Ken Kumph has emphasized long-term relationships with customers. That has helped his company meet customer requirements while creating special designs.
Kumph, president of Premier Builders, Inc., in Georgetown, Massachusetts, started out in construction as a carpenter’s assistant, later becoming a carpenter and project manager, and an owner of a construction business.
“We’re a construction company with a millwork division,” he said. “We’ve been in business 31 years as a construction company, and our cabinet shop has been in operation 20 years.”
Premier does mostly high-end residential work and commercial interiors.
The cabinet shop came about as a result of the residential work, including custom kitchens, entertainment centers and bars. In addition to high-end residential, Premier makes office interiors, medical and dental offices, and handles remodeling. The company has 20 employees.
“We stay close to the client and make sure they get what they want,” Kumph said. “That’s just as important on the residential side, where there’s more emotion, as it is on the commercial side, where the emphasis is on schedule.”
“Many of the commercial clients started out as customers on the residential side, and they had home or large businesses or worked for businesses. They had a good contractor experience with Premier and wanted to continue that relationship.
“We’re not adversaries with the client. We’re part of the team with the designer and owner. We always respond to architects, clients, designers, homeowners or the business owners. We want the bad news if something goes wrong, or if there’s a problem.”
Kumph said that Premier is also having the new experience of working with their customer’s children.
“Now my son Matthew is working in the business,” he said. “To be able to have my son work with my client’s son is a really unique experience. It’s something I hadn’t thought about in the past, but it’s quite a rewarding feeling to see him growing as a professional, working for other professional’s children in their business or their homes. It’s been a phenomenal experience for me.”
Kumph has also had to adapt into a teaching role, which has been a rewarding part of his experience. He has two sons and a daughter. Son Matthew took construction management and engineering, later went to Wentworth Institute of Technology, and became an intern and later a project manager in Boston before coming back to Premier.
Premier is an active member of the Cabinet Makers Association, and Kumph credits that involvement with helping his own business. He has used CMA training sessions and benefitted from associating with other professionals in CMA. He also said that the association challenges its members to participate in marketing, education and training. He uses the member’s forum, where he can get a quick response to a question or problem, and conversations are archived. “The forum has been of real value to me as a business owner,” he said.
A boardroom table with teleconferencing capacity, curved veneer tabletops, concealed wire management system, integrated IT hardware, power and video connections received CMA's Wood Diamond Award.
Shop handles variety of work
Shop manager Kurt Slevoski said the cabinet and millwork operation in Georgetown is 8,800 square feet and does both panels and solid wood.
An SCMI Superset moulder makes all mouldings in house. Also here are a SCMI Sandya 35 widebelt sander, SCMI jointer, Holz-Her 1411 edgebander and a Streibig vertical panel saw. The vertical saw is not used as much since a C.R. Onsrud Pro Series CNC router was added last year. That machine now does much of the cutting.
This CNC router was a large investment for the company and was only selected after considering several other machines. Kumph visited C.R. Onsrud and liked the way the machine was made, using U.S. materials.
There was some anxiety in installing the machine, the first CNC equipment for Premier, but the operator started at the company at same time and took to learning the programming. He does AlphaCam, CabinetVision and can go out and field measure using ETemplate measuring software. They are also using KCDW.
“We only have six people in the shop and we’re doing a lot of work,” Kumph said. “The CNC has made that capacity happen.” Assembly and finishing of solid wood is also done in the shop.
“We’re not the cheapest,” Kumph said. “We know that. We’re typically competing with other competent companies. So what are we bringing to the table that’s unique? Our construction background will help on a millwork job.”
Ken Kumph, left and shop manager Kurt Slevoski with the C.R. Onsrud CNC router in the shop. It was added last year and now does much of the cutting.
In the Wood Diamond winners circle
Premier Builders won Cabinet Makers Association Wood Diamond awards every year from 2010 to 2015, and in 2013 they won three first place awards, for a fireplace surround, residential bar and creative wine cellar. In 2016, the company won two first place awards and one second place award, for commercial-institutional, garage and kitchen work.
In 2017, Premier won two Wood Diamond awards at AWFS Fair, the first in the category of commercial/institutional, furniture, over $50,000. The company made three conference tables, a boardroom table with teleconferencing capacity, curved veneer tabletops, and concealed wire management system, integrated IT hardware including built-in microphones, power and video connections. Robbin sapele veneers, sapele hardwood edging, Soss hinges and M.L. Campbell finishes were used in the project.
Kumph said that the design and shape of the conference and boardroom tables was the most unusual aspect of the design. The technology eliminated a distorted view of attendees at a meeting. He said a recent trend has been to incorporate more technology into boardroom tables.
The other Wood Diamond winner for 2017 was a little more unusual. Premier designed and built a saddle/tack horse to be used as storage in a horse barn, after seeing a saddle resting on a wooden sawhorse. The C.R. Onsrud CNC router cut out the main frame ends, and the round top was made using hardwood staves and was hand planed and sanded to its final curve. Hand-made mahogany drawers with wooden slides were incorporated with the reclaimed tung-oiled antique chestnut drawer faces. Mahogany, reclaimed chestnut, natural leather, brass nameplates and accents were used on this piece.
Wood Diamond winner for 2017 was a saddle/tack horse to be used as storage in a horse barn. The inspiration was seeing a saddle resting on a wooden sawhorse.
At a Glance
Premier Builders, Inc.
Product: Commercial and residential cabinats and millwork, construction
For more information:
Cabinet Vision, Vero Software Software
C.R. Onsrud Inc. CNC router
Colonial Saw Co. Streibig vertical panel saw
Holz-Her US Inc., Div. of Weinig Group Edgebander
KCD Software Software
SCM Group Moulder, sander, jointer
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