No one is exactly sure why U.S. cabinetry shops prefer framed cabinets over the approach the rest of the world takes, frameless cabinets.

But then, we're the only ones in the world measuring travel in miles and using half-inch lug nuts.

That is fine for domestic consumption - but especially these days we should be thinking of our prospects for growing sales abroad. The Made in America movement should be about more than insourcing manufacture of wood goods and other products for domestic production. 

Made in America should also focus on exporting. And to sell to cabinets abroad, frameless is the natural design.

When you look at Europe or Asia, their current advantage in wood based products comes from exporting to consumer countries all around the world. Even our neighbor, Canada, enjoys a healthy wood based export market.

For the kitchen cabinet industry, this is an opportunity. Indeed, big players like Masco and Fortune Brands Home & Security have a hefty footprint in European markets.

Moving into frameless cabinets for domestic consumption also reflects the changing demographic and social trends so strongly evident at the KBIS Kitchen & Bath Industry Show. In a nutshell, the kitchen table or island is where we set up our computers and engage the world online - eating over or next to our keyboards. (At least in my house, that's the case.)

Domestically, frameless cabinet design lends itself to the more flexible, adaptable designs that consumers might want, or even prefer - if they know they are available. We bear a risk if we do not venture into fresh design approaches, and tell our customers about the option, Otherwise, someone else, including importers, might beat us there.

More on this next time

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