|WoodArts manufactured this reception desk, wood walls and thick panels for The Ashton, a 25-story apartment complex in Dallas, TX.|
|WoodArts specializes in corporate interiors, making products that include veneer wall panel systems, premium doors and window walls.|
Paying Attention to Detail
According to Pena, WoodArtsâ manufacturing process is the opposite of lean. âEverything runs through different departments,â he says.
âFrom what Iâve understood, lean manufacturing would be really good to apply into building casework, with multiple products at the same time,â says Nguyen. âIn the custom woodworking world, where we only build one thing at a time, if you try to do lean manufacturing and custom woodworking at the same time, itâs not going to go very well. You start to cut corners.â
Pena says that the company has seen an increase in LEED projects, but still only three to five a year at this point. âIt is growing,â he says. âItâs a lot more expensive to manufacture green. Itâs harder to get the products and thereâs a longer lead-time. Thereâs a lot of paperwork in the office. So thereâs more management involved to get those LEED points, which the end-user is obviously looking for.â
Nguyen likes to be involved at many points in the design and production process, and credits some of WoodArtsâ success to its attention to detail and refusal to cut corners.
âYes, I check a lot of things,â he says. âWhen our draftsmen are done with the drafting, I check the drawing. And I work with the engineers on problems. Iâm the kind of guy who walks that shop all the time. I can go out there in the morning, and by the end of the day know exactly how much my guys got done. And when they finish, before they take it apart and put a finish on it, they have to get me out there to check them. So, Iâm very meticulous.â
This type of hands-on approach is a key ingredient in WoodArtsâ success, according to Nguyen. âWe work together as a team,â he says. âBut a team has to have a team leader to take the responsibility of every single move that the team makes. I look at the company like my own company. For every single thing I do, I care.â
A Solid Reputation
|WoodArts Systemsâ Vice President John Nguyen, left, and President David Pena have spent 17 years working together.|
WoodArts specializes in corporate interiors, manufacturing products such as veneer wall panel systems, premium doors, window walls, frames, cabinetry and more. The company also makes mixed media products that encompass glass, stone, fabric and metal, though it outsources for those materials.
âUsually, weâll do the whole package â weâll do the woodwork and the casework,â says Pena. âWhen you do projects like that, the owner or the general contractor will want to buy all from one source. So, the more we can provide, the easier it is for them to manage their job, obviously. We coordinate the whole thing, the deliveries and everything, and weâre in charge of it. But weâre not actually building that here. We pull it all together.â
The company has done projects for a long list of clients, including Exxon Mobil, Sysco, Chicago Bridge & Iron, British Petroleum (BP), Shell Oil, Chevron Phillips, Merrill Lynch and the Bracewell Giuliani Law Firm in Houston. The company is not at a loss for new projects either, with almost a yearâs worth of work already booked. The abundance of work allows for WoodArts to take only local jobs.
âWeâve been able to find enough work here, so why go out,â Pena says. âWe have five or six general contractors that we do business for and they keep us busy. We only bid projects where the general contractor already has the job, and they need to get two or three millwork bids. So, our success rate is pretty good. I guess that comes with our reputation.â
Pena says WoodArts also markets directly to architects.
âTheyâll spec us on jobs,â he says. âWeâll do finish samples for them so that they can show their clients, and thatâs how we get our foot in the door. And then weâre able to bid the projects. They know the general contractors will never have a problem selling our work because of the quality of work that we do.â
âWe care about our name,â adds Nguyen. âIf we put our name on the product, it has to be right. We take it personally.â
|In addition to traditional architectural millwork, WoodArts also produces mixed media products that use metal, stone, glass and fabric.|
Building on Success
The future looks promising for WoodArts, with a possible shop and office expansion in the works and expectations of solid sales growth. Pena predicts the company will go over $5 million in sales for 2007.
"Iâve always been told that once you get up to $4 million or $5 million, thatâs kind of a hump to get over,â he says. âWe do want to keep growing. We have plans to expand another 18,000 feet and put just our plastic laminate work in there completely, and do the premium on the other side. A different set of equipment and different people.â
âI donât know that weâre that much different than other woodworking companies that call themselves successful,â adds Nguyen. âIf you are not out of business in three years, you are successful!â
The company also plans on just continuing doing what itâs been doing. âItâs an unbelievable market right now,â says Pena. âWeâre just riding it out. I actually can sell more work than we can produce here. We have potential to have our best year ever.â
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