People in Haleyville, Ala., say, "Bo knows cabinets." In 1998, Door Components LLC president Allen "Bo" Knight partnered with brothers Craig and Ken Smith to form the cabinet component company.
Door Components began making components and eventually, kitchen cabinets only five years ago, so some might consider Knight a relative newcomer to the business. But numbers don't lie. In 2002, the company had sales of $14 million. The company has experienced over 20 percent growth each year of its brief existence.
Door Components started out making melamine thermoform doors with a vinyl wrap veneer and raised panel inserts for wood doors. In early 2000, the company began producing cabinets, which are offered in bulk or in cut-to-size parts from the company's own system of cabinets. It also offers RTA cabinets in a flat pack or assembled.
'What distinguishes us?'
Before Door Components began producing cabinets, Knight realized he needed something to make the company stand out in the sea of cabinet companies offering a standard builder's line of cabinets. This gave rise to the company's quick-ship program.
Considered a key to the company's success, its quick-ship program offers 75 to 80 face frame SKUs in three colors. Door Components offers customers a choice of oak with a flat or recessed panel door, a white vinyl thermoform door and a maple raised panel door. Placed orders arrive to the customer in five working days.
Knight says this program has become "very attractive" to builders in Southeastern states. Roughly 5,000 cabinets per week are shipped to Georgia, Texas, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and most other states in the Southeast through the company's quick-ship program. The cabinetry is installed in manufactured housing, modular homes, residential homes, apartments and condominiums.
Door Components also offers a line of frameless cabinetry with a two- to three-week lead time. "We sell by kitchen, by truckload, we do contract projects and we also offer an institutional line of furniture," says Knight. "All of those are to order."
Others grow too
Other, smaller cabinet shops have been able to grow because of Door Components, says Knight. By using Door Components to outsource components or entire kitchens, they are able to take on jobs that are bigger than the capacity of their shops. "They can just open the box up and put it together. Or they can buy a fully assembled kitchen or they can buy just bulk parts," says Knight.
Automation is another key to Door Components' success.
Door Components has gravitated toward heavy use of its CNC equipment because CNC routers enable the company to hold very tight tolerances on its panel products. "The more operations we can do in a particular location without moving the part, the less chance of error," says Knight.
Knight explains a scenario where this policy becomes vital. "Let's say there was a mistake made in the ordering system. Thursday afternoon, we get a call that someone's short product."
Imagine the number of people involved and the potential for error, says Knight, to start up and process the missing parts on a panel saw, a point-to-point, a toe-kick machine and a double-end tenoner in order to meet the customer's unanticipated need.
Or someone could just put the program on the router and cut it out, says Knight. "For quick ship, I'm able to make that product with one person very quickly. We can satisfy our customer without having to disrupt the whole organization."
Product through the plant
As orders come in, they are sent to MRP (manufacturing resource planning) software for procurement of materials, explains Knight. The order is also sent to manufacturing software that optimizes materials used. This information is sent to the shop floor.
Production at the company includes 75 employees and takes place in a 130,000-square-foot building. Laminated MDF and particleboard panels are cut on either a Holzma computerized panel saw or one of two SCM panel saws. Most cabinet parts are routed on the company's five Komo CNC routers, and edged on a Homag edgebander or one of two SCM Olimpic edgebanders. White vinyl thermoform doors are produced on a Shaw Almex Thermolaminator.
Product to the customer
Finished product is wrapped in bulk and put on pallets. "It's easier for us to bulk skid 12 items than it is 12 different items for a kitchen," says Knight.
"In a true program in RTA," says Knight, "you have a 'per kitchen,' where you're physically just getting a B12 or a B36 or whatever. In our system we've got set SKUs. For a pallet of B12s, there's 16 per pallet and for a B36, there would be eight on a skid."
Knight says his customers have a tracking system in their facility. Door Components has set up a unique ordering system for each customer to best serve its needs. This way, customers get what they need when they need it. "They can just cherry pick from their ordering system to build a kitchen."
Continually upgrading equipment is one of Knight's top priorities. "With attrition and newer product coming out and it being faster, smarter and more user friendly, we just have a continual upkeep of our equipment," he says.
With the exception of two or three pieces of equipment that aren't used much in daily operation, all of Door Components' equipment is quite new. "When a piece of equipment gets four or five years old for us, it's pretty much served its purpose," says Knight. "Because we think and hope that there's something out there that is better and faster, we're continually updating our equipment."
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