When asked what Cabinet Max does well, Ken Gretz responds two ways. As a business, the company manufactures quality plastic laminate casework. As a company, they maintain good personnel, continue to build a high-quality product, and provide excellent installation of finished goods.
Attracting and keeping good people are a priority for the Baltimore company. Cabinet Max’s market is laminate-clad cabinetry, countertops and custom casework primarily for the healthcare industry, but also for other markets. Most work is done with general contractors, sometimes directly for customers.
President of Cabinet Max Ken Gretz explained his strategy.
“Word of mouth has gone a long way, as well as social media, Craigslist, and Indeed,” he said. “Fortunately, we’ve found individuals over the years, have treated them well, and they’ve stayed.
“We’ve had a couple employees recruit others they’ve worked with in the past, which has also been a nice avenue for finding talent.”
Currently 34 people work for the company. There are also eight to 10 installers who are subcontractors, not direct employees. Gretz said one custom mechanic/cabinetmaker has been with the company since 1985.
Both older and younger employees have their strengths.
“The older employees seem to have the better basic work ethic, and are typically more content with coming in daily, putting their heads down and going to work,” Gretz said. “The younger employees tend to have more initiative and drive to learn more of the technology that most of the machines have to offer.”
Younger employees are better at technology, and technology-based items. “They excel better and faster than some of the older crew at computer skills, technology based equipment, and functionality of the machines,” Gretz said.
So it makes sense to use that technology to get younger people in the door.
Custom backlit reception desk in the pediatric department at a Maryland hospital. Tops and ledge are quartz and vertical piece above backlit acrylic panels is 8/4 maple.
“Technology-based equipment, as well as the opportunity to excel, also helps. We like to promote from within when looking for ‘office-based’ employees, which I believe adds an additional ‘draw’ to younger people when considering a position.
“We currently have five or six people in the office (myself included) that have started by working in the shop, have excelled, and are now working as estimators, engineers, project managers and even the president (myself)!”
As an example, one of Cabinet Max’s project managers, who is a very good mechanic/cabinetmaker, moved into the office. He had three sons; one of which is in their early to mid-twenties, the other in his thirties, which was a nice start. After some time, they brought another person or two in, around the same age, which also helped as they were their friends. They’ve also turned out to be good employees.
Gretz said he is also fairly young, so that is definitely a draw from new hires, because they know that the owner is going to be around, and doing this for a long time
As far as CNC equipment is concerned, Gretz said the ease of use and technology features are themselves attractive to younger employees. “There is no doubt (technology) makes life easier, and another part of me thinks it might be the computer geek in the younger generation, needing to learn more about the process and machines”
Stanton Commons project in Washington is shown in progress. This is the first elevation of the Parklex panels installed up on a wall.
Cabinet Max uses several different types of software. Other than MS Office, they use AutoCad for the majority of drawing functions. FileMaker Pro is used for a lot of the processes, which would include estimating, engineering and production (for data entry, tracking and shipping).
The company uses Pattern Systems for producing the work orders for straightforward square boxes and cabinets. Top Solid is used for the majority of their ‘custom’ work, which is a true 3D modeling software. They also use Foundation for all accounting processes, including some of the administrative work associated with project management.
As far as the flow or work, Gretz said it starts with the estimating department. Invitations to bid are received and organized in FileMaker (FMPro for short).
“If we decide to bid, a quote number is generated by FMPro, and a quote is provided using the same,” he said. “If awarded the project, submittal drawings are generated (in AutoCad), and submitted for approval. Once returned, and approved, work is run thru Pattern Systems and work orders are created.
All components for those products are optimized thru CADCode, and all necessary machining and parts are created, and sent to the appropriate machines for the manufacturing process to begin. Our production manager is responsible for tracking all of the current and future work orders at any given moment in the shop.”
Cabinet Max makes custom casework and millwork, and their niche market is laminate-clad cabinetry, countertops and custom casework primarily for the healthcare industry.
Box side and custom side
All square boxes are sent through Cabinet Max’s “box side”, which has a lot of the larger equipment, such as a Schelling FH 6 panel saw, Holz-Her 1329 edgebander, Holz-Her ProMaster CNC, and Gannomat 470 dowel inserter.
Custom orders and items are sent thru the “custom side” of the shop, and will typically go right to the Weeke Vantage 360 flat table router to cut/rout all of the necessary parts or components needed for the custom assembly. Once everything is complete, they have a 10,000 square foot staging area, which also houses the finishing department, where the work is staged until it’s ready to go out the door.
Work orders are organized in that area, and designated for a delivery date, at which point finished goods are loaded on one of the company’s 18-foot box trucks and delivered to the site, where installers are typically waiting.
“Since taking over in 2014, I have added our company website, a Facebook page, and have been persistent in upgrading our current equipment in an effort to stay on top of technology, and maintain new machinery and the software associated with it,” Gretz said.
One key addition was a spray booth, plus other equipment, such as a JLT drawer clamp, another 18-foot delivery truck and a delivery van, all of which help get the product out the door.
“We are also starting to utilize the Weeke Vantage router for more nesting-based operations on the box side, so we have two sources for cabinet manufacturing, rather than forcing everything thru just the panel saw. “
For the future, Cabinet Max plans to buy a larger building, continue to expand the business, and eventually do more of the solid surface work in house, which they are currently subbing out.
How should companies promote themselves to potential employees? “Promote yourself as utilizing technology, and look for people who appear to be honest and promote themselves well,” Gretz said. “Social media is always another avenue for broadcasting the need for help. First, find the right people!”
All square boxes are sent through Cabinet Max’s “box side”, which has a lot of the larger equipment.
Product: Laminate casework and millwork
As far as CNC equipment is concerned, the ease of use and technology features are themselves attractive to younger employees.
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