EuroCraft Ready to Spread its Wings
Republic's EuroCraft division began producing 32mm cabinets two years ago. Today EuroCraft is ready to leave its small quarters and move into a new, larger factory.
BY BARRETT KILMER
When Republic Industries decided to form EuroCraft and try its hand at frameless cabinetmaking two years ago, it did so cautiously. Gene Ponder, president of the Marshall, TX-based company had seen enough established cabinet companies fail at it to know he was up against a major challenge.
"Euro-style cabinetmaking has busted a lot of great old companies -- some that used to be major players," Ponder says.
EuroCraft's initial production target was between 750 and 800 boxes per day, but Ponder scaled back plans by 50% as a hedge against possible failure.
"That way, if we made a mistake and couldn't pull off producing European cabinets, it certainly wouldn't put us out of business," Ponder says. "It would cost us some money and teach us a lesson, but it wouldn't hurt us."
The first phase of EuroCraft has gone better than anyone expected, according to Ponder, even turning a profit after its first month in operation. This year he says the company will generate between $7 million and $8 million in sales. To capitalize on that success, EuroCraft recently built a new 60,000-square-foot plant to house Phase II of the company and plans to move in later this year.
Learning from Others' Mistakes
Another common mistake was companies trying to use American equipment to make European cabinets, he adds.
"They would buy American boring machines and try to set up all the adjustable shelf holes, hinge holes and so forth," Ponder says. "That won't work either. You really have to go out and buy some good European equipment that is designed for production."
EuroCraft considered these failed approaches and decided to do things a little differently.
"We know it's hard to change American mentality of the Imperial system to the metric system, so we decided to combine the two," Ponder says. "Since all the equipment is designed for the metric system height-wise, we kept that system. But we didn't want to reinvent the wheel in America. When a customer wants to buy a B-15, they know what a B-15 is. They don't know what it is in the metric system. So we kept the Imperial system for the width of the cabinets. So if a customer wants a B-15, B-21, B-24, it is truly that size."
New Procedures, New Machinery
"We go to the woodworking shows every year to try to keep up with the current equipment and who is making it," Ponder says.
Machinery purchases included a Holzma rear-loading panel saw, a Homag edgebander, several Gannomat boring machines, a Delmac Busellato Jr. point-to-point and a Comil case clamp.
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