With the economy in turmoil, consumers are staying home for their entertainment.

The Castleton credenza holds TVs up to 72-3/4 inches wide as well as up to 12 components. It features concealed wheels and has removable back panels, an internal wiring channel and interchangeable shelves and media drawers.

These are no “diamonds in the rough.” The highly stylized custom, semi-custom and standard home theater/entertainment centers developed by Anaheim, CA-based Diamond Case Designs Inc. come fully finished and assembled, complete with all electronic needs, including wire management and media storage in place.

“We do all the designing in-house,” says Steve Hartfelder, who, along with his brother David, owns the company. “Here, we have functionality driving the design. We take into consideration the dimensions for ventilation, wire management, access and media storage, then design [the casework] into the appropriate shape and style,” he says.

Hartfelder says he and his brother have a strategic advantage in the marketplace because of their knowledge of electronic systems. “We can [evaluate] the equipment [the customers] have, or if they’re considering upgrading make suggestions as to the type of equipment they should buy, and then design the furniture to take advantage of what they want,” he says.

“We will even purchase the electronics for them,” Hartfelder adds. “From a customer’s perspective, it makes all the sense in the world if they can get everything from one spot.”

Once the TV size and other media is established, the specific designs are developed. “It’s a matter of this is what they want and this is what will work,” says Hartfelder. Approximately 80 to 85 percent of the company’s current work is custom and semi-custom, with Diamond Case oftentimes modifying a standard design to meet specific requirements. “We can take the technology from any of the standard lines and move into custom,” Hartfelder adds.

This custom-designed system is constructed of premium grade birch wood and finished using a multi-step process. It is designed on wheels for full mobility and easy access to the electronics.

The company’s product line is always evolving, he continues. Diamond Case will add a new line to its showcase every year or two, plus add pieces to existing lines “to keep them fresh” on a regular basis. Hartfelder says that the company will maintain consistency in areas such as door sizes and spacing for shelves, in order to make it easier for customers to change or upgrade at a later date. “As their needs change, the furniture can then change,” he adds.

A Tale of Two Sources

What makes Diamond Case atypical is that it outsources the production of its home theater systems to two local manufacturing facilities.

At the Foothill Ranch facility, custom and semi-custom home theater projects, as well as the Theater-Tech and Castleton product lines are manufactured. According to Randy Miller, CKBI, the company takes the electronic designs and cutouts generated by Diamond Case and uses Solid Manufacturing software to convert them for machining.

At the plant, Miller says, the 4-foot by 8-foot plywood panels are first cut-to-size on a Holz-Her vertical panel saw. From there, they are machined on a Biesse Rover CNC router and edgebanded on an SCMI Olimpic edgebander. In addition to doors and other components, mouldings also are manufactured in-house using a Williams & Hussey moulder. Other machinery utilized in the 20,000-square-foot shop include: Omga and DeWalt chop saws, a Powermatic belt sander, two Delta table saws and a Torit dust collection system.

Once sized, at the Foothill Ranch manufacturing facility panels are routed and drilled using the Biesse Rover B440 FTK CNC router.

Miller says his company uses Mohawk and ML Campbell water-based finishes and purchases its panel products from Columbia Forest Products. “Everything we purchase is certified [for environmental sustainability],” Miller says. “All the domestic manufacturers we work with are on line with that.”

Other Diamond Case product lines, including Evolution, Phoenix TV lifts, as well as custom and semi-custom projects, are manufactured at a 10,000-square-foot facility in nearby Vista.

According to JC Ramirez, partner and lead designer/engineer, his company receives the electronic designs from Diamond Case and uses Cabinet Vision software to generate the cutlists, parts list, including the drawer order, and programs for machining.

At Ramirez’s shop, panels are first cut-to-size on an SCMI sliding table saw. Also integral to the machining process is a Ritter line boring machine, an SCMI edgebander, sanders and Powermatic saws. According to Ramirez, the company works on a just-in-time basis, “with no real inventory.”

“We don’t do mass production,” he adds.

Ramirez says his company specializes in custom finishing and has two spray booths, an open-face booth for sealing and shading, and a closed booth for topcoats. Both Binks and DeVilbiss HVLP spray guns are used to apply the solventborne finishes. “We’ll have a color sample which we will match and then generate a sample for approval,” he says.

The Vista, CA, facility works on a just-in-time basis for manufacturing home theater furniture for Diamond Case Designs. Among the machines used in the 10,000-square-foot shop is an SCMI sliding table saw and Ritter boring machine. The company also uses Shopcarts material handling equipment.

Marketing Strategies

Diamond Case has evolved since its inception in 1991. According to Hartfelder, the concept for the company developed when his dad Fred, who was then a vice president for Mitsubishi, saw a need in the market for furniture to handle the new 40-inch TV category. Knowing his sons (Jack, who later left the company, David and then Steve, who joined Diamond Case in 1995) had a background in home theater and had strong relationships with custom woodworkers, he encouraged them to explore this new field.

While the original intent was to be a wholesaler to electronic and AV stores, the brothers soon realized the advantage in creating their own furniture designs and going direct to the customers.

“We wanted to maintain control and to create our own designs,” Hartfelder says.

“Our reputation is built on what we can do with a media cabinet,” he adds.

Diamond Case’s reputation has spread far and includes such notable clients as former Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim General Manager Bill Stoneman, current New York Islanders forward Mike Sillinger, former Denver Bronco defensive player Dennis Smith and Tony Kanal of the band No Doubt.

In addition to word of mouth, customers are targeted through print advertising in national publications and online promotions. The showroom’s location overlooking a freeway also has proven advantageous in attracting the attention of potential clients.

The 8,000-square-foot showroom houses a wide selection of the company’s home theater room displays and entertainment centers. “With the number of our products we are always able to adapt to a changing marketplace,” Hartfelder says.

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