Acrylic drawer inserts provide perfect fit

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Custom organization often starts with something as simple as the drawer. Whether for jewelry, ties or socks, the right drawer insert can add value and the perfect touch to a project. It’s that added touch that owners Wayne and Andrea Qualkinbush believe set and its custom acrylic drawer inserts apart.

It all started on a whim. Wayne, a retired marine and former flight simulator instructor, also worked in software development. In 2014 he decided to quit and explore what he loved doing the most – electronic engineering. His plan was to spend a year developing a few product ideas that he could take to market.

Among the equipment purchased was a small hobby laser. “I was cutting clear acrylic to hold buttons and switches on my little prototype, electronics projects. I showed it to Andrea and she thought it was really cool. Then, maybe a month after that we purchased a foreclosure that had a large kitchen with very large cabinet drawers. She got sick of all the spatulas and stuff in there, and said, ‘Can you use that laser and make me some kind of an organizer, because this is ridiculous. Nothing in the [market] will store all these things in such a large drawer.’”

That query sparked the idea to create custom drawer inserts. “It took me a couple days,” to draw using Solidworks, a CAD program, Wayne says.

Without the machines in place he made every little notch, hole, tab and fingerjoint by hand, then super-glued the pieces together. “It was time consuming,” he says. “[Andrea] said, ‘That’s perfect,’ put her things in it, and then we both kind of looked at each other and knew we might be onto something. We sat down and just kind of hashed out: Is this a business model? We figured yeah, I think it is.”

In quick order Wayne and Andrea came up with the concepts, partnered with  software firm NewMedia Denver for the programming, and got to work.

Easy to design

While they could have gone to a cabinet shop to find an organizer, it would have been expensive. “I also didn’t know if you could even make them the [needed] size,” he says, adding, “It was going to be a hassle calling somebody and trying to explain what we wanted.”

It was that line of thinking that made them realize they wanted something that was not only highly custom, but easy to design. Something so easy, he says, “even grandma could design it.”

“If we already know all the joint particulars, and how these things are going together, the customer doesn’t have to have anything to do with that part of it – that would be all automated. All we really needed from the customer was, ‘How big do you want it,’ and ‘Where do you want the walls to be?’ That simplifies the design of this whole thing tremendously.”

A website was developed where customers could sign on and design the organizer themselves. launched in October 2015.

Production began in an estimated 1,700-square-foot outbuilding on their residential property. “We went live, and then we got an order, I think, the day after we opened. I had very little advertising.”
The firm has grown steadily since, moving to a 7,000 square foot production facility last July, and with five full-time and two part-time employees. They have the capacity to make about 200 organizers a day, running two shifts. To-date approximately 75 percent of business is from Google search and they are working on expanding to more direct marketing this year.

The company is also looking to work with designers, builders, and kitchen and bath professionals, which is one of the reason it exhibited at KBIS 2017.

“Since we designed the software to be easy it made sense that we could go right to the consumer,” he says. But they soon realized “it would be much more beneficial if we could get resellers and designers involved, because they could become a defacto sales arm for our company.” announced a business partner program at the show as an effort to broaden the different ways for the company to get the word out about its product.
“We have talked to a lot of closet manufacturers who are interested in working with us,” Andrea says.

“Neither one of us comes from an organizing background – we completely stumbled on this by accident,” she adds. “We’ve always dabbled in owning businesses, but we had realized how many voids there are in the organizing world: in the medical profession, in hotels, in restaurants, closets, homes, bathrooms, offices. It’s pretty crazy that this particular thing hadn’t been solved on a small scale.
“What people have [otherwise had] to do is go and design one organizer, have a mold made, and order thousands and thousands. They [didn’t have] the opportunity to quickly and affordably design exactly what they want, get it in a reasonable amount of time, and just get one if they want to. That’s the void that we’re looking to fill.”

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About the author
Michaelle Bradford | Editor

Michaelle Bradford, CCI Media, is Editor of Closets & Organized Storage magazine and Woodworking Network editor. She has more than 20 years of experience covering the woodworking and design industry, including visits to custom cabinet shops, closet firms and design studios throughout North America. As Editor of Closets & Organized Storage magazine under the Woodworking Network brand, Michaelle’s responsibilities include writing, editing, and coordinating editorial content as well as managing annual design competitions like the Top Shelf Design Awards. She is also a contributor to FDMC and other Woodworking Network online and print media owned by CCI Media.