22 business blueprints: WOOD 100 Strategies for Success

Changes in workplace procedures, market area growth, acquisitions and expansions and are just a few of the ways these WOOD 100 firms grew sales and improved their long-term business prospects. What follows are some of the methods put in place by the 2019 WOOD 100 class, which includes cabinet manufacturers, residential and office furniture producers, architectural woodworkers, wood component manufacturers, closet companies and more.

Now in its 30th year, the WOOD 100: Strategies for Success highlights the innovative as well as tried-and-true initiatives put in place by 100 North American wood products manufacturers to grow their businesses. Here's what some of them had to share about their business strategies:

Cardinal Fine Cabinetry Corp., London, ON —  One of the area’s largest millwork producers will soon be even bigger, following an expansion to meet the growing demands of the residential market, said Paul Bilyea, president. “We saw an increase in our talent with the inclusion of three small bespoke businesses that formed within our company. This added a great value to the vocabulary of what we do.”

In recognition of its efforts and success, Cardinal Fine Cabinetry was named one of Canada’s top growing companies in The Globe and Mail’s 2019 Report on Business, recording a three-year revenue growth of 63%.

“We want to continue [our] success by providing the best possible service and product to our community,” Bilyea said.

He credits much of the success to the employees, which include apprentices. Pictured are three of them (Alisa, Heather and Katelynne) at the Build-A-Dream event in London.

Genesis Products Inc., Elkhart, IN —  “In 2018, Genesis Products made great strides towards focusing on new product development and launches, as well as, major improvements to quality and manufacturing excellence,” said Abbie Thomas,  creative manager - Marketing.

2018 sales grew 5.4%. “Product innovation and overall customer experience led towards growth in new markets and market share gains,” she added.

Genesis serves a broad range of industries including: cabinet and storage, store fixture, office and education, recreational vehicle, furniture and transportation.  It has 9 facilities, with 950,000-plus square feet of production, assembly and warehousing space. “The flexibility and size of these facilities allow us to respond quickly and efficiently to our customers’ manufacturing and supply chain needs.”-Dream event in London.

Parenti & Raffaelli, Mt. Prospect, IL —  Sales are booming for the family-owned architectural millwork firm, which focuses on high-end commercial spaces, but also specializes in residential, hospitality and healthcare.

“We manufacture all types of architectural millwork, from simple casework to blueprint matched panel elevations,” said Samantha Gurrola, vice president of Sales. “We pride ourselves in quality without compromise, and excellent customer service.”

She added, “We have a great team in the office, shop, and field. We all work together and set each other up for success.” The company recently relocated its facility and upgraded it to be fully air conditioned, with ergonomic workstations.  “We also have an excellent project management and shop scheduling system.” 

Lexington Manufacturing, LLC, Coon Rapids, MN —  “We invested in our people and developed a clear vision for them to understand where we are headed,” noted Bill DeWitt, account manager. “We also developed a more robust strategic planning process.”

Sales at the architectural door and profile wrapped components specialist grew 8.0% in 2018, and are expected to be even better in 2019 and 2020. Enhancing the company’s value-added machining capabilities are the recent additions of an automated laminating line, automated paint line, automated sanding line, and new panel saw.

Lexington is an OEM supplier to the residential window and architectural and commercial door markets, including offering fire-rated door components for 45, 60 and 90 minute openings.

More master plans

Diplomat Closet Design, West Chester, PA

Sales at the home organization firm grew 3.3% in 2018, with projections “excellent” for 2019 and 2020. “We focused on team and personal goals, company culture and core values,” said Ryan Lindstadt, president. The firm also revamped its manufacturing facility, including Cabinet Vision software, a Weeke/Homag CNC with offload and labeling, and invested in marketing. “We also invested heavily in our staff and getting the right people on the bus,” added Laura Bryan, director of marketing.

Woodhaven Woodworks LLC, Springfield, IL

Owner Todd Scanlan credits his skilled employees with helping the custom wood and laminate cabinetry and mouldings producer grow sales 40.3%, with projections also “excellent” for 2019. The company also invested in an SCM moulder and finishing equipment to aid production.

Creative Surfaces, Sioux Falls, SD

The commercial casework, cabinetry fixtures, countertop and signage firm invested in its employees, adding sales staff and engineers. “We are one of the top companies in the United States that manufactures and installs all of our own projects. Everyone that works for us is highly skilled in their trade,” said Denise Pins, marketing & sales coordinator.

United Cabinet Works, Sugarcreek, OH

Owner Roy Yoder credits the hiring of a business coach to help in marketing, and understanding percentages and profit margins with helping the cabinetry manufacturer’s sales grow 66.7% in 2018.

Reborn Cabinets, Anaheim, CA

The cabinetry firm’s sales grew significantly. “Even though marketing and customer service are main drivers, we attribute our success to the quality of our team. Culture is very important to us. Of our 10 core values our first two specifically relate to building a winning team, and creating the ultimate work environment for that team,” said Anthony Nardo, president. “Everything we do is metric driven and we not only share those results but teach our staff how to utilize the information to their advantage.”

Evergreen Cooling Technologies, Winlock, WA

A new customer acquisition and an expansion into carbon composites helped grow sales 2.6% at the supplier and fabricator of cooling tower grade lumber, plywood and treating services, said Jeff Padrta, president. The firm also invested in new drill presses and saws.

Hollands Custom Cabinets, El Cajon, CA

Sales at the residential cabinet and commercial casework and millwork firm grew 24.1%. “We continue to focus on the customer’s experience with our company.  This means focusing on quality, service and price,” said Jed Richard, president. “Key steps are having great employees (taking care of them), great machinery  (reinvestment of capital) and continued focus on productivity. Grow your business, grow your people.”

Maple Landmark Inc., Middlebury, VT

“Our core competency is our ability to efficiently operate in a mixed-model environment with short leads times,” said Mike Rainville, president of the toy and other small wood products firm. A focus on lean and training has enabled the firm to increase productivity 12% and add complexity, without adding new hires.

McClung’s Lumber, Salem, VA

New technology, including a Thermwood CNC, helped the architectural millwork firm increase capacity without adding employees, said TJ Stratton, Operations manager. “Combining that with refining our systems and the way orders moved through the shop allowed us to cross $2 million in sales threshold.” 2018 sales rose 16.7%.

Cal Door & Drawer, Morgan Hill, CA

Hiring outside sales reps while maintaining quality and service contributed to 2018’s 13.6% sales growth, said Edward Rossi, CEO. Investments in a Mereen-Johnson milling line and 5-head Biesse sander also aided production of the 8,000-10,000 wood, RTF, and edgebanded doors and drawer boxes shipped daily and nationally. Plans are to add a Flex line edebander and double-action panel saw for faster processing.

Frank Chervan Inc., Roanoke, VA

Reduced delivery times helped sales for the contract seating manufacturer grow 9.0%, said Gregory Terrill, president. “We have continued to build upon our vertically integrated, completely domestic production model. This is our core competitive advantage,” he said. “We can respond to demanding customer needs because we control the value stream from raw inputs to finished goods.”

Casework Solutions, New Century, KS

“A renewed team culture of shared values and vision,” helped the cabinetry and countertop firm grow sales 19.0%, said Randy Frey, owner. The company also redefined key result areas for all team members, redefined workflow pipelines and task processes and focused on “clear and continual communication,” of the core values and goals.  

Fusion Wood Products LLC, Elkhart, IN

“We pride ourselves in being an ally to the customer during every phase of production,” said Nate Rhoden, managing member. “We focus on people first by developing strong relationships with customers and providing a positive work environment for employees.” The strategy works, as the panel processor and profile wrapper’s sales grew a whopping 413.6%.

Doors and Drawers, Dexter, MI

Sales grew 3.5% for the commercial cabinet and fixtures maker, which recently completed construction of a 6,000-square-foot warehouse. “This allowed us more room for actual manufacturing and has greatly increased our efficiency and safety,” said Chuck Manitz, owner.

Classic Millwork and Cabinets Inc., Westmont, IL

The custom commercial millwork firm looks to continue its upward sales growth, with projections good also for the next few years, said Ray Turffs, president. The company added office and shop staff, as well as some new equipment, to aid the production of millwork for retail stores, office spaces, restaurants/bars, schools and salons.

R&B Grove Casework Inc., Baltimore, MD

Tony Kordell, project manager & senior estimator, credits “Always being on time, from bidding to submittals/shop drawings, to deliveries and complete installations with zero punch list,” for contributing to the laminated cabinetry, casework and countertop firm’s success. R&B also invested in a box truck for deliveries as opposed to contracted delivery service, with a new CNC router and edgebander planned for this year.

Custom Millwork & Display, Inc., South Bend, IN

“We have aligned ourselves with a network of very good vendors, suppliers and other quality millwork shops,” said Jerrel Mead, president. The strategy worked, as 2018 sales grew 35.1% for the providers of architectural millwork to the commercial and educational sectors.

El Paso Wood Products, El Paso, TX

The firm’s diversification into components continues to pay off, said Francisco Fernandez, vice president. “Currently half of our business is cutting 3/4-inch CDX plywood for furniture frames.” Hiring an outside industrial engineer and continuous improvements also spurred the 3.7% growth.

The 2019 WOOD 100 is sponsored by Pollmeier Inc.

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