Right Place, Right Company
Graham, TX, proves to be an ideal place for a family-run high-end cabinetry shop.
By Sam Gazdziak
Texasâ Possum Kingdom Lake has more going for it than a great name. The lake and the area surrounding it is becoming the spot where many wealthy Texans are building their second homes. And many of these homes feature cabinetry from Custom Cabinets of Graham.
Located about 50 miles from Possum Kingdom Lake and 100 miles west of Dallas in Graham, TX, Custom Cabinets of Graham finds itself in a good location, says Chris Hall, who runs the business along with his father, Richard. âThere are a lot of developments with $2 million and $3 million dollar homes, and thatâs where weâve done the bulk of our work,â he says. âWeâve also done jobs in Dallas, and weâre doing a lot of jobs in Wichita Falls now.â
The company primarily does high-end residential cabinetry. Custom Cabinets has also done some commercial cabinetry in the past, and it has also recently done more residential furniture jobs. âWeâre in a town of 8,000, so we canât just settle on one specific thing. We do whatever people want,â Hall says.
Custom Cabinets is a family-operated business. Chris Hall handles the CAD work and CNC machining, while Richard, a carpenter by trade, oversees the companyâs furniture manufacturing. Richardâs wife Mona runs the office. Including the Halls, the company has six employees.
Diversifying through technology
The CNC router was delivered on Sept. 10, 2001.
âTwo days after Sept. 11, we lost $100,000 in sales,â says Richard Hall. âCustomers put their projects on the back burner.â
Fortunately, the machineâs capabilities helped offset the loss of revenue. Chris Hall says it has allowed the company to do work beyond cabinetry. One recent furniture piece was for a designer in Wichita Falls. She requested a table that she could sell in her store. The company came up with a reproduction of an Italian table, and all the parts were cut on the router.
âWith the CNC machine, weâre not relying completely on cabinetry,â says Chris. âWe go out and look for work. Weâre doing specialty millwork and furniture.â He adds that the company can manufacture for a wider price range now by adding more cost-affordable options, like using MDF cabinet doors instead of wood doors.
Richard Hallâs expertise in furniture design and construction also helps the company diversify. âOur designers give us a basic concept of what they want, and then I put it together and make a generalized outline,â he says. âChris tells me what we can do on the CNC and what we need to do on the other machines. I may have a little better eye as far as how it goes together, but the other guys are the ones who execute it.â
Along with the router, Custom Cabinets of Grahamâs shop floor contains a Powermatic 12-inch table saw, a Whirlwind cutoff saw, an Omga radial arm saw, a Delta 10-inch table saw, a Williams & Hussey moulder and an SCM surfacer. When it expanded into a new building last year, the company added a Disa dust collection system.
After experimenting with a production environment, Chris Hall says the best way they have found to work is to build one job at a time. All of the drawers and doors are cut first, and then he machines all the casework. All of the parts are then laid out on a long table and are assembled. âWeâve cut down on the time that it takes to do a job,â Chris says. âAny kind of mistake is almost eliminated, because everyone knows what goes into the job. Weâre all focused on completing one job at a time.â
Prime Possum real estate
Richard Hall says that the company fell into that market by accident. âWe inherited a job,â he explains. âWe were the third firm. The first firm never showed up. The second firm only built one or two vanities, and then he and the architect had a falling out. We then got the job and finished 45 days after receiving it. I think the customer had been waiting nine months before that.â
That successful job has led to many others in high-end homes. One 16,000-square-foot house built on an 8,000-acre ranch had cabinetry in a different species of wood for every room, including walnut, cypress, alder and red oak. The company also built furniture for the house to match existing pieces. âThatâs how weâve gotten into doing furniture. A lot of people canât find the furniture that they want to go into their homes, so now theyâre wanting us to build it,â Chris says.
Many of the jobs in the PK area have a rustic style, so employees have had to distress several sets of cabinets. One distressed entertainment center also used deer antlers for door and drawer pulls. Another set of cabinetry went into a log cabin, so John Salas, Custom Cabinetsâ installer, scribed each cabinet to fit tight against the timber walls. The Halls agree that Salas plays an important role in ensuring a successful installation.
âJohn is very accomplished in installing, trimming it out and really making it look good. And heâs also very good at working with other subcontractors, which is important when youâre working with a builder or an architect,â Chris says.
Service, along with quality, are Custom Cabinets of Grahamâs biggest strengths. Chris says that the customer is able to come to the shop and participate in the design process. With the Cabinet Vision software, adding more drawers or changing the dimensions is relatively painless. âReally, there are a lot of companies that do what we do, but the service end is key,â he says. âWith the different types of wood species, the different styles of cabinets and trim, weâre selling the opportunity for customers to get involved with the design to get what they want.â
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