How Gaithersburg Architectural Millwork improved its finish quality
December 30, 2015 | 12:05 pm CST
Gaithersburg Architectural Millwork-Gallaudet University
In addition to its extensive machining and finishing capabilities, Gaithersburg Architectural Millwork also provides customers such as Galludet University (pictured), with a wide range of services including: project management and engineering, design and project cost development.

An award-winning architectural woodwork firm, Gaithersburg Cabinetry & Millwork has come a long way since Stephan Smith founded the company in  1981.  Growing from a one-man shop to 67 employees, the company, now doing business as Gaithersburg Architectural Millwork, specializes in commercial interiors. 

In 2010 Jeff Schrock, Jim Landoll and Kirk Vetter became partners and co-owners with Smith at the company. Gaithersburg Architectural Millwork has its base in Warrenton, VA, a spot advantageous for serving its many clients in the Washington, DC and surrounding areas, including: The Fred W. Smith National Library for the Study of George Washington, Google, Gallaudet University, the George Washington School of Law, The Jefferson Hotel, International Monetary Fund, Discovery Communications and Microsoft.

The company’s forte is interior architectural millwork, noted Vetter, executive vice president and general manager. This includes: wall and ceiling veneer, panels, veneer and laminate casework and cabinetry, conference tables, reception desks, furniture, stair treads, handrails, solid surface counters, full-size doors and frames, mouldings and trim, as well as integral metal and stone work. In addition to creating contemporary and commercial environments for institutions, museum, offices and restaurants,the company also produces high-end residential work from its newly expanded, state-of-the-art 75,000-square-foot facility.

“We believe in keeping current with cutting edge technology and adding space and equipment to our facility is an excellent way to do that,” said Vetter. “Modernizing our facility through technology is important to us.”

Gaithersburg Architectural Millwork has been able to improve the speed, efficiency and quality of its finishing operation since implementing the Heesemann widebelt sander. Workers that were once required to perform this operation are now being utilized in other areas of the plant.

When the company expanded its production area, it added a variety of equipment including a Heesemann MFA 6 Impression widebelt sander from Stiles Machinery. “The Heesemann sander was a huge purchase for us. It has changed our entire finishing process by allowing us to sand flat products much faster than we did by hand.

“Before the Heesemann we had to designate two workers to do work in sanding and finishing all day. With the Heesemann, we have been able to move them to different production areas for part of the day.”

Vetter also has high praise for Stiles Machinery. “One of the things we like about the company is that they do a great job with setup and training. Their service is second to none. We estimate we have purchased more than two-thirds of our equipment from them, including a Holzma saw, Homag edgebander and a  5-axis router,” said Vetter. Other equipment in the shop includes a Kuper edge gluer and Weeke dowelling machine.

“Our Stiles Machinery salespeople, Owen McGee and David Brown, were instrumental in us getting the widebelt sander. They looked at our operation and made suggestions.”

The company’s machining capabilities and flexibility also help set it apart from competitors, “We have the ability to do a wide range of processes in one location and we can incorporate all the necessary items, such as glass, steel, or stone into our work,” Vetter said. “Our philosophy is: if it ‘touches’ our millwork, we can be involved. If a client wants a desk with marble or glass or stainless steel elements, we can design as well as produce the finished product completely in our facility because in addition to our woodworking and millwork capabilities, we have a welding and light metal shop. We do the work ourselves and take the need for subcontractors out of the equation.”

Earlier this year Gaithersburg Architectural Millwork added 35,000 square feet to its facility. Inside the newly expanded  75,000-square-foot plant is a host of high-tech machinery including a Holzma panel saw, Homag CNC machining center, Homag edgebander, Weeke dowel machine and Heesemann sander.

Another plus is the ability to finish projects under compressed scheduling. “Our project management, the way we handle jobs, sets us apart as does our professionalism in how we handle our jobs,” Vetter added. “We have the ability to adapt to the changing environment and time schedules on jobs. Timing is extremely critical in all that we do.”

“Our modernized plant features the latest in CNC machinery along with a full in-house veneer press line,” continued Vetter. “Another hallmark of our company is that we don’t see what we do as just a job. It’s a collaboration to us and it is also about exceeding expectations.”

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About the author
Jo-Ann Kaiser

Jo-Ann Kaiser has been covering the woodworking industry for 31+ years. She is a contributing editor for the Woodworking Network and has been writing the Wood of the Month column since its inception in 1986.