Bill Weaver, president of Canyon Creek Cabinet Co., in Monroe, Wash., has been in the kitchen cabinet business for 35 years and the last 10 years have been strong growth years. "The last 10 years were beyond anything I could imagine in the first 25 years," says Weaver.
Managing this strong growth has been a sometimes painful process. "Growth is a two-edged sword," says Weaver. "We work to grow. We work to capitalize on our opportunities. The market has been so dynamic that to get ahead of that growth is difficult."
Weaver says the company often has to react to growth, trying hard just to keep up with the changes in the market and what the consumer wants.
At the end of the 2005 calendar year, Canyon Creek showed a sales increase of 22 percent from the previous year. But looking at the company's fiscal year, April 1 to March 31, the numbers were actually even stronger, with slightly more than 24 percent growth. This year the company is already up 18 percent in sales.
The company just expanded its plant, adding 51,000 square feet and has more land to build on if the future requires it.
Focus, focus, focus
A great economy is definitely key to strong cabinet sales, but Canyon Creek never lost focus of who it was or the market segment it was in.
"When we took over the company, we made a conscious decision to go after what at the time was a semi-custom market, recognizing that over time we would move to the custom market," says Weaver. "The market has changed and the opportunities in the market have changed."
The company worked hard to evolve with the semi-custom/custom market segment. "That enabled us to capitalize on those opportunities within that segment and stay focused on that segment," says Weaver. Canyon Creek has been careful not to be lured away to other opportunities that may not have suited it as well.
"People have driven us by what they wanted us to build. We have a special projects request program, which is, in essence, a custom program," says Weaver. The company builds face-frame and frameless cabinets and offers custom colors and pieces staying within the large number of wood species it offers.
Weaver says that Canyon Creek is a producer of mid-high-value cabinets. "You get good value for the money you spend with a lot of customization."
Changes needed to handle growth are not just about changes in production, says Weaver. "You have to look at the whole company," he says. "You have to adapt inside all the time. And that isn't just in production as we historically think of it. It's where your people are, what your organizational structures look like, the duties people are doing."
People can outgrow their jobs. Then there are the adjustments you make to the production processes and equipment.
"The company as a whole is a blend of a lot of different things happening at one time," says Weaver.
One of the biggest changes was when Canyon Creek put in a new Friedman Frontier computer system more than two years ago. The company had a hodgepodge system it was constantly outgrowing. The solution to get ahead of the game was the new Friedman system.
"We spent three or four years putting it in and that was a big deal because when we looked at things, we realized we couldn't grow past $50 or $60 million with the existing system."
When it comes to keeping up with the market, it's a continual process. "Right now we're in some very intensive reinventing of what we do and trying to bring a lot of things to a head," says Weaver. "One day you recognize that suddenly the way you've been doing things over here or the way you've been structured isn't working anymore and other things are working better for you."
Weaver uses outsourcing as an example. Canyon Creek always outsources a number of its components. Because the company doesn't have a rough mill, a lot of milling is purchased already done. But with some components, what's done at one point in time may not be done at a later time.
As a business evolves, Weaver says, sometimes the company wants more control over a production process or part and sometimes it doesn't need to have control.
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