22 strategies to grow business: WOOD 100
October 29, 2018 | 12:03 pm CDT

Changes in corporate culture and workplace procedures, enhanced market areas, partnerships and product diversification are just a few of the ways in which these WOOD 100 firms grew sales and improved their long-term business prospects. What follows are some of the methods put in place by the 2018 WOOD 100 class, which includes cabinet manufacturers, residential and office furniture producers, architectural woodworkers, wood component manufacturers, closet companies and more.

Photo: ROOMI Group

ROOMI Group Corp., Houston, TX —  Hurricane Harvey dealt a blow to the Houston area in 2017, including architectural millwork firm ROOMI Group which saw its employment levels drop from 165 to between 110-130.

Highly optimistic that conditions will rebound and the employee levels will return to their pre-Harvey days,  “Our vision is to bring in folks that are driven,” said Faisal Hussain, CEO. “This is definitely a hard gig. But if you’re driven, [ROOMI is] a great place to be because you’re challenged every day. Obviously, we provide a very professional environment, so we do want folks that are academically sound. [We also want people who] understand that communication has to be transparent, it has to be sincere. We have no tolerance for arrogance or belittling or anything of that nature. We believe in treating our employees with the same respect as we treat our customers.”

Despite the hurricane’s impact, 2017 sales grew 14.4% at ROOMI, which has a variety of large and small commercial and residential projects in its portfolio.

Photo: Stevens Industries

Stevens Industries Inc., Teutopolis, IL —  A “focus on bringing products to new markets, both geographically and to an expanded group of end users” along with employees’ skills are among the  reasons business continues to boom at Stevens Industries,  said Amanda Emmerich, marketing coordinator. 

2017 sales saw a rise of 11.4%. Stevens specializes in commercial casework and millwork. A sub-contract fabrication and TFL decorative panel supplier, the company is a single-site manufacturer of commercial cabinetry, millwork, countertops and solid surface material, specializing in large scale projects. 

Stevens also invested in machinery to improve its production efficiency and capabilities, and recently purchased property for a planned expansion to further enhance production efficiencies, she added.

Photo: Millwork 360

Millwork 360, Tampa, FL —  “2017 was a year of significant internal growth for Millwork 360,” said Jamie Burge, CFO.

“Although not reflected in sales or earnings, we spent much of the year investing capital, personnel and time into becoming an authorized Florida Manufacturer of Impact Rated and HVHZ Rated Exterior Doors.  We were also selected as the premier and sole distributor of Mastergrain Fiberglass Doors out of Canada and devoted a tremendous amount of resources to learning, training, and investing in creating awareness of this new line and opportunity.”

In addition, the maker of high-quality custom wood mouldings and doors, and distributor of premium fiberglass doors hired two engineers to “integrate a highly automated CNC router into our door scheduling to double Exterior Door capacity” and to develop custom door quoting and drawing software. Other equipment investments were also made.

“2017 was a year of learning, investing, and preparing for the increased demand in 2018 and future years,” Burge added.

Photo: Superior Cabinets

Superior Cabinets, Saskatoon, SK —  Despite seeing a market decline due to low housing starts in Western Canada, 2017 sales for the cabinet firm rose 17.4%.

 “One significant driver of this revenue correction was a major account capture of a larger residential property management company who invested significant capital into suite refurbishment and improvements,” said Shahan Fancy, corporate sales development manager.

 “This account capture was successful due to a full team alignment of manufacturing, operations and store leadership that were all nimble and did what it took to meet the specifications of the custom products and aggressive timelines requested by the client.” 

A leading manufacturer and supplier of full access kitchens, Superior Cabinets  has also won awards for its customer service and product innovations.

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Burruss Cabinets, Cumming, GA
“We raised our labor prices and cabinet cost, said Phillip Burruss, president. “Also we try to just produce high-end cabinetry.” 2017 sales grew 23.2%.

Closet Factory, Jeannette, PA
Employee skills and “implementing best work practice procedures,” helped drive 2017 sales up 20.4%, said Michelle Walters, president. The closets and storage solutions firm also invested in technology, while 2018 plans include a new, larger production facility.

Elias Woodwork, Winkler, MB
“The expansion of existing and new product lines allowed our current customer partnerships to grow, as well as to create new partnerships,” said Jeremy Funk, sales & marketing manager. He also credits “the application of our team’s ingenuity and hunger for constant growth,” with helping drive 2017 sales up 38.1% for the components firm.

JBD Inc., Sheridan, WY
In addition to expanding its market size to a radius of 500+ miles, JBD is taking on larger ticket-price projects, said Jim Bede, president. 2017 sales at the commercial casework and millwork firm rose 16.7%.

GL Veneer Co., Huntington Park, CA
Chairman Jeffrey Levin cites “strategic sourcing of  new raw materials, and the special processing of these new products,” with spurring 2017 sales growth of 11.1%  and the architectural panel, lumber products and components producer. “This has aided in our diversification, and spread of product offering, making us more integrated with our customers in our offering of options & solutions.” The company also implemented software to further control and gain feedback from operations and fine tune projections.

B & E Woodturning Inc., Lenoir, NC
The woodturning and components shop grew 11.3% due in part its employees skills. “We seek specialized skill sets for each position and have increased company benefits for employee retention,” said Sandra Poarch, vice president.

Kith Kitchens, Haleyville, AL
“We’re constantly investing in employees and equipment,” said Bret Knight, vice president sales & marketing. 2017 sales rose 19.1% at the cabinetry firm. “We’re building a brand that both the employees and customers can be proud of.”

Mill Tech LLC, Columbus, OH
Kevin Henderson, vice president at the architectural woodwork firm, credits “being proactive with customers and staying ahead of them, also company-wide systems and job costing procedures,” for Mill Tech’s business success. “We work closely with architects and owners to help facilitate and provide everything including: countertops, cabinets, custom profile units, wall panel features and standing and running trim,” he added.

Phillips Enterprises Inc., Northampton, MA
“Every project is unique, so we are constantly finding creative methods for manufacturing each new project to drive efficiency and lower costs,” said James Dean, general manager at the custom point of purchase display fixtures firm. It also works with suppliers to minimize material costs to stay competitive.

Superior Millwork, Wilmington, NC
Business is strong at the architectural casework and cabinetry firm. “We delivered a quality product, competitively priced, in the required time frame,” said Tony Gardner, general manager.

Reborn Cabinets, Anaheim, CA
“We keep all team members involved and knowledgeable about the metrics for their own departments. Everybody works toward a common goal, with specific milestones they can monitor,” said Anthony Nardo, CFO. “Our great team is the key to our success.” 2017 sales at the cabinetry firm grew 35.3%.

Duval Fixtures, Jacksonville, FL
In addition to investing in technology, “I focused my time on sales and marketing and allowed the operations to be handled by my partner. The results were clearly visible,” said Corey Dawson, vice president of the cabinetry and architectural millwork firm. 2017 sales climbed 18.0%.

Textruss Inc., Austin, TX
Keeping track of lumber pricing and maintaining quality control are among the strategies in place at the truss manufacturer, said Mike Shelton, president.

Casework Solutions LLC, New Century, KS
“A focus on our team and our team culture and making sure the entire team has the shared values and vision that it takes to stay intensely focused over time,” helped spur the cabinetry, countertop and millwork producer’s 2017 sales to 26.4% growth, said Randy Frey, member/manager.

Victor Robbins Group LLC, Hainesport, NJ
“We put an intense focus on customer’s needs, managing throughput in quality in our shop, and maintaining and training staff,” said Robert Schultz, sales/estimating at the architectural millwork and cabinetry firm. 2017 sales grew 9.0% as the company also invested in technology.

Ira’s Custom Cabinets Inc., Kindred, ND
“We pride ourselves in ‘thinking outside the box’ and making our customer’s vision a reality,” said John Giddings, president. “Since I purchased Ira’s Custom Cabinets, in 2015, we have transitioned from a production-style shop to a custom cabinet shop. This shift in focus accounts for the downturn in sales from 2016 -2017. With patience and hard work, we are on track to rebound to our 2016 gross sales figure, with better margins.”

Mill-Rite Woodworking Co. Inc., Pinellas Park, FL
2017 sales grew 3.8% at the custom architectural millwork firm. “The biggest thing we did was our internal reorganization with software and aligned ourselves with outstanding general contractors and projects,” said Gregg Marrocco, business development. “The results we noticed is that our projects came out more efficiently and our relationships grew better, and that will lead to even better things in the future.”

Wood Haven Inc., Perry, KS
“We just worked hard, paid attention to details and addressed issues quickly,” said Jim Guffey, president. Also cited has been the “ability to morph skills and machinery to fit the project.” Wood Haven manufactures high-end exterior rainscreen siding and other high-end exterior products, with projects like Wave walls and the “most crazy Tree Houses.”

The 2018 WOOD 100 is sponsored by Pollmier Inc.

Read more 2018 WOOD 100: Strategies for Success

Marketing Initiatives
Go-to-Market Strategies
Business Strategies
Productivity Enhancements
Technology Integration
Product Innovations
Customer Service
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About the author
Karen Koenig | Editor

Karen M. Koenig has more than 30 years of experience in the woodworking industry, including visits to wood products manufacturing facilities throughout North America, Europe and Asia. As editor of special publications under the Woodworking Network brand, including the Red Book Best Practices resource guide and website, Karen’s responsibilities include writing, editing and coordinating of editorial content. She is also a contributor to FDMC and other Woodworking Network online and print media owned by CCI Media. She can be reached at [email protected]