Referrals Key to California Cabinetmaker’s Success

If you’re building a house in Orange County, Calif., it’s likely that the plumber, electrician and cabinet installer have known each other since they were each sweeping the floors for their fathers. In this affluent community south of Los Angeles, the building tradesare a mom and pop industry.

“I’ve been working at our company since I was 14 years old. My brother and I cleaned the floors for our punishment,” said Greg Nieto Jr., general manager of GNA Cabinet. Nieto’s father, Greg Nieto Sr., started GNA Cabinet 57 years ago.

Before the younger Nieto took the helm of the business, he learned the cabinettradeby helping his dad in the shopand installing cabinetry at job sites.

“Starting at a young age allowed me to learn about the different hardwood materials and what works best for each project,” said Nieto. He also saw that relationships with the other tradesmen and clients were key to his business. In fact, GNA Cabinet shies away from advertising altogether and relies solely on referrals for itscustomers. Thanks to excellent relationships established over the years, the business is thriving.

Clean and Green: Current Trends

Like other parts of the country, Orange County experienced its share of economic struggles the past few years, but the tide is turning.

“During the downturn we saw remodeling projects drop off, but this year we’re seeing more remodeling activity,” said Nieto. “Older houses are less expensive, so people have a bit of money left over to do a remodel.”

That’s where GNA Cabinet comes in. Its custom-built cabinets are a favorite of high-end home builders, which make up 90 percent of the GNA Cabinet business.

To service these VIP clients, GNA Cabinet relies on top-quality materials from its distributor, Strata Forest Products. Most of the time that means environmentally responsible hardwood plywood manufactured by Timber Products that meets California Air Resources Board (CARB) formaldehyde standards. 

Design Challenges Lead to Professional Rewards

Because of its affluent clientele, GNA Cabinet rarely executes the same type of job twice. The company often works with designers to create cabinetry that complements a specific house, which means custom designs.

“My favorite projects are custom designs. I love the challenge of a designer coming to us with a piece of furniture and asking us to build cabinets in the same style,” said Nieto. “We never know what’s in store next.”

Providing his clients with what they want is integral to the success of GNA Cabinet.  As for advice to other cabinetmakers on the secret to success, Nieto keeps it simple: “Never cut corners and no matter what, always have a satisfied customer.”

Learn more about the materials used by this cabinet manufacturer.