David Cutler, founder and president of The Closet Works Inc., in Montgomeryville, Pennsylvania, is in an ideal position to talk about trends in surfaces for closets and other home organization items. Cutler has been in the closet business since founding his company in early 1990. The Closet Works Inc. serves the Philadelphia five-county region, South and Central New Jersey, Manhattan and Brooklyn. In addition to its direct sales activity, The Closet Works Inc. sells products through a network of more than 40 authorized dealers in 13 states.
His firm is known for its attention to detail, innovative projects, a high close rate and great customer feedback. “We do unique all the time,” says Cutler.
“We use a wide range of surfaces,” Cutler says. “Our standard products are thermally fused melamine laminated panels. We use high-pressure laminate of all kinds, other than standard. We use metals and acrylics as well as matte and gloss finishes and a wide range of designs, including woodgrains. Registered and matched woodgrains are used so that everything is just like you were matching veneers. We also use a variety of other materials, including granite, Corian and Corian equivalents. We work with anything but solid wood.”
The company’s website goes into detail about the range of colors, finishes and textures available for surfaces. “Our different collections represent the latest offerings from some of the best and most respected brands in the industry, including Tafisa, Cleaf, Harmony, Gloss Meister, Stylelite and Wilsonart.”
“We offer more than 40 of Tafisa’s most popular, unique and beautiful finishes,” Cutler notes. Tafisa conforms to stringent environmental standards and is involved in recycling and sustainable development. Tafisa’s panels are made from 100 percent recovered and recycled wood materials and are Carb Phase 2 compliant. Tafisa products also feature a wide range of finishes. Italian-made Cleaf panels provide a “European flair” to the company’s offerings and the boards, measuring 81 inches wide by 110 inches long allow distinctive design possibilities, along with beautiful colors and deeply textured surfaces. Harmony blends distinctive woodgrain patterns with color and texture with a range of choices that include tropical woods and crosscut patterns to banded pine and oak. Merino’s Gloss Meister products offer a high gloss finish due to their PU+ coating onto a pre-laminated melamine resin treated board, which is then given three coats of UV cured acrylic polymer. The result is “surface strength plus high abrasion and scratch resistance along with a great gloss level, superb reflection and in-depth effect.”
Cutler entered the business after being dissatisfied with choices for closets for a new home he was building. “I had experience in construction and furniture making and I knew what I wanted and what I didn’t want. It was one of those moments when I said, ‘I can do this better.’” He did and enjoyed the process so much it led to starting his company.
Asked about changes he’s seen in the industry since founding his company, Cutler counters, “In what era? There have been so many different things that have changed, beginning with the nature of the business. In the ‘90s there weren’t tons of people in the business. Things were relatively straightforward. We offered six or eight color finishes. The entire atmosphere was a small business type of thing. Today, the company’s repertoire has spread to many areas of the home beyond closets. Our organization solutions include walk-in and reach-in closets, garage systems, pantries, mudrooms, laundry rooms, and offices. We also do craft and hobby rooms, wall units and entertainment centers, all manner of Murphy beds, custom furniture and dental, medical and institutional furniture.”
As for finishes, Cutler says the company offers more than 100 finishes and thousands of hardware choices. “Our innovations include all kinds of different products that set us apart. We offer glass door inserts, using both clear and decorative, and we laminate the glass ourselves and sell it at a price that is incredibly competitive.”
Cutler says work with potential clients begins with a free, no obligation in-home design consultation. “The typical consultation takes place with one of our designers visiting a potential client’s home or office to listen to what the person wants and needs. During this stage, we ask a lot of questions. It is important to know as much as we can about a potential client’s organization and storage preferences.” Cutler says they prepare computer-generated drawings, detailing the various aspects of the design to help people visualize the design concepts.
The company employs 47 including sales, production and design personnel.
Cutler says the company has a long history of using machinery from Stiles Machinery. “We have worked with them almost exclusively for the entire time we have been in business. The first machines I bought were from Ron Coe at Panel/Wood Machinery, the Stiles distributor in our area. Our equipment includes a Holzma beam saw, a Homag edgebander, a Brandt edgebander and contour edgebander, Altendorf sliding table saws and dovetailing machines, mortise and tenon machines, door clamps and drawer box clamps. We also have two Homag point-to-point automatic machining centers and a wide range of small machinery, some of which we built ourselves.”
Cutler has seen tremendous expansion in areas of the home that people want to organize. “There is nothing that is terribly new in terms of areas that we do in a home. We do tons of home offices and we do all kinds of interesting storage solutions. We just did a room for a client in a long, narrow space where we installed a series of deep cabinets side-to-side with sliding doors on each side of the room. It all kind of wraps in a U-shape and it is an incredibly interesting installation that maximizes storage capability and office utility beautifully. There are just so many things you can do with spaces to create innovative design solutions. It is almost limitless,” he explains.
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