SPRING LAKE, Mich. - Millwork firm Dynamic Wood Solutions says it is adjusting to the shifting construction market in West Michigan by taking on residential cabinetry projects. Historically the company has produced cabinetry and custom millwork strictly for commercial projects.
This has been good for business, especially in the greater Grand Rapids area with the many K-12 school bond projects and renovations at various health care and college facilities in the past six years. Recent construction and expansion in these sectors has led to a large need for downtown Grand Rapids apartment living.
Also involved in casework and store fixtures. Dynamic Wood has been able to effectively tap into that market, with the new residential cabinet trends that mimic the clean lines of health care and commercial grade cabinetry.
Two recent contract awards for downtown Grand Rapids multi-unit apartment buildings brought seven-figure revenue to the company.
"It's quite ironic. We've always considered the residential market taboo," says Ryan Gardner, the company's project director. Gardner is also a partner in the firm and oversees all bidding and project management for Dynamic Wood Solutions.
“Residential cabinets in a traditional sense, with face frames and shaker style doors, do not fit our flat panel manufacturing methods. There are also the added challenges and frustrations of smaller volume runs while dealing with homeowners that most often aren't accustomed to reviewing construction drawings and documents. For those reasons we've done our best to stay out of that market since starting the business in 2009.
“The commercial construction industry provides projects that suit our desired production capacity, which is far more effective for a shop of our size. Commercial projects tend to be more systematic, while being schedule and process oriented. And they typically have a clear design already determined. We thrive in that type of environment.”
In the past, Dynamic Wood Solutions, founded by partners Gardner, Gary Moody and Chris Abbott, would pass on bidding residential projects for these reasons. That changed when a construction manager approached them last year when he realized the cabinets in his apartment project were a similar look to the healthcare and educational projects Dynamic Wood Solutions had provided for him in the past.
"So I started reviewing the project specifications and researching the approved product lines of cabinetry in that project,” Gardner said. “I realized pretty quickly that we could build a better cabinet for the cost using our proven methods.
"With a few hardware and finish changes, we've essentially created a residential cabinet with durable commercial grade construction standards.
“The customers have the added bonus of dealing direct with a local manufacturer that has extensive experience in the construction process and documentation vs. a cabinet dealer who typically does a few kitchens at time."
This shift in residential design trends incorporate more clean lines in cabinetry. On the cutting edge of that trend are these new urban apartment projects, which also typically offer the volume of product that takes advantage of DWS’ fabrication abilities.
Manufacturing capabilities at the West Michigan company include CNC and manual machining, controlled environment staining and finishing, laminating, and millwork fabrication. Material capabilities include wood veneer, plastic laminate, melamine, and solid surface.
The company has 18 employees and has added a Giben CNC panel saw. It also has an SCM Group sliding table saw, Gannomat 50 head line boring machine, C.R. Onsrud pin router, SCM edgebander and Bosch table saw. They have a 19,000 square foot location, but since they’ve been busy they are also leasing storage space in another location.
“We’ve been able to fill a need in the West Michigan marketplace with only slight variations in our production processes from what we’ve done in the past. The customer gets a great product and we see our volume increasing. More dollars stay here in West Michigan. Everybody wins,” said company president Moody.
According to Abbott, Dynamic Wood Solutions’ operation manager, “Due to streamlining of our casework on these large volume runs, we are able to minimize set up changeovers and maximize efficiency in fabrication, which ultimately results in a quality product at a great value.”
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