Many of the success stories during the recession have come from companies that have been flexible enough to recognize an opportunity.

Select Veneer has become more focused in its business over the past two years by listening to its customers, and has added capabilities and product lines to better support its customer’s needs.

The Smithfield, Ky., company was recently named the WMIA’s Innovator of the Year. The company’s Ryan Waldo says that WMIA member companies helped shorten Select Veneer’s learning curve with new equipment, processes and efficiency gains.

“By adding the machinery, software and staff we have positioned ourselves to manufacture ready-to-install millwork to millworkers,” he says. “On these projects we provide premium materials under the current market value at a shorter product-to-market cycle. (We) have had to adjust to the new demands of each project.”

Waldo says that today’s millwork producers face a special set of problems. A slow economy has forced downsizing. When millwork companies get a large project, they are short staffed and need help, or may not have the shop capacity to produce the work quickly. Also, in-house labor rates may take them out of a competitive position.

“The value we offer is to do more work in our facility to reduce our customers’ labor costs in the field,” Waldo says.

One project was to make sub frame assemblies on their CNC equipment. Select Veneer’s wall panels attach to them so the labor hours in the field are reduced considerably.

“We manufacture furniture, vanities, headboards, built-in closets, doors, door frames, acoustical wall panels, architectural wall panel systems, work stations, casegoods, running trim, bars, curved panels radius panels, components and knock-down assemblies,” Waldo says. “We are focused on woodworking but we have capabilities to incorporate decorative metals, glass and plastic laminate.

Select Veneer still has a log and lumber division, veneer division, face division, and plywood division. A custom division is the newest addition.

“Since we have a very large manufacturing capacity and vertical integration we have been able to produce orders and offer millworkers a better value than our competitors,” Waldo says.

In 2008, we visited Select Veneer, primarily to see a new plywood processing line. At that time, the company’s primary business was producing veneer, custom panels and plywood for millwork, store fixture and furniture customers.

Since that time, Waldo says the company has reduced the number of general labor positions and has hired more skilled woodworkers, project managers, engineers, schedulers, quality control people, draftsman, CNC programmers and finishers. The company has 55 employees. 

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