Cabinets & Closets Conference Schedule


2015 Cabinets & Closets Conference Under Development

The 2015 Cabinets & Closets Conference will be held Tuesday, April 14 at the Schaumburg Renaissance Hotel in Schaumburg, IL.

The conference program is currently under development.

Those who have never attended the Cabinets & Closets Conference before can get a taste of what the event has to offer by perusing the 2014 Cabinets & Closets Conference program archived below.



WEDNESDAY, APRIL 9 - Hotel Somerset-Bridgewater

7:00 a.m.: Registration: Conference Attendee Badge Pickup & Onsite Registration Begins

8:20 a.m.: Welcome: Rich Christianson, Associate Publisher, Woodworking Network; Dave Skinner, President, Association of Closet and Storage Professionals (ACSP); and Dave Grulke, Executive Director, Cabinet Makers Association

Paul Downs Cabinetmakers8:40 a.m.: Keynote Presentation: You're the Boss: Running a Small Wood Products Business in a Tough Economy
Presenter: Paul Downs, President, Paul Downs Cabinetmakers, and blogger for the New York Times

Paul Downs started Paul Downs Cabinetmakers of Bridgeport, PA, in 1988. Today the company employs 19 people and manufactures custom boardroom tables and conference tables, as well as related furniture items. Clients include the World Bank, U.S. Army, U.S. Navy, U.S. Air Force, U.S. Corps, NASA, and a very wide variety of other business and government clients.

Three years ago, Downs started writing about his experience as a small business owner for the "You're the Boss" blog in the Business section of the New York Times website. Downs offers fellow business owners a place where they can compare notes, ask questions, get advice, and learn from one another's mistakes.

His presentation will examine some of the ways Paul Downs Cabinetmakers survived the Great Recession and some of of the things he has done to revive his business in the upswing, including how he increased productivity, the pros and cons of an employee profit sharing program, coming to grips with Obamacare and the results of hiring a sales consultant.

Laurel Didier Woodworking network10:10 a.m.: The Mind of the Woodworker
Presenter: Laurel Didier, Group Publisher, Woodworking Network

Didier will present highlights of a new, unique research project that paints a first-of-its-kind portrait of the people who make up the wood products industry. Learn how their personality traits influence their work habits.


10:30 a.m.: Refreshment Break
Note: Following the morning break, attendees will adjourn to their registered choice of either the Cabinets or Closets Conference Track.


Cosponsored by the Cabinet Makers Association and Custom Woodworking Business (CWB)

Dave Grulke Cabinet Makers Association 10:45 a.m.: Filling Your Funnel: Get More New Sales Prospects Now!
Presenter: Dave Grulke, President Big Dave's Services & Executive Director of the Cabinet Makers Association

New customers are the life blood of any business. Dave will walk you through time tested advertising, marketing and sales techniques and systems you can immediately install in your business that will consistently deliver new sales prospects. Through practical, easy to administer methods, you can build and easily maintain your personal, reliable source of fresh, motivated buyers that will continue flowing into your business and onto your radar screen as you need them.

11:45 a.m.: Peer2Peer Networking Lunch
This social and educational luncheon with your peers is always rewarding. Bring something to the table and share with others. You will be impressed at how the discussions take on a life of their own.

1:15 p.m. The Art of Cost Estimating & Pricing Profitably
Presenter: Sean Benetin, owner Millwork & More

One of the factors in growing a woodworking business is pricing each project with the expectation of earning a profit. There are some common pitfalls that are inherent in this process, and they are explored and explained along with strategies to minimize risk of missing a part of the project or missing over head expenses that would impact earnings. Our three panelists will discuss their take on estimating and costing from their own experience within their businesses. An open discussion of best practices from all attending will be part of this session.

   • Identify and quantify overhead item costs that must be met before profits can be expected;
   • Develop a loaded shop rate that includes ALL your overhead expenses you can use in estimating;
   • Understand component and process time and pricing appropriately;
   • Don’t forget about the time eaters, no matter how small they seem; and
   • Hidden factors that enhance or can eat away at your net profits.

4:15 p.m.: Open Forum: What’s Your Problem?
Moderators: Dave Grulke & Sean Benetin

This signature CMA event is one you don’t want to miss. The faculty of presenters will facilitate a large- group forum, beginning with an overview of the session, and then break into small discussion groups on some topics vital to develop an ethical, sustainable and profitable woodworking enterprise. 



Cosponsored by the Association of Closet and Storage Professionals and Closets magazine

10:45 a.m.: Using the Association of Closet & Storage Professionals Planning and Design Guide as a Marketing Tool

Presenters: Jeff Klein, President, Closet Specialist, and Dave Skinner, President, We Do Closets

Discover the power of this new tool to increase your sales with other building trade professionals. If you don’t do enough business with builders, ask yourself “WHY not?” and “HOW can I change that?” This professional printed booklet will walk your builders and architects down the garden path to choosing you for their professionally designed custom closets. The session will show you the proven strategies to engage your customer and turn a meeting into a long-term source of committed referrals. Selling your project will be easier if the builders are promoting you and your skills. Copies of the new ACSP Planning Guide will be available if you don’t already have your copy (

11:45 a.m.: Peer-to-Peer Networking Lunch

This social and educational luncheon with your peers is always rewarding. Bring something to the table and share with others. You will be impressed at how the discussions take on a life of their own. 

1:15 p.m.: 2 Second Lean in a Closet Shop
Presenters: Dave Skinner and John Jackson, We Do Closets

What does LEAN mean to a Closet company? It makes a lot of sense in a large factory and many of the same principles can be applied to your business as well. The session will cover methods and processes that can, and should, be applied to an operation such as yours. The presenter will show you concrete examples that will increase the productivity for every employee in your company. Achieving $175,000 per employee is realistic, how do your numbers compare? Come and learn what you need to do to hit your target.

2:30 p.m.: It HAS changed Your Business! Do You Know How?
Presenter: Lindsey Thudin,

The presentation will recap the results of’ s national survey of homeowners. Is word of mouth advertising critical to your business? If so, you’re in for a shock! The results are very enlightening and will probably change the way you think about your client and how you connect with them. The information gained in this session will directly affect your advertising strategies and your bottom line.

3:45 p.m.: Refreshment Break

4:00 p.m.: Round Table Discussions
The highlight of every conference are the round table discussions. Whether you have 25 years in the business or are just starting out, here is a great opportunity to meet new people and build some great relationships with industry leaders. Join us for lively discussions on a variety of topics such as:

  •  Handling rejection;

  • Overcoming objections;

  • How to deal with the competition undercutting you;

  • Marketing materials that work, and

  •  Topics that will be chosen by the attendees.

We will make every attempt to make these tables of 6-8 attendees “non-compete” groups.



5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.: All-Delegate Industry Networking Reception

The presentation of the annual Top Shelf Design Awards and CWB Design Portfolio Awards brings designers together for an evening of celebration and festivity. The evening is a great opportunity to catch up with old friends and make some new ones as well. Pictures of the contest winners and honorable mentions are always motivating for other designers in the industry. Exposure to new materials, accessories and features make for interesting discussions throughout the evening. Come and see what other leading designers are doing to make their projects stand out from the crowd. The ACSP will also highlight the professional designers that have taken the next step in their professional development and gained industry approved recognition by completing the ACSP certification program.

NOTE: Schedule, topics and presenters subject to change without notice.



Garden State Exhibit Center, Somerset, NJ

Thursday, APRIL 10 - 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

    - Tour of Eastern Millworks Inc. 5:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.

Friday, APRIL 11 - 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

View full expo schedule, including free Expo Demo Stage presentations.


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