Custom cabinets

Last updated on May 13th, 2019 at 02:39 pm

Wisconsin has a long history of cabinet-making. In most of those small shops, one worker generally handles a cabinet job from start to finish. As a result, the cabinetry business has become notorious for having long turnaround times between placing the order and receiving the finished product.

However, Diamond Cut Inc., a Mequon-based cabinet shop, is different. Instead of relying on one or two people to make its cabinets, 23 employees work in the company’s shop. Instead of having one worker create a cabinet or series of cabinets from scratch, the company uses traditional manufacturing processes, even when it is making custom cabinets.

“Diamond Cut was founded on the idea of working with the customer and delivering on time,” said Eric Coryell, president of Diamond Cut. “We’re taking lean manufacturing into an old-line industry.”

Like most other cabinet shops, Diamond Cut does custom work. The company has two (computer numerical control) CNC machines in its manufacturing facility, allowing it to quickly create custom pieces that can be affixed to the cabinet, storage systems or other decorative items the company is designing.

“We’re doing technical design in a craftsman,” Coryell said. “A lot of that starts with the CNC machine.”

The machines allow Diamond Cut to easily make leaf designs, intricately carved corner pieces and other custom designs in a uniform pattern. For some clients, the company has created custom decorative pieces that haven’t been seen in any other homes.

Diamond Cut’s CNC machines also enable it to create custom doors. The company has a dedicated door cell, to create both interior and exterior doors, and doors for its own cabinets.

The majority of the company’s work is done in high-end homes, including many that have great rooms with two-story high ceilings. To match those high ceilings, Diamond Cut has created two-story mantles for oversized fireplaces, Coryell said.

The company also has created large bars for basement entertainment centers and kitchen islands for oversized kitchens.

In homes with theater rooms, Diamond Cut can make decorative mock ticket booths.

Recently, the company built large vanities and custom-designed islands for walk-in closets. Some of those custom islands have included tie racks, hidden shoe racks, mirrors and other high-end amenities, Coryell said.

“The real key is getting in front of the customer and understanding what statement they want the house to make,” Coryell said.

After meeting with a client, the company’s designers then submit drawings to engineers, who program custom designs into the company’s CNC machines. Drawings and plans are then expedited to the shop floor, where the cabinets and related pieces are produced.

Implementing lean and cellular manufacturing techniques has enabled Diamond Cut to have lead times of two weeks or less for most jobs. In an industry such as cabinet-making, in which home builders often require on-time delivery so new homeowners can move in, being able to meet a tight deadline has given Diamond Cut an advantage over its competition, Coryell said.

“Our lead times are short, compared to our competition, which has allowed us to grow,” he said. “In an industry that is hurting, we look OK.”

Diamond Cut was founded in 2002. When Coryell joined, the company had seven employees. Today, it has 34 employees. Coryell said he is planning to hire five to 10 more employees next year.

 “We’ve got our people and our process in place,” he said. “Now it’s about increasing our flow and increasing the top line.”

Several of Diamond Cut’s employees are experienced cabinet makers who have been hired from other shops. But many more are young workers who didn’t have a background in cabinetry. Because the company’s manufacturing facility is broken into manufacturing cells where specific jobs are repeated, the company can train its new hires, easing them into more and more sophisticated processes.

“Our philosophy is to train our own employees, kind of like a cabinet university,” Coryell said. “We want to bring in good kids who want to learn.”

Diamond Cut currently sells to the metro Milwaukee market, but the company is toying with the idea of creating a mobile installation truck that could take cabinets built in its factory and install them in other areas, such as Chicago.

“We could do that in almost any market,” Coryell said.

Even though the new housing market has slowed significantly, Diamond Cut’s lasting relationships with reputable high-end home builders should keep its sales volumes increasing, Coryell said.

“In times like this, good builders are still busy, even though the industry is static,” he said.

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