Cabinet Shops Aim for Closet Work

By Bill Esler | Posted: 08/02/2012 3:49PM

 

Closets firms have long branched beyond just closets, building pantries, home offices and Murphy Beds. Increasingly clients are asking them to bid — perhaps against you — on building libraries, buffets, kitchen cabinetry, even commercial office spaces, which are traditional domains of custom woodworkers.

It’s not a stretch, since panels, hardware, and accessories readily lend themselves to other cabinetry and general home improvement work.

click image to zoomKCD Software's Cabinet/Closet Designer KCD Software's Cabinet/Closet Designer is a versatile and robust application, capable of complex projects such as this combination entertainment center and office. One shop, a Closet Factory franchise near Virginia Beach, VA, even built an entire house (with 14 closets or other home storage projects) as a marketing effort. He won gold awards for the project.

Recent months have also seen several examples of cabinet-making companies crossing into the closet business.

While examples abound, Greenberg Casework Co. Inc., a South Beloit, IL, cabinetry and millwork shop profiled in July 2012 CWB, is a striking one.

“We saw the rapidly expanding market for storage and organization for garage and workshop, and felt we could do better,” Troy Greenberg said in describing his launch of RedLine Closet Systems.

Another is Lami Wood Products, which became a California Closets operator in March, opening two new franchise showrooms in the St. Louis metro area. The parent company of Signature Kitchen and Bath, which offers custom cabinetry for the residential market, Lami will manufacture the California Closets line, along with its own custom cabinet lines and laminate countertops, at its 80,000-square-foot facility in St. Peters, MO.

“We only had to add a vertical boring machine to press the Häfele Rafix connectors to accommodate the line,” says Dan Heath, Lami Wood Products controller. Heath says the custom home organization business target market shares similar demographics with the company’s Signature Kitchen and Bath business, though closets are sold through a home visit, kitchen cabinets in a showroom.

Enabling Technologies

Lami kitchen cabinet designers will use 20/20 Technologies design products, while closet designers will use California Closets’ proprietary application.

The most recent announcements about crossover cabinetry and closet design applications, which will be on view at IWF 2012, are from KCD Software. Well established in kitchen cabinet design and production software, it supports closet and crossover cabinetry work in its latest Cabinet, Closet and Doors Plus software suites. It uses an open architecture for CNC manufacturing — CNC Cabinet/Closet Commander — to take a project from on-site design, pricing and cut listing through either automated CNC cutting and routing or traditional to manufacturing process. KCD’s 3D Closet Design Studio also creates specialty rooms (pantry, craft, wine, laundry and mudroom, left) entertainment centers, garage storage solutions, offices and Murphy Beds.

“The software is really loaded with options,” says Leslie Murphy of KCD Software. “And for the designers that really get into creating custom cabinetry, and want even more options, we also have the combination Cabinet/Closet Designer” (available to try on their website: KCDsoftware.com).

Thermwood Corp. is tapping this market crossover by launching YouBuild, an online order system aimed at getting cabinetmakers into closets and office furniture markets.

Home Depot and Columbia Forest Products are part of a supply chain for Thermwood’s YouBuild project. Rather than particleboard, the YouBuild system uses Columbia Forest Product hardwood plywood. Thermwood says the high-quality, formaldehyde-free plywood is available in any quantity through local Home Depot stores under a special order program.

The program, an extension of an existing eCabinet Systems network for cabinetmakers, is built around YouBuild.com, which has a locator to identify program participants. It offers thousands of design combinations for home and office furniture and closets, some by renowned furniture designers, says Thermwood’s Jason Susnjara.

In a preliminary release, YouBuild is being promoted to potential cut centers over the next 60 days. Initially these centers will be drawn from registered users at eCabinet Systems, which Susnjara says number about 10,000. Afterwards, the YouBuild program will be marketed to consumers and designers.

The designs can be customized and are available in four real wood species — walnut, maple, oak and cherry, either finished or unfinished. Sizes of most of these items can be adjusted.

Manufacturing is done locally by cabinet shops who participate in YouBuild, becoming “YouBuild Cut Centers.” Orders are placed online at the YouBuild site. Thermwood envisions cabinet shops establishing commissioned sales relationships with retail dealers and designers.

YouBuild cut centers access CNC programs online, then cut and edgeband parts. Customers can assemble projects, using a unique joinery system, or they can have the cut center assembled for them.

While the YouBuild cabinetry and furniture program is intended to be restricted to Thermwood users, the existing eCabinet Systems site offers a utility for export of cut lists to ShopBot CNC users for $1,295.

Live Events: Closets Crossovers

Closet sales opportunities for cabinetmakers will be explored in an October webcast, “Closets Crossovers,” which goes live Oct. 17, 2012, at 10:30 a.m. Central. Register at Woodworkingnetwork.com/Webcast.

Also, making its debut early next year is the Cabinets & Closets Conference & Expo, set for February 27-March 1, 2013, at the New Jersey Convention & Exposition Center in Edison, NJ. “This ‘Total Storage Solutions’ event will build on the similarities and synergies of the dynamic closet and custom cabinet markets,” says Rich Christianson, who manages the show for Vance, publisher of Custom Woodworking Business magazine. CWB


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About the Author

Bill Esler woodworkingnetwork.com

Bill Esler

Bill Esler, Associate Publisher/ Editor in Chief, Woodworking Network Bill is responsible for editing Custom Woodworking Business and coordinating content for Wood Products , CLOSETS , WoodworkingNetwork.com, and related newsletters. Bill’s expertise includes using innovative print manufacturing techniques to grow audience engagement, digital printing, purls, QR codes; and lead-generating webcasts, custom websites, and custom digital and print content. Read Bill Esler's woodworking blogs. He can be reached at besler@woodworkingnetwork.com or follow him on Google+.

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