David DiRanna spent his entire corporate career using erasable whiteboards to illustrate points for meetings, track important projects and jot down new ideas. Little did he know that whiteboards would one day become a very lucrative second career for the talented woodworker.
Whenever time allowed over the years, DiRanna loved revving up his garage workshop to create all kinds of furniture for his home, including dining room tables, cabinets and staircases. So much so, that after taking early retirement in 1995 from the automotive industry (where he oversaw 750 auto parts chain stores), he opened up his own cabinet shop in Fountain Valley, CA, calling it DiMac Designs.
“While our offerings were very well received, I found the cabinetmaking process a bit tedious and repetitive,” DiRanna says. “Then one day the K12 Alliance called and needed 190 lightweight and portable 24” whiteboards for teacher institutes across the state.”
Never having made a whiteboard, DiRanna started from scratch. He researched materials, figured out how to cut each piece and eventually designed a jig that allowed him to make more pieces quickly. The whiteboards were such a hit with educators that he received another order for 450. Suddenly, the handwriting wasn’t just on the wall; it was on thousands of whiteboards too, as word spread about his quality products and service.
“Business was booming, but creating the product was rather cumbersome since I still had to cut each piece manually using a template,” DiRanna says. “It was clear we needed to tap into CNC technology, so we went to several woodworking machine companies and all the trade shows we could. Laguna Tools was the only outfit that actually asked me, ‘How do you plan to use the machine?’”
Not long after, DiRanna took Laguna Tools up on its offer to bring in some whiteboard raw materials to see how its CNC equipment would perform.
“Before I knew it, they were cutting my products and making a comprehensive checklist of what I needed and what I didn’t need in a CNC machine,” DiRanna says. “Basically, they wound up customizing a unit that fit my unique manufacturing requirements.”
That was about two years ago. DiRanna was able to pay off his Laguna Tools’ CNC Swift Model in the first five months due to the fact that his labor costs were dramatically reduced, as was the amount of material waste.
“I was amazed that DiMac Designs had been transformed from a traditional cabinetmaking operation to a high-production, high-profit-margin enterprise,” DiRanna says. “We no longer have huge inventories, and the environmentally safe raw materials are cut and shipped every afternoon.”
DiRanna calls his association with Laguna Tools the “best business partnership I’ve ever entered into … and it didn’t cost me a dime.”
“They truly care about the customer and do everything imaginable to make sure we’re happy,” DiRanna says. “If I have a question, I can get the answer in a few minutes – that’s how customer-friendly they are.”
Even More Uses
CNC Options Business is doing so well on DiMac’s (di-mac.com) whiteboard side of its operation that DiRanna has been able to start a different company with his daughter Kate.
“I started making high-impact, highquality kitchen drawer dividers because I couldn’t find anything really good on the market,” DiRanna says. “Typically, the flimsy dividers out there never fit right and leave tons of wasted space. I was making them for friends and family and then all of the sudden everyone wanted to outfit their kitchen or office. The new business allows anybody to easily measure their drawers and send us the measurements via the website. With the help of our Laguna CNC machine, we can easily create high-quality, bacteria-resistant frameless dividers that fit perfectly and utilize all of the available space.”
With the success of his initial CNC Swift Model, it’s not surprising that Di- Ranna is in the process of purchasing another Laguna Tools machine for the drawer divider endeavor.
“The Laguna CNC machines have made my life so much easier and my businesses profitable,“ he adds.
Whether it’s whiteboards for schools and businesses or drawer dividers for homeowners, DiRanna says he believes the key to success is consistently exceeding expectations. “And that’s exactly what Laguna Tools has done for me. Like I said, it’s like having an amazing business partner without having to pay for one.”
Have something to say? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.