23 Successful business strategies: WOOD 100
October 26, 2017 | 9:00 pm UTC

A corporate culture, product diversification, networking and acquisitions are just a few of the ways in which these WOOD 100 firms grew their profits. Also offering advanced training and empowering employees helps ensure a stable, and happy, workforce. What follows are some of the methods put in place by the 2017 WOOD 100 class, which includes cabinet manufacturers, residential and office furniture producers, architectural woodworkers, wood component manufacturers, closet companies and more.

Northern Contours, St. Paul, MN — “Delivering strong revenue growth across multiple product lines and market channels while also increasing productivity and remaining nimble is challenging,” said Missy Sjerven, director of marketing. “We ask a lot of our employees and want them to continue to be empowered and engaged in our business.”

She added, “In 2016-17, we focused internally and launched a company culture initiative that aligns with our business strategy. The ALL IN campaign was developed to hire, reward and promote people who consistently demonstrate what it means to be INnovative, INvested and INspiring. Semi-annual meetings with every employee help drive the message and create an engaged workforce who care about our business and most importantly, our customers."

Northern Contours is a leading manufacturer of components for the cabinet and commercial fixture industries. With more than 425 employees and a 420,000 square-foot plant, it produces batch one and large runs, with capabilities including membrane pressing, flat laminating and edgebanding, miter folding, and CNC machining. 2016 sales grew 4.7%

Kensington Garden Rooms, Atwater, CA —  Seeking to grow sales, elaborate gazebo manufacturer Kensington Garden Rooms solicited advice from CNBC reality business show, The Profit.

Along with tips on marketing and product development, including the offer of a scaled-down version for sale in home centers, Marcus Lemonis, entrepreneur and star of the show, also advised the firm on ramping up production. Among the equipment purchased was a DeWalt upcut saw equipped with a TigerStop automatic stop system.

“Adding our Garden Room is like adding another room to your home, except this one is located outside. The rooms are well equipped, typically with couches and coffee tables, a wine fridge, cabinetry, heaters and more,” said Sam Misky, sales manager.

Birdie Miller Designs, Stockton, NJ —  “As cabinetmakers and designers we are problem solvers, it comes with the territory, and it’s in our DNA,” said Birdie Miller, owner. And Miller, creator of the EuroButt faux butt hinge, has done just that.

“Not wanting to deal with the involved installation process of the ‘unforgiving’ butt hinges, which the designers had specified. I discussed with them the advantages of the European concealed hinge, it would be less expensive and offer the high-tech adjustment advantages at installation. A little reluctantly, they did go along with my suggestion.”

However, Miller said, the look wasn’t right. “I asked myself, ‘Why can’t I just attach the butt hinge to the door and let the concealed hinge do all the work?’ I grabbed a butt hinge and set it into the gap between the door and the case stile. That was it. I figured out how to modify the butt hinge so that it fit perfectly in the gap without affecting the functionality of the concealed hinge, and look good. “

Since first being patented, the faux butt hinge line has expanded, including new finishes. 2016 sales for the company rose 9.1%.

Superior Cabinets, Saskatoon, SK —  Already one of Western Canada’s leading manufacturers of frameless cabinetry, Superior Cabinets has focused on expanding into new markets and within its current markets to help grow sales, said Scott Hodson, president & CEO.

As part of its U.S. expansion efforts, Superior Cabinets exhibited at KBIS, where it won a People’s Choice Award for its MDF Fusion Finishes Line. The firm was also named Saskatchewan Manufacturer of the Year by the Canadian Manufacturing & Exporters. The award recognizes outstanding companies for their contributions to innovation, leadership, export, and manufacturing practices.

“We also held or improved lead-times and invested in Lean practices to hold or reduce costs,” Hodson added.

More Master Planners:

Frank Raffaele and Sons, Franklin Lakes, NJ
Improved employee and customer communication, including one-on-one conversation, has helped the custom cabinet and carpentry firm grow business, said Anthony Horuzy, cabinet installer.

Haas Woodworking, Cotati, CA
Owner Matt Rodrigo attributes employee skills, and being on time, for a sales growth of 20.0%. The custom millwork firm says it can produce any custom shaped molding to specifications. “If you can draw it, we can mill it,” he said.

Global Choice Intl, Mt. Prospect, IL
The one-stop custom cabinet and flooring firm invested in a CRM management system. Owner Ping Wang said the next step in growing the firm is to seek out more sales reps and partners. 2016 sales were up 16.3%.

Hercules Custom Furniture, Los Angeles, CA
Exceptional employees’ skills and customer service have ensured the custom furniture and cabinetry firm has had “repeat customers from over 40 years,” said Sayat Kosger, CFO.

Millwork 360, Tampa, FL
In 2016 the moulding, door and components producer focused on meeting customer demands. “We spent the latter part of the year investing in new machinery and product development, so it was key to communicate to our customer base that they matter and we want them to grow with us,” said Jamie Burge, CFO. A new CNC router gave “us the capabilities to manufacture any custom design on our wood panels for doors and automate door part manufacturing resulting in decreased labor costs and more competitive pricing.” Sales grew 2.9%.

Drawer Box Specialties, Orange, CA
The components manufacturer attributed its success to quality customer service and delivering custom drawer boxes in five business days, said David Bell, marketing manager.

Custom Wood Interiors Inc., Monroe, GA
Employee skills are credited for the cabinet producer’s success. “We put more effort into making sure that our products are as close to perfect as we can get.  We use the highest quality materials and the most skilled employees that we can possibly find,” said Ryan Millians, production manager.

Focal Point Fixtures Inc., St. Cloud, MN
President Scott DeMarais credits “Our customer service and product quality,” plus an exceptional on-time delivery rate for the fixture firm’s 28.3% growth. The company also moved to a larger facility for improved production.

Livingston Cabinets LLC, Coker, AL
“Do what you say you will do and work hard. People will take notice.” That advice has helped Owner John Livingston increase sales a whopping 100% at the cabinet and architectural millwork manufacturer. “That and talented people. We work longer and harder than all the competition,” he said. The company has also broadened its opportunities by producing casework and millwork for local commercial jobs with general contractors. It also recently moved into a larger facility plus a new showroom.

Performance Millwork, Helotes, TX
The architectural woodwork firm focused on downsizing internal operations and subcontracting parts processing and installation, said Michael Berry, general manager. “We only fabricate 100% in house when super custom,” he said. The company also improved productivity with a new saw and expanded warehouse.

Village Handcrafted Cabinetry, Lansdale, PA
Sales rose 13.5% as the cabinetry firm reduced delivery times, and developed and maintained tighter budgets to drive higher profits said Joseph Trave, sales director. Plans include the purchase of 3D presentation software.

Reclaimed Table, Villa Park, IL
“Targeting larger projects with higher budgets and getting the projects,” helped grow sales 24.0%, said Frank Sullivan, owner. The company produces high-quality, reclaimed wood tables, paneling, live edge slabs and custom millwork.

Walker Woodworking, Shelby, NC
Sales grew 63.4% as the high-end custom cabinetmaker “Finally got a grasp on knowing our true costs,” said Travis Walker, president.

Goebel & Co. Furniture, St. Louis, MO
Strict attention is placed on quality control. Also, said Martin Goebel, president & creative director “Our design and manufacturing is fully integrated through a merger of digital and analog methods.” In 2016 the custom furniture maker grew 25.5%, with plans in 2017 calling for a new showroom location, expanded manufacturing facility and new equipment, including a CNC mill.

Cabinet Works, Hills, MN
“We landed two larger builder accounts and raised our pricing, which provided quality jobs that we could make more money on,” said Dennis Hartman, owner. The residential & light commercial cabinetry firm grew 3.0% in 2016.

K&L Woodworking Inc., Reading, PA
Vice President Kevin Hartman credits the millwork and casework company’s employees and high-quality production for K&L’s success. “We don’t bottom feed with our products or numbers,“ he said of the company’s 15.4% sales growth.

Diplomat Closet Design, West Chester, PA
“We’ve spent time finding the right hires and have a low employee turnover,” said Ryan Lindstadt, president. “Our tenured employees know our process well and work with incredible efficiency.” The storage organization firm has also spent time cross training employees. We’ve also added a few key employees since last year to fill in voids that would typically slow down our production. Sales grew 30.9%, and 2017 plans call to add equipment.

Interior Components Group Inc., St. Cloud, MN
“We moved into a new building in November of 2014, and it has been better sales and production ever since,” said CEO Steven Barthelemy. The commercial casework and architectural millwork firm grew 36.9% in 2016.

Monticello Cabinets & Doors Inc., Oklahoma City, OK
3D programing and real-time interaction with customers helped the cabinet and entry door firm grow sales 45.5%, said Mark Gardner, president.

Read more 2017 WOOD 100: Strategies for Success

Marketing Initiatives
Go-to-Market Strategies
Business Strategies
Productivity Enhancements
Technology Integration
Product Innovations
Customer Service
Return to WOOD 100 Main Page
Read the special Leadership Edition of FDMC online

Have something to say? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.

Profile picture for user karenkoenig
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]