At first glance, Canary Closets & Cabinetry would appear to be misnamed. John Canary, Jr., owner of the 12-year-old shop located in Union, N.J., says that over the past few years the company has been downplaying its work on designed spaces and casegoods and putting more effort into manufacturing components and other cabinet parts.

“In 2012, we did about 40 percent of our volume with retail customers,” says Canary. “This year, we’ll be down to 30 percent, and in 2014 and beyond, we hope to hold that sector between 5 and 10 percent. Our most important clients today are B2B customers. We work hard to keep them happy, as they act as our sales agents.”

Canary says his firm still counts closets (walk-in and reach-in, both wall hung and floor mount), home offices, pantries, Murphy beds, laundry rooms, mud rooms and kitchen cabinet parts, as well as various specialty work including plastic laminate casework and commercial cabinetry, as “core products.”

But, increasingly, his enthusiasm is lavished on such key areas as five-piece drawers and door faces. Most of the work is being done in what he calls “genuine fake wood,” specifically melamine and polyester wraps. These are so good, he claims, that they even have fooled professionals at respectable distances.
Why the shift from finished goods to components? “It’s a more saleable business model,” says the owner. “We gain a better handle on costs and margins, can make truer projections, and we can grow the business more rapidly since it is more systemized, with fewer starts and stops.”

According to Canary, the key to fast-tracking the change in emphasis from retail to wholesale has been a Web-based ordering system from Allmoxy, a Tremonton, Utah-based software supplier that specializes in creating online stores for woodworking professionals.

“What they have done for us is unbelievable,” says Canary. “We now have a turnkey operation, custom-configured to our needs, our product menu, and our pricing formulas.” In 2012, sales volume reached $2.6 million, averaging almost $186,000 for each of the 14 employees, he notes.

Canary Closets & Cabinetry’s customers now create their own orders online. “Not only does this save us time and money at the front end, it also cuts down dramatically on chances for errors,” the owner explains. “Of course, we check to make sure the orders are technically correct and consistent with what clients usually buy, but if they specify the wrong part, then it’s their responsibility, not ours. In the past, we needed nine separate order entry forms to do a less accurate job.”

Since installing the Allmoxy system about a year ago, Canary’s operation has become more streamlined. “We were able to get rid of the order entry equipment we had and reduced our labor force by one person,” he says.
Also, once the order is accepted, the data is exported to a system—supplied by CADCode of Skillman, N.J.—which communicates with the shop floor, facilitates machine setup, and tracks progress via bar codes and labels. “As a result,” says Canary, “we have a smooth workflow—cut, package and ship.”

Major equipment at the 10,000-square-foot shop (about 1,000 square feet devoted to office space) includes:
Holzma HPP380 saw from Stiles
Busellato Jet 200RT router from Delmac (now Casadei Busellato)
Busellato Jet 2000XL point-to-point also from Delmac, which Canary calls the shop’s “Old Faithful”
Gannomat Index dowel inserter from Tritec
Vertical CNC Weeke BHX055 machining center from Stiles, acquired in July, 2012 (small footprint, 7 x 7 feet, approximate)
Homag KAL310 edgebander
Omal Miter 600RT miter door machine from SCM (footprint, 7 x 10 feet)
Software in use at Canary Closets & Cabinetry includes Cabnetware and Cabinet Vision CAD/CAM programs, as well as the CADCode system.

The Omal is one the most important items on this list, says Canary. Prior to acquiring the machine this past March, the firm had been buying most of its doors from outside vendors.
“We wanted to make doors in house in order to gain more control, open a new revenue source and, most significant, improve turnaround time,” says the shop owner.
Following the 2012 IWF show in Atlanta, Canary says he called John Park at SCM. “He used to take very good care of us when he was at Delmac, and I trust his judgment and his advice.”
So much so, it turns out, that Canary bought the Omal unit sight unseen. “The price fit into our budget, the machine was delivered and installed on schedule, and it has been running perfectly ever since.”
Simplicity is the feature that he likes best, Canary confesses. “With this machine, you can pull anyone off the floor, give him a few minutes of instruction, and he will run it without a hitch.”

According to Canary, the fully programmable three-axis machine is equipped with two working units—one for mitering and milling the unusual round-end tenon, and the other for machining the mortise. Average cycle time to create both mortise and tenon is approximately 25 seconds, depending on size.
“At high speed, we can produce between 300 and 400 doors per shift,” he adds. “It’s so fast, in fact, that we had to acquire a second clamp. That was our only slowdown, so now it’s full steam ahead.”

Alan Richman, former editor of Wood Digest and Cabinet Manufacturing & Fabricating, is a New Jersey-based freelance writer specializing in the woodworking industry. He has been a contributor to CabinetMaker+FDM since 2007. Contact him at [email protected].

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