Good and Getting Better
Despite a strong reputation and a large market share, Shamrock Cabinets continues to improve its production and customer service.
By Sam Gazdziak
Kansas City, MO, has been growing progressively over the years, and Shamrock Cabinets has grown right along with it. The company that began modestly enough as a family operation in 1966 now builds the cabinetry for roughly one out of every five new homes built in the area.
“We’re doing about 10 new homes a day, depending on the size of the job,” says Bill Price, president of the company. “Kansas City is a very strong market.”
Shamrock works with more than 200 builders, most of which are active within a 50-mile radius of Kansas City. The company also provides work to builders in St. Joseph, MO, Wichita, KS and Lake of the Ozarks, MO.
The type of home varies, as some builders construct 100 new houses a year and others build only a handful of upper-end homes, which are priced at $350,000 and up. Price says that Shamrock provides the cabinetry for every room of the house, from kitchens and bathrooms to bedrooms, laundry rooms and garages.
Shamrock’s cabinetry is generally located in the model homes of new housing developments so the homeowners can see the cabinetry beforehand. Shamrock also has a showroom in its headquarters in Raytown, MO. The display cabinetry shows the custom options that are available to customers, including carvings, corner posts and radiused doors. The company can also accommodate customers who come in with their own ideas.
“We used to have everything in the showroom, and when someone would walk in we would say, ‘This is what we can do.’” says Dan Beachner, vice president of operations. “Now, somebody will come in and ask, “can you do this?’ We’ve grown into saying that we can do anything, because if we’re going to have that customer, we have to furnish whatever he wants.”
On some of the higher-end homes, the homeowner will be more involved with the cabinetry design and will have additional options in terms of wood type, moulding designs or countertops. They can also get an upgraded melamine cabinet interior, as opposed to an unfinished wood interior. Shamrock has kept up with trends in order to satisfy its customers. While customers once preferred open-grained woods, they have now turned to close-grained woods like alder, birch, maple and cherry.
“Because we’re selling to the person who’s a second- or third-time home buyer,” Beachner says, “they are more concerned with wanting something different than they are with the cost. Cost is always an issue, but they also want something they haven’t had before.”
Large-scale and high-tech
Shamrock Cabinets has a total of 170 employees and 80,000 square feet of manufacturing space in its headquarters. With its large size, it is well-equipped to take on unique projects.
“If someone brings in something different, we’re not afraid to take it on, look at the process from start to finish and do things that maybe the average small shop can’t do,” says Randy Hunsucker, Shamrock’s operations manager. “Our equipment allows us to specialize in things that some of them can’t do.”
Over the last four or five years, the company has bought several new pieces of CNC equipment to improve production. “We strive to improve our operations on a regular basis, to utilize the manpower that we have along with the new technology that wasn’t available 10 or 15 years ago,” Price says. As it is, the company is able to begin work on a project and complete and install it in six days.
The production floor currently has one Holzma panel saw and two Weeke point-to-point machining centers. Another panel saw was put in storage to make way for two SCM Group Routech 240 Record CNC routers, which were purchased within the last year. Other machinery includes an SCM Group Concept 1000 tenoner, DMC planer/sander, Unique Machine door shaper and several Voorwood shaper/sanders.
After the cabinetry has been designed and cutlisted in the office using Cabinet Vision and CabnetWare, machine code is either transferred directly to the routers or by disk to the panel saw. The panel saw also generates a barcode label that is read at the machining centers. Hunsucker says that one machining center runs six to eight hours a day, while the other is used for specialty pieces. The two routers also run constantly.
Work on the door and drawer parts actually begins before the construction of the cabinet body. That department is also filled with high-tech machinery. A Raimann rip saw presets the blades to determine the best yield of every board, and lasers line up on the lumber to show the operator where each cut will be. A Grecon Dimter chop saw automatically cuts boards and separates pieces into their job, because several jobs are processed at once. The operator uses a crayon to mark defects in the boards, and those pieces are cut out. The company is awaiting a second chop saw to be delivered and installed.
Once those parts have been machined and assembled, they meet up with the rest of the cabinetry in the final assembly area. All cabinetry is shipped unfinished to the job site, although that is something that may change in the future.
Shamrock Cabinets will soon be adding an additional 40,000 square feet of manufacturing space to the building, in addition to a 12,000-square-foot showroom and office expansion. Beachner says that the company has expanded into several adjoining buildings over the years, some of which have two stories. “We’re pretty broken up as a manufacturing plant,” he explains. “Our goal is to get everything together on one floor to improve our flow.”
Making satisfied customers
“There’s been some good customer loyalty over the years,” adds Beachner, who has been with the company since its start. “We’ve taken care of them, and they’ve taken care of us.”
Care for a project lasts right up to the completion, as an installer always travels with the cabinetry when it is shipped to the job site. “We follow a project from start until it is installed,” says Beachner. “We don’t store our cabinets in builders’ houses and use those houses as storage.”
Shamrock’s growth has remained steady, generating yearly sales of around $17 million even in the current economy. The company does not turn down jobs because of the size, and Hunsucker says it’s not uncommon to have a $2,000 kitchen on the low end and a $60,000 kitchen on the high end.
Despite the company’s long-term relationships with many home builders in the Kansas City area, Shamrock Cabinets continues to stress the importance of good customer service, Beachner says. “What was high-quality and good service last year is almost the norm today. If you’re not doing something extra or something more than your competition is doing, you’re probably not going to be around very long. When we reach a goal, we look for continuous improvement.”
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