Bringing the hottest semi-custom and custom cabinetry options to market quickly at a competitive price is helping W W Wood Products Inc. capture market share and increase sales. In 2006 the company reported $86 million in sales and for 2007 sales are up 15 percent.

Sequoia, a basic cabinet line, is up 35 percent this year, and Shiloh, a semi-custom to custom cabinetry line has also seen double-digit growth.

By tapping into what customers want custom cabinetry options at semi-custom prices, W W Wood Products is rapidly expanding in a competitive market during a residential housing downturn.

Key differentiators

Instead of introducing new product lines, the Dudley, Mo., residential kitchen and bath cabinetry manufacturer is expanding its existing brands. Between glazes and paints, W W Wood Products has more than 250 finish combinations.

"Customers love having more finishes to choose from," says Ken Carmode, vice president of sales and marketing. "Our competition doesn't offer as many finishes as we do at our price point for the semi-custom market."

A custom division to build specialty pieces was added last year for its Shiloh brand. "These pieces aren't built to order," Carmode says. "We build them as standard items that are customizable."

This path has helped W W Wood Products compete against customized cabinetry companies while providing a broad range of products. "Right now we're expanding our line of semi-custom hoods and we added an island program."

Ever-expanding manufacturing

Because of continual growth, the manufacturer is constantly expanding its capabilities. In the past year, W W Wood Products added 200,000 square feet to its Shiloh and Sequoia manufacturing plants. "In 1998 we had approximately 150,000 square feet of manufacturing space, we now have more than 1.2 million square feet," Carmode says.

As the company grows, it's investing large amounts of capital in new equipment to improve the manufacturing process. In the past year, W W Wood Products added two Cefla finishing lines, a Weeke BHX 500 machining center, a Heeseman sanding line and a five-axis router. "The machining center replaced line boring equipment, and the two finishing lines reduced the number of spray booths needed as well as workers," he says.

Most of the manufacturer's production is done in house as a quality control measure, but only as long as it's a competitive advantage "We are constantly evaluating our processes and outsourcing will be used if it gives us an edge over the competition," Carmode says.

Challenges ahead

Currently, the company is focused on keeping sales up in a slumping housing market. Strong sales in the eastern U.S., a new market for the company, have contributed to W W Wood Products' recent growth. "We want to build our sales in the areas we're in right now before we add new areas," Carmode says.

While his short-term outlook is a little uncertain, Carmode believes the market will pick up once excess inventory in the housing market is gone. "Our dealers are reporting that the new construction portion of the business has taken a hit. It looks like 2008 will start off slow and most of the year could be slow."

However, his long-term outlook is positive, "There's always something to be sold," he says.

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