Zeeland, MI-based cabinet company Woodways received the innovative stamp of Suzanne and Volker Rudnitzki when they took over the troubled company in 2007. They basically started over from scratch and put the woodworking firm back on a path for growth.

Their first step was to automate the manufacturing process, bringing in new high-tech equipment and expanding the production facility from 17,000 square feet to 40,000 square feet. Although they were new to the industry, they researched and found the machinery needed for their nested-based manufacturing approach and expanded the plant within six months.

The Rudnitzkis also hired an IT consultant and developed a sales order, customer management relationship system that lives in the cloud — the office has no servers, everything is cloud-based. Salespeople are equipped with iPads and every part of the process from customer contact to design and order is recorded creating very detailed instructions for the engineering and manufacturing departments.

Suzanne also says that company employees, as well as customers, communicate through Skype making it easier to show plans and designs. Woodways also opened a 5,000-square-foot showroom in Grand Rapids in 2011 and developed a partnership with hardware manufacturer Sugatsune showing its cabinetry in the company’s showroom, which opened in Chicago last year.

Also, Woodways has developed a process for their customers to visualize their kitchens in 3-D with "mobile kitchens." See the video below for more detail.

These are just a few of the steps that the Rudnitzkis took over the past few years that allowed Woodways to grow more than 450 percent. For more information on this innovative firm, look for the company profile in the next issue of Custom Woodworking Business.

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