 minutes southeast of San Francisco and does most of its contracts in the California area. It bills between $500,000 and $600,000 a year. About 40 percent of its jobs are commercial and 60 percent residential. Most of its cabinets are solid wood, face frame cabinets, but it does some work with laminates.


Following are some of the doors currently available. For additional information on any item, circle the corresponding number on the Reader's Service Card or consult WOOD & WOOD PRODUCTS' 1992 Red Book Buyer's Guide, Lumber/Wood Part/Components chapters.

Membrane pressed kitchen cabinet Conestoga Wood Specialties Inc. has introduced the CRP-10141 door designs. Available in over nineteen wood species, the CRP-10141 features a wide top and bottom rails with a unique panel raise. A one piece matching drawer front complements the door. The company also offers a half circle and half circle side-by-side door design. The company's MDF doors are available in custom sizes.

Decore-ative Specialties ahs introduced a new line of custom cabinet doors and drawer fronts called the "Pacific Series." The new line features six different designs, three in solid raised panel and three in recessed panel doors. The red oak doors are 3/4 in. thick with 2 1/4-in. thick stiles and rails. They are available in standard lipped, finger pull, 30-in. back bevel, no lip or without any lip or detail.

The Cabinet Factory offers doors and drawer fronts, unfinished or prefinished, in over 40 styles. Key features include: timely delivery, uniformity, elimination of wastes, no quantity limits and less tooling costs.

Custom Doors offers a complete line of solid wood doors in red oak, hard maple, white ash, pine and a complete line of postformed 90 [degrees] and 180 [degrees] wrap laminate doors. Custom sizing and finish sanding are also offered.

Donald Dean & Sons offers raised and flat panel doors, manufactured in a variety of species, including red and white oak, cherry, maple, birch, ash, walnut, hickory and knotty pine.

Door-Master's new Country Manor cabinet door combines the cabinet frame and door all in one assembly. This eliminates problems normally encountered with a flush-mounted door and allows for frameless construction, the company says.

The cabinet refacing concept from Dura-Oak Cabinet Front Systems replaces doors and drawer fronts and recovers the case surface with solid wood skins. The company's wood door line can be ordered in a fixed or reversible panel door system. Materials include basket weave, rattan, Formica, leaded glass and others.

Dynatech Industries has introduced a red oak custom cabinet door. The tongue and groove joined top and side rails measure 2 1/4 in. wide by 3/4 in. thick. Features include: and exterior cove contour and interior bead contour. The square center has a raised center surrounded by cove routing. A wide range of edge and center treatments are available.

Henley's Custom Furniture Inc. offers raw and primed doors and painted MDF doors and offers two week delivery of the doors. The company offers seven styles of squared and rounded inside cornered doors to choose from.

Horizon Wood Products offers a five-part MDF door that has the stability to be painted. It has authentic details, according to the company. It is available in raw, primed or with two-part urethane finishes.
COPYRIGHT 1992 Vance Publishing Corp.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1992, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

Article Details
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Title Annotation:includes a list of door manufacturers
Author:Adams, Larry
Publication:Wood & Wood Products
Article Type:Buyers Guide
Date:Apr 1, 1992
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