In this economy, it seems there is always someone out there with a lower bid. Antique & Modern Cabinets has focused on its own costs in a number of areas to keep it competitive with these too-low-to-be-real bids.

 “We’ve had to lower every number you can think of,” says Antique & Modern’s Ben Patterson. “From our suppliers to lowering the cost of installation that we would normally charge.”

 Equipment and software upgrades have been at the center of the effort to cut costs to compete with low bids.
“If we were doing things the old way, I don’t know how we could do the job for less, and some of the competition seems to be doing work for free,” Patterson says.

 The Jacksonville, Fla., company specializes in custom projects, including cabinets, reception desks and conference tables. “ We meet time frames/deadlines and have good customer service,” Patterson says.

 Antique & Modern works for general contractors that serve customers in medical, schools, banks, tenant build outs and private firms (mostly law firms). The company does mostly commercial work with a small percentage of residential (5 to 10 percent).

 Previously, every job that went through Antique & Modern was drawn on paper. Today, Patterson says the process starts with the office personnel inputting the job into Microvellum software. The items for that job then are divided into groups to be built by the CNC router or a by a skilled employee in the shop. The work split depends on the job. There are still some items that are too complex or just don’t make sense to put through the CNC router.

 “We use Microvellum software to feed our CNC and drill/dowel machines. It has been a great change to increase speed and accuracy,” Patterson says. “Accuracy (is the main advantage) over speed. It’s fast if you know how to use it, but it does take time to (learn). Basically, the little extra work you do up front, takes out (the inconsistencies). When five different people were sending out jobs, others could interpret drawings differently.

 “With Microvellum, what you put in is output into the CNC router. It puts out what you put into it, whether it’s good or bad.

 “We also upgraded our shop with new machinery: Biesse Rover G router, Accu Systems HPJ drill and dowel machine and Biesse Cosmo case clamp.

 ”The equipment upgrades were a big cost savings for us, and allowed us to lower prices.”

 The Rover cuts flat cabinet material (up to 5’ x 12’) and basically cuts out every part of our laminate casework. The machine is extremely reliable and fast. It also eliminates any consistency problems we were having before we bought it. The front end labeling option is also a great feature that eliminates human error and labor.”

 Antique & Modern’s 25 employees work in a 40,000 square foot shop in Jacksonville. Finishing, both stain and paint, is also offered here.

 Patterson says the company survived the economic downturn by looking at costs all over the plant. “We did other upgrades, like lighting that is more energy efficient,” he says. “We’re trying to take other steps to reduce costs.”

 Patterson says that business was looking good a few months earlier, then slowed down. He expects a slow 2012 first quarter, but is seeing tenant buildouts and jobs being bid that would suggest a stronger second quarter. Finance and medical are still looking strong for later this year, and the company is picking up some business from private firms building out.

 “Right now, we want keep our prices competitive and get more efficient to hang around until the economy turns,” he says.

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