The recession has been especially tough in Michigan, and Joe DeLude of Cabinet One has emphasized education to keep sharp on the software tools he needs to be competitive.

“Michigan has seen a decline since 2000 and the last two years have been (especially) bad,” he says. “With less work around it has put downward pressure on prices. All jobs have tight margins.

“We upgraded our design software to give better presentations to help us close more sales,” he says. “Without sales, it does not matter how efficient you are.”

Cabinet One makes contemporary frameless casegoods installed in high-end residential homes and businesses. Most customers are in southeast Michigan, but DeLude says the Clarkston, Mich., company has done jobs as far afield as Florida, Texas, Nevada and California.

DeLude says the company has been successful in getting referrals -- and keeping repeat customers. “There are many good cabinet shops around,” he says. “You need to deliver quality and provide great customer service on every job. Some customers have been with us over 25 years. They return to us for cabinetry in other rooms or when it is time to buy a new house or remodel.”

Software semester 

DeLude believes keeping current on software has consistently helped the company. Cabinet One used manufacturing software such as Product Planner, CutPlanner, Drill-Mate and Label Planner from Pattern Systems International since 1984.

“I have always liked their products. They did a good job for us and the support was always top notch,” DeLude says. “I also used their design program Draw Power, but it was geared for commercial work and our focus at the time was residential. We used another design program by a different company for our residential jobs but it did not link with our manufacturing software.”

A few years after 20-20 purchased Pattern Systems International, DeLude says that Cabinet One looked at a 20-20 Design CAD demo and purchased it.

“I went through the tutorial book and made some basic drawings,” DeLude says. “I was always one for rolling my sleeves up and learning software programs on my own.”

DeLude found out about training courses in Grand Rapids, Mich. “They offered a basic and advanced class. Since I already did the tutorial I thought I was ready for the advanced course, but they talked me into the basic course. It was a wise decision. I learned a lot there and when I was done, I could not wait for the advanced course.”

DeLude also had a new outlook on training. “It was better to spend a little more on education and get the software up and running right from the start.”

At first, DeLude was “a little leery” of buying 20-20 Design, in part because every home center has it.

“If you take the training courses you can make the program do a lot,” he says. “Although 20-20 Design has been a great drawing program for our kitchens, baths and wall units, we needed something more for our one-of-a-kind units and curved jobs. This is when we looked into and purchased ShopWare CAD. I felt it would add to the level of detail I was looking for in my drawings to help close more jobs.”

For ShopWare CAD training, DeLude had the option of classroom training in Laval, Quebec, or web sessions. “I went with the web classes and it was great, two hours a day, I did not have to leave work, no travel expenses,” he says. “The main reason I bought ShopWare CAD was for great presentations and detailed shop drawings and I achieved this.”

A bonus for Cabinet One came when drawings could be sent from ShopWare CAD to CNC equipment in the shop for processing without having to re-enter any information. “This has been great for producing one- of- kind- pieces without having to add them to a library of cabinets for processing, as we had to do in the past,” DeLude says.

Information on the shop floor 

DeLude and co-owner Carolyn Frericks employ three production employees and one installer. In the Clarkston shop, Cabinet One has a Striebig vertical panel saw, Holz-Her edgebander, Busellato point-to-point, and Accu-Systems drill and insert machine.

After the design is approved the job is imported into Product Planner for cutlist generation. One feature in Product Planner is the product buyout report that lists all the hardware needed. Cabinet One can pull stock and order anything needed, so it arrives by the time the parts are ready for assembly. The cutlists are optimized in CutPlanner at the same time the drilling programs are generated in Drill-Mate.

After the saw operator cuts the parts he applies the labels made with ShopWare QuikTrak Parts. The labels will spec which edges will be banded at the edgebander. In addition, the labels have bar codes for the point-to-point, drill, and insert machines.

Before labels were used there were always some parts being mixed with other jobs that had to be found. At the assembly area employees grab the hardware needed from the reports and install it before assembly. In the assembly area, doors are installed and product labels are applied before the product is wrapped for shipment.

The company uses basic sheet goods, solid lumber, thermally modified lumber, and metal frames, which are made in house for medical cabinets. Finishing capability includes a spray booth with Kremlin spray guns and M.L Campbell products.

Cabinet One does some iroko and teak drain boards designed by Pete Walker from Proximity Design Systems in California.

“We teamed up with Pete to build a dealer network outside of Michigan,” DeLude says. “We have cabinets in a showroom in South Pasadena, and are developing other areas.

To help capture work in other parts of the country we have purchased Catalog Tools and are working on an electronic catalog we can distribute to dealers. There are many cabinet showrooms out there that already are using 20-20 Design, and with our own catalog to give to dealers it will give us a professional presentation. Image is everything. We can look like a large company for a small price.

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