DeLeers Millwork sees the big picture when it comes to driving the company forward. Its investments in technology and process management have helped spur the multi-million dollar Green Bay, WI-based architectural woodwork firm to a new level of success.

The implementation of lean manufacturing throughout the plant has significantly reduced work in process, while increasing quality and productivity, says Tom DeLeers, Continuous Improvement manager. What once took 7.5 hours to flow through the shop, may now take only 1.5 hours. And it doesn’t stop there. DeLeers says the company is continuously looking for ways to improve productivity and reduce waste in the operation, including holding Kaizen events to develop ideas. From one event, for example, came the idea to have tool supply carts located at each workstation, thereby reducing the time spent retrieving needed items from other locations.

 
Incorporated in 1987, DeLeers Millwork manufactures
high-quality architectural woodwork, casework and
specialized millwork, such as this reception area for
the National Council of Bar Examiners.

Ideas such as these may sound simple, but they help toward achieving the company’s overall goals of productivity, profitability and quality products, DeLeers says. “We’re working to be the best, and at the lowest cost — we want to leave no stone unturned.”

Because it is lean, the company is responsive to challenges and changes that come its way. DeLeers Millwork works closely with architects and contractors to provide its high-quality architectural millwork and casework products to the hospitality, contract furniture, healthcare, store fixture, educational and residential markets.

“We’ve invested over 1,300 hours in training, mainly in lean manufacturing,” he adds.

In addition to being lean, DeLeers Millwork is a green company and is a certified supplier under the Forest Stewardship Council. It is also a member of the Architectural Woodwork Institute and the Woodwork Institute.

Flexible Manufacturing
In addition to manufacturing with solid wood, DeLeers Millwork also incorporates veneer, laminate and occasionally decorative metals and stone in the construction of its products.

The company’s slogan, “A closer fit. A better finish,” is accomplished by the use of high-tech equipment throughout the manufacturing process. Among the workhorses used at DeLeers Millwork’s 68,000-square-foot facility are: a Biesse Rover 30 CNC point-to-point machining center, Anderson Andi CNC router, Giben CNC panel saw, Koch Sprint drilling and dowel insertion machine, a Weinig Profimat moulder, and custom knife grinding technology. Just recently, the company added TrakWare Systems software to further streamline its financial, inventory and production management processes.

Attention has also been paid to the finishing process. DeLeers Millwork recently remodeled its finishing area, doubling the size and increasing the capabilities. Designed for a more circular flow, the area includes two spray booths, a Timesavers sander, Makor finishing system and a GFS oven, which DeLeers says has drastically reduced the company’s drying time.

In addition to a wide array of standard finishes, DeLeers Millwork offers custom finishes, including specialty finishes such as gold leaf. “When we produce a sample, we’ll keep in mind the customer specifications and to keep it production friendly,” DeLeers says. Sherwin-Williams is a primary supplier of finishing materials to the company.


 
DeLeers Millwork has incorporated high technology, such as this Biesse Rover CNC point-to-
point machining center (left), and lean manufacturing practices throughout the shop, including
in the assembly area, in its quest for continuous improvement. The tool cart (right) is the result
of a Kaizen event.


An American Success Story
The company has come a long way since Jerry DeLeers bought his first table saw and joiner in 1960, at the age of 15. After graduating high school in 1964, he went to work for his father in the family business, DeLeers Construction, while honing his cabinetmaking skills on the side.
By the late 1970s, Jerry’s Cabinets was rolling and younger brother Phil had joined the business. The company continued to flourish and in 1987 Jerry’s Cabinets was renamed DeLeers Millwork Inc.