Building a Profitable Network

Shaver Millwork thrives by maintaining strong relationships with builders and architects, concentrating on whole-house projects.

By Ann Gurley Rogers
Shaver Millwork

Vero Beach, FL

www.shavermillwork.com

Year Founded: 1980

Employees: 18-20

Shop Size: 17,500 sq. ft.

FYI: Company co-founder Robert Shaver learned some woodworking in the U.S. Navy, where he became a Carpenter Mate and did wooden boat repair, among other duties. He shares his war experiences on a veteran's history Web site, www.normandy1944.info.

        Shaver Millwork of Vero Beach, FL, has developed its place in the Florida and Bahamas markets by offering a comprehensive package of custom millwork and casework. The company works with builders and architects who have contracts for high-end residential and commercial projects, and those relationships have proven to be a winning combination.

Shaver Millwork is a third-generation family business that was founded in 1980 by Robert Shaver and his oldest son, Bob. Robert brought to the endeavor 40 years of woodworking experience. He started in woodworking as a teenager in his parents' garage, making custom kitchen cabinets. After serving in the Navy during World War II, Robert went to work for a large millwork company in Peoria, IL, that distributed Anderson windows and manufactured other items.

Robert worked his way up and became a top executive in charge of purchasing, but decided to leave the company and move to Florida in 1979. Shortly afterwards, Bob followed and the two started the business. Bob started out as his father's apprentice. Today, he runs the company, with help from three of his four sons, Jason, Mark and Clayton.

This is a "great room" in a beachfront house that was built "upside-down," according to Mark Shaver - the kitchen, dining, living and family rooms, as well as the master bedroom are upstairs. The architect emphasized natural lighting. Shaver Millwork provided all architecturally designed millwork, including stair parts, posts and beams, cabinets, door and window trim and wall paneling.

        Over the years, Shaver Millwork developed a policy of working with builders and architects whenever possible. "In fact, if an individual homeowner contacts us, we encourage him to get in touch with one of the many builders or architects we work with on a regular basis," says Jason Shaver. The Shavers also decided to focus on providing comprehensive millwork and casework packages for an entire house, which they credit as one factor behind their success.

The extensive list of architects and contractors listed on Shaver Millwork's Web site, www.shavermillwork.com, is like a "Who's Who" of the premiere companies developing high-end communities and doing upscale restoration work on the East coast of Florida and the Bahamas. Their customers have the resources to expect and get quality products from providers who are in a position to give attention to detail and deliver exactly what the customer wants.

Furthermore, Shaver Millwork's professional clientele has to assure its customers that any construction project undertaken will comply with all local code requirements and specifications. All jobs must also be able to withstand the climate and environment in Florida and the Bahamas. With the severity of the hurricane seasons over the past few years, these responsibilities have become more important than ever.

Since hurricane-impact-rated doors are such a specialty, Shaver Millwork decided to leave that manufacturing task to other suppliers. Instead, it has developed a relationship with another Florida company and outsources that part of its millwork packages. It also subs out its finishing and installation, putting its own focus on producing other doors, mouldings, cabinetry, fireplace mantels, stairs, windows, louvered products and specialty items.

In the same Vero Beach home, Shaver Millwork manufactured arch top mahogany French Doors, true divided, for the living room, as well as a coffered ceiling and custom fireplace mantel.

        Division of Duties

Shaver Millwork typically has millwork and casework contracts for 20 residential properties a year, filling in with other miscellaneous residential and commercial projects throughout the year. A full CAD drafting and design department supports the company's manufacturing process. Bob Shaver is in charge of this segment of the business, and he is the one who usually makes job site visits.

Clayton Shaver is in charge of the shop. The most significant and recent purchase of equipment brought in is a C.R. Onsrud 96C10 CNC router with MasterCam and TurboCad software. Mark Shaver programs the new router and says it has helped virtually every area of millwork production. Among the tasks relegated to the router are making knife-grinding templates, radius door and window casing templates, and cutting all

plywood for cabinet production.

Additionally, the CNC router has made it possible for the company to produce more intricate pieces, Mark Shaver says. For example, it recently was used to fabricate some church pews with scrolled caps that the company made for a local chapel.

Other shop equipment includes a Delta RS15 shaper, SCMI T130 tilting shaper, Casadei sliding table shaper, Holz-Her 1265S vertical panel saw, five-head moulder and knife grinder from Weinig, and an AEM two-head widebelt sander.

Shaver Millwork did extensive work in this Vero Beach, FL, home, including the kitchen and dining area with custom cabinets, doors, island, range hood and coffered ceiling.

        In addition to programming the router and working with other specialty pieces of equipment, Mark Shaver manages the business side of the company's operations, including insurance, financial concerns and legal issues.

Jason Shaver says that because many of the products the company manufactures are produced using the same equipment, the 17,500-square-foot workshop is integrated. The company achieves efficiency by cross-training shop employees so that they can move from one product to another as the need arises, he adds. However, there are designated areas for assembly and clean up.

Jason Shaver's responsibilities are in sales, estimating and project management. He believes that the company's strength is that it has the capability to manufacture a broad spectrum of custom products, as well as its close collaboration with the best construction professionals in the area.

Mark Shaver adds that Shaver Millwork is fortunate to be a multi-generational company and have a history of providing quality work. Since Bob Shaver has 15 grandchildren, it is likely that this tradition will continue into the future.

 

                                                                                                                                                                                           

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