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Helping out where it counts

As many cabinetmakers know from experience, there are several advantages to outsourcing standard cabinetry components. Take, for example, Max Hunter’s prospective that woodworking component suppliers bring a wealth of knowledge to their product. The former woodworker is now CEO and president of Western Dovetail in Vallego, Calif. Established in 1993, the company is celebrating its 20th anniversary and has seen significant growth, particularly during the last three years.

Tri-Mod lighting from Outwater Plastics Industries.

“When you’re outsourcing things like drawers, you get the advantage of the company like ours constantly trying to develop solutions for these common problems. A cabinetmaker might deal with two or three clients a month; we deal with two to three hundred a month, so we’re exposed to all of the latest demands that customers share with us and we can take that info and transfer it into something standard that can be ordered rather than reinvented,” says Hunter.

“Another big advantage of putting components orders in the hands of experts like us is that our company specifically focuses on the most high-profile, high-end, super-custom homes and most innovations happen with people with the most unlimited budgets.”

The company focuses entirely on drawers. Through the years, customers have expressed a growing interest in drawers and receptacles to manage waste and recycling needs. The company offers an extensive line of stock models in various sizes and configurations, such as the new double 35-quart recycle pullout.

Industry doing better

The Wood Component Manufacturers Association, a trade group representing manufacturers to supply cabinetmakers with the parts they need, offers an annual outlook. This year’s report, written by the group’s former executive director Steve Lawser, indicates there are strong signs that business is getting better for the companies that have survived the recent recession.

Lawser refers to a strong trend toward producing more customized products as a way to compete with the large volumes of standard component and finished products that are being imported from overseas. He suggests that, because of this, component manufacturers are getting closer to their customers in order to anticipate their needs for certain components and, in turn, capitalizing on their ability to produce smaller and more customized orders with a quicker turnaround.

Resources • A&F Wood Products: Tel: 800-367-3293. • Hera Lighting: Tel: 770-409-8558. • Keystone Wood Specialties: Tel: 717-299-6288. • Osborne Wood Products: Tel: 800-849-8876. • Outwater Plastics: Tel: 800-631-8375. • Sawtooth Shelf System: Tel: 908-689-7600. • Timbercraft: Tel: 800-345-4930. • Western Dovetail: Tel: 707-556-3683. • Wood Component Manufacturers Association: Tel: 770-565-6660.

Larry Brookes, owner of Sawtooth Shelf System in Washington, N.J., says he is currently taking more daily orders for his custom shelving component units on a daily basis than he ever has done in the past and also has a reorder rate of 50 percent of his customers. Speed and added value are what make his product most attractive.

“If a shop is fully automated and it has to drill the shelf holes with a jig or line-boring machine, they’re finding that the Sawtooth is much easier and faster. They’re also finding that they can charge more for the cabinet. We’ve had many calls from architects and designers who’ve been putting these shelving systems in their plans,” says Brookes.

Wood Plus decorative moldings from Outwater.

James McGough, president of Timbercraft, a custom dovetail drawer manufacturer in New Milford, Conn., says he’s seen an uptick in orders from small- to medium-sized shops in the last three years.

“I think a couple of things are happening here with outsourcing components. The demand for cabinets remained stagnant for too long. People didn’t feel safe and held on to their money, but they’re also starting to realize that they do have to replace things. Also, I think business is getting better for everyone with the housing market starting to pick up,” says McGough.

“I’m a good barometer for woodworkers. I deal with one- to 15-man shops all of the time and our customers are routinely polled about our services and products. This company’s value proposition is that we make good drawers quickly and that’s the bottom line. There’s been a lot of interest in our new U-shaped undermount drawer. People like it because it solves the problem of going around plumbing to utilize more space.”

Unlimited options

For other parts such as legs, bases and pedestals, Osborne Wood Products in Toccoa, Ga., has a generous offering of new items. These include a variety of designs such as fluted, contemporary, Shaker, Arts and Crafts, and other well-known styles.

Keystone Wood Specialties in Lancaster, Pa., is a wholesale manufacturer that supplies the custom cabinet, furniture and remodeling industry with cabinetry components. Using CNC technology, the company offers a full product line ranging from doors and drawer fronts to dovetailed drawer boxes, face frames, solid wood molding, wainscoting and more. The company recently launched a new door program, allowing cabinetmakers to show their customers a prototype door sample to verify their design and color choice. Customers can request up to two 12” x 15” prototype sample doors per order for a reduced price. Lead times vary, depending on finishes and various moldings requested.

Chevron corner drawer dividers from Western Dovetail.

A&F Wood Products in Howell, Mich. offers a selection of more than 5,000 items, including pocket doors, commercial doors, bi-pass doors, bi-fold doors, hardware and accessories. The company has various divisions that will help industry professionals get the expertise and service they are looking for.

Joey Shimm, of Outwater Plastics in Bogota, N.J., spoke about consumers recently expressing a demand for moldings, millwork and ornamental accents to suit all needs and budgets in the forms of polyurethane, wood composite, hybrid resin and solid hardwood.

The polyurethane versions are impervious to adverse climate and weather conditions, and also boast clean, crisp detail and will endure years of refinishing. The wood composite moldings comprise a uniform, hand-selected and premium-grade solid wood core harvested from renewable forests. The hybrid resin category includes the Resin Aritsan Collection, which is comprised of a combination of maple and resin that makes it non-porous and consistent in its density, enabling stains to be evenly dispersed on it, resulting in a uniform finish and color. The solid hardwood collection includes the Royal Wood Collection of more than 1,200 stocked styles of solid hard maple, red oak, cherry and alder decorative wood carvings for furniture and cabinet manufacturers who require a breadth of diversified styles.

Timbercraft U-shape drawers.

Lighting takes off

Keystone cabinet door.

Shimm has also seen a lot of interest in diversified lighting products, such as the company’s new 1/16” thick Tri-Mod LED backlighting panels. These are suited for use in tight applications with less than 1” of installation depth and can illuminate Onyx or Corain countertops and blacksplashes. The panels are offered in six sizes and can be arranged in several different configurations to accommodate almost any type of application. The lights employ a low-voltage power source and are easy to install without any special knowledge of electronics.

Jenna Kaba, marketing manager for Hera Lighting in Norcross, Ga., says consumer interest in lighting has been huge, especially with LED and under-cabinet lighting, for a variety of consumers including individual cabinetmakers, as well as distributers and manufacturers, wanting them to illuminate cabinets, furniture and displays.

“We literally just doubled our warehouse for what we have to offer. For custom cabinet makers, these products help them increase the sales of their kitchens if they add an option such as lighting. We offer good, better, best scenarios so they could have the choice of all light-adding benefits.”

This article originally appeared in the June 2013 issue.

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