51. Artifex Millwork Inc.
Wyoming, MN

'96: $1,141,000
'97: $1,431,000
Sales '97: +25.4%
Projected '98: +40%
Est. 1993 Employees: 25

Custom commercial furniture, architectural millwork and store fixtures

Artifex Millwork, who ranked 4th in the 1997 Wood 100 survey, continued to grow in 1997 with the addition of a new 20,000-square-foot facility, including a 1,900-square-foot finishing room. General manager Greg Richels gives most of the credit to the staff, however. "We have a good team that has contributed greatly to the company's growth, both production and management staff," he said. Richels also attributes open communication, which has "helped us meet both our clients' and employees' needs," as a factor in the company's success.


52. IWP Displays & Components
Bloomington, MN

'96: $1,728,000
'97: $2,152,000
Sales '97: +24.5%
Projected '98: +25%
Est. 1981 Employees: 40

Engineers and manufacturers of wood and plastic components; subassemblies for the store fixture, point-of-purchase display and furniture industries

In an effort to make productivity gains in both their shop and office, company president Conrad Eggan and IWP made several important moves. First was the addition of 15 new employees and advanced equipment including a CNC panel saw and CAD/CAM software. The company also implemented a new marketing program. "We continue to penetrate new markets through the use of awareness-building marketing programs. This strategy has helped feed our growing production capacity," he said. The plans for growth have come nowhere near to a close, though. In the future, IWP hopes to establish a presence in profitable, new market segments and identify new business opportunities among current customers. IWP is making its second consecutive appearance in the Wood 100.


53. Eurocraft Corp.
Elkhart, IN


'96: $4,081,000
'97: $5,056,000
Sales '97: +23.9%
Projected '98: +5%
Est. 1989 Employees: 40

Manufacturers of standard and custom trading desks

Establishing themselves as a contender in both domestic and international markets, Eurocraft's vice president, David Gruber, attributes their success to a marketing program that spanned both sides of the Atlantic Ocean. "Eurocraft began marketing its line of trading desks direct to dealers and end-users in July 1995, through showrooms in both London and New York," said Gruber. Gruber also credits "rapid engineering, prototyping, manufacturing and installation coupled with high quality and moderate cost," for Eurocraft's success.


54. Barbosa Cabinets Inc.
Tracy, CA

'96: $6,826,000
'97: $8,399,000
Sales '97: +23.0%
Projected '98: +49%
Est. 1978 Employees: 120

Suppliers of face-frame and frameless cabinets, unfinished and prefinished, to contractors of multi-family tract homes and custom homes; suppliers of plastic laminate and solid surface countertops

President Ron Barbosa started with only one salesman, but with a booming economy, he has added two more salesmen and increased his market area. "We started a push towards larger, more well-established builders doing several tracts of homes at a time," said Barbosa. "Our reputation for on-time delivery got our foot in the door with many of [the builders]. But our after-the-sale service and warranty work has convinced many builders to give us several, if not all, their tract work." With this continued growth, though, Barbosa is preparing for the next recession. "We have seen the economy go from good to very bad three times in the last twenty years," he said. In preparation, the company is maintaining controlled growth and attracting solid-based companies for which to work.


55. New Hampshire Wooden Clothes Dryer Co.
Hampstead, NH

'96: $204,000
'97: $248,000
Sales '97: +21.6%
Projected '98: +20%
Est. 1979 Employees: 6

Wooden clothes dryers

After a down year in 199, this "$250,000 Mom, Pop and Sons" company -- as vice president Don Reese calls it -- saw sales increase dramatically in 1997. So much so that "now sales are increasing too quickly," said company vice president Don Reese. "Pendulums tend to swing beyond our expectations," Reese said. To avoid growing beyond manageability, the company plans to maintain quality and delivery for its existing customers, while limiting new customers.


56. Harbinger Industries Inc.
Minneapolis, MN

'96: $3,736,000
'97: $4,527,000
Sales '97: 21.2%
rojected '98: Lower
Est. 1982 Employees: 55

Full service secondary wood products manufacturer, specializing in fixtures for retail and banking, corporate furniture and tenant fit-outs

President Michael Quirk places high emphasis on what he feels is the backbone of Harbinger -- the employees. "Without the 'can do' attitude and creative problem-solving of the workers, all the infrastructure improvements would be for naught," he said. So to reward Harbingers' most valued assets, the company has implemented bonuses to new employees, paid education, a benefits package which includes 401K and profit sharing, as well as employee appreciation events. Quirk added, "It is our people that put the 'success' in successful!"


57. Strata Design Inc.
Traverse City, MI

'96: $2,363,000
'97: $2,853,000
Sales '97: +20.7%
Projected '98: +20%
Est. 1988 Employees: 27

Plastic laminate casework and countertops for hospitals, laboratories, schools; solid surface fabrications for banks, hospitals, restaurants; laminate store fixtures; and OEM components

Charles Cady, president of Strata Design, likes to take a hands-on approach to customer service. By treating each customer individually, Cady feels the company's service and sales will increase. "We accomplish this service through frequent reviews with our customers of their individual jobs-in-progress and our overall progress in managing their needs," Cady said. In addition, Strata is sure to update its customers and prospects with its manufacturing and management improvements so "they can utilize our new services as they become available," Cady said. Strata has grown consistently in recent years, and appears in the Wood 100 for the third consecutive year.


58. Principle Fixture & Millwork Inc.
Wyoming, MN

'96: $7,275,000
'97: $8,762,000
Sales '97: +20.4%
Projected '98: +15%
Est. 1987 Employees: 65

Store fixtures, architectural millwork and wood products

Restructuring has been a key element to the continued success and increased productivity of Principle Fixture & Millwork in the past year. "By changing the organization of the plant to a team-based environment, productivity has increased 12% as measured by sales per employee," said company president Craig Johnson. And with a staff of 65 employees, that means a healthy rise in sales due to a single change in the company. To keep productivity high, Johnson recently hired work teams in the plant and office and purchased a Rhodes paint line, Buetfering sander and Weeke point-to-point boring machine.


59. Office Chairs Inc.
Santa Fe Springs, CA

'96: $6,079,000
'97: $7,304,000
Sales '97: +20.2%
Projected '98: +10%
Est. 1974 Employees: 70

Office seating and reception room tables; fabric, leather, and wood chair coverings, and ergonomic chairs

Donald Simek, executive vice president of Office Chairs Inc., credits the addition of new chair lines and a move into high end products for the company's growth in recent years. "With chairs, you must manufacture and sell new styles as fast as possible before you are copied," Simek said. The company recently moved into a new facility and purchased a 20-spindle boring machine and chops saws. Office chairs has been one of the Wood 100's most consistent performers, appearing in eight of the nine surveys.


60. Bremtown Kitchens
Bremen, IN

'96: $3,324,000
'97: $3,963,000
Sales '97: +19.2%
Projected '98: +15%
Est. 1979 Employees: 66

Custom kitchens, commercial cabinets, stock kitchen cabinets and van conversion parts

Bremtown Kitchens appeared annually in the Wood 100 between 1991 and 1996. In 1996, the company grossed more than $10 million in sales and employed 120. This year, a downsized Bremtown makes its return to the survey. Dennis Yoder credits a new marketing program for the company's profitable year. "We have established a very aggressive approach to become a dealer-based company," Yoder said.


61. Harmonson Stairs
Mt. Laurel, NJ

'96: $2,120,000
'97: $2,515,000
Sales '97: +18.6%
Projected '98: +10%
Est. 1985 Employees: 36

Custom-built stairs and railings

Preparing for its best year ever, Harmonson Stairs has implemented programs for its workers to ensure their continued diligence on the production floor, according to president Bart Withstandley. "We instituted a gain-sharing plan for the employees that rewards increased productivity and creates incentives to decrease material costs and per unit labor costs," Withstandley said. With its increased productivity, Harmonson intends on broadening its geographic market. The company also purchased a Weinig Profimat 23 moulder during the past year.


62. Eastland Industries Ltd.
Minto, NB, Canada

'96: $4,680,000 (C$)
'97: $5,524,000 (C$)
Sales '97: +18.0%
Projected '98: +5%
Est. 1969 Employees: 65

Framed and frameless construction kitchen cabinets, bathroom vanities and postformed countertops

In the past year, Eastland has developed and distributed a new informational brochure showcasing the eight kitchen styles it manufactures. This new marketing plan has helped the business a great deal, says general manager Eric DiCarlo. Each description has photos showing numerous colors and styles the company offers. Eastland recently purchased an extra delivery truck, dovetail drawer making equipment and downdraft sanding tables. In the future, DiCarlo will continue to, "follow the economy and adjust to changes as they occur." Eastland also appeared in last year's Wood 100 survey.


63. Evans Cabinet and Door Co. Inc.
Brenham, TX


'96: $2,309,000
'97: $2,713,000
Sales '97: +17.5%
Projected '98: +15%
Est. 1991 Employees: 42

Custom wooden cabinetry and plastic laminate cabinetry for residential and commercial projects; custom raised- and flat-panel cabinet doors

General manager Joe Hickl credits increased productivity for Evan's success in recent years. "Machinery, processes and pricing are modified as needed to keep a margin of profit in the jobs we sell. Our panel saw was upgraded and our sanding operations have been improved by adding a new widebelt sander and an orbital sander," he said. With these steps taken to improve production, additional steps also are being planned to increase sales. "New marketing materials are being produced and efforts to work with additional sales representatives will expand our market area," said Hickl.


64. Northern Contours/Norcon Hardwoods
Fergus Falls, MN

'96: $16,184,000
'97: $18,807,000
Sales '97: +16.2%
Projected '98: +15-20%
Est. 1992 Employees: 200

Component manufacturing focusing on the cabinet and furniture industries

President Michael Rone of Northern Contours/Norcon Hardwoods knows who comes first in the company: the customers. "We are a service company, supplying our customers with a variety of components," said Rone. And Rone has seen commitment from his employees when dealing with customers. So much so that the company has been able to buy several new machines for the wood and thermofoil divisions, such as rip- and cross-cut saws and a Wemhoner membrane press. "Our employees work hard to listen and respond to our customers needs. New equipment will only assist in the process," Rone said.


65. A.J. Stairs Inc.
Lakewood, NJ

'96: $2,425,000
'97: $2,816,000
Sales '97: +16.1%
Projected '98: +10%
Est. 1980 Employees: 35

Stair manufacturer from box basement to curve stairs, custom wood railings and special millwork

The secret to customer satisfaction and continued growth at A.J. Stairs is treating each job as if it were for the employee's own use, according to vice-president of production Edward Hasse Jr. "We encourage our employees to do this so our clients receive a 'top of the line' product," he said. Those products range from simple box stairs to 90û-curved stairs, to spiral staircases. "All material is carefully color and grain matched to guarantee perfection in each stair," said Hasse. A.J. Stairs recently purchased a Thermwood CNC router and instituted a safety awareness program and monthly meetings.


66. J.S. Benson Woodworking and Design
Brattleboro, VT

'96: $442,000
'97: $512,000
Sales '97: +15.8%
Projected '98: +65%
Est. 1978 Employees: 8

Manufacturer and designer of high-end mahogany windows and doors

Research and development is a vital component to J.S. Benson Woodworking and Design's success: "R&D has and continues to pay huge dividends," said general manager Steve Benson. "We have designed proprietary counterbalance and weatherstripping systems unique to our company, as well as door construction utilizing welded aluminum box tube cores. Our product sells itself," Benson said. With an eye on continued growth and with the perceived lack of skills among younger woodworkers, recruiting of new employees has become a national search. "We are recruiting from around the U.S. now, but fortunately Vermont is perceived as a good place to live."


67. Island Woodcrafts Ltd.
Wanchese, NC

'96: $1,732,000
'97: $2,001,000
Sales '97: +15.55%
Projected '98: +15%
Est. 1973 Employees: 20

Custom cabinets, home entertainment centers and furniture pieces

Serving building customers ranging from first-time home buyers to multi-million dollar estate owners, president Clifford Granitzki takes everything in stride when selling. He looks to the heart of what makes his company work and, in turn, makes it successful. "Ours is a family business with three brothers and one sister actively involved and our parents, now retired, who taught us to treat each job as if it was our own," Granitzki said. By opening a second showroom and an additional office at its plant, Island Woodcrafts looks to the future with wary eyes on expansion. "We are located on a string of barrier islands off the coast of North Carolina and rely heavily on people building second homes," Granitzki commented. "There is only so much land to build on so we are continually trying to expand to the mainland."


68. Wisconsin Built
Deerfield, WI


'96: $4,044,000
'97: $4,670,000
Sales '97: +15.54%
Projected '98: +20%
Est. 1988 Employees: 50

Retail store fixtures, banks, hotels

Wisconsin Built, 1997's #8 Wood 100 company, has seen continued increases in sales. President Jeff Ball attributes the company's success to its marketing program that includes a new Web site. "We added a Web site, with pictures of some of our installations," Ball said. "I feel it is better than a brochure to send out." Ball also added a Giben rear-loading panel saw and a Doucet return conveyer to its arsenal of equipment.


69. Hoffco Inc.
Wood Lake, MN

'96: $6,286,000
'97: $7,222,000
Sales '97: +14.9%
Projected '98: +25%
Est. 1983 Employees: 115

Wooden kitchen cabinet accessories

Steady growth within Hoffco's existing customer base accounts for nearly all the company's sales increases in recent years, according to sales manager Doug House. The company has been successful at getting some of its large OEM accounts to take on a greater variety of products. "We've helped them fill in some of their holes," House said. Hoffco improved its efficiency by adding a new Weeke CNC machining center from Stiles Machinery along with new software for operating the system and a new bar code for tracking labor. Hoffco has appeared in each of the past four Wood 100s.


70. T.J. Hale Co.
Menominee Falls, WI

'96: $15,819,000
'97: $18,147,000
Sales '97: +14.7%
Projected '98: +16%
Est. 1950 Employees: 130

Custom store fixtures and interiors, rollout specialist capable of high- volume work requiring sophisticated logistics coordination.

In order to make quality products, you need quality workers, according to president/COO Reed Felton. "Employees skill and dedication have led to increased productivity. This is where the pig eats the cabbage," he said. "Our employees have done a wonderful job 'tweaking' our expectations and continually finding new solutions to old problems and challenges." In the future, Felton plans to "pursue each and every avenue to recruit and retain employees," in order to maintain his company's competitive advantage.


71. P.J. Milligan & Co.
Santa Barbara, CA

'96: $2,804, 000
'97: $3,195,000
Sales '97: +13.9%
Projected '98: +15-20%
Est. 1991 Employees: 55

Manufacturers of cabinetry and furniture specializing in functional reproductions of European and Early American antiques

Coming off a strong 1997, P.J. Milligan & Co., who make its third straight appearance in the Wood 100, isn't ready to slow down its pace any time soon. "We are continually expanding our vendor pool to guarantee the highest quality material at the most competitive pricing," said CFO Ken Sterling. P.J. Milligan has attributed its success over the years to new product development and new machine purchases. Most recently, the company purchased a CNC routing/machining center which has increased output without increasing payroll. "All of our productivity revolves around it," Sterling said. In addition, the company has implemented new material handling and production systems including optimization and CAD/CAM.


72. E-Z Kitchens Inc.
Madison, TN

'96: $525,000
'97: $598,000
Sales '97: +13.9%
Projected '98: +12%
Est. 1987 Employees: 8

Cabinet refacing, custom cabinets and counter tops

E-Z Kitchens recently implemented a new marketing program which includes upgraded sales kits and printed matter as well as an increased effort in getting referrals from existing clients. "We don't have to sell price as much as service and product," said company president Earl Zey. The marketing efforts were supplemented with the purchase of a Williams and Hussey planer/moulder, Apollo sprayers and HVLP finishing guns. Zey expects his company to continue growing by continued emphasis on quality materials and repeat/referral business. Last year, E-Z Kitchens came in at #62 the Wood 100.


73. Caseworx Inc.
Redlands, CA

'96: $3,436,000
'97: $3,907,000
Sales '97: +13.7%
Projected '98: +20%
Est. 1992 Employees: 38

Institutional and commercial cabinetry and custom radiused counters

Over the past two years, Caseworx has purchased a Homag edgebander from Stiles Machinery, a Striebig vertical saw from Colonial Saw and a second Morbidelli point-to-point from Tekna Advanced Technology. But Caseworx president Bruce Humphrey feels it's the employees who deserve most of the credit for the company's growth. "Quality people can't be bought like a piece of equipment," Humphrey said. "They must be found, trained, mentored, allowed to fail, given responsibility and authority, praised, rewarded, listened to and truly cared about." Humphrey predicts another strong year in 1998 and possibly a third straight appearance in the WOOD 100 next year.


74. Architectural Cabinet Technologies Inc.
Long Beach, NJ

'96: $396,000
'97: $449,000
Sales '97: +13.4%
Projected '98: +25%
Est. 1986 Employees: 7

Commercial fixturing/casework, millwork with a balance of solid wood, veneers and HPL, store and residential fixtures, bars, lobby wall panels, elevator common areas and architectural woodwork

Paul Casale, president of Architectural Cabinet Technologies, has always thought that his business has opened new doors for him. Through referrals from other satisfied customers, the company has been constantly sought after by potential clients. Casale says that the company's increased productivity can be attributed to "new and improved customers." "By new and improved I mean our shift from residential to more commercial work, where the customer has a better understanding of custom manufacturing," said Casale. He also says that the scope of these projects is much larger and usually calls for repeat performances. All this new business also means more work for Edison Finishing, which receives 90% of all ACT's outsourcing.


75. Colonial Craft
Roseville, MN


'96: $26,315,000
'97: $29,730,000
Sales '97: +13.0%
Projected '98: +10%
Est. 1965 Employees: 258

Hardwood architectural mouldings, door and window grills, picture frame mouldings and component parts

While Colonial's expertise in prefinishing was limited for the past 30 years, that is no longer the case. "Due to the dedication of our employees, we have successfully introduced prefinishing for a major customer," said marketing and communications manager Jeanne Germain. This switch into the prefinishing aspect of manufacturing came from what Germain said was a chance to meet the changing needs of customers; Colonial Craft also developed a new machine to meet those changing needs. "Our own team of process developers invented a customized loading system for these machines for which a patent is pending," Germain said. Colonial Craft is a regular member of the Wood 100. During the past year the company opened a third facility in Alabama.

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