While many cabinet companies are experiencing a significant sales slump in response to the slowdown in the U.S. housing market, Princeton, Minn.-based Crystal Cabinet Works Inc. has not been one of them, logging an enviable 20-plus percent increase in sales in 2006 over 2005. Crystal Cabinet Works manufactures custom and semi-custom cabinetry and has experienced a steady increase in sales over the last four years.

According to Peggy Fuchs, vice president, sales and marketing, the past several years' growth in sales comes as a result of several large building contracts, the introduction of a new product and growing market share in the remodeling industry.

Three-pronged approach

Although new home construction in the United States is declining overall, construction of high-end homes continues, particularly in certain parts of the country. These are the types of homes that have always been prime CCW clients. "The past few years we've had contracts with some larger builders in the western part of the country," Fuchs says. These builders draw on the higher-end custom portion of CCW's offerings, such as Crystal, its framed cabinet line, or Quest, its frameless product.

However, CCW has not been confined to just a high-end market. It recently introduced Keyline, a value-priced cabinet line that has also done well for the company.

"Keyline has been a success for us. It's an extension of our custom line, but at a better price point," Fuchs says. "It's more limited in its offerings." The Keyline series of cabinets offers six wood choices, 16 standard finishes, three specialty finishes and 36 stylized doors.

Further bolstering CCW's bottom line is a steady increase in its market share of the remodeling industry. "Over 80 percent of our work is in remodeling," Fuchs says. "I think the real estate downturn didn't hit us as hard because of that."

Staying maximized

Fuchs notes that the variety of CCW's product line can sometimes be a challenge for the company. "Because we have such a diverse product offering, one of the challenges we often face is that of maximizing our capacity," Fuchs says. "Our finishes create certain constraints, so if we grow in one area, one part of the facility might not be ready to handle the increase in work, while at the same time another part of the facility might be in a slow period, so we're always looking at ways to keep our capacity maximized."

CCW creates all of its product in house, with the exception of the drawer box for its Keyline cabinets. "For the drawer box, we outsource a pre-finished board, but actually fabricate and assemble it in house," Fuchs says.

Among other initiatives the company is planning, CCW will be expanding its lean initiative in 2008, which it expects will both increase its efficiency and strengthen its bottom line.

Outlook for custom

Fuchs is clearly positive about the next year. "We're continuing to evaluate our product offering and are considering some new things that could make a significant impact on our sales," Fuchs says, adding "I think the custom end of (the market) is going to continue to be less affected than the more semi-custom and stock levels."

Fuchs expects sales for 2007 to be about the same as 2006, though there might be an eleventh hour surprise. "We've got one building project going on right now that could definitely impact our sales and cause us to exceed our numbers, for both 2007 and 2008."

Main location: Princeton, Minn.

Annual sales: $65 million ('06)

Rank last year: 144

Have something to say? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.