Now in its 28th year, the WOOD 100 details the strategies put in place by 100 North American wood products manufacturers to grow their businesses. Here’s what some of the firms involved in the closets and home organization industry had to say.
 
Customer service strategies
Closet America, Landover, MD —  The firm has earned numerous accolades for its service and sales, including listing on Angie’s List Super Service and Best of Houzz, the Guild Master Award, the Qualified Remodeler Top 500 Remodeling 550 and Top Place to Work 2017 by the Washington Post.
 
2016 sales were up 37.3%. “Much of 2016’s success for Closet America was [also] due to planning,” said Josh Kiernan, marketing manager. “Prior to the start of the year we built a detailed plan for staffing, leads, leads by source, cost per lead, installations per month, etc. Then we planned our recruiting and training around those needs bringing in new hires in time to make them productive at the time we needed them. This allowed us to grow at a planned rate while maintaining reasonable lead time between sale and installation for our clients.”
 
Glenn Pope Woodworking Inc., Calistoga, CA —The custom woodworking firm specializes in cabinetry, millwork and furniture for kitchens, wineries, baths, closets and other rooms. “Working with my son, we’ve tried to provide a superior product and service to all customers,” said Glenn Pope, president. The company is constructing a new building, which will enhance its capabilities and production.
 
Enhanced productivity
Canyon Creek
Canyon Creek Cabinet Co., Monroe, WA —   Improvements in productivity and new products helped grow the cabinetry and closet producer’s sales 19.2% in 2016. “Over the last five years, Canyon Creek has implemented and upgraded to the latest equipment and production technology, focused on standardizing and improving manufacturing production processes,” noted Cindy Draper, marketing manager. “This has eliminated redundancies and variances in cabinet parts and has provided customers with consistent, dependable and quality products.”
 
Among the equipment upgrades in 2016 “for quality, efficiency and capacity” were CNC routers, a panel saw, sanders, and dovetailers. Planned and made purchases in 2017 include: a veneer sander, paint mixing system and frameless assembly equipment.
 
 Inova LLC, Altamont, NY —  “We attribute our success over the last year to Lean Principles, introducing new products and focusing on reducing defects,” said Sarah Bucey, director of finance at Inova, a maker of multi-functional furniture for hotels, student housing and micro-apartments, including Sofa-WallBeds, TableBeds and WallBeds, as well as cabinetry.
 
“Our director of Operations greatly increased productivity by adopting lean principles and 5S into our daily work lives. He encourages employee development and promoting within, which has also encouraged better work from our staff.”
 
In 2016, Inova installed a second production line, with a (Stiles) Holzma saw, Homag edgebander, and two Weeke CNC machines. And in 2017 Inova added a master line with multiple sub-lines feeding off an Intellistore panel management system, and a Makor spray system.
 
The Closet Doctor, Lincoln, CA — Customer service, “beyond their expectations,” helped the storage solutions firm’s sales grow 6.3%. “We achieved this through a lean sales and design process as well as focusing on Lean manufacturing techniques that allow us to meet our customer’s needs quickly and more economically than our competition,” said Derrek Holland, president. “We do this by choosing great employees and growing together to be a better company.” New equipment included a Biesse nested CNC.
 
Caldwell Cabinets of NC LLC, dba Caseworx, Hudson, NC — The custom cabinetry, millwork, closets and components firm grew a whopping 254.8%. “We focused on efficiency, from estimating through installation, and recognizing the talent to place individuals in roles where they can be successful,” said GM John Bostian. In 2016, the company purchased a larger spray booth to increase finishing capacity and a grinder to eliminate scrap disposal costs. Focus this year is on software and hardware to streamline processes.
 
Investments in technology
Closet Creations
Closet Creations Inc., Sleepy Hollow, NY —  In addition to crediting his staff for much of the company’s success, Owner Chris Giampaolo said the firm ramped up production and reduced turnaround time with recent investments in high-tech machines, including a (Stiles) Weeke CNC and beam saw, Holz-Her edgebander, and a Vitap Point K2 TOP boring machine and Eclipse contour edgebander, both from Atlantic Machinery. The new boring machine will be especially integral for specialized products, such as drawer cubbies and other small parts, Giampaolo added.
 
Dream Closets Inc., Sophia, NC — “We added a second Biesse Rover CNC and diversified our manufacturing skills,” said Phill Hunt, vice president. 2016 sales rose 10.4% for the manufacturer of closet components and cabinet parts for wholesale & retail.
 
EncoreGarage, East Dundee, IL — President Tony Scaletta credits investments in technology, including an SCM Pratix CNC router, SCM K600 edgebander and Nederman dust collector, with improving productivity of the custom garage cabinets and spurring 15.0% sales growth in 2016. The garage enhancement firm has affiliates in six locations around the country.
 
Wood Inc., Edmonton, AB — “With a focus on just-in-time manufacturing, and smaller batches, we were able to increase our throughput with the same amount of employees,” said Andrew Hibbs, president. “We also invested in a zero-joint edgebander, which allowed us to outsource less.” Sales grew 11.1% for the company, which manufactures cabinetry for its Wood Inc. brand, closet components for its Stow Storage line, as well as cabinet doors. In addition to a Homag airTec edgebander and widebelt sander obtained in 2016, 2017 purchases include a Homag IntelliStore and 5x12 nested CNC router, plus an on-demand packaging machine.
 
Drawer Connection, Mesa, AZ — Sales for the custom dovetail and dowel drawer box maker rose 5.5% in 2016. Technology investments include a Biesse Selco WN in 2016, and a Dodds CNC dovetail machine in 2017. “We supply product to custom, commercial and institutional casework manufacturers as well as closet and home storage manufacturers,” said Steve Harmon, president/CEO.
 
More business tips
Northern Contours, St. Paul, MN — “Delivering strong revenue growth across multiple product lines and market channels while also increasing productivity and remaining nimble is challenging,” said Missy Sjerven, director of marketing for the multi-million dollar components firm, which recorded a 2016 sales growth of 4.7%. “We ask a lot of our employees and want them to continue to be empowered and engaged in our business.”
 
She added, “In 2016-17, we focused internally and launched a company culture initiative that aligns with our business strategy. The ALL IN campaign was developed to hire, reward and promote people who consistently demonstrate what it means to be INnovative, INvested and INspiring. Semi-annual meetings with every employee help drive the message and create an engaged workforce who care about our business and most importantly, our customers.”
 
Drawer Box Specialties, Orange, CA — The components maker attributes its success to customer service and delivering custom drawer boxes in five business days, said David Bell, marketing manager.
Diplomat Closet Design, West Chester, PA — “We’ve spent time finding the right hires and have a low employee turnover,” said Ryan Lindstadt, president. “Our tenured employees know our process well and work with incredible efficiency.” The storage organization firm has also spent time cross training employees. We’ve also added a few key employees since last year to fill in voids that would typically slow down our production. Sales grew 30.9%, and 2017 plans call to add equipment.
 
Product innovations
Bella Innovative Modern Cabinetry, Ft. Wayne, IN —  A division of Chadwick Industries, Bella IMC is among the first in the industry to incorporate Lockdowel fastening technology in its RTA cabinetry. “There was no doubt in my mind that this was a game changer for us,” said Chad Shelton, president of Bella IMC and Chadwick Industries. “We’ve invested over $750,000 and climbing to change everything to this system.” Sold nationwide through an online ordering system driven by Allmoxy, Bella IMC frameless cabinetry can be ordered online in customized sizes. 
 
JB Cutting Inc., Mt. Clemens, MI — A number of factors helped drive the custom component maker’s 16.7% sales growth, noted Christina Relyea, sales & marketing manager, including “bringing on new colors to match what major TFL manufacturers were developing, and honing in on processes for increased efficiency and productivity.”  JB also hired a business coach for employee development. Products are targeted to store fixtures, healthcare furnishings, cabinetry and home storage.
 
These firms were among those profiled in the Leadership edition of FDMC, published in mid-October. To view coverage on all 100 companies and their strategies for success, visit WoodworkingNetwork.com/WOOD-100.
 
Interested in being featured in the next WOOD 100? Submissions are free. For information, please contact Karen.Koenig@WoodworkingNetwork.com.