Creating a new closet product line can be daunting task requiring a lot of time and research.
Major considerations include whether to manufacture the product in-house or outsource. If the decision is to manufacture, the number one question to answer is how to set up a workshop and what machinery to purchase.
Thomas Laville, owner of Laville Cabinets in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, went through this process in 2017.
“I knew I wanted to expand our offerings but wasn’t sure exactly what I wanted to add to the mix. After a lot of thought and exploration, I narrowed the potential choices to commercial woodworking or custom closets,” he said.
After looking at several factors from in-house labor demand, machinery, and software needs to market trends, builder relationships and competitor offerings, Laville decided to expand into high-end closets.
“The cash flow tends to be quicker and the jobs are typically simpler, in that the scope is smaller,” he added. “We do some very elaborate closets, but it still tends to be quicker than work for other rooms in the home, such as a kitchen.”
Laville’s relationship with local builders was also a key factor in the decision. “We already had an established presence in the area to kick off sales for custom closets. We knew enough builders familiar with our abilities and the quality of our work.” Those relationships provided a sense of continuity.
Additional resources included working with his software representative at Cabinet Vision and attending the 2018 IWF Closets Symposium, presented by Closets & Organized Storage. “That was really helpful for us because although we had the software and had experimented with it some, we were very much at the novice point.”
After working with connections made at the event, Laville revamped his shop to include the following equipment: two Weeke routers, a 5-head moulder from Kentwood and a Pillar Machine MJ 45 for mitre doors. His most recent machinery purchase is a Homag Ambition edgebander to replace an old SCM edgebander that wasn’t capable of corner rounding needed for the closets.
Laville’s closet line launched in 2018 and by April 2019 closet revenue is already amounting to one-third of his business. “I expect the total for the year to probably be 10 percent,” he added.
Learn more about Laville’s process of setting up a closet manufacturing shop at the AWFS Closets Symposium, July 16 at the Las Vegas Convention Center.
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