2011 WOOD 100: Customer Service 

Flooring the competition— All  across North America, wood products manufacturers are distinguishing themselves from global and domestic rivals by quality control measures put in place, sustainability efforts, and most importantly, by high levels of customer service.

Oshkosh Designs, Winneconne, WI — Quality and customer service is at the heart of this woodworking company’s success. At its 65,000-square-foot facility in central Wisconsin, Oshkosh Designs manufactures medallions, borders and parquet designs for use in flooring, stair risers, treads, chair rails, ceilings and backsplashes. The company uses a variety of materials, including domestic and exotic hardwoods, natural stone, metal and glass.

In addition to its standard line of offerings, Oshkosh Designs will also custom size, shape or change the materials used in the products to coordinate with the customer’s décor.  Complete custom design services are also offered.

Once a design is selected, the boards undergo inspection before being sent to the rough mill area, where they are ripped to size. In manufacturing the inlays for the medallions and borders, Oshkosh Designs uses lasers for etching and cutting the intricate wood parts. After cutting, the small parts are hand assembled into patterns, and water-based adhesive is used to mount them into place. The company says it has a system in place to ensure fast turnaround on both standard and custom projects.

Customer service begins at the top, and was of crucial consideration to Oshkosh Designs President/CEO Brenda Kubasta when she acquired the brand and assets of the company on April 14, 2011. (Kubasta has been president for six years.) “For the last 20 years, this company has been making it happen for our customers. It was of utmost importance this acquisition did not affect our customers or production of product in any way, and we are pleased to say it did not,” she said in at the time. “The company’s core competencies remain the same and the Oshkosh Designs team of master artisans continues to produce beautiful parquet and inlay. This acquisition will allow us to remain competitive in today’s market and continue to grow our brand and product offerings.”

 

SERVICE PROVIDERS

John Murphy Millworks LLC, Erie, CO
Although service by the cabinet and millwork firm is already high, Rose Murphy, manager/owner, notes she “demands excellence of myself and the employees.” To speed turnaround, the company also has invested in technology. 2010 sales grew 50.6%.

ARTchitectural Interiors, San Antonio, TX
The architectural woodworking firm grew 50% in 2010, due in part its customer service, “CNC technology efficiency and outstandingly detailed work,” says COO Victor Salas. Among the recent investments is a CNC laser, CNC router, six-head moulder and software.
 

Gaithersburg Cabinetry & Millwork, Warrenton, VA
“Improving efficiencies and continuing to provide the best customer service,” helped spur the architectural millworker to 23.1% growth in 2010, says Jim Landoll, executive vice president. Future plans call for increasing the plant size and purchasing new equipment.

Woodwork Refined, Chicago, IL
“We constantly seek out new trends within the industry, market aggressively and continue to build solid client relationships by providing ‘above and beyond’ customer service,” says William Cavanagh, owner of the custom furniture, cabinetry and millwork firm.

Stanfield Shutter Co., Salt Lake City, UT
“Given the challenges with the economy, we see this as an opportunity to put our best foot forward and make the best composite panel shutter productions on the market today,” says Chance McNeil, vice president of sales. Sales rose slightly last year and should continue to grow.

Closet America, Lanham, MD
The closet maker recently received a Guildmaster Award for exceptional customer satisfaction. According to President Skip LaBella, Closet America utilizes a comprehensive customer satisfaction survey system to assess its operation, and the feedback is used to pinpoint areas for improvement.  Sales grew 50.7% in 2010.

Vermont Custom Cabinetry, Westminster, VT
“Our motto is: The economy is down, it is not dead. There are people buying. Go find them. Then give them exceptional product quality and service,” says Tom Westra, president. “When price competition for our custom line started getting squeezed, we added a semi custom line rather than just cut prices... If the customer wants to buy from you, have something you can sell them.” Sales growth in 2010 was 26.3%.  

Smart Closet Solution, Brooklyn, NY
“As a smaller company, efficiency is a primary goal,” says Ben Aviram. “All our salespeople are also installers, so there is no conflict between design and execution — everything at a jobsite is taken into account prior to production.” Investments in technology also helped spur the closet manufacturer’s 5.2% growth last year.

Antique & Modern Cabinets Inc., Jacksonville, FL
Customer service is a priority of employees at the cabinet company’s 40,000-plus-square-foot facility, and a driving force behind its success in the commercial and residential markets, says President Bill Patterson.

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