Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Cabinetry Businesses Innovating Industry After Economic Slump

Has the economic recovery slammed the door shut on the remodeling industry decline? Apparently so, but experts say that it must innovate in order to survive moving forward and move past the economic downturn.

Anyone who has followed the remodeling industry, specifically the cabinetry market, will realize that it has gone through a slump since the collapse of the housing bubble from 2006 to 2008. Although industry reports show cabinetry sales are on the rise again, the recession still hurt business overall.

Take for instance the case of Cardell Cabinetry, once considered one of the biggest manufacturing businesses in San Antonio for the past 10-plus years. It was reported that the three-decade-old company shut down its manufacturing facility in early September and laid off more than 900 employees.

Despite the difficult times for some businesses, the Kitchen Cabinet Manufacturers Association monthly Trend of Business Survey discovered cabinet sales for June of this year grew 16.2 percent, stock cabinet sales jumped 21.3 percent, semi-custom sales increased 11 percent and custom sales received a boost of nearly 20 percent.
As a response to the positive trends, some cabinetry enterprises are establishing new locations and creating jobs. In September, Smart Cabinetry confirmed it is relocating to a new location in Michiana and generating about 90 new jobs. It plans to construct a 200,000 square-foot building to service approximately 400 distributors across the United States.

Other companies are innovating their services; an aspect that sector professionals say is a must. Woodworking Network profiled Leedo Cabinetry's introduction of industry-leading technology that will certainly enhance customer service.

Last month, it launched a new program that provides real-time updates in the field. The custom software program was created by the company's IT department. As the workers on the job utilize tablets to insert the updates, customers located anywhere in the country can track the updates about their project(s).

"Five years ago, we realized that the same need exists from an installation standpoint. We recognized that the information deficit between field conditions and manufacturing was causing serious delays in job completions. It became a corporate priority to improve communication between installation services and project administration," reports Darryl Preen, Chief Information Officer of Leedo Cabinetry.

"The tablet we chose had to bring together the ease of use of our paper system and the intersection of the design systems with the order and manufacturing systems we use. We had many paper hand offs and data translations; building a platform that allows us to capture the data and distribute it throughout our business has had a measurable impact on our efficiency."

Preen noted that Leedo is projected to install 50,000 units, or close to 600,000 cabinets, this year and using the latest technology can allow the company to focus on the projects and their customers' needs rather than having their attention on administrative elements.

"Now that the data is instantly uploaded to our servers, we can monitor the install status of any given job on any given day and effectively engage all Leedo departments in getting units to a completed state; which is ultimately why we are all in this business," the Leedo CIO added.

The U.S. cabinetry market is now valued at nearly $7 billion. Can it keep up that momentum? If it can continue its competitive and innovative actions and the economy remains relatively healthy then most analysts say it can.

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