After years of growing sales, the cabinet industry hit a bump in late 2006, and sales declined in 2007, 2008 and 2009. The decline in 2009 was the biggest yet.

Still, there were few companies that closed completely. Cabinetec has reportedly closed its St. George, Utah, cabinet factory, and the year earlier Canac shut down its operations in Toronto.

In the Kitchen Cabinet Manufacturers Association's monthly Trend of Business Survey, cabinet manufacturers surveyed reported sales of $4.8 billion in 2009, down 28.3 percent compared to total sales for 2008.

Stock sales in this group were down 24.1 percent for the year. Semi-custom sales were down 30.2 percent, and custom sales were down 37.2 percent. The KCMA survey participants include all major U.S. manufacturers and the companies' combined sales represent more than 60 percent of the U.S. cabinet market.

For the month of December, monthly sales were down only 9.8 percent compared to December 2008. Stock sales fell 16 percent, custom sales were down 25.8 percent and semi-custom sales increased .5 percent as survey participants reported that more sales were shifted to semi-custom, reflecting a wider than usual difference between sectors. KCMA reported that this was the best month since November 2007.

In late 2009 CabinetMaker+FDM surveyed the 300 largest wood products manufacturers in North America. Here is a summary of the 10 largest cabinet companies.

Top 10 cabinet companies 

Earlier this year Masco announced that it would combine its two cabinet companies, Masco Retail Cabinet Group (KraftMaid) and Masco Builder Cabinet Group (Merillat, QualityCabinets and DeNova) to form Masco Cabinetry. The new company will be based in Ann Arbor Township, Mich. For all of 2009, the Masco Cabinets and Related Products segment reported annual sales of $1.674 billion, a decline of 26 percent from 2008. (CabinetMaker+FDM's estimate was $1.66 billion.) For the fourth quarter, sales were $426 million, a decrease of 13 percent from the same period a year earlier.

For 2010, Masco believes that business conditions will improve compared to 2009. While unemployment, foreclosures and access to financing remain concerns, the corporation believes that housing starts will improve this year.

For MasterBrand Cabinets, our estimate is based on company information. The company includes Aristokraft, Diamond, Schrock and HomeCrest. The company closed its Adams County, Pa., and Clinton, Tenn., manufacturing plants in early 2009.

American Woodmark Corp. announced that third quarter 2010 sales fell 27 percent to $89 million, and sales for the first nine months in the company's fiscal year were $294 million. The company earlier closed two manufacturing plants and suspended operations in a third. The company currently operates 11 plants.

RSI Home Products makes cabinets and vanities for major home retailers. Sales figure is our estimate. The company planned to discontinue the Prestige product line and replace it with the Trademark line.

Next is Elkay Cabinet Group, which makes Mastercraft, Medallion, Yorktowne and Schuler cabinets in seven locations.

Norcraft makes Fieldstone, Mid Continent, Norcraft, StarMark and UltraCraft cabinets. Financial reports indicated annual sales for the 12 months ended Sep. 30 were $253.6 million. The Winnipeg plant is making cabinets for the Canadian market under the Norcraft Canada brand.

WoodCrafters Home Products employs 1,500 in South Texas and makes cabinets and vanities for major home centers. It is one of few in this sector that has grown during the recent recession.

Armstrong Cabinet Products closed its Auburn, Neb., cabinet plant in December, consolidating work in its Thompsontown, Pa., location. Sales are based on the third quarter report for the cabinet segment.

For Cardell Kitchen & Bath, we were unable to confirm additional information. In late January the El Campo Leader-News reported that the El Campo factory may be closing. Wellborn Cabinet is an integrated cabinet manufacturer with everything from its own lumber processing to truck fleet.

For comparison, we broke out 30 cabinet manufacturers for which we had good sales information consistently over the past five years. This group consisted mostly of mid-size to large companies, but we left out the very largest and the smallest companies. Sales rose in 2006 to $20.91 and these companies recorded a small sales gain even in 2007, to $21.70 billion. That turned around in 2008, when sales fell to $19.37 billion. The decline accelerated in 2009, with sales down to $13.35 billion.

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