Manufacturing cabinet doors, drawers and other wood components better, faster and with less waste. That is the driving force behind Decore-ative Specialties’ continuing path to success.

The Monrovia, CA-based family-owned company “officially” began its lean journey approximately four years ago, though many of the lean concepts already had been integrated into the firm’s manufacturing practices since its incorporation in 1965, said Decore-ative Specialties President Jack Lansford Jr.

Today, the entire 600-employee company is on the lean path. In addition to its headquarters in Monrovia, CA, Decore-ative Specialties has four manufacturing facilities: two in southern California, another in northern California and one in North Carolina, to better service customers on the East Coast. Total manufacturing space for producing the company’s customized lines of wood, Deco-form/RTF, veneer and laminate components is approximately 500,000 square feet.

Not content to rest on its laurels, Decore-ative Specialties continues to look for ways to expand its product and service capabilities. This is driven not only by market demand, but employee input as well.

Among the more recent developments are designer face frames, custom mouldings, the company’s environmentally friendly Pure Colors finishing options and the soon-to-be-available custom frameless cabinet box kits. According to Chanda Erselius, marketing manager, the kits will be targeted to Decore-ative Specialties’ customer base of face-frame cabinetmakers, enabling them to expand their own product lines by adding custom frameless products.

Lansford credits the lean process with helping the company to eliminate waste from its processes while freeing up floor space and resources in order to bring new capabilities in the current facilities.

Although starting the lean journey, “was one of the hardest things we did,” Lansford says that with the very first Kaizen event, he quickly realized employees were on board with taking ownership over their work and processes. “That’s when I realized I had 12 ‘owners’ at the table” eager to give their input, he says.

Still today, Kaizen events are held regularly throughout the company, as Decore-ative Specialties continually looks for ways to streamline its processes. In fact, the company will have the task groups revisit a Kaizen event “with a goal of an additional 50 percent reduction,” Lansford adds.

“Lean has been a uniting force for us,” says Joel Boyles, director of marketing. “With lean, we’re all tied together,” he adds, referring to Decore-ative Specialties’ use of SharePoint to exchange knowledge, best practices and even capabilities among the four facilities.
It has also helped the company to consistently achieve lead times of five to six days for unfinished products, and 10 to 12 days for finished goods.

“The biggest difference between us and other companies is our ability to ship quality, finished products in that short lead time,” Boyles says.

Finishing Grows from Lean
It was just a few years ago that the company added finishing as one of its custom capabilities. That development came after a Kaizen event at the Irwindale facility enabled the company to significantly reduce the floor space for one of its production lines.

In the freed-up area, Decore-ative Specialties installed an environmentally friendly, state-of-the-art Superfici clear UV and stain line, with reciprocating automatic spray guns and a material reclaim system. The finishing line is approximately 200 feet long and at full capacity, can run 1,500 pieces in one shift.

In addition to standard coatings, Decore-ative Specialties offers glazes and specialty finish options, which are applied by hand. The pressurized finish area also includes a bank of spray booths for handling oversize or unusual-shaped components.

“The goal was to make it as easy as possible for our customers, so they didn’t have to buy components from us and then go to an outside finisher,” Erselius says.

The expansion into finishing also brought added business from unexpected sources. “What surprised us with our finishing is customers that had already made investments in their own finishing process were coming to us for service,” Lansford says.

In order to satisfy the growing number of requests for certified low-VOC products, Decore-ative Specialties offers the Pure Colors finishing program, which is SCS Indoor Advantage Gold certified and meets the requirements for LEED, BIFMA, CHPS and CA 01350 for use in schools, health care, residential and commercial interiors. Pure Colors are available in six standard collections, including clears, stains and high-end glazes and specialty finishes; color matching is also available. “The high number of foreclosures have led to a lot of custom matching requests on the finishes,” Erselius says.

And because many of Decore-ative Specialties’ customers are small shops which do their own installs, as an added service the company makes available small cans of the Pure Colors finishes for on-site touch-ups.

The Pure Colors finishing program is just one element of the company’s commitment to green. Decore-ative Specialties is a member of the U.S. Green Building Council and offers Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)-certified wood products. In addition, the company is also a member of the Wood Component Manufacturers Assn. and a supplier member of the Kitchen Cabinet Manufacturers Assn.

Decore-ative Specialties’ commitment to green is highlighted in an easy reference tool for customers. The “Green, Greener, Greenest” program categorizes the company’s products/capabilities into three tier levels, ranging from Green (sustainable wood materials/responsible forest management, including bamboo, European steamed beech and MDF), to Greenest (FSC-certified products, no-added urea formaldehyde panels, and components used for projects seeking LEED certification.).

Decore-ative Specialties finish line also is certified through SCS. “It is especially helpful to small shops if they have products finished here, so they don’t have to undergo the certification themselves,” Erselius says. “Our finish meets all the regulations [for low VOCs, etc.].”

Taking a Lead Role
When Jack Lansford Sr. opened Decore-ative Specialties in 1965, it was the first company in Southern California to manufacture raised panel doors. Since then, Decore-ative Specialties’ reputation as a trendsetter in the components industry remains strong, with its commitment to lean and sustainable manufacturing.

“The secret to our success is simple,” says Jack Lansford Jr. “We give customers a quality product, shipped on time and for a decent price.”

Lansford adds, “and the way we’re able to do it is with great employees!”

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