Detroit-Area Woodworking Company Runs the Store Fixture Gamut

JD&M Building Co. of Troy, MI, started out remodeling restaurants locally -- and it still does. But it also offers everything from single kiosks for a small store to full turn-key projects for major retailers.

BY TOM CAESTECKER, JR.

 

JD&M can coordinate all aspects of a store fixture job, from AutoCAD drawings to fabrication to installation. These columns at Hudson's department store combine mahogany and satinwood and also feature in-laid brass. Photo courtesy of Glenn Moon.

Many companies which start out modestly and then gain national recognition lose sight of their beginnings. That is not the case with JD&M Building Co., a business that was started in a small shop/garage in 1974 by Joe Duronio and Vincent Moceri as a restaurant remodeler and grew into the store fixtures market.

It was a shopping center boom that started in the late 1970s in metropolitan Detroit that provided the company with its real breakthrough into the retail store fixtures market on a national scale. Its foray into the store fixture industry spurred the company's growth, but it did not totally abandon its roots.

"We still do a lot of restaurant work," said Frank Moceri, Vincent's son and president of JD&M. "It wasn't really by design that we got into retail store fixtures, but it just happened as our name got around via word of mouth that more and more architects found out about us. We grew with the need that had been created."

Today, JD&M is not only a store fixture manufacturer, but also a full department store millwork contractor. It also does architectural millwork projects for corporate/executive offices, conference rooms and lobby/reception areas. The company does over $6 million in annual sales, has a 40,000-square-foot shop and employs 50 people in its Troy, MI, facility.

"We wear many hats," president Garry Servinsky said. "We not only do the perimeter work, but also loose fixtures, showcases, cash wraps and even fitting room components. We can offer a full turn-key project for the merchant."

Often times, store chains and JD&M work on a virtual partnership basis on a project, whereby they will share in the design process and the formation of a budget, as well as coordinating delivery. In such cases, JD&M handles both the remodeling, as well as new construction. It does any necessary demolition, as well as prototype work, shop drawings, fabrication, finishing and installation.

"Nearly 80 percent of our jobs for department stores are remodel jobs," Moceri said. "Typically what happens is a retailer needs a remodeling job and it is done in phases. So they award one contractor the whole project: cash wraps, showcases, perimeter work and other work to make up a turn-key project.

"When it comes to new construction, the bid is put out and the contractor bids as many parts as invited, but one contractor will not be awarded the whole project. The deadlines do not change and are very strict," he added.

But the company does some big jobs where new construction is involved, also. It recently completed the entire third floor of Hudson's (of the Dayton Corp.) in Troy, MI, at the Somerset Shopping Center. This particular job won the National Association of Store Fixture Manufacturers' 1997 Grand Prize for the "New Store" category.

In addition, JD&M does jobs for the smaller-scale "mom-and-pop" stores, as well as individual store fixture pieces, such as kiosks. And Servinsky added that it does national vendor shops, used within department stores, for well-known cosmetics companies such as Clinique, Origins, Philosophy, Prescriptives and Lancome. There is virtually no such thing as a minimum project, Moceri said. The same goes for really big amounts of work, as there is no maximum cap either.

"We'll do anything," Moceri said. "We've never really target-marketed just one niche per se. That has been good for business, because it has kept us busy during the big retailers' slow periods."

"In terms of the really big projects, we enjoy the challenge," Servinsky added. "If the scope makes for a more aggressive cost or more millwork, we're open to it. If you have a $5 million project and put it in within a three-year span, that's not unreasonable."

One of the more recent developments in JD&M's offerings has been the construction of corporate headquarters and executive offices.

"That now makes up 20 to 35 percent of our annual sales," Moceri said. "It's all high-end and typically involves about 10,000 square feet of offices. We have really established ourselves in that type of work in the local area."

JD&M also still does the work that established its reputation: restaurant remodeling. One recent, major job was for the Big Rock Chop & Brew in Troy, MI. JD&M was the general contractor and directed 23 subcontractors for this project. The restaurant was once a train depot, and Moceri said they worked around some original features, which were being preserved, such as egg-and-dart moulding. He even hired a plasterer to add some of this moulding where appropriate. Above the restaurant is the Got Rocks cigar club. Both establishments feature solid ash, birch plywood and birch veneer work on various wall panels, neon-lighted coves and the two bars.

Most of the company's projects range between $300,000 and $600,000. These commercial jobs usually consist of local office suites and executive floors and lobbies. But again, because JD&M is so diversified, there is no such thing as a "median" or "average" price on a given project.

"It simply is what the customer needs," Servinsky said.

One job that could be classified as in the middle range was a high-end automobile dealership that Moceri said had an elliptical, concave reception desk.

"What has allowed us to get into jobs like that, as well as being able to turn out anywhere from 10 to 700 individual display units for a given project, is our CNC router and our AutoCAD systems," he said. "The router, which we purchased in 1996, has led us into another market by facilitating our manufacture of display units."

"We don't have minimums as far as how many display pieces a customer wants because a small project could lead to a larger scope of work," Servinsky added. "We do what we can to strengthen relationships with designers and clients."

As far as materials go, JD&M uses everything from solid wood and veneers, to laminates, melamine and solid surfacing material. Laminates and veneers are purchased laid-up, and glass, metal and other specialty items are purchased from suppliers as well.

"Anigre and maple have been popular lately in terms of wood species," Moceri said. "When it comes to wall paneling, walnut is a big seller as well."

Of the 50 employees at JD&M, between 18 and 25 work in the shop, and many have been with the company since it was started 24 years ago. Many employees are carpenters in the field, but their number can fluctuate.

"If installation needs are greater, we can add to the workforce accordingly," Servinsky said.

"We also send our own foreman to coordinate with an installation group when we ship to more distant places," Moceri said.

In addition to the AutoCAD and the Komo VR 512 CNC router, JD&M's shop features a 1408 edgebander and a 1265 Supercut vertical panel saw from Holz-Her, a Ramco widebelt sander, an SCMI shaper and a Rockwell table saw. JD&M also has a two-stage DustKop cyclone dust collection system from Aget Manufacturing Co.

For hardware, drawer slides are provided by Accuride and Salice. Hinges are from both Hafele and Blum Inc.

For the finishing, the company uses a Binks spray booth equipped with HVLP guns from AccuSpray. The finishes include Mohawk stains and James B. Day lacquers.

Other shop equipment includes drill presses from Delta and Rockwell, a Delta table saw and miter saws from DeWalt, which are often used in the field.

"Everything is mitered without exception," Moceri said. "We rarely use butt joints."

While JD&M continues to be open to new work and has no limit in terms of how large a particular job may be, it has not lost sight of its restaurant remodeling roots, nor does it ignore the smaller, local merchants who require quality store fixture work.

"We grew locally and then became national," Moceri said. "We stay very active in the metro-Detroit area."

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