Supply chain woes boost reshoring
By Emily LaPointe, Director of Marketing, Alvic USA
White modern kitchen

Working with high-quality engineered materials enable cabinet shops to skip the finish room during the production process.

Over the last several years, importing manufactured goods and materials has become costly and unpredictable. Kitchen and design professionals have reported high supply chain backlogs and increasing project costs. As a result, many are reporting project disruptions. 

While every sector of construction has felt the materials strain, the cabinet industry has been one of the most heavily impacted by supply chain issues.

To alleviate these pressures, many in the cabinet industry are focusing on improving the domestic supply chain, resulting in a steady growth of the industry in the United States. 

In a market where China has taken over roughly 40% of the materials and production, domestic manufacturers are eager to regain even more ground by sharing the benefits of working with “local” businesses. Those benefits include things such as a steady supply of goods, shortened lead times, an ability to obtain designs and finishes once only available overseas, and, most importantly, significant sales increases for cabinet makers. 

Cocina Luxe Cuzco Copper kitchen
Domestic suppliers allow businesses to not only keep less inventory but to also offer shorter lead times.

Domestic growth
While COVID-19 first nudged the industry toward domestic suppliers, the recent cost of energy in Europe — highlighted by the war in Ukraine — as well as overseas shipping and freight charges, have further driven the need to seek out manufacturers in the U.S. And cabinet material distributors are finding that through domestic partnerships, products are more readily available.

“No one wants to run out of products and be scrambling,” says Don Lorey, CEO of E.B. Bradley Co., located in Vernon, California. The 95-year-old company is the West Coast’s largest surfacing product and specialty hardware expert. “With domestic partnerships, we don’t need a 6-month supply of stock that costs thousands of dollars upfront. Plus, we were ultimately finding that the cost of freight was more expensive than the product.”

Jeff Gulledge, president of Bishop Cabinets in Montgomery, Alabama, agrees. Having provided custom cabinetry for over 50 years, Bishop Cabinets has found that domestic suppliers allow the business to not only keep less inventory but also to offer shorter lead times. 

“By strengthening the domestic supply chain, we’ve grown 25 percent over the last several years,” says Gulledge.
In addition to needing less inventory, relationships with domestic suppliers afford companies better lead times.
“Prior to COVID, many specifiers sought us out because we offered such short lead times,” adds Gulledge. “During COVID, our standard lead time tripled for semi-custom orders. Growing our domestic relationships has enabled us to significantly decrease these lead times as we’re resolving the backlog caused by the COVID lull.”

With the help of domestic manufacturers, companies like Bishop can locally source high-quality panels and doors for residential and commercial casework industries and receive products quickly. With regular reliable deliveries, production moves more efficiently.

With the ability to create cabinets more quickly and the need to stock fewer products, companies can closely follow trends, which benefits customers.

Cocina Luxe Melange kitchen
Suppliers are using manufacturers that drive the market, as those companies frequently are on the cutting edge of trends and production innovations.

Material trends
As trends drift and change, relationships with domestic suppliers have enabled companies to keep a limited inventory while determining whether their region is receptive to the new trend.

Lorey is finding that there is a noticeable trend switch, and the end market for gloss cabinet finishes is high on the West Coast. “The interest in composites is definitely growing, and we’re seeing a transition away from traditional wood,” he says.

The trend has been slower to gain traction in other regions. Bishop Cabinets has noted that only about 15% of its full-access sales are gloss and manufactured materials. However, the company has plans to drive trends and business efficiencies forward this year by working with high-quality engineered materials, as they enable Bishop Cabinets to skip the finish room during the production process.

“As sales have increased, the finish department is operating at maximum capacity, so we’re looking for other ways to alleviate some stress in that part of production,” says Eric Williams, vice president of Bishop Cabinets.

Cabinet manufacturers also are exploring textured finishes that enhance the experience of real wood and remove the maintenance and finishing required. As designers and consumers continue to support the trend of wood tones and wood looks, finish-ready, engineered products have benefits to manufacturers and end-users alike. 

The ease of working with reliable domestic manufacturers that provide regular shipments of supplies and products enables both cabinet makers and distributors to focus on service to customers and increasing sales. 

Toward the future
Forging strong relationships with local businesses not only strengthens the domestic supply chain, but it also keeps customers happy with shorter lead times and greater product availability.

With the help of strong domestic relationships, cabinet companies are looking toward brighter futures focused on enhanced customer service, quality materials, and new product development. 


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