Craftsmanship and capabilities. Those two words continue to define a 60-year tradition of woodworking by Parenti & Raffaelli Ltd.
Located in Mt. Prospect, IL, just outside of Chicago, the family-owned Parenti & Raffaelli is a producer of architectural millwork and casegoods for the residential and commercial markets. At the 65,000-square-foot facilities, Parenti & Raffaelli employees help in the manufacture of a diverse range of veneered, laminated and solid wood products, certified under the Architectural Woodwork Institute’s (AWI) Quality Certification Program.
The company's products also can help earn LEED credits. “We are seeing more and more bids that are for LEED jobs,” says Robert Parenti, president and one of the two LEED Green Associates on staff. “We’re definitely seeing it on the commercial side, where there are more requests for documentation. On the residential side, there are concerns with formaldehyde, so we have seen requests there as well.”
Parenti & Raffaelli also is a long-time advocate of sustainable as well as efficient manufacturing practices. And throughout the production process, Parenti adds, the company ensures the same attention to detail is given to the small jobs, as is provided to high-volume projects.
Technology and Handcraftsmanship
Parenti & Raffaelli is known in the industry for its ability to blend CNC technology and handcraftsmanship in all its projects. The company also actively promotes the talents of its employees in European craftsmanship for the production of architectural woodwork.
“European craftsmanship is based on a method of learning. It is not constrained to one style of joinery, for example,” Parenti says.
In other words, it gives the company the flexibility to choose the best method of construction based on the project, whether it be tongue and groove, mortise and tenon, lock miter, regular miter, dado or dowel, adds Don Parenti, executive vice president. “Unlike some companies, we’re not locked into one type,” he says.
“We use the joints to not only give strength, but add quality, as we build products to AWI standards,” Don adds.
In addition to European craftsmanship, the company’s reputation for service — with customers as well as with the other trades — also sets it apart from domestic and foreign competitors. “Keeping a high quality level through the years has brought us customers,” notes Jim Parenti, vice president. “A lot of our customers are recurring ones as well.”
It’s not just on the residential side. In fact, Don adds, oftentimes when a corporate customer has moved offices, it will contact Parenti & Raffaelli to outfit the new building.
In addition to new construction, Parenti & Raffaelli also offers restoration services, as well as inlay work and hand carvings. Says Ron Parenti, “We will even service parts we did 20 years ago.”
A just-in-time manufacturer, the company splits its production between two buildings, which are adjacent to each other. According to the Parentis, this reduces any unnecessary downtime and allows the company to maintain its fast turnaround time. “We also try to do as much as we can in-house to control the project,” Jim says.
Dozens of projects are in process on any given day. In addition to veneer, solid wood and laminate, the company can also incorporate leather, fabric, metal and stone in its work. Parenti & Raffaelli is also certified for solid surface fabrication.
The vast majority of Parenti & Raffaelli’s projects are of veneer and solid wood. Once a veneer flitch is selected, it is cut on a Savi guillotine, sequence matched and run through a Black Bros. glue spreader before being laid up in-house on a Joos press. From the press area, panels are cut to size on Holzma and Striebig saws. The panel processing areas in the two buildings also include: Homag and Heian CNC routers, Homag and Holz-Her single-sided edgebanders and Heesemann sanders.
For solid wood parts, Parenti & Raffaelli performs its own rough mill operations, including ripping to width on a Diehl and moulding on a Weinig Profimat.
Additional machinery in the plants includes: a Tannewitz band saw, SawStop saws, and Dodd, Felder and Oliver machines. The company also offers custom finishing services, including a wide variety of colors and specialty options, such antiquing and hand scraping. “The sky is the limit,” Bob says.
Its high quality standard is a large selling point for the company and everyone is responsible, with Louis Neri Sr. as the final inspector. In addition to checks at every station, Parenti & Raffaelli goes a step beyond by pre-assembling projects to check the quality and fit, then taking products apart for finishing. They are then re-assembled before shipping to the customer, Don says.
Entire libraries, for example, have been set up in the assembly area. “That’s all part of our process,” Jim adds.
A Tradition of Excellence
Family-owned, Parenti & Raffaelli traces its traditions back to Italy, where Peter Parenti first learned woodworking from his father. When he was in his early 20s, Peter came to the United States and found work at a woodworking company, where he quickly moved through the ranks to become a partner.
It was there that Peter met John Raffaelli, a cabinetmaker, and set the foundation for a joint venture between Raffaelli and Peter’s sons Bob (Sr.) and Ron. In 1951, Parenti & Raffaelli opened its doors for business.
Today, the company is run by Peter’s grandsons Bob, Don and Jim, with the next generation already in place to continue the tradition.