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Here's to the Wood 100!

assembly plants and one design/testing center.

41

BREMTOWN KITCHENS(****) Bremen, IN

'91: $3,469,000 '92: $4,879,000 +40.6% Est. 1979 Employees: 96

Custom kitchens, van conversion parts and commercial cabinets

Let's all raise a glass to the good fortunes of these 100 dynamic woodworking companies.

Clink!

The companies comprising this year's WOOD 100 have good cause to celebrate. They rang up sales increases averaging nearly 38 percent in 1992, while during that same time frame, the whole of the North American woodworking industry contracted, or at best, stagnated. Be it through hard work, genius, dumb luck or a combination of all three, they succeeded when many others did not.

In this, the Fourth Annual Report of the WOOD 100, Wood & Wood Products brings to light some of the whys and where-fors for each featured company's success.

A WOOD 100 primer

The WOOD 100 was established by Wood & Wood Products in 1990 to recognize the achievements of fast-growing wood products manufacturers. The promotional slogan, "Not the biggest, the best" was coined to emphasize that small woodworking firms, as well as large production shops, would be given their due in the WOOD 100.

Three readily identifiable common denominators link the 100 companies included in this report.

1. Each of the companies is in the business of manufacturing wood products and billed at least $100,000 for its products and services in 1990.

2. Each of the companies enjoyed greater total sales in 1992 than it did in 1991.

3. Each of the companies volunteered its annual sales figures and other pertinent information compiled in this report. (As we have noted in past presentations, many companies that might otherwise qualify for inclusion in the WOOD 100, are left out because they decline to divulge their revenues for publication.)

Beyond these shared traits, the 1993 class of WOOD 100 companies run the gamut in terms of the size and scope of their business, their location, and theories for their own success.

A class portrait

Sales: The WOOD 100 class of 1993 combined to generate total sales of approximately $487,480,000 in 1992, 37.8 percent more than their 1991 total of $353,887,000. Both the percentile gain and total sales numbers are the highest recorded in the short history of the WOOD 100.

Led by Hanson Woodworking Inc. with a sales increase of 207.5 percent, seven WOOD 100 companies more than doubled their annual sales from 1991 to 1992. Twenty other companies posted sales gains exceeding 50 percent.

Products: Frame or frameless kitchen cabinets. Office desks. Bedroom furniture. Architectural woodwork. Laminate countertops. Store fixtures. Just name it. Odds are there is a WOOD 100 company that can make it, especially considering the great number of custom shops and wood component suppliers that are included on this year's list.

Need a pool cue? Call on McDermott Cue (No. 97). How about a wooden coat rack? Turn to Wooden Mallet (No. 13). Playground equipment? Check out Grounds for Play (No. 28). How about a set of audio speakers? There are three companies to choose from: Sound Systems Unlimited (No. 38), Thiel Audio (No. 45) and Community Light & Sound (No. 55).

Employment: The 7,053+ workers employed by the 1993 WOOD 100 companies is also a record. Seventeen of the companies, led by Decorel Inc. (No. 64) with 800 workers, employ at least 100 people. Nineteen of the companies, led by Innovative Fabrications (No. 98), with four workers, employ 10 people or less. (See "Most & Fewest Employees.")

Age: As was the case last year, the average age of WOOD 100 companies is 17 years. Sixty-two of this year's WOOD 100 firms were established in 1980 or later. At 105 years, The J.S. MacLean Co. is the senior member of this year's e WOOD 100, followed by Sparta Spoke Factory (No. 90) and Decorel.

Location: The WOOD 100 companies hail from 34 states plus British Columbia. For the second consecutive year Pennsylvania leads the pack with 10 companies, closely followed by Minnesota and Wisconsin with nine each.

Soundbites of success

Product diversification, capital investments, partnering with wood component specialists, training employees, developing new marketing programs, computer integration, and striving for top-notch quality are some of the key factors cited by WOOD 100 companies in explaining their success. Here's a sampling of their secrets:

* "In a weak economy we made a conscious decision to not wait for something good to happen but to make something good happen," says Thomas Daulhauser, president of Hanson Woodworking (No. 1), in philosophizing the decision to broaden his architectural millwork company's market base to include high-end store fixtures.

* In a similar vein, Shopworks Inc. (No. 18) refocused its marketing efforts to include museum displays when the demand for store fixtures softened.

* Bremtown Cabinets (No. 41) expanded its product offerings to include van conversion parts by purchasing machined wood parts from component specialists.

* Daytona Dash (No. 2), a manufacturer of exotic wood dashboards for motor vehicles, has expanded its business by developing a warehouse distribution network vs. selling directly.

* Solid Visions Inc. (No. 68) did sufficient business by word of mouth to keep busy and to earn a spot in the WOOD 100. But the recent addition of the company's first salesperson is expected to increase sales by an additional 25 percent.

* "The major factor (to our success) is the embracing of technology in the production of custom products and the education of our workforce," says Michael Quirk, president of Heartwood Architectural Woodwork Corp. (No. 4). "CNC cutting and information technology drive our production, increasing our quality and lowering costs."

* "Two years ago we purchased a software package," says Brian Radi, co-owner of Radi's Custom Woodworks. "Once the system was implemented, we were able to provide detailed drawings for our customers, as well as a complete set of shop drawings and material cutlists for our shop personnel."

* "Most people would be surprised how profitable good employee relations are," says Mark Hudson, vice president of Hudson Furniture Co. (No. 5) "We want our employees to enjoy coming to work -- it really pays off."

Hopes and fears

For the second year, WOOD 100 companies were asked to rank their top three concerns for their continued success over the next three years. Once again, the three topics receiving the most "votes" were the Economy (26 first place votes, 53 mentions overall), Employee Skills (23 first place votes, 37 mentions overall) and Workmen's Compensation (11 first place votes, 41 mentions overall.)

Lumber/Composite Panel Costs moved up from the sixth spot to the fourth spot (10 firsts, 32 mentions.) Other topics with 20 or more mentions include: Low-Ball Bidding By Competitors (7 firsts, 25 mentions), Finishing Regulations (6 firsts, 25 mentions), Wood Species Availability (5 firsts, 21 mentions) and Employee Health Benefit Costs (4 firsts, 29 mentions). (See complete ballot "box score" and further commentary in this month's Editorial, page 6.)

Following are a sampling of comments on each of these topics gleaned from the WOOD 100 concerns survey:

The Economy: "We are keeping an eye on the economy and all the areas that can affect us. We are closely watching our clients to make sure they are OK financially. We are prepared to adjust our strategy if necessary."

Employee Skills: "As part of the shop reorganization process, we have developed work cells with team leaders who train everyone on their team. This will evolve into a certified operator's program. We also keep a video library of education training materials for specific machines and specific operations of our plant."

Workmen's Compensation: "We are presently seeking to join a group plan to solve our workmen's compensation problems. If we are successful, we could realize a savings of up to 40 percent over last year."

Lumber Costs: "We will focus on further improving our manufacturing and technology capabilities to reduce product costs, including the substitution of existing raw materials used to make our products."

Low-Ball Bidding: "Our goal is to help customers understand that you pay for what you get."

Finishing Regulations: "We are looking to change over to water-based finishes."

Employee Health Benefit Costs: "We supply Blue Cross-Blue Shield to our employees. Being a small company, the rising cost of health care benefits gets harder and harder to absorb. We may have to ask employees to contribute to this expense."

ANOTHER VIEW OF THE WOOD 100

There is more than one way to rank WOOD 100 companies. The method beginning on page 55 pegs each company 1 through 100 based on percentile sales growth between 1991 and 1992 without regard to size.

One might argue that a more apples-to-apples approach would be to rank companies of similar size. In an attempt to level the playing field, here is how 50 of the WOOD 100 companies compare when grouped into one of five categories. Each category uses 1991 sales as its base.
TOP GROWTH COMPANIES
'91 sales under $500,000

U.S. Customized Finishes +126.1%
Hudson Furniture +109.7%
Sonlight Fixtures +94.1%
Piccini +92.0%
Wood Wright Mfg. +86.7%
Custom Veneered Interiors +80.4%
Wooden Mallet +75.0%
Northwest Woodcraft +73.5%
Radi's Custom Woodworks +72.9%
Jeffries Wood Works +68.5%
TOP GROWTH COMPANIES
'91 sales $500,000 to $1 million

Hanson Woodworking +207.5%
Heartwood Arch. Woodwork +116.8%
Shopworks +68.3%
Richard Gilbert Ind. +48.4%
Watson & Cochran +45.3%
Wood Matic Ent. +43.9%
Sound Systems +42.5%
Seifert Woodcrafts +35.9%
Solid Visions +27.3%
Essany Custom Cabinetry +26.9%
TOP GROWTH COMPANIES
'91 sales $1 million to $2.5 million

Daytona Dash +136.2%
Lexington Mfg. +102.2%
Eurocraft Corp. +94.7%
M&J Woodcrafts +69.9%
Creative Millwork +52.7%
Riss Bros. +51.9%
Grounds For Play +49.5%
Boyce Highlands Furniture +41.6%
Paradise Kitchens +36.2%
CNT Fixture Co. +34.6%
TOP GROWTH COMPANIES
'91 sales $2.5 million to $5 million

E&H Millwork +64.7%
Hoffco Inc. +54.9%
J.S. MacLean Co. +43.3%
Bremtown Kitchens +40.6%
Millrock Inc. +36.3%
Thiel Audio +36.2%
Principle Fixture +28.1%
Sheppard Office Systems +27.4%
Creative Designs +24.6%
Bethel Furniture Stock +23.7%
TOP GROWTH COMPANIES
'91 sales over $5 million

Prime Wood +100.1%
Famous Fixtures +64.0%
T.J. Hale +62.5%
Blackhawk Furniture +56.7%
Giffin Interior & Fixture +43.2%
Woodland Container +41.1%
Woodcraft Ind. +38.6%
Brandom Mfg. +37.1%
Saloom Furniture Co. +36.1%
Oak Craft Inc. +34.3%


1

HANSON WOODWORKING INC.(**) Faribault, MN

'91: $759,000 '92: $2,334,000 +207.5 Est. 1980 Employees: 32

Custom high-end store fixtures and architectural millwork

Success is not based on whims of fate. "In a weak economy, we made a conscious decision to not wait for something good to happen, but make something good happen," says Thomas Dahlhauser, president. The result? The company broadened its market from exclusively architectural millwork to include high-end custom store fixtures; this segment now accounts for 70 percent of its business. In addition to hiring experienced personnel, and a sales associate to market the company nationwide, Hanson also invested in technology. In its expanded 22,000-square-foot shop, the company added a Binks low-pressure finishing system, Giben Prismatic 101 panel saw, and Busellato Super Junior machining center.

2

DAYTONA DASH DISTRIBUTORS INC.(**) Daytona Beach, FL

'91: $1,602,000 '92: $3,784,000 +136.2% Est. 1985 Employees: 80

Exotic real-wood dashes for automobiles, trucks and boats

Bringing a look of elegance to the auto and boating industries has become a "pleasure craft" for 8-year-old Daytona Dash Distributors. Success in creating exotic dashboards in carpathian elm burlwood, Andes rosewood, burl walnut and American walnut has led to a factory expansion from 15,000 square feet to 35,000 square feet and the recent purchase of two new buildings. Recent purchases include a Komo CNC router to ensure perfect edges. "We've also expanded our business through a warehouse distributor network vs. selling directly," says Lee Berryman, vice president.

3

U.S. CUSTOMIZED FINISHES INC.(*) Suwanee, GA

'91: $375,000 '92: $848,000 +126.1 Est. 1990 Employees: 22

One-piece MDF raised panel doors and drawer fronts, panels, fillers, valances, end panels, mouldings, etc.

Continued improvements to manufacturing methods, including increased automation, are what company president Phillip Clark terms the leading factors to the company's growth. Recent purchases include a Holz-Her panel saw, Voorwood shaper/sander, and diamond tooling. Computerization has been implemented for order processing, production scheduling and management reporting via network. "Our planning covers both growing and shrinking sales situations," says Clark, "encompassing both incremental expansion and contraction of our production capabilities."

4

HEARTWOOD ARCHITECTURAL WOODWORK CORP.(**) Minneapolis, MN

'91: $904,000 '92: $1,960,000 +116.8% Est. 1982 Employees: 30

Architectural woodwork, including store fixtures, millwork, high-end furniture, casework and paneling

"The major factor (to our success) is the embracing of technology in the production of custom products and the education of our workforce," says Michael Quirk, president. Within the last two years, Heartwood has purchased a Heian eight-head/twin table CNC router, Holzma HPP81 beam saw, Compaq/Novelle 20-station computer network system and Scheer DB-4 and DB-22 boring machines. "CNC cutting and information technology drive our production, increasing our quality and lowering costs," Quirk says. Computer training for personnel, as well as encouraging creative problem solving, also keeps employees interested and motivated in their jobs, he adds.

5

HUDSON FURNITURE CO.(*) El Paso, TX

'91: $113,000 '92: $237,000 +109.7% Est. 1991 Employees: 13

Handcrafted, solid wood, high-end Santa Fe-style furniture

"Never underestimate the profitability of hard work -- a great product at a good price will always sell," says Mark Hudson, vice president. "Most people would be surprised how profitable good employee relations are. We want our employees to enjoy coming to work -- it really pays off." Product quality and design are the top priority, says Hudson. To ensure this, the company's recent equipment purchases include: SCMI 36-inch widebelt sander, SCMI four-sided planer, UNO single-end tenoner, James L. Taylor six-section clamp, Delta 7-horsepower shaper and 7-horsepower/24-inch planer, and a DeVilbiss HVLP sprayer and spray booth.

6

LEXINGTON MFG. INC.(***) Minneapolis, MN

'91: $2,228,000 '92: $4,505,000 +102.2% Est. 1958 Employees: 70

Contract manufacturer specializing in high-volume, close tolerance components including furniture, fixtures, ad specialties, millwork, display, cabinetry, etc.

"Quality" is not a word that is taken lightly at Lexington, where the company has recently implemented a quality improvement program. "A quality manual has been developed and a quality team has been assembled to move the program forward and monitor results," says Bill DeWitt, sales and marketing manager. In addition, Lexington has instituted a 401K plan for employee benefits and has increased production space while rearranging the plant layout to improve production flow. As a final step, the company has developed work cells with team leaders who are in charge of training. DeWitt says this program will evolve into a certified operators' program.

7

PRIMEWOOD INC.(*****) Wahpeton, ND

'91: $16,620,000 '92: $33,259,000 +100.1% Est. 1987 Employees: 600+

Profile wrapped mouldings, components, veneer raised-panel doors, and membrane-pressed thermo-foil doors and components

A combination of European technology and American ingenuity has brought PrimeWood to its current peak of success, says Tom Shorma, marketing services consultant at Team Marketing. The company's strategic plan, says Shorma, "is to abandon conventional products and production methods and to restructure its product line with products that allow the company to gain a long-term marketing advantage." Last year PrimeWood reinforced that commitment by expanding its manufacturing space by 50,000 square feet and by adding two internally designed and built veneer membrane presses. In addition, the company recently added a Holzma Fixomatic panel saw, Komo CNC routers, and Celaschi tenoner.

8

EUROCRAFT CORP.(***) Elkhart, IN

'91: $1,569,000 '92: $3,055,000 +94.7% Est. 1957 (as Trawood) Employees: 49

Custom wood office furniture, notably trading desks for stock and commodity brokers, slotwall panels and custom store fixtures

With its product line geared to brokerages, Eurocraft has a decidedly bullish outlook on business. Following the 1987 stock market crash, "the market has begun to heat up now after a five-year lull," says vice president David Gruber. In the meantime, the company has maintained its profitability by stressing the quality of its products. "As we did when we marketed under the name Spec-Built in the 1980s, we strived to give the customer the best product for the money," Gruber says. Inherent to quality control is maintaining a good production line, which includes such recent additions as a Busellato point-to-point boring machine and an IMA edgebander. Has it worked? "We don't advertise," Gruber says. "Ninety-five percent of our business is repeat business."

9

SONLIGHT FIXTURES INC.(*) Carson City, NV

'91: $273,000 '92: $530,000 +94.1% Est. 1977 Employees: 11

Book, music and gift store fixtures

After reading the proverbial writing on the wall, Sonlight found success by focusing on the Christian retail store and general trade bookstore markets. "We've found a niche and are maximizing it," says David Amster, president. What has also helped Sonlight's sales grow "is our expertise in store planning and the unique stores we are creating which has brought us many new clients," Amster adds. Store planning is primarily handled by the Sonlight Design Group division, developed in 1992 and headed by Amster.

10

PICCINI(*) Suffern, NY

'91: $362,000 '92: $695,000 +92.0% Est. 1988 Employees: 15

Custom laminate commercial case goods, laminate and wood kitchens, designer wall units and furniture

Making its third appearance in the WOOD 100, co-owner Richard Piccininni attributes Piccini's continued success to diversification and investments in machinery, including an SCMI Tech 90 CNC line boring and dowel machine and an SCMI Basic 2 edge-bander. "These have enabled us to keep up with our production demands and (help us manufacture) a more consistent, quality product," says Piccininni. In addition, Piccini opened a second showroom in Scarsdale, N.Y., for kitchen cabinetry, Mica furniture and designer wall units. "We have continually fragmented our markets with kitchen, designer furniture and commercial bidding, so that we aren't relying on one market to enable us to grow," Piccininni adds.

11

WOOD WRIGHT MFG.(*) Milton-Freewater, OR

'91: $338,000 '92: $631,000 +86.7% Est. 1989 Employees: 10

Custom cabinetry

Customer service is a key factor to a successful business practice, says Dan Tomczek, owner. Other factors accounting for the company's rise in sales include the hiring of a full-time salesperson and a concentrated effort toward ensuring quality control, including implementation of a CAD program. "We have also adjusted our pricing policies to more accurately reflect actual costs, (thereby) keeping our prices low," Tomczek adds. In order to maintain its competitiveness, Wood Wright purchases some of its components, including cabinet doors. Recent equipment purchases include a shaper and edgebander for in-house manufacturing of some parts.

12

CUSTOM VENEERED INTERIORS INC.(*) East Dundee, IL

'91: $409,000 '92: $738,000 +80.4% Est. 1986 Employees: 9

Commercial millwork, specializing in custom cabinetry

It helps to be a one-stop shop in the millwork business, says vice president Scott DeGenova. "It is important to many general contractors to have a single source for all millwork on a project because it pushes the coordination responsibilities on one single company," DeGenova says. CVI became such a source with the addition of new product lines, including interior architectural wood doors, borrowed lights, mouldings and pre-finishing services. Recent equipment purchases include a Holz-Her 1437 edgebander and Pattern Systems software. "These additional products allowed CVI to give a more complete millwork package to the general contractor," says DeGenova. Membership in the Architectural Woodwork Institute has also provided many benefits to the company.

13

WOODEN MALLET(*) Aberdeen, SD

'91: $124,000 '92: $217,000 +75.0% Est. 1975 Employees: 6

Magazine racks, literature display racks, and coat and hat racks

While they're no racketeers, this company is certainly making a "racket" in its first year in the WOOD 100. "Since 1975 we had been doing custom work, but in mid-1990, I decided to concentrate on developing three or four products and producing them in volume," says owner Jim Kreber. Using rough lumber and plywood, the company manufactures a variety of racks for sale through catalog and retail distribution. "By working closely with a few retailers, distributors and end users, we were able to develop these products." Profitability comes from using dedicated machines, several specialty machines and an efficient work flow, Kreber adds.

14

THE NORTHWEST WOODCRAFT CORP.(*) Monroe, WA

'91: $294,000 '92: $510,000 +73.5% Est. 1982 Employees: 14

Hotel, motel and residential furniture, custom furniture

"As we grow and all the challenges of running a 'small' business arise, we have continued to keep the quality in our products," says Tom Rief, executive vice president. Product line versatility and cost control, as well as a "pay-as-you-go" philosophy, have also contributed to the company's success. "We have been doing our best to buy smart and use a percentage of oft grade or shop products on parts of furniture that don't show. Buying in larger quantities has also helped," Rief said.

15

RADI'S CUSTOM WOODWORKS(*) Grand Forks, ND

'91: $221,000 '92: $382,000 +72.9% Est. 1988 Employees: 12

Custom wood and laminate products, including kitchen cabinets, vanities, entertainment centers, gun cabinets, wall units, china hutches and office furniture

Three facets to his company's success, according to co-owner Brian Radi, are: having an owner dealing directly with a customer from the initial contact through completion of the project; word-of-mouth advertising; and having employees who are able to consistently deliver a quality product. Adding to his commitment to customer service, Radi says, "Two years ago we purchased a software package by Cabnetware. Once the system was implemented, we were able to provide detailed drawings for our customers, as well as a complete set of shop drawings and material cutlists for our shop personnel."

16

M&J WOODCRAFTS LTD.(***) Delta, British Columbia

'91: $1,510,000 '92: $2,566,000 +69.9% Est. 1986 Employees: 35

Finished and unfinished MDF cabinet doors

M&J has just moved to a 60,000-square-foot building which president Michael Williams says is equipped with state-of-the-art equipment. Recently purchased equipment includes: a second Shoda CNC router, Biesse 335 router and boring machine, Selco 200 WN CNC panel saw, Cefla Ecosprayer and ovens, plus an extensive investment in diamond tooling and dust handling systems. "We were bursting at the seams, working around the clock in our old building and unable to grow anymore. The new building is comfortable for our employees, providing amenities unavailable at the old location," Williams says.

17

JEFFRIES WOOD WORKS INC.(*) Knoxville, TN

'91: $181,000 '92: $305,000 +68.5% Est. 1987 Employees: 5

Lumber and wood products for custom construction, wood siding, flooring and stair parts

"Focusing our energy has made the greatest impact on our success," says administrator Cynthia Jeffries. "It has meant targeting who we want as customers, redefining and adding or eliminating product lines and tailoring our equipment to fit." In 1992, the company leased a Pinheiro PMC-5 planer/moulder with a bottom fifth spindle and in 1993 purchased a Weinig Rondamat 935 profile grinder. "These two pieces of equipment have made our shop tremendously more efficient....Increasing our inventory of in-stock rough lumber, moulding and tongue and groove has also made a great difference in our ability to meet our clients' tight schedules," Jeffries says.

18

SHOPWORKS INC.(**) Liverpool, NY

'91: $590,000 '92: $993,000 +68.3% Est. 1984 Employees: 14

Exhibits, point-of-purchase and museum displays, architectural-quality acoustic reflecting systems

Success, for Shopworks, comes from refocusing marketing efforts away from store fixturing and toward exhibits, says president Bob Davidson. "Retail work was a large part of our income in 1990 and earlier. As figures show, it dropped off considerably in 1991. We have more than made up for it by expanding our exhibit services," Davidson says.

19

E&H MILLWORK INC.(****) Woodbridge, VA

'91: $3,296,000 '92: $5,430,000 +64.7% Est. 1987 Employees: 50

Architectural millwork for restaurants, tenant spaces, base buildings, malls, institutional and municipal buildings

Making its second appearance in the WOOD 100, E&H Millwork can attribute its continued success to four factors, says president Mike Moore, including: broader marketing, attention to cost, streamlined production techniques and better communication between all employees. "We have greatly increased our annual sales without adding additional staff," Moore says. "This is accomplished by better production from our shop, thereby allowing for greater success on bid jobs." Production flow, Moore adds, has been helped by the acquisition of a Weinig 22N moulder, Vitap twin line boring machine, Holzma HPP91 panel saw and Weinig Rondamat 934 tool grinder.

20

FAMOUS FIXTURES(*****) Sun Prairie, WI

'91: $6,728,000 '92: $11,031,000 +64.0% Est. 1975 Employees: 180

Retail store fixtures, point-of-purchase displays and graphics

Organization restructuring from the inside out, focusing marketing and sales efforts on growth-oriented retailers, designers and consumer product companies, and capital improvements, are all factors of the company's success, says David Schemery. "Capital improvements, such as a Reichenbacher D-8635 NC router, Biesse 342 CNC boring machine and a UV press and dryer system have increased productivity while reducing direct labor content," Schemery says. In addition, Famous Fixtures developed "The System," which incorporates: CAD drafting, customized production planning and manufacturing software, and CNC machining, including prototype production in two weeks or less.

21

T.J. HALE CO.(*****) Menomonee Falls, WI

'91: $7,738,000 '92: $12,576,000 +62.5% Est. 1950 Employees: 93

Custom wood store fixtures

While many companies may focus on the customer aspect of doing business, T.J. Hale Co. goes one step beyond. "(We have) employees who take pride in their work and who really care about our customers ... a commitment going beyond the vendor level, which means that every aspect of our relationship with customers is aimed at exceeding their expectations," says executive vice president Reed Felton. Focusing on a niche market, and the "ability to translate design concepts into cost-effective solutions," are also factors responsible for the company's success, Felton says.

22

ROBINWOOD DESIGNS INC.(*) Lake Oswego, OR

'91: $151,000 '92: $245,000 +62.3% Est. 1989 Employees: 6

Custom cabinets, product displays and fixtures

Its refusal to say, "Sorry, that can't be done," is one of the greatest assets of Robinwood Designs, says president Steve Nelson. "Our employees love a challenge, and it shows in their work." Production has been improved with the purchase of a Mini Max sliding table scoring saw and a Brandt edge-bander, "which definitely brought us into the '90s, (as far as) speed and quality are concerned," Nelson says. To better promote its work, Robinwood began a marketing program last year which includes direct mail promotions, magazine advertising, directory listings and membership in the Oregon Remodelers Assn./NARI.

23

BLACKHAWK FURNITURE INC.(*****) Riverside, CA

'91: $5,342,000 '92: $8,369,000 +56.7% Est. 1983 Employees: 98

Mid-line contemporary and transitional oak bedroom furniture, including cases, pier walls and headboards

Making its third appearance in the WOOD 100, Blackhawk Furniture stays successful by keeping in close contact with customers to help tailor styles, price points, and features, says president Bruce Masterson. "We have now expanded our mid-line contemporary oak collections one step up, and one step down, to have a wider range of price points available." Masterson says the company also has continued to aggressively add to its account base, which now includes several of the "Top 100" furniture retailers. Maintaining this successful trend will be no problem -- Masterson projects 1993 sales to reach $11 million.

24

HOFFCO INC.(****) Wood Lake, MN

'91: $2,818,000 '92: $4,366,000 +54.9% Est. 1983 Employees: 85

Wood kitchen cabinet accessories

"An increase in our customer base is the single most significant factor in the last three years that has enabled us to grow," says Hoffco sales manager Doug House. Other contributing factors to the company's success include the use of independent manufacturers' representatives and new fashions in kitchen cabinets which created opportunities for innovative product development, House says. Increased production requirements were handled with the purchase of CNC routers and an April plant expansion which nearly doubled the size, to almost 60,000 square feet, of the pre-existing facility.

25

CREATIVE MILLWORK OF OHIO INC.(***) Ashtabula, OH

'91: $1,121,000 '92: $1,712,000 +52.7% Est. 1987 Employees: 65

Window and door grilles

Looking through the window of the future, the next few years will continue to be successful for Creative Millwork due to its reputation for consistency and quality, says controller Maribeth Yusko. "Our business has had great growth by making wood products of exceptional quality. Our standard tolerances are |+ or -~0.002 at the moulder and |+ or -~0.005 at the tenoner," she says. Adding to the consistent quality of the moulding has been the recent purchase of a Weinig moulder. The company's marketing strategy is dependent upon word of mouth referrals, Yusko adds.

26

RISS BROS. INC.(***) Black Hawk, SD

'91: $2,142,000 '92: $3,253,000 +51.9% Est. 1948 Employees: 46

Custom cabinets, countertops, solid surface fabrication, cultured marble products, commercial casework, hotel/motel fixtures, casino/gaming table fixtures

With a simple roll of the dice, Riss Bros. continues to increase sales. "The legalization of gambling (throughout the country) has allowed us to expand our product line," says president Joseph Riss. "We have also diversified our operation, going from a cabinet shop to a manufacturing facility of commercial fixtures and products, as well as continuing to uphold our reputation for distinctive custom woodwork in private homes." Increased business has led to Riss Bros. expanding its facility by 10,000 feet, to 50,000 square feet. Riss says the company plans to improve product volume and efficiency by implementing the 32mm system of manufacturing.

27

REDWOOD UNLIMITED(*) Valley Center, CA

'91: $310,000 '92: $470,000 +51.6% Est. 1979 Employees: 6

Products for the mail order gift industry and premium incentive markets

"With absolutely no incentives for small business, growth is quite a trick," says owner Lance Nybye. What has helped the company achieve its current status and second year placement in the WOOD 100, is the replacement of semi-skilled labor with automated processes, including a Motionmaster three-axis CNC router, Universal laser, and deburring and polishing equipment. Other factors contributing to Redwood's growth include the elimination of marginally profitable products, finding new markets for current products, and "eliminating foreign competition by concentrating on markets that require rapid turnaround," Nybye says.

28

GROUNDS FOR PLAY(***) Arlington, TX

'91: $1,415,000 '92: $2,115,000 +49.5% Est. 1983 Employees: 33

Custom wood playground structures primarily for schools, daycare centers, churches and businesses

The owners don't believe in playing around when it comes to design and safety of their structures, says vice president Larry Lichnovsky. With doctorates in Early Childhood development, the two principal owners have provided the continuous involvement of professional educators in the sales and marketing network, which contributes greatly to the company's success in its field, Lichnovsky adds. The company also has increased sales by placing approximately 10 regional marketing representatives throughout the United States. To save on raw material, the company recently began integrating plastic and recycled plastic components with wood in its play structures.

29

RICHARD GILBERT IND. INC.(**) Midfield, AL

'91: $622,000 '92: $923,000 +48.4% Est. 1981 Employees: 25

Made-to-order plastic laminate cabinetry for commercial and institutional use

Leaping from No. 93 last year to No. 29, the company has enjoyed tremendous sales growth in spite of a recession. Reasons for this growth include its commitment to quality and taking steps to increase volume, says Richard Gilbert, president. With an overall goal of maximizing efficiency, the company uses Pattern Systems software, Gilbert says, and constantly fine-tunes its practices in the shop and office.

30

SOLIDCRAFT CABINET DOOR CO.(*) Marshfield, WI

'91: $292,000 '92: $428,000 +46.6% Est. 1988 Employees: 7

Face-frame cabinet doors and drawer fronts

"Our biggest asset is to operate with Bible principles, including help that works hard and is honest," says owner James Kulp. "Our focus on efficiency is to catch all the small things that can add up." To help reduce inefficiency, Kulp purchased an Advanced Measuring Systems cut-off gauge, three-headed Timesavers sander, Delta/Newman Quiet-Cut planer and Lauderdale Hamilton chop saw. "Our cut-off gauge really gave us faster and more accurate cuts. Now we can go months without a wrong size," Kulp says. Another advantage, he adds, is being located near the source of northern hardwoods, which allows the company to remain price competitive while having a source for uniform-colored wood.

31

WATSON & COCHRAN INC.(**) Dallas, TX

'91: $724,000 '92: $1,052,000 +45.30% Est. 1986 Employees: 24

Architectural millwork including cabinets, moulding, millwork and furniture

Staying lean and mean in a soft Dallas/Ft. Worth economy is what has kept Watson & Cochran turning a profit. "We are constantly looking at ways to streamline our production," says president Kyle Cochran. The recent purchase of a larger edgebander and line boring machine are consistent with this goal. "Since our inception in 1986, slow, methodical growth has been our way of expansion. We may have lost some opportunities because of our conservative nature, but we are still growing and successfully operating in a less than desirable economy," Cochran adds.

32

E-Z KITCHENS(*) Madison, TN

'91: $265,000 '92: $385,000 +45.28% Est. 1987 Employees: 7

Custom kitchen cabinets and refacing

Cabinet refacing has become a profitable venture for this Tennessee-based shop. "When E-Z Kitchens started in 1987, we were the only company offering refacing (in the area) -- and we're still the only refacing specialists as opposed to a window, roofing and siding company (doing it as a) sideline," says owner Earl Zei. The wood shortage has, in an obscure way, also helped business, he added. "The increases in hardwood prices have actually helped to show people the value of hardwood cabinets and helped to sell the idea that hardwood cabinets increase the value of their home," Zei says.

33

WOOD MATIC ENTERPRISES INC.(**) Holland, MI

'91: $804,000 '92: $1,157,000 +43.90% Est. 1989 Employees: 27

Commercial and residential cabinetry, custom furniture, store fixtures, prototype furniture pieces

How does a company boost its sales 156 percent in two years? For Wood Matic, part of the answer lies in developing a dependable reputation. "We owe our success of the present to our customers of the past," says Paul Van Drunen, president. Good words from former customers and recommendations by architects have helped Wood Matic grow. "When jobs are completed in a timely fashion with quality materials by quality craftsmen, the word does get out," Van Drunen adds. To keep up with growth, the company has added seven more employees, a panel saw, extra shapers and table saws, and another edge sander.

34

BAILEY & GLEASON CABINETMAKERS INC.(*) Chicago, IL

'91: $424,000 '92: $610,000 +43.86 Est. 1982 Employees: 10

High-end residential cabinetry and architectural millwork

While the terms "investment," "portfolio," and "return" conjure up images of the stock market, in WOOD 100 terms they partly describe Bailey & Gleason's success which can be attributed to investing in a professional portfolio to attract clients. With project shots showing custom veneer work and entertainment centers, the portfolio has helped attract 80 percent of its client base since 1990, says Tom Gleason, president. These portfolio contacts, mainly architects and contractors, helped the company survive a "substantial downturn" of the economy in 1991 and have given Bailey & Gleason a considerable backlog of work since 1992, he says. "Fiscal 1992 was our most profitable year ever. Our sales jumped to a new high," Gleason says.

35

NATIONAL WOODWORK MFG.(*) Catasauqua, PA

'91: $222,000 '92: $319,000 +43.7% Est. 1985 Employees: 5

Custom casework and architectural woodwork for commercial and institutional applications

Making its debut in the WOOD 100, the company's success is from quality products, on-time deliveries and competitive price, says Joseph Farah, project manager. The three-fold formula has enabled National Woodwork to add more general contractors to its list of regular clients, which has in turn increased its bottom line. Another area of growth for the company has been taking on finished wood products for architectural woodwork in addition to plastic laminate work for commercial and institutional applications. With the purchase of a Keytrix estimating package, Farah says he hopes to lessen the burden of last-minute changes.

36

THE J.S. MACLEAN CO.(****) Columbus, OH

'91: $4,367,000 '92: $6,260,000 +43.3% Est. 1888 Employees: 165

Perimeter and loose retail store fixtures and institutional contract furnishings

Foresight can also be 20/20, judging from the success of the J.S. MacLean Co. The company was established in 1888 by shipwright and master cabinetmaker John Shearer MacLean, who foresaw the need for a reliable source of fine architectural millwork. Today, the company's diverse customer base includes specialty retailers, national department store chains, libraries, law firms, corporate offices, museums and financial institutions. Investing in its employees helps ensure future growth. "We have hired aggressive, top level personnel for all operational positions and given them the authority to run with the ball," says J.B. MacLean, president, "and we encourage factory personnel to obtain continuing education so that they have tomorrow's required skills."

37

GIFFIN INTERIOR & FIXTURE INC.(*****) Bridgeville, PA

'91: $6,032,000 '92: $8,637,000 +43.2% Est. 1980 Employees: 120

Custom display fixtures, furniture, desks, conference tables, hospital casework, mouldings, and architectural millwork

What started off as a store fixture manufacturer has aggressively expanded into a company that "markets to virtually any woodwork user," says Gordon Giffin, president. Capital investments have enabled the company to take advantage of these opportunities, says Giffin. These include an additional 20,000 square feet of manufacturing space and 3,500 square feet of office space. "While allowing us to do more work, it has also allowed us to reconfigure the process, creating better through-put of work." Investing in computers and CNC equipment has increased output while maintaining employment levels and cost, he adds, while a new moulder and related equipment has given the company full millwork capabilities in-house.

38

SOUND SYSTEMS UNLIMITED(**) Shirley, IN

'91: $908,000 '92: $1,294,000 +42.5% Est. 1987 Employees: 22

High quality audio speaker enclosures

While "Dr. Fong's" approach may not be considered normal, judging by the speaker company's success, it cannot be considered crazy either. "Dr. Fong," alias Jay Wilfong, offers such products as Floorburners, Earburners, Killerwatts, Igors and Thwakks. "This is a more personal and effective approach than companies that do business in a standard, boring manner," says Wilfong. The success of the "El Cheapo" line is proof that a ruggedly constructed, no frills model can take off in a "tight money market," says Wilfong. Another bit of Fongnews: this success was achieved in spite of the company burning to the ground on March 20, 1992. "We have persevered to not only stay in business but grow, says Wilfong. "We expect 1993 to be over the $2,000,000 mark."

39

BOYCE HIGHLANDS FURNITURE CO. INC.(***) Concord, NH

'91: $1,463,000 '92: $2,072,000 +41.6% Est. 1978 Employees: 34

Finished and unfinished mouldings

Moving from No. 75 last year to No. 39, Boyce fits the "mould" of a company on the move. The company has increased quality and productivity with the addition of a moulder, finishing equipment and a specialized packaging machine, says Steve Malinsky, president. In addition, the company has found success in exporting and has concentrated more on domestic markets as well. In response to increases in production, Boyce moved into a larger plant in 1992 and in May completed another move to a brand new facility.

40

WOODLAND CONTAINER CORP.(*****) Aitkin, MN

'91: $13,150,000 '92: $18,533,000 +41.1% Est. 1946 Employees: 244

Crates, skids, boxes, components, pallets and other shipping units

Refusing to be "boxed" into a narrow category Woodland Container prides itself on being a full-service "Industrial Packaging Specialist," serving accounts throughout the United States. These include manufacturing, sub-assembly, service functions or sub-contracting, says Kevin Ruen, vice president, administration. That the company is a "single source" supplier to major corporations is one reason for its success. Another reason is that it is also willing to set up an operation near the customer to provide JIT deliveries, Ruen adds. This "market driven" corporation has eight manufacturing sites, seven
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Title Annotation:Wood and Wood Products Fourth Annual Report; top 100 woodworking companies
Publication:Wood & Wood Products
Date:Nov 1, 1993
Words:6768
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