Designing a niche in the cabinet dealer market

Designer’s Choice Cabinetry’s niche is quality and affordability. “We build a beautiful cabinet, and you get a lot of bang for your buck”, says company CEO Jim Murfin.

The Rockledge, Fla., company makes kitchen cabinets, vanities, and closet cabinets for the dealer market.

“In working with the dealers, an order is received, we then send them a confirmation,” Murfin says. “The confirmation is returned, then the job is scheduled, built, and shipped.”

Murfin started the business in Central Florida more than 30 years ago with a partner. It was called Atlantic Cabinets. The business model today was built from Atlantic Cabinets by selling to dealers.

“The difference is that we manufacture over 50 percent of our cabinets here at our manufacturing facility but like our dealers, we also sold wood cabinets made by major manufacturers at that time. We also sold directly to builders and homeowners through a dealer/customer base.”

Designers Choice Cabinetry evolved as its own manufacturer serving Florida 18 years ago, growing so fast that Atlantic Cabinets was sold within a few years.

“Today, the smaller mom-and-pop cabinet shops that manufacture cabinets are selling cabinets made by others,”Murfin says. “The major manufacturers came to them and convinced them to sell their cabinets already made at a cheaper cost then they could manufacture them for.

“Today, the large majority of our dealers offer a line of cabinets made in China. I know of seven different companies in Florida that import containers of “knocked down” cabinets made in China,” says Murfin.

Door styles

At Designers Choice Cabinetry, 85 percent of doors are solid wood with maple, cherry and oak as the most common species, and 15 percent are veneer. In addition, an Almex Thermolaminator is producing an average of 100 foil doors a day on an MDF core.

Production is tied to assembly. The face frame and wood door departments are scheduled to work four days in advance of assembly, prep department three days, and finishing department two days. The company buys mouldings outside, but makes rails in house. There are 92 employees working in the Rockledge operation, with a total square footage of 93,000.

The company has two Biesse Selco panel saws, one an EB100 and the other a WN600, Holzma Optimat HPP 380 panel saw, one Rover 321 , two 322s, and a 346 point-to point machines built by Biesse, a Weeke 350-SP point-to-point, Komo router, Homag edgebander , Brandt Optimat KD94 edgebander. Also here is a Diehl ripsaw, Mereen Johnson gang ripsaw, two Koch dowel insertion machines and Doucet clamp carrier. The company developed a Miter-Mite VN4 custom made machine, for miter door assembly.

Programming easier

For programming and optimization products, Kacy Sindel, director of quality and engineering, says that Cim-Tech software has made programming easier. Router-Cim is used on the Komo router to optimize MDF sheets that are later used in the thermofoil process. Any cabinet components that could be cut on a saw can now be cut and drilled on the Komo.

Cim-Tech is used to program door styles, cabinet components, and foil doors. Komo is the only machine used for nested-based manufacturing. Using Cim-Tech’s specific software and g-code optimizes use of this machine. Pattern Systems is also used for optimizing on the saws.

The finishing room can produce more than 1,200 pieces a day with four finishing booths and two Cefla Falcioni Kleenspray flatline finishing systems.

“We are using regular conversion varnish, priming, painting, sealing, and topcoat,” Murfin says. “Our finish department supports a second shift, while other departments run on a split shift.

“Our recent machine purchase of a point-to-point saw has increased our horizontal drilling capability. We will be adding a new dust collection system soon. We are in the process of moving our door department to the rear of the building to ensure more linear flow in our process. “We have made quality control our number one issue. We were having color matching issues. With the addition of a chemist to our production staff, it’s no longer an issue.

“We are constantly introducing new products, adding 20 new foil colors, five new decorative melamines, and a dimensional board from Sweden. We always want to keep improving. You’re never to the point you want to be,” Murfin says.

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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].