Cabinet shops and suppliers alike enjoy numerous benefits by being active members in the association.

Membership in the Cabinet Makers Assn. is good for business, as many current members can attest. Here is what some of them say about why the CMA has become an important tool for their success.

“Joining has given me the ability to freely network with others who, as members, are willing to take the time to offer advice or help.”
Ed Curtis, Curtis Cabinetry, Middleton, MA

The ability to network with others is invaluable, because they may have already found the answers to a problem you are having. How many times have you thought, “If only I could talk to someone else in the same business as me?” But, how do you go about it? Is your competitor down the street willing to help you? How do you get to know others in this business?

Before the CMA began, it was difficult to meet your peers in the industry and have such frank discussions. Today, the association provides you with these opportunities, if you become involved. By attending a CMA meeting or event, you can meet and network with others. Members are more than willing to share information.

“You realize that you are not alone in this endeavor…cabinetmaking. You have colleagues (and friends) in almost every state. You know that you can call at any time, if need be.”
Doug Smith, Certified Woodworking Co., Raleigh, NC

“[I appreciate] the ability to freely share or ask a question as problems arise. After all, this is not a ‘me-against-the-world’ situation. At times it can seem that way, if you don’t have someone to share with.”
Malcolm Tully, Woodtech Custom Cabinets, Albany, GA

Businesses are built on relationships. The better you are at this important aspect, the more successful you will become.

One of the hardest things for most cabinetmakers to realize is that there is a whole world outside their own shop door. Taking the time to attend a regional or national trade show and going to seminars is a great first step to realizing you belong to a dynamic and ever-changing industry. By meeting and talking with others, you glean important information to help your own business.

Developing friendships with your colleagues not only is a valuable tool for your business success, but also has benefits on a personal level. Smith says that joining the CMA changed his personal life as well as his business for the better. Introverts by nature, many cabinetmakers find solace in meeting kindred spirits from around the country.

“The ability to learn from the mistakes of others not only shows the willingness to improve one’s own business, but the eagerness to learn as well. What took many others 15 to 20 years to learn on their own, I learned in two through the CMA. I only wish I had joined earlier.”
Greg Chezem, Cedar Forest Cabinetry & Millwork, Nokesville, VA

“The collective technical knowledge and business knowledge of the CMA members is extremely impressive.”
Charles Kurak, C. Kurak Custom Woodworking, Inc., Callahan, FL

Members like Chezem and Kurak are not alone in their assessment of one of the many benefits of the CMA. If you have an open mind and are willing to ask questions, members are more than willing to share their experiences

Questions you may have about construction methods, for example, will be answered in a variety of ways. Each member has an opinion about what works best for his company, and sharing that information will help you determine what might work in your shop. You can decide whether a change is necessary or if what you are doing now is really the best solution for your business.

If you want to make the transition to CNC automation, for example, many members have gone through the process and will share real solutions with you. It can be hard to understand all the complexities of this change, and talking with someone who has been there will definitely shorten your learning curve. As your business evolves, it can help to have such resources to steer you in new directions.

“The CMA has allowed me to share my knowledge of the business with others by giving seminars on how to be successful. By giving seminars, I have grown both personally and professionally.”
Eric Lehman, CKD, Innovative Wholesale Fabricators Inc., Islandia, NY

The CMA provides opportunities for its members to develop new skills in unexpected areas. For instance, seminars are an integral part of the association’s mission, and some of the most popular programs are those where CMA shop owner members present information on topics such as pricing and marketing, sharing what they have learned so that others may benefit from their knowledge.

Like Lehman, many members have learned how to improve their public speaking by taking part in the education of fellow members. This activity helps them overcome an aversion to public speaking by granting them an opportunity to present seminars on topics they know well. Many members are surprised to learn that they can get up in front of an audience and give a dynamic presentation.

Professional growth is an ongoing process throughout your career. The CMA can help you discover talents you never knew you had and provide a forum to share those talents with other members.

“My number one reason for joining the CMA is the people — the people I meet at shows and the people I meet through the online forum. My business has grown tremendously in profitability, efficiency, quality and consistency...and it’s all because of this association.”
Jeff Dopko, Dopko Inc., Zebulon, NC

Dopko attributes the growth of his company to being an active member of the CMA. Through participation at various shows, networking with other members and attending round table discussions, he says he learned much in a short period of time.

He also credits another benefit of membership — being able to participate in CMA’s members-only online forum. Members can post a question and have several answers within minutes.

Questions range from where to source a special piece of hardware or some materials that they cannot find locally, to asking for sales and marketing help. Contracts and employee handbooks are posted regularly. Members benefit by receiving the combined expertise of the other members, including some who have specialized knowledge in specific areas, like software, for example.

The forum is used as a reference for information that may not be available elsewhere. Members are more than willing to share their knowledge and help other members. If a particular question is better answered by having a phone conversation, members freely donate their time and provide a detailed response in that manner.

Associate members also contribute to and benefit from the forum. CMA members have learned how to benefit from interacting with their suppliers, especially since most are very knowledgeable in their areas of expertise and can really help with a problem a member may be having. Technical help or information on how to install a new piece of hardware are one example that comes to mind. Also, plywood and hardwood distributors spend many hours learning their product and how it is used in our industry — information they willingly share with CMA manufacturing members. If members take the time to ask, CMA supplier members make the effort to educate them, help solve a problem or find a better solution.

For their part, cabinet shop members provide valuable feedback to supplier members on a variety of issues. For example, if a supplier wants direct customer input about a specific product, an online focus group can be formed quickly and easily. Most cabinet shop owners are very passionate about what they do. That passion can carry over to a process or method used in their shop, including specialty hardware and machinery. Associate Members have realized that members of the CMA are some of the best informed and most knowledgeable shop owners in the industry.This leads to a cooperative effort that benefits everyone involved.

Thus, the forum has proven to be one of the most popular and useful benefits of membership for all categories of members.

“We can honestly say that joining the CMA is the best professional decision we have made.”
Ramona Peterson, Kustom Phinish Inc., San Bernardino, CA

“I must say – even with all of the knowledge I have gained [through the CMA] – the best reward I have earned is all of the friends I have made and all of the people I have been able to teach some bit of knowledge to that bettered their business. I am looking forward to the next 10 years and all of the benefits yet to come.”
Charles Wilson, Lone Star Custom Cabinets & Furniture, Cedar City, UT

“I kick myself for not joining years ago!”
Sean Benetin, Millwork & More LLC, Columbia, NJ

Becoming a member of the CMA has helped many shop owners be more profitable, more knowledgeable and more involved in their industry. When owners say that joining the CMA has been the best decision for their businesses and back it up with real-life case histories, it becomes apparent how special it is for them to belong to this dynamic group of industry leaders.

As many have said, the people who are members of the CMA become friends and valued colleagues. What better reason is there for joining, to make your business the best it can be? For more information about the CMA, call the headquarters office at (952) 960- 2867 or visit its Web site,

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