Design, innovation needed to compete in cabinets

What’s the future hold for the cabinet manufacturing industry?

I looked at some of my own observations, and some social media commentary on and in the linkedin cabinet groups to get a clue.
As I wrote earlier, I counted 16 companies at KBIS selling imported cabinets, and 14 selling domestic cabinets, but the overall number of displays were still domestic. What’s encouraging, though, is that these are design-driven shows. The shows aren’t displaying the lowest-cost materials and cheapest construction methods. They’re showing designs, ideas, innovations.

Even with the drive for the lowest costs, they still need design to sell the cabinets.

It’s been written here and elsewhere that furniture manufacturing could apply the technology and principals from the cabinet industry. In a similar vein, cabinet and furniture manufacturers could learn something from the largest office/contract companies exhibiting at the recent NeoCon show. Designs and innovation are a must to compete in this market.

And with remodeling taking a larger share of cabinets, design is even more important.

Some people are starting to spend money after putting projects on hold for several years, or booking jobs that were bid more than a year ago.

Design wins

One writer commented on the need to innovate continuously, and believes in this design-based approach.A person commented that stock cabinets could be in trouble from imports, but semi-custom and custom would be more difficult to encroach upon.

And another said he could innovate faster than foreign competition could copy.

And one person pointed out that the real advantage must be pressed home: a cabinet should take no longer than a day to make – not five weeks. Delivering higher quality, reasonable cost and quick delivery are something that can’t be matched by imports.

One gentleman commented that it was “way too early” for U.S. cabinet manufacturers to throw in the towel to imports from China. A cabinet installation can have many variables and things that can go wrong in shipment or installation.

A common observation: if you try to compete on price with imports, you will lose. It is the fact that cabinets are a design-driven business that keep it from being considered a commodity.


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

Profile picture for user karlforth
About the author
Karl Forth

Karl D. Forth is online editor for CCI Media. He also writes news and feature stories in FDMC Magazine, in addition to newsletters and custom publishing projects. He is also involved in event organization, and compiles the annual FDM 300 list of industry leaders. He can be reached at [email protected].