The North American wood components market can be highly competitive. But throw a devastating fire into the mix, and the ability for a wood manufacturer to survive, let alone thrive, becomes even more challenging.
That was the predicament faced by Ken Clifton, president of CCF Industries. On Friday, April 4, 2014, an explosion rocked the Apollo, PA-based custom dovetail drawer manufacturer, spreading fire and destroying the company’s then 16,000-square-foot facility.
“We lost everything in the fire except for a few files,” Clifton says. All work in process, as well as the equipment and materials were destroyed in the fireball explosion, which was most likely caused by a static spark in the finishing department, he adds.
Custom dovetail drawer manufacturer CCF Industries rebuilt its plant and became stronger than ever following a devastating fire in 2014.
“I was in Florida at the time of the fire,” Clifton recalls. “Within hours, the office staff had gathered a list of customers with orders in progress and contacted them through their personal cell phones to notify them of the situation. A generous friend offered space for a temporary office location at his place of business. Everybody worked tirelessly through the weekend and by Monday morning we were in contact with our friendly competitors who agreed to outsource work for us in order to keep not only our business running, but also help our customers keep their projects moving forward.”
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Clifton though was determined to rebuild CCF following the company’s “trial by fire.” Although unforeseen builder problems resulted in an almost yearlong construction delay, CCF had business interruption insurance so production employees were paid. Clifton adds that the office staff never missed a day of work. The foreman also came in every day and helped research the new equipment. “I can’t say enough about them and their dedication,” he says.
The company moved into its new building on Sept. 21, 2015. “The shop is up and running in a larger facility, with all new state-of-the-art equipment.”
A Manufacturing Comeback
In rebuilding the drawer manufacturing facility, CCF increased its space by more than 7,000 square feet, to now 23,500 square feet. It also used the opportunity to change the layout for production flow. CCF went from one to two straightline Oliver ripsaws and upgraded to an Omnitech CNC router. Other key equipment includes: a Holz-Her beam saw, Cameron quick chop system, two 25-spindle Dodd dovetailers, an increased capacity dust collection system, and a Dubois UV finishing line, among others.
CCF is well known for its dovetailed drawers, which are manufactured to custom specifications. The broad selection of materials includes wood species such as: walnut, cherry, red and white oak, beech, soft and hard maple, plus poplar and 9-ply Baltic birch, which is a big seller, says Clifton. Ultrafoil, melamine and plywood are also offered. Drawers come: finished and assembled, finished and unassembled, assembled and unfinished, unassembled and unfinished and with or without bottoms.
Custom options also include: personalized laser engraving, edgebanding, undermount drawer slide notching, front and side scoops, file slots with or without bars, and drawer slides from KV, Blum and Sterling. Specialty drawers are also available.
“Customer service in our business is key. From the quote to getting information, to creating the product and delivering it, is key in our business and what made us successful,” says Clifton. “We know it isn’t just about making a box. It is service and quality that sets us apart and it’s good to know we have 100 percent control again.”
Clifton says his longtime experience has helped him to lead CCF through the adversity and on its road of success. He began his woodworking career in 1982 as a custom woodworker, producing furniture and store fixtures. In 1995 the focus switched to producing custom wood drawer boxes for furniture, cabinetry and closets, and CCF Industries was born. In 2003 growth and expansion led to the company’s move from Verona, PA to Apollo.
“Our background in custom furniture gave us just the right experience to produce custom quality wood dovetail drawers. We feel CCF knows exactly what our customers want,” he says.
The company markets primarily to customers in the East Coast as well as the Midwest and beyond. “With the new facility our capacity is greater than ever,” Clifton says. “The facility is great. It lends itself to high-quality production and we have room to grow.
“We have made a big investment,” he adds. “We are back and happy to say better than ever.”
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