May 2005

A Company Designed for Growth

A Wyoming cabinet company's diligence leads to an expanded sales territory.

By Ann Gurley Rogers
Schroll crafts its own dovetail drawers in-house and builds its face-frame cabinets with blind mortise and tenon joinery.

When Schroll Cabinets Inc. was founded in Cheyenne, WY, in 1974, the town had a population of 50,000 people, the economy was marked by high interest rates and inflation, and new area construction was at a minimum.

Nevertheless, for the first two years of their business, John, Mike and their father Bill Schroll concentrated their company's efforts on the Cheyenne market. Today, the company services what is known out West as the 'Front Range,' which marks an expansive territory that covers the east side of the Rocky Mountains from Cheyenne, WY, to Pueblo, CO.

In this territory, the company has retail showrooms in Cheyenne, and Fort Collins, Denver and Colorado Springs, CO. These showrooms attract customers who are interested in quality custom cabinets for kitchens, baths, home offices, media centers and libraries.

Making a Name in the Community

Schroll Cabinets Inc. is distinct for many reasons, Mike Schroll says. "The company does not outsource the manufacturing of any of its drawers, drawer fronts or doors. We take pride in using the highest quality hardwoods, like maple, cherry, oak, hickory and knotty alder from northern forests in the United States."

The company uses both European and American hardware for beauty and functionality on its cabinets, which feature dovetailed drawers and face frames that are blind mortised and tenoned.

Schroll Cabinets' finishers use oil penetrating stains that are hand wiped into the wood and finished with a glaze or a catalyzed varnish that is hand sprayed and then dried in the curing room.

Schroll Cabinets does its finishing in-house and uses oil penetrating stains, like the one pictured on this oak bar, that are hand rubbed and finished with a glaze or a catalyzed varnish.

Because John, Mike and Bill have worked in the industry for so long, they say they have seen some trends come full-circle. "When we first got started, dark cabinets were popular. Then the desired style changed to light finishes and natural-looking cabinets. Now dark cabinet colors are popular again," John Schroll says. "The particularly popular finishes right now are modified finish styles and painted surfaces.

"Also," he adds, "in the 1970s, most cabinets were a standard box. You can't get by with that any more. In addition, we could not survive [in this market] without our elaborate array of [design] modifications. Everything we make is pre-sold so it truly is custom. We are always looking to add to our list of accessories and modifications, so we can offer our customers what they want. I have learned over the years that it is not about what the customer really needs, but what she really wants. And these days she wants fancy accessories and the ability to modify an item to her specific needs."

Commitment to Quality

"We have a firm commitment to selling our products through our company showrooms rather than using distributors," Mike Schroll notes. In support of this commitment, he says the company places a strong emphasis on quality and educating its designers.

"During the past two years, we have found it necessary to train our employees to use the new software design program 20/20. We have noticed positive results from this aggressive training program, so we plan to continue," he says.

Schroll Cabinets takes great pride in using modern technology in all its applications. In 1996, the company integrated a component-cutting process to track and machine the thousands of parts produced each week. "This system has the reputation of being one on the most advanced in the country," Mike Schroll says. The development of this system has been a collaboration between American and European woodworking machinery manufacturers and Schroll Cabinets, he explains.

Beautiful kitchens like this hickory one are designed using 20/20 design software. Schroll trains all of its designers to use the program.

The company introduced a Biesse CNC router into the shop in 1996 that Mike Schroll says has saved costs and enhanced the quality of the company's products.

"Since 1982, we have been using manufacturing software that we developed. It interfaces with Cutplanner, which in turn downloads to our Scheer panel saw," John Schroll adds, explaining, "The panel saw cuts the parts and produces a barcode that is read by the CNC machine."

Over the past 30 years, the company has continued to expand its production area. In 1974, the combined area for production and storage was just 2,000 square feet. Today, the shop size is in excess of 50,000 square feet. Major pieces of equipment purchased over the years include a DMC Unisand 2000 four-belt sanding machine, DMC Unisand 2000 orbital sander, Weinig Quatromat 23P, four Voorwood A122 shaper/sanders and a Scheer PA panel saw.

There are approximately 100 sales and production employees who work two shifts during peak production times to process orders that generate gross annual revenues of $7.4 million for the company.

Schroll Cabinets has a fleet of four delivery vans that have the capacity to hold up to 80 cabinets among them. John Schroll says prior to shipping, the company always wraps its cabinets with kraft paper and puts corner protectors on each cabinet before it is stretch wrapped.

Looking to the near future, Mike Schroll says the company plans to expand its home office in Cheyenne, WY. Although, looking further down the road, he sees the possibility of the next generation of Schroll family members taking over the business since both brothers have children who are college students.

"Currently, they come in to work in the shop during the summer and during other breaks throughout the academic year," Mike Schroll adds.

For now though, John Schroll will remain the company's president and continue to oversee the manufacturing in the shop, and Mike Schroll will continue to manage the company's sales. However, like so many family businesses, Mike says that the two of them will continue to work on everything together and grow the business as far as possible.

                                                                                                                                                                                           

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