CHARLOTTE, N.C. - A tour of Carocraft Cabinets, a leading custom architectural millwork firm, is planned for attendees at the 2019 Cabinets & Closets Conference & Expo, being held March 6-8.  The tour is included as part of the March 6 conference that precedes the two-day exposition, which is co-located with Wood Pro Expo Charlotte. The two design and manufacturing events will be held at the Charlotte Convention Center. The Carocraft tour is followed by a reception at Biesse America, the tour sponsor.

A pair of Biesse Selco saws are the "backbone of operations."

Like many millwork firms, Carocraft Cabinets gets most of its work as a subcontractor to construction firms, finding new business through the bid market. As a result, it carries a low profile, so the tour offers a unique entree to the plant.

Busellato Jet 3 CNC

"We work with general contractors and are in the bid market," says Larry Stroud, president. "All our work is commercial and institutional, none is residential." Stroud started the business in 1976, having begun in the business as a draftsman and estimator at a predecessor Charlotte business.

"I started as an architectural draftsman and an old millwork company and I guess I put them out of business," Stroud deadpans. "That company was 100 years old. Eventually, I became an estimator, but the last year I worked there that business had three different owners, and then it closed. That's when I started in business."

Conference registrants will travel by bus to see Carocraft's large-scale, 47,000 square foot manufacturing facility, which is home base for a top-notch team of 32 woodworking craftsmen (and 9 more in the office), and also packed with technology.

Among the principal machines on the floor at Carocraft Cabinets are a pair highly productive Selco panel saws.

The two beam saws serve as the "production backbone of our operation, processing virtually every part or panel we make," says Stroud. The panel saws draw from stocks of flat material on one side, and output pallets of cut parts ready to be completed and assembled on the other.

"These two workhorses give us substantial and flexible production capabilities," Stroud says. 

CaroCraft's Stream A edgebander

Also on the tour will be two recently installed Biesse Stream A and Akron 1430 edgebanders that replaced an older Brandt Profiline machines last year. The Stream A is the new range of automated single-sided edgebanding machines aimed at craftspeople and small enterprises who wish to increase their production capacity. It enables users to ramp up production up to 2 work shifts. It seamlessly adapt to any machining needs thanks to its configuration possibilities.

The Akron 1430 is a “Quick-Change” single sided edgebanding machine with Multi Profile type tooling for the application and processing of flat edgebanding material in coils (melamine, PVC, ABS, veneer) and in strip form (solid wood, Formica, planed veneers etc.)  

Carocraft maintains a substantial inventory with a wide range of sheet goods: MDF, particleboard, marine plywood in both conventional and LEEDS compliant NAUF varieties. Also onsite is a substantial inventory of many hardwood species, as well as plastic laminate, and solid surface products.

The heart of fabrication is a Busellato Jet 3, a CNC router that performs a great many panel processing tasks, making complex shapes, perfect radii, and processes requiring extreme precision.

It is also complemented by another part processing dynamo, a Weeke Optimat BHX 050 vertical CNC machining center. CNC automation is also on display in Carocraft's Omal insert drawer machine, a highly precise CNC workstation for positioning, drilling, and installing dowels used to assemble drawer boxes. A Bütfering Optimat SKO213 wide-belt sander creates flat, precise parts, with a much higher level of precision than hand sanding and with a substantial increase in efficiency.

Vertical machining center

Stroud says the company culture encourages a very strong work ethic that arises naturally from the team. 

"We are loose on management," Stroud says. "My people pretty much manage themselves and the people who work here have a strong work ethic. We have always worked a lot of overtime, but it's not mandatory.

Finishing spray room

"In my business it's time frames that are critical. We are always fighting the clock. We open at 6 a.m. and close at 6 p.m. Peer pressure from the people that do want to work forces others to work, too -  or they just don't work out."
 
Along with the growing business in healthcare - a national trend - Stroud also sees a decline in natural veneering and a rise in use of laminates.
 
"We don't see a lot of veneer and finishing; it's more laminate than anything else," he notes. "What we have seen with quite a bit of veneer wood panel is that it has dbeen replaced by reclaimed lumber -- that doesn't require a lot of finishing."
 
The plant tour takes place on March 6, following five conference sessions and luncheon. The conference is kicked off by a keynote by David Linda - "How I Launched a Closets Business and Retired Early." Linda is one of the leading names in closet and home organization and cabinetry business, having successfully launched and operated Space Man Closets in Houston before selling the company last year. Click here to learn more about the complete conference program, which includes a Cabinet track and a Closets track.

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