Tzvi (Harold) Morantz had more than a quarter century of cabinetmaking under his belt when he moved his business from Canada, to south Florida about five years ago. With that experience he also brought a special niche market and penchant for practical and creative business solutions.
An Orthodox Jew, Morantz had long marketed kosher kitchens to the large Jewish community in Montreal, and he continues that special service in Florida. Observant Jews wanting to keep kosher in the kitchens need separate areas for meat and dairy products, Morantz explains, so he has developed designs and strategies for effectively meeting that need. He did up to 40 kosher kitchens a year in Canada. "I was the only Jewish Orthodox cabinetmaker in Canada," he says.
He's building fewer kosher kitchens in Florida, but he's also setting up to offer his kosher kitchen design services to a wider audience. Kosher kitchens typically mean doubling up on sinks and cooktops to separate meat and dairy areas, but it can also entail separate and special storage facilities as well.
Beyond kosher kitchens, Morantz also is getting into doing a lot of green, which he says has started to pick up. Still, Florida has been hard hit by the economic downturn, and Morantz is no exception.
"There were 12 shops in this industrial park last year," he says. "Now there are two left standing."
One of his creative solutions was to share his well-equipped 2,400-square-foot shop. He posted a notice at a local distributor and found another woodworker to share the space.
The other woodworker pays half the rent, electricity, garbage, and a small fee to get full use of the space and machines. They also split maintenance costs. Morantz says the system has worked out well for him, cutting his overhead dramatically.
In addition, he promotes outsourcing services to other shops in the area. "There are two or three small shops I regularly do cutting and banding for," he says. Networking comes naturally to Morantz, and he is an active member of the Cabinet Makers Association. He's also part of Sawdust Soup (www.sawdustsoup.com), the new professional woodworking social network.
Morantz does everything using frameless construction techniques and is a firm believer in good equipment. When he sold his shop in Canada to move to Florida, he was able to pay cash for new equipment to outfit his new shop. Most of it was purchased from Adwood, including a Casolin sliding table saw and Cehisa edgebander.
For joinery construction, Morantz uses a Detel 44-spindle double line borer with drill-through attachment. He also has a Detel pocket hole cutter that he uses for drawer box construction.
Markets and marketing
In Canada, Morantz was so tied into the Orthodox Jewish community that he got all the business he could handle by word of mouth. Getting started in Florida, he's invested more in marketing and diversifying his markets.
He has a good Web site (www.morantzcabinets.com) with an extensive gallery showcasing his work. He produced a video that shows off his kosher kitchen specialty. Recently he has also gotten involved in a new product: Zoom Rooms. This is a new design for concealing a modern bed system in cabinetry.
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