A workcell that produced wood panel components and assembled them into finished storage products,

dueling vertical CNC machining centers and continuous demonstrations of CAD/CAM software programs were among the technology highlights of the 2014 Cabinets & Closets Expo, held April 10-11 in Somerset, NJ.

Technology was also a strong theme of the sold-out after-hours tour of Eastern Millwork Inc., while Cabinets & Closets Conference keynoter Paul Downs of Paul Downs Cabinetmakers put into perspective the challenges of running his wood products manufacturing operation from the front office through the factory and delivery of high-end conference tables. And Laurel Didier, group vice president and publisher of Woodworking Network, presented the first-ever peek of “The Mind of the Woodworker,” a ground-breaking study recently conducted by Vance Research.

An energized gathering of industry suppliers, custom cabinetmakers, closet professionals and other types of wood product manufacturers put an exclamation point on the Cabinet & Closets Conference & Expo’s success as it heads westward to the

Schaumburg Renaissance & Convention Center in Chicago northwest suburban Schaumburg, IL, April 14-16, 2015.

A Buzz in the Air
Known more for its focus on design and functional hardware, laminates and other supplies than for woodworking technology, this year’s Cabinets & Closets Expo had more woodworking equipment under power than recent CCCE events, as evidenced by a constant buzz of tools processing wood.

Felder Group America teamed up with Closets Plus to process and assemble panel components into a pantry on day one and a closet system on day two of the expo. The dimensioned blanks nested at Plus Closets’ newly equipped factory in Elmhurst, IL, were further machined in Felder’s booth using a Perfect 710 E-motion edgebander and a C Express 920 CNC machining center.

Speaking of CNC, Stiles Machinery and Holz-Her U.S. ran constant demonstrations of vertical machining centers across the aisle from one another. Stiles showcased the Weeke BHX 055 while the Evolution, Holz-Her’s first vertical CNC machining center (watch video), made its North American debut at the Cabinets & Closets Expo.

Meanwhile, Colonial Saw made short order of panel sizing on a Striebig vertical panel saw while HafcoVAC demonstrated the industrial strength of its HEPA-rated dust vacuums.

Other equipment suppliers on hand included Anderson America, Thermwood and Tritec Associates.

Software for designing custom cabinets and closets, plus for providing part programs to CNC machines, were exhibited by Cabinet Vision/Vero Software, KCD Software, Mozaik Software and Roger Shaw and Associates (RSA).

Sold-Out Plant Tour
Software is a major driver of Eastern Millwork Inc.’s (EMI) success. A busload of Cabinets & Closets Conference & Expo attendees were fortunate to score seats for the sold-out tour to EMI’s 40,000-square-foot plant in Jersey City, capping off the first day of the expo. The tour was sponsored by Stiles Machinery, JB Cutting and the Association of Closet and Storage Professionals.

EMI combines 3D building information modeling (BIM) software, technology and lean manufacturing to create interior and exterior woodwork for a wide variety of clients, ranging from corporations and educational institutions through retailers and hoteliers. EMI was featured on the March 2014 cover of Wood Products magazine.

EMI tour attendees got to see the tightly-packed plant that features a variety of CNC machinery, plus one of the first Bargstedt Intellistore panel storage and retrieval systems in North America. EMI owner Andrew Campbell said he plans to build a factory adjacent to his most recent one, with higher ceilings and space for a robotic flatline finishing system.

Inspirational Keynoter
Paul Downs, owner of Paul Downs Cabinetmakers in Bridgeport, PA, gave an extremely impassioned and easily relatable keynote presentation on the challenges of running a wood products company in an adverse economy.

Downs spellbound Cabinets & Closets Conference attendees with anecdotes that he also regularly shares as a New York Times blogger on small business issues. Downs provided real numbers of how little he made for most of his career as an owner and on the verge on bankruptcy, what he learned to manage his company’s fortunes better.

Downs stood to be the quintessential tough act to follow for Woodworking Network’s Laurel Didier, who proved to be up for the challenge in presenting top highlights of “The Mind of the Woodworker” research.

Perhaps one of the most important things to know about woodworkers is that even after a full week of work, their favorite pastime is — woodworking.

Onward to Chicagoland in 2015
The 2015 Cabinets & Closets Conference & Expo heads to the Schaumburg Hotel & Convention Center in northwestern suburban Chicago, April 14-16.

The event has already earned the support of more than a dozen CCCE 2014 exhibitors that have signed contracts to display at next year’s show including the Association of Closet and Storage Professionals (ACSP), a well as:

Colonial Saw

Elias Woodwork

Felder Group America

HandiSolutions

JB Cutting

KML Designer Finishes

Osborne Wood Products

Plus Closets

Richelieu Hardware

Sidelines Inc.

Stevens Industries

Thermwood Corp.

Titus Group America

Valley Custom Door

For more information about exhibiting at the Cabinets & Closets Expo contact Mike Litwicki of Hall-Erickson Inc. at 630-434-7779 or mlitwicki@heiexpo.com.

For more information about the Cabinets & Closets Conference and general inquiries about the event, contact Rich Christianson of Woodworking Network at 847-415-8024 or rchristianson@woodworkingnetwork.com.

To learn more about 2014 CCCE exhibitor products and news, and to keep abreast of CCCE 2015 show updates, visit cabinetsandclosetsexpo.com.

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