Cabinet refacing opens doors into big box markets

Northern Contours is putting a new face on the cabinet industry with its London, Ontario facility. In addition to producing doors for cabinetmakers, contractors, closet, furniture and millwork operations, the St. Paul, MN-based company has received national recognition for its Renuit kitchen restyling/refacing program, available through more than 180 Home Depot stores across Canada.

The Renuit program focuses on kitchen refacing, a fast, minimally invasive, and more environmental responsible renovation process that replaces and updates cabinetry elements used every day. In refacing, cabinet doors, drawer fronts, and internal hardware are replaced, while cabinet boxes are upcycled to match the new cabinet color selected. Refacing projects typically take 1-4 days to install in the home versus weeks to months during a full renovation.

In 2018, Northern Contours acquired NuBold Industries, now its London facility, providing a larger audience platform for in-demand engineered cabinet components, while enhancing the presence of Northern Contours in the Canadian market.

While the two companies had similar capabilities before the acquisition, the available products and services are even greater now, said Alec Bevand, general manager for Renuit.
“Many products available from Northern Contours in the United States will also be available here, so we can have the similar capacity and Renuit can offer similar collections,” Bevand said.

Among the Renuit offerings is the Prestige collection, an engineered five-piece construction, available in multiple shaker styles and a variety of colors and textures. The company’s 3DL door styles are also as vast, including slab, shaker, and classic styles in a wide variety of colors, patterns and textures. Popular finishes include the low-sheen SuperMatte option, and SmartMattes with fingerprint resistance and the repairability of micro-scratches with a Magic Eraser.

“One of the largest trends for cabinets currently is the emergence of color. Shades of blue and green are in high demand, pairing beautifully with white, black, and woodgrains. They also bring a level of fresh energy and comfort to our spaces,” he said.

“We see this colorful trend largely in shaker styles in our matte laminate finishes, which is no surprise as matte finishes are also currently trending for cabinets. We credit the AuthenTECH trend for the popularity of our SuperMatte and SmartMatte finishes. The AuthenTECH trend for cabinets is where the authentic, familiar looks of paint merges with engineered advantages we expect in this new decade. 3D laminate cabinets in these finishes are seamless and easy to clean with no joints, cracking, chipping, or maintenance required like painted wood. In addition to giving the look of paint without the drawbacks, they’re also soft touch, reinforcing the comfort factor, and reliable in their durability and longevity.”

Manufacturing strengths & synergies
The 100,000 square-foot plant in London is well-equipped to provide quick turnaround on projects, said Daniel Silva, production supervisor, at Northern Contours London facility. The company has approximately 70 employees and works two shifts.

CNC technology for processing panels and 3DL laminated components, along with a variety of other equipment, is used to manufacture the company’s growing line of products.
In one area of the plant, the focus is on panel processing, with CNC routing performed on multiple machines, including two Weeke (Homag) point to points for specials and other one-off items, and nesting routers including Komos, Shodas, and a Heian. A Biesse Stream single-sided edgebander offers high production banding on edges of flat panel components.

The Northern Contours London facility specializes in 3D laminated components. For the pressing process, in use are Wemhoner 3D Variopress’s with the patented VarioPin automatic pin system, which recognizes the form and size of the workpiece and automatically lifts it, thereby eliminating the need to manually insert jig boards, Silva explained. Each press has its own carousel of the most popular decorative surfaces for efficient production.

Another area of the facility focuses on assembled 5-piece doors. Stiles and rails are cut to size before being sent to one of three Balestrini mortising and tenoning machines, designed to cut 45 or 90-degree joinings for door frames. The machine is equipped with two working units moving on two interpolated axes; one unit cuts ends and tenons, while the other makes holes or slots. From there, the doors are assembled with panels then clamped on either the Doucet, typically used for larger, pantry style doors, or the JLT clamp, used for cabinet door and drawer fronts. Other equipment in the plant includes a Gannomat Express hinge drilling machine, Cefla adhesive system, and a Vecoplan grinder for wood waste.

COVID-19 impact
Like many others, the company has had to adjust its sales and service due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. “Home Depot store closures due to COVID-19 greatly affected our Renuit business. In addition to customers not being allowed in the stores to see our products, homeowners were cautious about having our Renuit sales personnel and installers in their homes,” Bevand said.

“We quickly implemented virtual sales processes using Zoom and FaceTime to connect with homeowners looking for information on refacing their kitchens. We found that we could provide a very accurate quote based on conversations with homeowners and asking them to send us measurements and pictures.” To protect both employees and customers during the installation process, Northern Contours implemented safety precautions including personal protective gear, social distancing and disinfecting protocol.

Northern Contours’ London, Ontario facility is one of six locations, and its first in Canada. Headquartered in St. Paul, Minnesota, Northern Contours manufactures cabinet doors and components for kitchen and bath, closets and home organization, commercial office, and refacing markets. Northern Contours is ranked 91 on the latest FDMC 300 list of the largest North American wood products manufacturers.


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About the author
Karen Koenig | Editor

Karen M. Koenig has more than 30 years of experience in the woodworking industry, including visits to wood products manufacturing facilities throughout North America, Europe and Asia. As editor of special publications under the Woodworking Network brand, including the Red Book Best Practices resource guide and website, Karen’s responsibilities include writing, editing and coordinating of editorial content. She is also a contributor to FDMC and other Woodworking Network online and print media owned by CCI Media. She can be reached at [email protected]