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Wood 100 strategies for success.

THE RESURGING North American wood products market is clearly illustrated by the breadth of companies in this year's WOOD 100. The following pages pay tribute to the means and methods these companies have undertaken in order to survive and thrive in the current economy. Turn the page to read their stories.

TOP MARKETERS

AIC Millworks LLC, Tampa, FL

Sales for the architectural millwork firm grew 30.5%, due in part by reducing the cost and time to produce its LuisLynzie brand of architectural products. In addition, "LuisLynzie will be launching a new website and branding campaign in the fourth quarter of 2013. Our marketing will aggressively target distributors," says Owner Charles Combs.

Reborn Cabinets, Anaheim, CA

Improved operations, says President Vince Nardo, helped the cabinet and refacing products maker's sales grow 19.6%. "We have also made significant investments in our marketing programs to increase our growth," adds Anthony Nardo, CFO. "Increased growth coupled with increased efficiency in manufacturing will lower our COGS and our direct costs. This will increase our overall profit margin."

Elias Woodwork, Winkler, MB

Osborne Wood Products, Toccoa, GA

Since 2012 the two wood components manufacturers have partnered to offer themed collections featuring Elias' cabinet components matched with Osborne's corbels, mouldings and more. The collections are available from both companies for ease of ordering, says Elias Woodwork's Jeremy Funk and Osborne Wood Products' Christian Smedberg.

Ashley Furniture, Arcadia, WI

The residential furniture company is an expert at growing public awareness and goodwill. Among its efforts, Ashley for the Arts promotes the works of artists and musicians, and helps raise funds to support community programs and efforts.

The Closet Guy, Beverly Hills, CA

"I continue to market The Closet Guy Inc as a company that manufactures and installs a very high quality product at a reasonable price. We are never the lowest price or the highest, just the best quality products available in our market," says President Michael Mueller. Sales grew 9.8% in 2012.

Masterwrap Inc., Lexington, NC

For the profile-wrapped components maker, sales growth of 20.9% can be attributed to the success of its customer-supplier-manufacturer relationships. "Suppliers have become as important as customers with regards to internal scheduling and satisfying the required demands for on-time shipping," notes Rick Bullin, sales manager.

Canyon Creek Cabinet, Monroe, WA

Well known for the sustainability of its products, as well as its manufacturing, quality and energy conservation efforts, the custom frame and frameless style cabinet firm has been the recipient of numerous awards and recognition. Earlier this year, Canyon Creek also was recognized as one of the top 20 manufacturers in Washington.

Architectural Concepts, Jonesboro, AR

As part of its growth strategy, ACI committed to a more-aggressive mindset that involved online services, cold bidding and tenaciousness in closing the sale. "Instead of just bidding jobs and waiting for them to call, we call them and just hammer away," says CEO George Stem. The theory is once contractors are clients, they can be turned into repeat customers.

Maine Wood Concepts, New Vineyard, ME

Entrepreneurship and some risk taking have helped the wood turnings and industrial components firm thrive. The added success of its Fletcher's Mill brand of gourmet kitchen products has resulted in 40 new jobs at the firm, which is owned by Doug Fletcher, Jody Fletcher and Gary Fletcher.

MARKETING INITIATIVES

* INNOVATIVE WOODWORKERS know how to keep things cooking in business--and their company's name in the forefront of consumer minds Using social media, branding, networking or by word of mouth, these WOOD 100 firms are experts at promoting their sustainability, quality and/or range of products.

Miles Enterprises Inc., Glen Burnie, MD--A designer and fabricator of high-end residential cabinetry and woodwork, Miles Enterprise already had a "strong reputation for quality, and for bringing resolve to difficult projects," when it found itself going a step further in order to grow business during and after the worst of the recession.

"Even in a suppressed market, there is work to be had," says President David Miles. "In trudging through our worst years -2009 and 2010--we found ways to reduce expenses. This allowed us to adjust our pricing structure down, which enabled us to build enough volume to compensate for the reduced pricing. This has been, and will continue to be our model that we believe will continue to aid our success."

He adds, "We have continued to groom relationships with existing customers, which helps to keep a strong sales base. And finally, we are working to expand our sales base by implementing a new marketing model."

That includes moving marketing from in-house to agency Leigh Bay Designs. In addition to revamping the company's website, Miles says the agency has developed a new advertising plan for the manufacturer, utilizing traditional means and social networking. Sales expectations this year look to be even better than the $631,000 recorded in 2012, which was a 20.7% jump over 2011's figures.

GO-TO-MARKET

* SAVVY MARKETERS are finding new and innovative ways to differentiate their company's wooden products from competitors' while piquing public interest in the marketplace.

Vaughan-Basset, Galax, VA--Placards, posters and other media help promote the company's commitment to manufacturing in the USA. Considered the largest U.S. manufacturer of wooden adult bedroom furniture, Vaughan-Bassett in fact helped spearhead the resurgence of residential furniture manufacturing in America. Vaughan-Bassett is also a leader in the "Buy Local" movement. According to its website, "Over 99 percent of its lumber comes from within 500 miles of its factories--80 percent from within 200 miles, reducing the carbon footprint associated with the transport of primary raw material." The company employs more than 700 people in factories based in Galax, Virginia, and Elkin, North Carolina.

BRIGHT IDEAS

The Maui Closet Co., Kahului, Maui, HI

Online marketing efforts, including blogs and testimonials, have helped the organizational products manufacturer improve its customer contact--and profit margins, says President Debra Finkiewicz.

Walker Woodworking Shelby, NC

Networking, quality and service have helped the high-end cabinet firm obtain and retain customers. It has been featured on Houzz, is a member of the NKBA and BBB and has ties to many local businesses. New equipment, including a Brandt edgebander, has also helped improve productivity, says President Travis Walker.

Wellborn Cabinet Inc., Ashland, AL

Wellborn's innovative ways to attract customers helped it to grow sales 11.2%. These include Dream Kitchen Makeover contests and its partnership with HGTV to provide products for Dream Homes. In addition to cabinetry at three price points, offerings include storage solutions and freestanding bath furniture, says Angela O'Neill, director of marketing. A new nesting router also helped improve productivity.

Neil Kelly Cabinets, Portland, OR

The first to produce a Declare-labeled cabinet collection, Neil Kelly's Naturally Northwest allows consumers to view the "ingredients" used in the products. "This program has the potential to effect real change in consumer behavior," says Mark Smith, president.

Oakwood Veneer, Troy, MI

A revamped website makes selections easier for customers, plus the firm will continue to grow its social media presence, says Ezra Drissman, marketing director.

Schuler Cabinetry, Oakbrook, IL

Schuler expanded its cabinet brand into virtually all of Lowe's U.S. stores, with 900 additional stores outfitted with Schuler selection centers and/or display vignettes.

MASTER PLANS

FA Woodworking, Toronto, ON

President Howard Rosenberg says employee referrals and a bonus system helped the children's furniture manufacturer obtain and retain good employees, one of the factors of its success. Also helping the 10.5% growth was the addition of a pin router.

Foggy Bottom Woodworks LLC, Muscoda, WI

The cabinet and millworks maker's investment in technology, including a dovetailer, clamp carrier and sawmill equipment helped to improve its productivity and grow sales 17.4%. Good employees are also integral, says Rick Tisdale, managing member, and adds that the company also works with local tech schools.

JSO Wood Products, Louisville, KY

The veneer products maker "cut overall costs by two-thirds during the recession," and also managed inventory more efficiently while growing sales 59.5% in 2012, says President Steve Kite. Along with sales to the aircraft industry and fabricators, Kitts says the firm is "Continuing to aggressively pursue new markets like eBay and international sales." He adds, "We have looked deeper into our inventory to find things that can be sold [on eBay] that we thought had limited value."

Conestoga Wood Specialties, East Earl, PA

Good employees, reduced delivery times and a "strengthening of customer relationships" are all helping the cabinet components firm stay in the forefront of the marketplace, says Jeff Eichenseer, director of marketing and product development.

Lagomorph Design, Chicago, IL

Lagomorph Design's 22.5% growth can be attributed to quality craftsmanship. Says Owner Seth Deysach, "In this niche market we only hire the most highly skilled craftsmen possible." The success encompasses sister firm MDRN Furniture, which was "created to produce some of Lagomorph Design's most successful one-of-a-kind, custom designs at a more affordable price point. This was achieved by standardizing various design elements and construction techniques and streamlining the material, fabric and color choices."

Key Millwork & Supply, Monroe, LA

"We have increased our plywood and hardware inventory to help in holding prices longer," says Owner Vincent Casamento. The strategy has paid off and the custom cabinet and millwork firm's sales rose 33.7% in 2012. However, he adds, "In the summer of 2014 we will have to begin raising our prices as we replace the inventory, if the prices have not begun falling."

DreamMaker Bath & Kitchen, Graniteville, SC

The cabinet and closet maker attributes its success to good customer service, employee skills, marketing and quality control, says J.D. Norris, president.

Old World Millworks, Elgin, IL

Owner Robert Larson says the millwork firm works closely with suppliers to control costs. He adds, "By combining premium exterior materials with serious craftsmanship, we design and build our Signature Doors to make a first impression that truly lasts." Historic replications are also a specialty. "With our CNC equipment and handcrafting capabilities, we can produce replacement pieces that are true to style and code compliant."

MTC, Kula, HI

Sales grew 3.1 % for MTC, which creates cabinetry, built-ins, stairs, doors and furniture from Hawaiian hardwoods. Because it is often difficult to find skill entry-level workers, says Owner Greg Davidge, "We do a lot of intensive in-house training and really have them shadow our process from start to finish on a project."

BUSINESS STRATEGIES

* SUCCESSFUL FIRMS LOCK up business through a combination of service, skills and sustainability. Obtaining and retaining good employees, setting price points and developing new sales markets also are among the winning strategies used by these woodworking firms.

Mill-Rite Woodworking Co. Inc., Pinellas Park, FL--The architectural millwork firm has developed a winning strategy for maximizing the productivity and profitability in the manufacture of its casework, wall panels, countertops, door and window frames and standing and running trim.

Sales for the company grew 5.1% in 2012, and Mill-Rite expects 2013 sales to also increase, says Gregg Marrocco, business development. However, he adds, "Price cutting is and has always been a concern due to the competitive bid process and the requirement by owners to almost always go with the low bidder." To combat that, Marrocco says, "We are becoming more streamlined and are concentrating on maximizing shop time and communication from architects during the design phase of the project."

Mill-Rite handles all manufacturing and fabrication, as well as pre-construction, design, value-engineering and installation. At the 44,000 square foot plant, Mill-Rite recently added an automated edgebander to improve productivity. In addition, Marrocco says, "We have purchased and set up our own granite saw and associated work area so that we can control the stone portion of our jobs and get a competitive edge on the market."

Jobs run the gamut and include: sports complexes, such as Tampa Bay Lightning's locker room; hotel and condos; commercial facilities; healthcare facilities; and financial, government and educational institutions.

* THESE WOOD FIRMS DON'T TREAD LIGHTLY when it comes to the development and implementation of successful business strategies.

Southern Minnesota Woodcraft Inc., Fairbault, MN--An increased sales force, good employees and a high level of customer service have helped the full service architectural millwork company grow 46.9% in 2012.

"We have actively advertised for quality help and have increased our pay scales to become more competitive," says Bradley Cohen, vice president.

The recent addition of a new finish sander for prepping trim in the finish process will also aid in improving productivity and profitability. The company also obtained an additional vehicle for making small-scale deliveries to customers.

An AWI Premuim Certified manufacturer, SMW also finishes and installs both commercial and residential casework, millwork and fixtures, including plastic laminate and wood casework, countertops, solid surface and stone. Among its LEED-certified projects is this curved main entry stair for Sage Electronics, featuring FSC-certified maple for the handrails and paneling and treads made from reclaimed elm.

MASTER PLANS

Taghkanic Woodworking, Pawling, NY

"I plan on increasing profit margins through material cost cutting by buying for several jobs at a time," says Leland Thomasset, president of the custom cabinet and millwork firm. Plans also call to increase productivity by standardizing machining and assembly practices for both face frame and toneless construction and by outsourcing of installations, he adds. Sales grew 35.8%.

Pierce 6 Pierce Millwork and Moulding, Norcross, GA

Sales grew 18.9% for the custom millwork and moulding maker. "We have to be able to adjust our company with the new obstacles that the economy has put in front of us," says Scott Parr, vice president. "It's a new industry and a new world. You can't continue to run the company the same way we did five years ago."

Somerset Wood Products, Raritan, NJ

President Lester Bloch attributes the architectural firm's 87.5% sales growth to its enhanced capabilities and ability to respond to architects' and customer needs.

Kitchen Kompact, Jeffersonville, IN

A pure cabinet assembler, "We buy to inventory, work-in-process to Inventory and produce finished goods for inventory," says John Gahm, vice president of manufacturing. It assembles 4,000 cabinets a day.

National Office Furniture, Jasper, IN

Sustainability is a culture at National Office, whose Santa Claus, IN, table and casegoods facility was named Indiana's first LEED-certified office furniture plant

Creative Laminates, LaCrosse, WI

Recognized for its safety record, the casework firm continually strives to improve the workplace for the betterment of its employees. "We place a high value on safe attitudes and behavior," says Jody Lyon, vice president.

TOP PRODUCERS

Funder America Inc., Mocksville, NC

A melamine panel processor, Funder also offers component manufacturing and MDF powder coating. "This is driven by our innovation, technology, and vision to provide flexibility and value added services to our customers throughout the United States," says Peter Funder, president. In 2012 the firm added a Homag 2262 single-sided edgebander to better service smaller and more project-based production. Sales grew 9.1%.

California Woodworking, Oxnard, CA

Offering a full service package for commercial projects, including project management, fabrication, delivery and installation, the caseworks and countertop maker has focused on maximizing its capabilities more efficiently. "With a rebounding economy, we continue to streamline all of our processes including estimate take off, shop drawing preparation, CAD/CAM processing, assembly methods and installation methods so that we remain competitive in the recovering commercial market," says Luke Vickery, vice president.

Chandler Cabinets Inc., Pilot Point, TX

The custom cabinetmaker grew 6.7% in 2012, due in part to investments in newer and more productive machinery, says Josh Chandler, vice president. Customer service is also key and the company offers CAD renderings and competitive pricing.

Eastern Millwork, Jersey City, NJ

Using AutoCAD and information flow to facilitate "high velocity manufacturing," the millwork firm says it perfects plans before it cuts, rather than adjusting fit on site. Our goal is to not be the biggest, but rather to be recognized to be the best.

Greenline Ind., Beaufort, SC

Jeff Farlow, sales rep, says the veneer products manufacturer is FSC certified and offers fast lead times while "reaching out to and establishing a broader supply chain." Also aiding productivity is the recent purchase of an automated trim line, Sander and press. Sales for the company grew 11.1% in 2012.

Oshkosh Designs, Winneconne, WI

"Although we did not have any new equipment purchases we did 'revamp' several of our existing machines by researching the additional capabilities that the machines had and utilizing them to further streamline our processes. Additionally we continue to work closely with our lumber suppliers to keep raw lumber inventory at a manageable lower level that still allows for our production team to produce product within minimal lead times," says Jennifer Henke, marketing. Sales for the decorative flooring manufacturer rose 16.7% in 2012.

RLE Millwork Inc., Warminster PA

The move to a larger facility helped the company reduce turnaround time and grow sales 9.1%. The store fixture maker's plans for 2013 include "Manufacture as lean as possible, outsource to the most competent competitive shops and watch progress with project management closely," says Robert Oxley, general manager. Also on the docket: purchase of a CoJet digital printer.

J's 6 L Moulding, Haleyville, AL

The decorative mouldings and accessories maker grew 10.2% while improving productivity and profitability. "We moved away from buying rough lumber and now buy dimensioned moulding blanks," says Blake Harmon, general manager "We reduced our scrap factors and improved our profit margin."

Paladin Industries, Kentwood, MI

Sales for the components maker grew 74.7%. The company specializes in CMC machining and has a fleet of multi-axis machining centers, advanced material handling systems, and robot technology processing.

PRODUCTIVITY ENHANCED

* WRAPPING UP SALES while still making a profit often requires fast turnaround, production efficiency, and of course, quality control. Lean--and green--manufacturing also continues to be a cornerstone by which many wood products companies function today.

Lexington Manufacturing, Minneapolis, MN--An OEM supplier of components to manufacturers of residential windows and commercial architectural doors, Lexington's sales grew 34.2% in 2012, due in part to the company's ability to lean its production. "In our commercial door division we combined two plants in order to reduce overhead and streamline operations," says Bill DeWitt, account manager.

Plans for 2013 include the purchasing of additional automated material handling and stacking equipment. The company will also focus on "Continued diligence in monitoring our capital and labor expenditures during these volatile economic times," he adds.

Lexington employs 130 people and has more than 300,000-square-feet of combined manufacturing space at its two facilities: Wood Components Design and Manufacturing facility and its Window & Patio Door Components Design and Manufacturing facility. A sustainable manufacturer, Lexington is an FSC-certified company.

Its core competencies include custom design and profile wrapping of solid and composite material, automated lineal processing of non-ferrous materials, and RF gluing and laminating of lineal components. In addition, Lexington also produces Timberstrand structural furniture and millwork stairway components.

* BUSINESS IS COOKING for North American wood products manufacturers as the economy continues to show signs of improvement.

RiverCity Cabinets Inc., Austin, TX--The job of manufacturing, delivering and installing high-end custom cabinets has been a successful one for the 8-year-old firm, which has worked with many of Austin's prestigious custom home builders, interior designers and architects.

"Profit is achieved by increasing volume while reducing costs to generate that volume," says Co-owner Randy Hardin. "We purchased a second CNC machine [in 2011] to eliminate bottlenecks. We are hiring additional CAD operators to keep the workflow moving. We also are hiring additional Project Managers to maintain our level of customer service and nurture the relationships we've built with our builders. "Our relationships with our builders is our main asset," he adds.

2013 sales are projected to be better than last year's, with expectations for 2014 considered "excellent," Hardin says. "We did buy the buildings and land we've been renting, so that's a major step in our future. We'll be able to expand our showroom and our production facility. This should enable us to grow 100% over the next couple of years."

TOP PRODUCERS

El Paso Wood Products, Puertas Del Norte, Mexico

In just the past few years, El Paso expanded its plant by 20,000 square to accommodate the growing furniture component side of its business, which now comprises 50% of its business. "We are running two shifts on four Shoda routers, about 1,000 frames a week for one of the largest furniture manufacturers in the U.S. that set up shop in Mexico," says Francisco Fernandez. Of the firm's custom door business, "We have kept it going by downsizing our operation, cost cutting and diversifying the custom wood products we manufacture," he adds.

Custom Cupboards, Wichita, KS

Using a proprietary process, the company can digitally print designs and artwork directly onto cabinet doors, drawer fronts, solid stock and paneling. The Facets line debuted at KBIS 2013.

Laminate Technologies, Tiffin, OH

Laminate components maker Lam Tech expanded its membrane press and furniture division with a 30,000-square-foot addition. The expansion followed on the heels of the company's investment of more than $2 million to open a manufacturing plant in Henry County, VA.

Timberlane Wood Products, Toronto, ON

High efficiency and cost savings helped the mouldings, components and edge-glued panels firm grow 25.0%, says President Willy Tencer. Mills are located in Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Ontario and Quebec.

KI, Green Bay, WI

For the fifth consecutive year, KI earned a spot on InformationWeek's 500 Report as one of the top innovators in business technology. Only organizations with $250 million or more in annual sales are considered. KI manufactures furniture and wall systems for education, healthcare, government and corporate markets.

TECH HEADS

Accent Woodworks, Canton, MI

The cabinet and countertop manufacturer grew slightly in 2012, and President Bill Albert projects 2013 sales to be even better. Productivity has been aided by the purchase of a new edgebander last year and a new sander in 2013.

Copperstate Cabinet Co., Phoenix, AZ

The custom cabinetry maker's investment in CNC equipment and software helped improve productivity and enhance the company's reputation for quality work and service, says Tim Dombrowski, owner and president. A new edgebander is in place for 2013.

Adams Group, North Port, FL

The architectural casework and millwork firm's investments in technology have paid off, with 2012 sales growing 34.9%. The include: a Ligmatech case clamp, ABD150 dowel drill/inserter, Brandt edgebander and Star V-groover, with 2013 plans for a Homag Advantage. With an eye to improving profit margins, Joe West, director of business development & marketing, says "Our plan is that we spend more time with our customers, designers and architects to work directly on their specific projects. This allows us to create a more advanced credibility of our services as well as encourage best products and practices to be incorporated in each project."

Premier EuroCase, Denver, GO

In 2012 the firm added a Homag laserTec laser edgebander to produce seamless edges on its store fixtures and components. On the heels of that comes news PE, which also makes Roucke laminated panels, can now produce high gloss acrylic panels on its new Burkle laminating line, says Owner Andy Wilzoch.

Cabinets by Baja Inc., San Diego, CA

A supplier of fixtures to the hospitality and gaming industry, CEO Manuel Rios says the firm has been involved in the construction and remodeling of many well-known hotels, resulting in 2012 sales growth of 33.3%. Spas and related projects are also a specialty, including the recently completed spa at City Center and Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas. At its factories in Tijuana, Mexico and Baja, CA, capabilities include AutoCAD drawings. New in 2012 was a Morbidelli CNC machining center and Griggio sliding saw, with more CNC machine upgrades planned.

Premium Woods LLC, Lincoln, NE

Manufacturing improvements, including the addition of a CNC router, helped this caseworks and countertop firm grow sales 52.7%, says President Bob Long. "[We] continually review our pricing structure and improve our manufacturing process," he adds.

Elliott Woodworking, Pontiac, MI

The dovetail drawer box maker's sales grew 36.7% and predictions for 2013 are even better. Along with purchasing an RF glue press and CNC dovetailer, the company plans to add a shifting blade gang ripsaw. And although the economy is still a concern, "By not having any debt on the books, I'm better positioned to weather a downturn," says Owner Mark Elliott.

Island Custom Cabinetry, Sidney, BC

"We positively encourage our staff to always try harder to make the projects we are building even more beautiful than the last," says President Jack Van Domselaar of the cabinet firm's quest for success. To improve productivity, the company also replaced its vertical panel saw with a new sliding table saw, with more equipment perhaps on the way.

Ranier Woodworking, Tacoma, WA

"We revamped our door department to increase productivity while specializing in 'high-volume' selections. Balancing our approach, low volume selections will be outsourced in Die future," says Managing Director Scott Reader. "We also implemented a new sanding line with multiple pieces of equipment reducing head count while increasing capacity. The cabinet firm's sales grew 20.3%.

TECHNOLOGY INTEGRATION

* TECHNOLOGY AND AUTOMATION COMBINE to play key roles in helping wood products manufacturers remain competitive in the marketplace. What follows are some of the implementations by this year's WOOD 100 companies.

Ro-Bois-Tic, Saint-Apollinaire, QC--It's been lights-out manufacturing for the panel processor, which has the distinction of being North America's first one-man, one-robot woodworking factory.

The brainchild of Bastien Larouche, Ro-Bois-Tic provides OEM components to cabinet companies and other manufacturers. The model is uses is based on lean manufacturing and fast turnaround. "One of the best things about the robotic cell, it is extremely flexible to meeting fluctuating demand. I can operate from 20 hours one week to 120 hours the next," he says.

Larouche worked with Machineries Automatech on the robotic cell. Orders are input in the computer and sent to the Kuka robot. Gliding along an 80-foot rail that spans the line, the robot begins production. This involves: pulling full-size sheets of laminated panels from the rack and positioning them onto the Thermwood CNC router; moving parts from the router to the Fravol edgebander then onto the Omal drill and dowel insertion machine; then placing the completed part into the prescribed bin, ready for assembly. CNC Automation supplied Ro-Bois-Tic with the key pieces of panel processing equipment.

Down the road, Larouche says he plans to add another CNC router to increase the capacity of the cell. "In my business plan, I am looking to have half of my production devoted to office furniture and the other half to kitchen cabinets."

* THERE'S NO PLAYING AROUND when it comes to researching and acquiring new technology to ensure your business gets a good return on its investment.

PIN, Irving, TX--A designer and manufacturer of store fixtures, displays, hospitality and healthcare furnishings, PIN's sales rose 36.6% last year, due in part to its ability to process product faster and more efficiently, says Jeff Pray, CEO.

PIN made significant investments in new technology. To help keep pace with the company's growth, PIN installed two Holzma high-speed, high-production panel cutting systems with automated labeling and off cut retrieval programs.

There's more, adds Pray. PIN also purchased: Homag edgebanders with automated feeding; a third Homag BAZ for additional contour edgebanding capacity; an additional Weeke BHC500 machining center with automated feeding and stacking; another Weeke BHT500 throughfeed machining center; more Ligmatech case clamps; a Wemhoner membrane pressing line; an automated conveyor for moving materials from production to warehouse; and wire guided narrow aisle material handling equipment for higher density warehouse storage.

It's not done yet. PIN is adding an automated panel laminating line this year as it plans for more sales growth.

TECH HEADS

Stanley Furniture, Stanley, VA

The furniture maker invested $8 million to revamp its 500,000-square-foot Robbinsville, NC, plant and improve the productivity of its Young America line. Stanley was awarded a 2013 WMIA Wooden Globe for its efforts.

Jorgensen-Carr Ltd., Jersey City, NJ

With 2012 sales up 8.3%, the residential architectural millwork firm looks to do even better this year, says President Michael Jorgensen. Combining handcraftsmanship with high technology, the company purchased more routers for the shop and looks to add a Kaeser compressor.

Lakeside Cabinets and Woodworking, Nowthen, MN

The custom cabinet shop's 2012 sales surged 61.5%, aided by increased productivity from its new door framing table, Razor-Gage optimizing saw and software. "The best investment was a software program to track every production minute and every dollar spent on materials," says Owner Troy Bednarz.

Northern Contours, St. Paul, MN

Recognized for its innovative cabinet components, the firm's production facilities incorporate flat and membrane pressing--including one with a deep press tray for large components, CNC routing, edgebanding, boring and other traditional woodworking processes. "As raw material costs have eroded profit margins, we look internally to implement process improvement methods that will increase yields and reduce waste," says Lary Skow, vice president of sales and marketing.

Boiseries Metropolitaines, St. Basile Le Grand, QC

A maker of stair components, the firm is "always looking for new techniques to do better and at a lower cost." Among the purchases to improve productivity was a planer/sander, says Owner Denis Beauchesne.

* THE successful finish of a project is the result of combining technology and quality craftsmanship. Sustainable and lean manufacturing practices also are utilized by many manufacturers.

Nucraft Furniture, Comstock Park, MI--The contract furniture maker's green and lean efforts have gained notice from consumers and industry alike throughout North America. In addition to being a Forest Stewardship Council Chain-of-Custody certified manufacturer, Nucraft also has products certified under the Business and Institutional Manufacturers Association' level e3 Furniture Sustainability Standard. And just recently, it became the first North American office furniture company to be issued an Environmental Product Declaration, independently certified by Scientific Certification Systems Global Services for its Flow XT Conference Table.

Sustainability is a culture at the company, both in the design and manufacturing process. Inside the 240,000-square-foot plant, the company's capabilities include rough mill, veneer pressing, panel processing, assembly and finishing.

"We have had a continuous improvement program in place for quite a number of years to improve the efficiency and quality throughout the production," says Michael Fedrigo, vice president of operations.

TECH HEADS

Southern Craftsman Associates, Lawrenceville, GA

Increased capabilities helped the millwork firm's sales grow 59.9%. Along with increasing the size of its facility, investments were also made in a beam saw and air compressor, says Barry Marston, president and CEO, New edgebanding and sanding machines are planned.

Koetter Woodworking, Borden, IN

At the 641,000-square-foot plant, the moulding and millwork firm invested in Weinig Group rough mill equipment, including a LuxScan Scanner and Chop System. An estimated 16 million board feet of material can be processed on an annual basis. Koetter was awarded a 2013 WMIA Wooden Globe for its efforts.

North American Plywood Corp., Parsippany, NJ

The panel and component maker expanded its capabilities, growing sales 5.4%, General Manager Donald Kuser says with the Burkle line, the firm has "one of the largest automated flat UV finishing lines in North America," Other capabilities include: cut-to-size, routing, PUR laminating and edgebanding.

Vision Kitchen & Bath, Tampa, FL

Service, quality and reduced delivery times helped the kitchen and bath remodeler stay successful, says Jerry Krech, general manager. New spray equipment is aiding the production of the cabinetry.

Ethan Allen, Danbury, CT

The residential furniture maker repositioned to grow through: expanded offerings, a strengthened interior design network, technology added to personal service, an advantage in manufacturing and logistics through vertical integration, and a "Luxury Made Affordable" message.

PRODUCT INNOVATION

RESOURCEFUL MANUFACTURERS do their research when it comes to developing new wood-based products. Here are some ideas guaranteed to floor customers, and generate new sales and opportunities.

HomerWood Hardwood Flooring, Titusville, PA--Rustic yet elegant describes the Amish Hand-Scraped Smoked Oak Graphite Oil floor that was used in the ranch bedroom of singer/songwriter Jewel and her rodeo champion husband Ty Murray.

The hand-scraped design is just one of the specialties offered by HomerWood, a manufacturer of hardwood plank flooring. Other innovations by the company include Character Grade and Smoked Specialties.

Founded in 1984, HomerWood is a wholly owned subsidiary of Armstrong World Industries and is "the originator of Traditional Character flooring, crafted from the entire tree."

TOP PRODUCTS

Architectural Traditions, Tucson, AZ

One of the largest custom millwork and hardware manufacturers in the country, the firm's sales grew in 2012 and 2013 looks to be even better, says Patrick Kittredge, production manager. Developing "new products to match the new economy," such as a stainless steel, thermal broken, window and door line, has aided the success. "The majority of steel entries have wood Interiors. Leading with a steel entry gives us the single source advantage to supply the wood interiors," he says.

WBSdistribution, Sherbrooke, ON

Sales grew 20,0% and look to be even better for 2013, says Jocelyn Fontaine, sales director. WBSdistribution manufactures wall bed mechanisms, while sister company B.O.F.F. Wall Bed Furniture produces finished products. B.O.F.F. also makes side cabinets and desks to coordinate with the Murphy beds.

WW Wood Products Inc., Dudley, MO

Increased productivity and product development helped sales grow 6.3% in 2012, and even more growth is projected for 2013, says Ken Carmode, vice president of sales & marketing. WW Wood produces framed and frameless cabinetry on a build-to-order basis for sale through a network of resellers across the country.

DODOcase, San Francisco, CA

The company sells millions of dollars worth of its bamboo cases, which it machines uses CNC routers and lasers at the company's 10,000-square-foot plant. Its latest innovation is a bamboo case for iPads. Stock and custom products are available.

CW Keller Plaistow, NH

The architectural woodwork firm has developed a unique line of Ply furniture, including desks, shelves, credenzas and tables, machined from layered hardwood plywood. The desk and credenza also feature a concealed wire management system.

* EDGING OUT COMPETITORS while bringing innovative, sustainable--and profitable--products to the marketplace is an achievement that's been met by this year's WOOD 100 companies.

Schenk Architectural Imports Ltd., Calgary, AB--Laser edgebanding has opened up new opportunities for the cabinet door company. Since installing the IMA Novimat laser edgebander in December, Schenk has expanded its Stijle branded contemporary cabinet doors and panels.

The scope of the line now includes: Soho high-gloss UV lacquered panels, Soma high-gloss 3mm polycarbonate panels, Como TSS textured woodgrain panels, Plateau super matte PET foil panels, Mesa melamine panels in solid colors and woodgrains, and the Kitsilano range of deep-textured veneered panels with wood edgebanding.

According to Owner Karl Schenk benefits of laser edgebanding include: the attractiveness of a seamless edge; no glue line so no penetration of dirt, bacteria or moisture into the panel; and the lack of glue means virtually no set-up time during the manufacturing process.

"We are leaders in contemporary styling and our focus is to maintain that position within our niche by identifying trends and technologies and adapting them to our business," Schenk says.

TOP PRODUCTS

Spencer Cabinetry, Monroe, WA

A sustainable manufacturer, the cabinet firm produces solid wood cutting boards and trivets made from the hardwood offal from its cabinet production. "We started manufacturing the cutting boards last year and all of a sudden people were buying them in quantity to use for Christmas presents," says Carl Spencer, general manager. "We also use them in conjunction with our main line of kitchen cabinets."

Renick Mill works, Renick, WV

The company has found a niche in producing sustainable flooring from recycled and reclaimed wood. According to Jay Petre, president, the floors have the rustic characteristics prized by homeowners, including nail and worm holes. Sourced from the Appalachian Region, the wood comes primarily from old houses, barns and factories.

Great Lake Woods Inc., Holland, MI

A manufacturer of mouldings, millwork, components and custom case goods, utilizing American hardwoods, MDF and exotic woods, the firm can produce over 500 architectural profiles, with specialized mouldings such as texturized, compo applique, embossed, laminated, rope and dentil, says Katie Malmstadt, marketing manager.

Kincaid Furniture Co., Hudson, NC

The residential furniture company has dedicated four collections to Habitat for Humanity. Throughout the life of the collection, 1 percent of every sale will go to the organization. The most recent collection, Vintage Cherry, debuted at High Point this year.

Walnut Creek Planing, Millersburg, OH

The wood products maker turned the waste from its production process into a profit-generating enterprise. Approximately 7% of the firm's sales are from its Eco-Brick briquettes, produced from the estimated 30 tons of wood waste generated each year.

CUSTOMER SERVICE

* SERVICE AND CUSTOMER SATISFACTION are key ingredients to an organization's ability to obtain and retain customers.

Closet America, Lanham, MD--A manufacturer and installer of home organization systems, Closet America's commitment to service and quality has helped the vertically integrated firm grow steadily, with a 13.0% jump in sales last year.

"We have staked out the position in our market for delivering the highest levels of customer service and satisfaction," says President Skip LaBella.

The firm's efforts have gained notice, notes Joshua Kiernan, marketing manager. This includes: the Angie's List Super Service Award for 2011 and 2012, the 500 Top Remodel for 2012, WOOD 100 List, and Guild Master Award for exceptional customer service and satisfaction for 2011 and 2012.

Also, for improved service, a new CRM system provides staff members with access to all client communications. "Customers want to know that you know who they are and you care about them. At Closet America it is part of our culture," LaBella adds.

SERVICE SPECIALISTS

Decore-ative Specialties, Monrovia, CA

Streamline provides customers with a simplified process for ordering RTA frameless cabinet components and allows them to place orders or quotes with the company's easy-to-use online design software, says Joel Boyles, director of marketing. Decore-ative Specialties provides custom cabinet components to the kitchen, bath, closet, garage, office and refacing industries.

Baillargeon Wood Doors Inc., Saint-Ephrem, QC

Acquired by Masonite in 2012, Baillargeon specializes in the design, manufacture, and marketing of architectural, institutional, fire, and commercial wood doors and jambs, notes Etienne Rochette, sales and marketing. Products are offered in a range of finishes and backed by the Baillargeon Compliance Guarantee.

Giffin Interior & Fixture, Bridgeville, PA

Chairman Gordon Giffin attributes the award-winning architectural woodwork firm's 13.4% sales growth in 2012 to the quality and service it provides. These include interior contracting as well as construction of retail and display fixtures, moulding and millwork, furniture, solid surface fabrication and decor systems.

Hellman-Chang, Brooklyn, NC

The furniture maker says its "commitment to redefining modern, livable design is a goal shared by every one of our designers and craftsman." The furniture can be found in celebrity homes, hotels and onscreen, including the set of Gossip Girl and Sex and the City 2.

K&L Woodworking, Reading, PA

The architectural millwork and casework firm's sales grew 9.1%, and it looks to exceed that in 2013. Vice President Kevin Hartman says installation services are a reason for the success. Other services include: radius work, custom design and fabrication and finishing.

* IT'S AN UPHILL CLIMB to reach the top level of any market. The successful journey involves numerous steps, including a strategy for service, speed and a little luck, to grow marketshare.

Trottas Custom Stairs & Wood Turnings LLC, New Milford, CT--For stair builder Trottas, handcraftsmanship and technology are integral components for producing its custom products. Customer service is another one.

"We build stairs and rail packages of all shapes and sizes, specializing in projects that require hand-tooled millwork made to customers specifications or to match the unique design of older homes and buildings, which may be in need of renovation," says Owner Kimberly Trotta.

The custom staircases are pre-constructed in the shop before being delivered and installed in order to ensure a quality fit. To manufacture the components, a Hapfo lathe is used to turn the newel posts and balusters while rail systems are curved using a combination of dedicated machinery, steaming and hand work. The company also offers contoured decorative mouldings, raised panels, corbels, brackets and wood turnings.

SERVICE SPECIALISTS

Red Star Cabinet, Farmingdale, NY

"The continued success of our company is credited to strong repeat clientele based on customer service and referral business. We also take steps to future proof our business and stay ahead of the curve by attending international kitchen and bath shows like EuroCucina," says Robert Edelbach, president. Sales for the bath and kitchen cabinetry firm grew 14.3%, and projections are for an even better year in 2013. "We purchased Cabinet Vision software to aid in our shop drawings and productivity as well faster turnaround to our customers. We also upgraded our Global spray booth as well as added a sandblasting machine. In order to ensure high quality control we manufacture as many components as possible in our factory," he adds.

Rosemount Woods, Rosemont, MN

Quality and customer service distinguish the residential cabinet manufacturer from competitors, says Joe Michalski, vice president. Installations range from starter homes to $5 million estates. Technology investments, including a new moulder purchased in 2012, help keep productivity at a high level.

Windham Millwork, Windham, ME

The architectural woodworking and millwork firm is an FSC-certified facility and was one of the first AWI members to achieve Premium Grade Certification for its products and services. Offered are pre-construction services, panel processing, finishing and installation.

Lukach Interiors Inc., Clifton, NJ

The commercial casework and architectural woodwork manufacturer specializes in projects for schools, hospitals and courtrooms, as well as private residences. "Our performance rests on high standards for safety, quality construction, on-time completion, and efficient and effective realization of the projects that fit within the owner's budget," the company says.

PRODUCT TRAINING along with fast and reliable delivery can provide an advantage when it comes to customers choosing a company.

The Corsi Group/Greenfield Cabinetry LLC, Indianapolis, IN--The ability to meet and exceed customer requirements is helping drive business for The Corsi Group's Greenfield Cabinetry.

With the tagline "Luxury Within Reach," Greenfield cabinetry is available in a number of options, including door styles, species and finishes. Corsi says the company recently upgraded its finishing area with on-demand finish materials mixing equipment, solvent and finish materials distillation equipment. Software upgrades were also made to the production process.

"We have to be constantly flexible in our product offerings to stay relevant as the economy shifts. This impacts every aspect of our business from our order entry communication all the way through to delivery services," says President Patrick Corsi.

To also aid in customer service, the company in July opened a National Training Center for dealer training in Indianapolis. In the grand opening picture above, John Skojac, director of Dealer Development is shown cutting the ribbon. Also pictured (l-r) is: Kristin Sangiolo (IL), Jacque Edmisten (AZ), Annette Stull (MD), Maria Alaverdyan (CA), Heather Hoover (IN), Jesse Rinard (IN), Ivonne McCormick (FL), Tom Green (FL), Mark Cross, vice president Sales & Marketing, and Pat Corsi, president.

SERVICE SPECIALISTS

JCS Construction Group, Stamford, CT

Customer service is a priority at JCS, a full-service construction management firm, including design and build by the group's Millwork Division. For a recent commercial project where parking was an issue, founder and CEO Justin Shaw devised a plan so as not to disrupt traffic to local businesses. Workers instead parked in municipal lots and then were shuttled by golf carts to and from the job site. "Our goal is to create systems to eliminate conflicts, increase consistency and improve communication--all of which lead to better performance, building structures and the quality of the project," he says.

Shoreline Cabinet Co., Wilmington, NC

Customer and community service is a cornerstone of the kitchen and bath cabinetry manufacturer and dealer, which grew 6,3% in 2012, says President William Nesbitt. Shoreline actively supports Habitat for Humanity, Yahweh Center Children's Village and Cape Fear Rescue Mission.

Superior Millwork, Wilmington, NC

The kitchen and cabinet remodeler says its customer service, diversified product lines and state-of-the-art manufacturing enable it to meet and exceed customers' needs, Also offered are commercial casework products, including countertops, for builders and contractors. Sales for the company are expected to grow this year, adds Wm. A. Tony Gardner, general manager.

Walker Woodworking, Shelby, NC

The purchase of a Brandt edgebander helped increase productivity at the high-end residential furniture and cabinetry maker's plant, says Travis Walker, president. Also helping drive sales is the company's reputation for quality, craftsmanship and service, "We stand behind our work and believe our best advertising is our satisfied customers." Consultation, design, construction and installation services are available.

SALES GROWTH

* Marketing Initiatives

* Go to Market Strategies

* Business Strategies

* Productivity Enhancements

* Technology Integration

* Product Innovations

* Customer Service

SALES EXPECTATIONS for 2013 vs. 2012

Not exceed   7.8%
Exceed      92.2%

Note: Table made from pie chart.

SALES EXPECTATIONS for 2014

Neutral     17.2%
Excellent   29.7%
Good        53.1%

Note: Table made from pie chart.

PROFIT MARGINS (Compared to 3 Years Ago)

Much lower        4.6%
Much higher      17.2%
Somewhat higher  34.4%
Same             26.6%
Somewhat lower   17.2%

Note: Table made from pie chart.

STRATEGIES FOR SUCCESS

Customer service          88.6%
Employee skills           67.1%
Quality control           57.1%
Increased productivity    48.6%
Marketing                 44.3%
New product development   44.3%
Reduced delivery times    41.4%
Green products            15.7%
Other                       20%

Note: Table made from bar graph.

Fast-Growing Wood Industry Firms [Source: wood 100 company filings]

Company                Headquarters   2012 Sales   %Change

Somerset Wood         Raritan, NJ      $3,000,000    87.5%
Products Co.

Paladin Industries    Kentwood, MI    $10,106,000    74.7%
Inc.

Lakeside Cabinets     Nowthen, MN      $1,550,000    61.5%
and Woodworking

Southern Craftsmen    Lawrenceville,   $1,975,000    59.9%
Assoc. Inc.           GA

JSO Wood Products     Louisville, KY     $555,000    59.5%

Premium Woods LLC     Lincoln, NE        $745,000    52.7%

Southern Minnesota    Faribault, MN    $2,700,000    46.9%
Woodcraft Inc.

Elliot Woodworking    Pontiac, Ml        $875,000    36.7%

PIN                   Irving, TX      $31,695,000    36.6%

Taghkanic             Pawling, NY        $425,000    35.8%
Woodworking

Adams Group           North Port, FL  $16,490,000    34.9%

Lexington Mfg.        Minneapolis,    $37,703,000    34.2%
                      MN

Key Millwork &        Monroe, LA       $2,516,000    33.7%
Supply Co. Inc.

Cabinets by Baja      San Diego, CA    $4,000,000    33.3%
Inc.

AIC Millworks LLC     Tampa, FL          $826,000    30.5%

Timberlane Wood       Toronto, ON     $15,000,000    25.0%
Products

Lagomorph Design      Chicago, IL        $980,000    22.5%

Masterwrap Inc.       Lexington, NC    $5,200,000    20.9%

Miles Enterprises     Glen Burnie,       $631,000    20.7%
Inc.                  MD

Rainier Woodworking   Tacoma, WA       $2,985,000    20.3%
Co.

WBSdistribution.com   Sherbrooke, QC   $2,400,000    20.0%

Reborn Cabinets       Anaheim, CA     $14,332,000    19.6%
Inc.

Pierce and Pierce     Norcross, GA     $4,726,000    18.9%
Millwork

Foggy Bottom          Muscoda, WI        $674,000    17.4%
Woodworks

Oshkosh Designs       Winneconne, WI   $1,400,000    16.7%

Red Star Cabinet Co.  Farmingdale,     $1,200,000    14.3%
Inc.                  NY

Giffin Interior &     Bridgeville,    $10,397,000    13.4%
Fixture Inc.          PA

Closet America        Lanham, MD       $4,648,000    13.0%

Wellborn Cabinet      Ashland, AL     $90,275,000    11.2%
Inc.

Greenline             Beaufort, SC     $5,400,000    11.1%
Industries

FA Woodworking        Toronto, ON      $2,100,000    10.5%

J's & L Moulding      Haleyville, AL   $3,219,000    10.2%

The Closet Guy Inc.   Beverly Hills,     $382,000     9.8%
                      CA

Funder America        Mocksville, NC  $60,000,000     9.1%

K&L Woodworking       Reading, PA      $2,400,000     9.1%

RLE Millwork Inc.     Warminster, PA     $600,000     9.1%

Jorgensen-Carr Ltd.   Jersey City,       $325,000     8.3%
                      NJ

Chandler Cabinets     Pilot Point,     $9,600,000     6.7%
Inc.                  TX

Shoreline Cabinet     Wilmington, NC     $285,000     6.3%
Co.

WW Wood Products      Dudley, MO      $66,144,000     6.3%
Inc.

North American        Parsippany, NJ  $29,500,000     5.4%
Plywood Corp.

Mill-Rite             Pinellas Park,   $6,896,000     5.1%
Woodworking Co.       FL
Inc.

MTC                   Kula, HI           $265,000     3.1%

Northern Contours     St. Paul, MN    $56,900,000     2.0%

Accent Woodworks      Canton, MI       $1,667,000     0.1%

Architectural         Tucson, AZ      $11,016,000     0.1%
Traditions

Cabinet Manufacturers: Publicly Traded

Company             Headquarters    2012 Sales    % Change

American Woodmark   Winchester,    $630, 437,000      22%
Corp.               VA

Fortune             Deerfield,    $1,326,600,000     5.6%
Brands/MasterBrand  IL
Cabinetry

Masco Corp.         Taylor, MI    $1,189,000,000    -3.4%

Norcraft Cos.       Eagan, MN       $288,782,000     6.7%

Contract Furniture Manufacturers: Publicly Traded

Company              Headquarters           2012 Sales    % Change

HNI International    Muscatine, IA        $2,004,000,000     8.5%
Herman Miller        Zeeland, MI          $1,724,100,000     4.5%
Kewaunee Scientific  Statesville, NC        $102,847,000     3.0%
Kimball Intl         Jasper, IN           $1,203,134,000     5.3%
Knoll Inc.           East Greenville, PA    $887,499,000    -3.7%
Steelcase            Grand Rapids, MI     $2,868,700,000     4.3%

Residential Furniture Manufacturers: Publicly Traded

Company          Headquarters       2012 Sales  % Change

Ethan Allen    Danbury, CT        $456,900,000     8.0%

Bassett        Bassett, VA        $269,672,000     6.5%
Furniture
Inds.

Chromcraft     West Lafayette,     $56,600,000     2.5%
Revington      IN

Compass        Westport, CT        $91,500,000     -14%
Diversified
/American
Furniture
Mfg.

Dorel          Montreal, QC       $521,523,000     0.1%

Industries
Inc.

Flexsteel      Dubuque, IA        $386,000,000    10.0%
Industries
Inc.

Furniture      St. Louis        $1,326,600,000     5.6%
Brands Intl.

Hooker         Martinsville,      $222,505,000     3.2%
Furniture      VA
Corp.

La-Z Boy       Monroe, MI       $1,300,000,000     5.2%
Inc.

Leggett and    Carthage, MO     $3,721,000,000     2.0%
Piatt

Nova           Commerce, CA        $66,290,000    53.5%
Lifestyle
Inc.

Stanley        High Point, NC      $98,600,000    -5.7%
Furniture Co.
Inc.

Steinway and   New York, NY       $353,717,000     2.1%
Sons
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Author:Koenig, Karen M.
Publication:Wood Products
Article Type:Cover story
Geographic Code:1U9CA
Date:Sep 1, 2013
Words:8283
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