The energetic management style of Chris Farrell, president of Inter Ocean Cabinet Company, has made this architectural millwork firm 120 years young. By revitalizing computer management systems and tweaking materials handling and installation, the 48-employee shop in suburban Chicago is a model of efficiency.

To give a quick snapshot of its latest additions, Inter Ocean uses a Weeke Vantech nested CNC router purchased in 2016, and which runs non-stop. An Autodesk Inventor applications provide fully-developed project renderings for client okays before exporting files to drive the shop equipment. A Global Shop Solutions Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) tracks activity and job status continuously.

Farrell joined his family business in 2011, working through marketing, oeprations, estimating and project management to establish his footing. Farrell’s great grandfather, Bartholomew Farrell, was among the founders of the architectural woodwork company. Bartholomew’s son, John J. Farrell, ran the company from 1945 to 1995. His son (and Chris’s father), John P. Farrell, led Inter Ocean Cabinet beginning in 1995.Then in 2015, Chris Farrell succeeded his father as president, and rapidly put his own stamp on operations.

"We're very collaborative, both internally and externally," Farrell says. "We treat each other with respect, and talk through the pros and cons of approaches to problems. 'Collaborative' is really a word that I link to."

Inter Ocean Cabinet is a union shop with locals for finishers (Painters Union), finish joiners (Carpenters Union), and machinists (Millman's Union) representing many of its workers. At the same time, employees are a healthy mix of seasoned craftsmen, and new workers who have been learning from them.

"We've been lucky to recruit some younger workers -  those in apprenticeships or who have recently completed their apprentice program," says Farrell. 

He is very active in the local chapter of the Architectural Woodwork Institute, but also connects to his peers in general business management industry groups like Vistage International and the Architectural Woodwork Institute Best Practices Group.

more than 21,000 members meet in small groups to help each other gain new perspectives and achieve excellent results. From Singapore to South Africa, our members are living proof of the power of peer advisory groups.

By connecting with local peers, Farrell has also, perhaps surprisingly, been able to draw on his comrade companies to help handle peak periods of production. 

Inter Ocean Cabinet Company will be the site of a plant tour on April 11, 2017, during Cabinets & Closets Conference and Expo in nearby Schaumburg, Illinois. The tour is sponsored by Stiles Machinery. Learn more and register here>>