1. Byrne Millwork Inc.

New Castle, DE

'96: $1,193,000

'97: $6,067,000

Sales '97: +408.5%

Projected '98: N/A

Est. 1992 Employees: 24

Architectural woodwork

The phenomenal sales growth experienced by Byrne Millwork necessitated the expansion of the factory floor. The company's plant size has ballooned from 8,000 square feet to 25,000 square feet. In addition, a regional office has been opened in northern New Jersey to enable an expanded client base in the New York City area. Byrne doesn't see either of these as the main contributing factor in the company's success, though. "Quality control is number one. Using AutoCAD, we are able to generate drawings for customer approvals as well as accurate shop drawing for our shop people to follow," said Byrne. One of his ultimate goals is to automate, integrating their CAD system with equipment they are looking to purchase. "We regularly send [the workers] to training seminars and trade shows. This gives them the tools to effectively contribute to the decision-making process," he said.


2. Commercial Custom Cabinet

Mechanicsville, VA

'96: $114,000

'97: $303,000

Sales '97: +165.8%

Projected '98: +50%

Est. 1994 Employees: 5

Commercial casework and millwork

Showing an impressive rise in sales in only one year, owner Gary Carlton sees the constant reinvestment into the company as the biggest factor to its success. "We reinvested most of the profits back in the business, continuously upgrading equipment and by buying, selling, repairing/rebuilding and trading equipment, such as a Schelling panel saw, Ritter boring machines, case clamp, edgebander, and designated boring machines for hinges, drawer fronts and face frames, and nailers," said Carlton. "I believe we could grow at a faster rate if we only had a larger shop, 3,200 square feet, with room to expand."


3. Woodcraft Industries

St. Cloud, MN

'96: $55,772,000

'97: $121,058,000

Sales '97: +117.1%

Projection '98: +20%

Est. 1945 Employees: 1,500

Full line of solid hardwood and engineered wood components for high-volume kitchen cabinet and furniture manufacturers

Its acquisition of PrimeWood and continued investments in hardwood lumber predrying and kiln drying facilities and engineered-wood manufacturing equipment are what has kept Woodcraft Ind. competitive and in the black, according to Steve Wilhelm. These investments have increased productivity and contributed to the company's overall success since 1995. "Woodcraft Industries implemented a 'shift modeling' operations plan at all facilities that increased base operating hours from 80 to 112 hours per week," said Wilhelm. The additional hours came about by creating different shifts: two 3-day/12-hour work shifts along with a base 4-day/10-hour work shift or a 5-day/8 hour work shift.


4. Southern Architectural Woodwork Inc.

Columbia, SC

'96: $4,645,000

'97: $9,618,000

Sales '97: +107%

Projected '98: Lower

Est. 1983 Employees: 70

Architectural woodwork and executive and conference furniture

Frank Crachiolo, vice president of marketing and sales for Southern Architectural Woodwork Inc., credits increased demand for high-end architectural woodwork for his company's recent success. "Supply and demand seem to be in better balance," Crachiolo said. "This allows us to offer a very high level of product and service at a price that is fair to us and our customers." Recent purchases include a Heesemann LSM4 sander, a Komo VR-512 CNC router with custom tooling, and custom manufacturing software. The company has developed an in-depth training program and paid for training outside the shop to offset the lack of skills among younger employees.


5. New England Clock -- a division of Bonito Mfg.

North Haven, CT

'96: $432,000

'97: $880,000

Sales '97: +103.7%

Projected '98: +50%

Est. 1995 Employees: 9

Grandfather clocks, gifts

New England Clock has been around since 1828 and had been sold several times before Bonito Mfg. purchased it in 1995. The clocks were fully handmade and there had been no investment in equipment. "The company couldn't produce clocks in a reasonable amount of time and was losing money," said CEO James Bonito. Bonito re-engineered the product and partially automated the process. In its first year of owning New England Clock, Bonito topped our survey, and last year it ranked #14. Bonito has added an SCMI Sandya 10 sander in recent years.


6. Skeeles Mfg. Inc.

Columbus, OH

'96: $430,000

'97: $795,000

Sales '97: +84.9%

Projected '98: +15%

Est. 1991 Employees: 15

Retail fixtures, displays, countertops, and cabinets in all types of wood, plastic laminates and acrylics

The crucial aspect of SMI's success rests in its manufacturing and sales forces working together, according to vice president of sales Rebecca Skeeles. "This has allowed our sales force to continually learn more, and betters our quality and productivity of fixtures," she said. Skeeles also noted the positive response generated by the company's appearance in last year's Wood 100 (No. 96). The company recently moved into a stand-alone building in Columbus, OH, which has brought nothing but positive things. "This move has helped us because our new plant is more accommodating to our manufacturing needs." In addition, it is located right next to two major highways, providing easy access for its workers.


7. The Wood Image, Inc.

Lithonia, GA

'96: $694,000

'97: $1,264,000

Sales '97: +82.1%

Projected '98: +20%

Est. 1993 Employees: 14

Wood displays and fixtures for retail stores, high-end furniture, special trophies and awards

In the past year, with low unemployment across the country, one company that hasn't had problems retaining employees is The Wood Image. According to president and owner Mark Sickler, the secret lies in profit sharing. "Every quarter the employees know I will 'share the wealth.' By now they have a good idea how the quarter went and how the bonus will be affected," he said. Sickler said he believes this helps his workers feel the impact they make on the company and how that affects their bonuses. The Wood Image recently bought a 23-spindle line boring machine, a 30-hp rotary screw compressor with dryer and, as another perk for its workers, a new microwave for the lunchroom.


8. Fleetwood Industries

Reading, PA

'96: $8,487,000

'97: $15,155,000

Sales '97: +78.6%

Projected '98: +20%

Est. 1969 Employees: 85

Custom store fixtures

The secret to Fleetwood's success isn't achieving customers' expectations, it's overachieving them, according to Mindy Gehris. "As a company, we strive to exceed our customers expectations in every way," Gehris said. To accomplish this, Fleetwood provides a customer service staff to ensure service and communication, along with prototype and full roll-out production in a "creative and quality manner," added Gehris. A full online computer scheduling system helps to guarantee prompt delivery. It is also these types of services that Gehris sees as the path to continued success. "We will survive any economic problems because we are a quality company," said Gehris.


9. Woodtech Industries Inc.

Lake City, FL

'96: $1,092,000

'97: $1,914,000

Sales '97: +75.3%

Projected '98: +80%

Est. 1989 Employees: 32

Architectural millwork, including office interiors, woodwork and plastic laminate casework, schools and medical casework

Woodtech Ind. is owned and operated by Dale and Richard Nickelson, who have a combined 27 years experience in the architectural woodworking field. The owners credit the company's success to its employees' skills and dedication. "Our people are our biggest asset, as they have gained experience and shown their unending support for the owners in helping us to be a success," said Richard Nickelson, president. Woodtech's projects provide the clearest example of its accomplishments. Among its most recent are the renovation of the Jacksonville City Hall in Jacksonville, FL, and the Broward/Gilchrist Hall Renovations for Florida State University in Tallahassee.


10. Mortensen Woodwork

Union City, GA

'96: $4,995,000

'97: $8,699,000

Sales '97: +74.2%

Projected '98: +25%

Est. 1987 Employees: 100

High-end architectural woodwork including wall panels, trim, pre-finished and plastic laminate casework, and commercial furniture

A new Komo CNC router has expanded capabilities at Mortensen and allowed it to be more efficient in production runs, according to sales and marketing manager Greg Kasten. The resulting increase in work made necessary the addition of two new finishing booths and an enlarged assembly room. "Each department has been forced to produce more work without sacrificing quality," Kasten said.


11. Nu-Trend Custom Cabinet Co.

Des Plaines, IL

'96: $1,004,000

'97: $1,720,000

Sales '97: +71.3%

Projected '98: N/A

Est. 1983 Employees: 14

Architectural woodworking including custom cabinetry and furniture

While not expecting 1998 sales to exceed those of 1997, Nu-Trend president Kevin Mack is still smiling over predictions that Nu-Trend will have its best year ever in 1999. To meet expected demand, Mack has added a 5-station computer network which is used in virtually every area of his business. Mack believes, though, that computers were not the main reason for the company's growth. "We took an extremely proactive approach with our management team," he said. "In effect we are trying to control how our customers work with us, as opposed to how they want to work with us. We set the guidelines and give them the responsibility to perform."


12. Your Furniture Designers Inc.

Garnerville, NY

'96: $622,000

'97: $1,049,000

Sales '97: +68.6%

Projected '98: N/A

Est. 1988 Employees: 8

Laminated panels, office furniture, components, kitchen cabinets, cases

Jose Mata, president of Your Furniture Designers Inc., knows it's hard to find people proficient in both cabinetmaking and working with computers. "We try to educate our employees, teaching them the technical use of hardware," Mata said. "We have safety and computer trainings every time we get a new machine." Among those new machines are a Holz-Her edgebander and a CNC Rover 20 from Biesse.


13. Wooden Mallet

Aberdeen, SD

'96: $1,008,000

'97: $1,638,000

Sales '97: +62.5%

Projected '98: +50%

Est. 1975 Employees: 16

Literature displays and magazine racks, solid oak coat and hat racks, luggage racks and miscellaneous products for the hospitality industry

Over the years, new product development has stood out as the biggest reason for Wooden Mallet's success, according to president Jim Kreber. "Customers are constantly looking for new products and, with their help, we try to expand our product line to meet their needs," he said. When a company puts out new products, it becomes inevitable that copycat products arrive on the market at lower costs than the original. To remedy this, Kreber uses a strategy that satisfies both his company and the consumer. "We try to keep our production costs down which allows us to keep our prices low, thus discouraging product copying by our competition."


14. Whip's Carpentry

Burlington, Ontario, Canada

'96: $1,945,000(C$)

'97: $3,104,000(C$)

Sales '97: +59.6%

Projected '98: +35%

Est. 1981 Employees: 13

Store fixtures, closet organizers and office furniture

"By updating all of our equipment we were able to improve our quality and productivity," said Mike Lycklama. The company's purchases include a Homag edgebander, RBO handling equipment, Biesse Techno Logic through feed drill, Biesse dowel inserter, Giben Prismatic SPT101 saw and a Morbidelli point-to-point. Lycklama feels that keeping on top of the latest technology is the best way to increase productivity and combat price cutting by competitors.


15. Appalachian Wood Products Inc.

Clearfield, PA

'96: $17,255,000

'97: $27,135,000

Sales '97: +57.3%

Projected '98: +40%

Est. 1987 Employees: 303

Hardwood kitchen cabinet doors, drawer fronts, door framing and cabinet framing

Customer service has been integral in the success of Appalachian Wood Products, according to company president Dennis McCahan. "I know our customer service has contributed the most to our success. We do our best at all times to meet our customers needs; we care." The company plans to increase its starting wage and start employee benefits earlier. "We usually lose our employees within their first year," McCahan said. "We seldom lose any after that." Appalachian has added widebelt sanders and a moulder to its shop in recent years.


16. Eurodesign Cabinets Inc.

Chino, CA

'96: $14,417,000

'97: $22,396,000

Sales '97: +55.3%

Projected '98: +34%

Est. 1981 Employees: 330

Manufacturing and installing European kitchen, bath, etc., for residential housing

Eurodesign Cabinets Inc. is continually looking to increase efficiency by increasing automation. The company's recent purchases include two IMA European finishing lines, two automatic sanders, a melamine press, a veneer press, door assembly system and a CNC router. In all, the company has spent more than $1.7 million on new machinery over the last two years. A new quality control program, implemented with the cooperation of the manufacturing and installation departments, has further increased efficiency, according to director of sales and marketing Fariba Shaygan.


17. CNC Industries Inc.

Houston, TX


'96: $458,000

'97: $702,000

Sales '97: +53.3%

Projected '98: +40%

Est. 1992 Employees: 10

Manufacturer of components in wood and plastic for the kiosk and mobile work stations market

CNC Industries recently added a new assembly department which allows it to fill the gap between component manufacturing and finished product. The company is also reaping the benefits of diversification. "Our push to diversify in the past, and our broad manufacturing background, give us the ability to produce precision made turnkey products for our customers," says president and CEO Eric Eilers. To furnish this new department, CNC purchased a Komo 1605 and small hand tools. Eilers is combating his chief concern, employee retention and recruitment, by cross-training and sending employees to classes.


18. Wood Wright Mfg. Inc.

Milton Freewater, OR

'96: $675,000

'97: $1,024,000

Sales '97: 51.7%

Projected '98: N/A

Est. 1989 Employees: 15

Cabinet and furniture manufacturing for OEM

Dan Tomczek, president of Wood Wright Mfg., has seen his company nearly double in size since 1995 and pass the $1 million mark for the first time in 1997. "We have developed an accurate productivity tracking system that is updated to facilitate employees' ability to see how production is doing," Tomczek said. Tomczek hopes to institute on-the-job training as well as class time during work hours to improve new employees' skills and make sure his company continues to grow.


19. Baby's Dream Furniture

Columbus, GA

'96: $11,540,000

'97: $17,488,000

Sales '97: +51.5%

Projected '98: +20%

Est. 1992 Employees: 259

Assemblers and manufacturers of baby furniture

Adding new crib and case goods finishing systems has helped Baby's Dream Furniture grow by nearly $10 million since 1995, according to CEO Fereyoon Felfeli. Additional purchases include a planer, profile grinder, moulder and tenoner. To help the company stay competitive, Felfeli is urging supervisors to "take a hands-on approach to the unskilled employee by devoting as much training time as is needed to make them productive employees."


20. National Woodwork Manufacturing

Bethlehem, PA

'96: $632,000

'97: $955,000

Sales '97: +51.1%

Projected '98: +15%

Est. 1985 Employees: 9

Custom fabrication for commercial and institutional applications

National Woodwork's business philosophy had the biggest impact on the recent expansion of the company, according to president Christine Merrigan. "We are competitive, responsive and eager to exceed our customers' expectations," she said. To help along this recent growth, National bought an Ingersoll Rand air compressor and over-head router to allow more options for work flow, which often leads to less time for set-up/breakdown, according to Merrigan. A new dust collection system was also implemented to help keep the shop cleaner and more environmentally friendly.


21. N2 Millwork Services Inc.

Vacaville, CA

'96: $1,843,000

'97: $2,740,000

Sales '97: +48.7%

Projected '98: +46%

Est. 1992 Employees: 35

Manufacturers of retail store fixtures, commercial cabinetry, mouldings and architectural woodwork

Though N2 has a healthy share of work, it is always looking for more through diversification of its client base, according to president Barry Nash. "We are pursuing more public works projects. Hotels and schools now account for 30% of our work," said Nash. To attract these new customers, the company has begun to offer more products including laid-up goods and solid surface counters. Not only is the company looking for new ways to attract customers, it is also looking for new ways to attract employees. "We are now recruiting and training from not only classified advertising, but also through the Internet and local schools," Nash said. N2 is making its fourth consecutive appearance in the Wood 100 survey.


22. Glenn Rieder Inc.

Milwaukee, WI

'96: $5,283,000

'97: $7,754,000

Sales '97: +46.8%

Projected '98: +15-20%

Est. 1965 Employees: 50

Manufacturers, finishers and installers of premium and custom-grade woodwork and laminate

Instead of resting on its laurels, Glenn Rieder Inc. diversified its customer base to keep its sales growth in motion. "GRI's sales/estimating department changes direction when necessary to attract projects in growing markets. We are capable of bidding projects from $50,000 to $10 million in size in the hospitality, corporate and casino markets," said office manager Maria Roloff. After winning a bid, Rieder relies on its staff to meet whatever needs arise. "The highly skilled tradesmen complete premium-grade work while other craftspeople work on less advanced work," Roloff said. "This allows GRI to diversify by taking on all types and sizes of projects in numerous markets." GRI returns to our survey after a one-year hiatus.


23. St. Louis Closet Company

St. Louis, MO

'96: $963,000

'97: $1,402,000

Sales '97: +45.6%

Projected '98: N/A

Est. 1991 Employees: 32

Designers, manufacturers and installers of custom closets and organizational systems for both residential and commercial uses

Jennifer Williams opened St. Louis Closet Co. in 1991 to provide the market with affordable, floor-based closet systems. Since 1995, the company has purchased an Altendorf F-90 sliding table saw, a Ritter boring machine and a Holz-Her 1441 edgebander and has added a larger showroom and manufacturing space. These improvements allowed the company to continue to grow and this year a new location was added in central Missouri. Williams' top concern is price cutting by competitors, but she plans to offset that with continued quality and service. St. Louis Closet Co. appears for the fourth consecutive time in the Wood 100.

24. Design Fabricators Inc.

Lafayette, CO


'96: $9,495,000

'97: $13,683,000

Sales '97: +44.1%

Projected '98: +50%

Est. 1986 Employees: 205

Custom commercial fixtures, retail store fixtures, architectural millwork, 3-D graphics

Bob Coleman, principal of Design Fabricators, is enthusiastic when talking about what makes his company successful. He places the spotlight on his workers and praises their contributions. "They say they are committed to serving our clients, producing quality work, and being the best fabricators of retail environments; and they deliver the results," said Coleman. Looking toward the future, Coleman predicts 1999 will be the company's best year ever. Recent equipment purchases included: CNC panel saws, a CNC machining center, a CNC boring and dowel inserting machine, and an enhanced computer network.


25. Legacy Cabinets L.L.C.

Eastaboga, AL

'96: $11,915,000

'97: $16,966,000

Sales '97: +42.4%

Projected '98: +10-15%

Est. 1994 Employees: 175

Manufacturer of kitchen and bathroom cabinets

"We are a new company; therefore, we are just getting out into the market with our product," says Legacy Cabinets president Rodney Suggs. Legacy recently purchased 60,000 square feet of extra space and added equipment such as a CNC router and a paint line. The company has grown 259% since 1995 and plans to stay strong through diversification. Legacy was the number 5 company in last year's survey.

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