EXTON, Pa. – Charles Waterman, a Closets by Design franchisee near Philadelphia, hasn’t been afraid to make changes in his business to make it better.

Waterman was interviewed by John Mauro of Stiles Machinery Inc. during the 2017 Executive Briefing Conference in April. Each order at the Exton Closet by Design is custom made, and installation is done in one day.


Eric Marshall was first one hired at California Closets

The first employee of Neil Balter, founder of California Closet, eventually struck out on his own to launch Modern Closets & Garage.

The operation was started in 2004, and now has 90 employees, including eight in the shop, 24 installers and 30 full-time designers, and uses 13 vehicles. The company has a 33,000 square foot location in Exton, west of Philadelphia.

The company made 2,760 installations last year. For manufacturing, it started out Altendorf sliding table saws, a Homag edgebander and Unisaw table saws.

Waterman has seen his challenge to expand the company, and has focused on defects, cycle times and cost. A Six Sigma Black Belt for quality control, Waterman was a general manager and director of training for Certa ProPainters before opening the franchise 12 years ago. 

He has upgraded with a Holzma beam saw that can do 100 to 110 sheets a day, along with a Weeke nested-base CNC machining center, and a small Brandt edgebander. A Weeke BHX 300 has also been added for boring. Redundancy in all operations has been a goal for the closet manufacturer.

Here are a few lessons from Charles Waterman on improving his business:

  • Pay more to fewer people for a boost in productivity
  • Have a plan to use technology
  • Recognize that pain drives gain
  • Change existing culture for a breakthrough.
The parent franchise describes the mission of Closets by Design:
We've built our reputation as the industry leader on a commitment to complete customer service and total customer satisfaction. From our no obligation in-home consultation to custom tailored designs to the highest quality product construction. Even with these comprehensive services, our products offer the best value in the industry. We design, build, and install custom closets, garage cabinets, home offices, laundries, pantries, wardrobe mirror doors, and much more. We offer a wide selection of finishes, accessories, and hardware. http://closetsbydesign.com/