The Covid-19 pandemic has wreaked havoc on global economy and thrown manufacturing businesses off-kilter. Some are even struggling to stay afloat while maintaining recommended precautions. At Cabinetry Factory, our commitment remains strong to the customers, and we want to share some best practices for maintaining your business during a time of social distancing.
Build Your Outreach
Try to amp up your online networking with social media, promotions or anything else you believe will help your business stay top of mind with potential clients. Let your clients know that even during these tough times, you are still here for them. Some great ways to stay connected are hosting virtual events, and increasing communication by email and personal phone calls. If you have had an outreach or promotional idea in mind, revisit it and see if you can configure it to fit the current global situation.
Remain Financially Prepared
Try to identify areas where you can hold down costs and review any credit lines you may have. Another idea is to move money so you can access it quickly. A key to productivity and profitably during this crisis is to keep your employees feeling secure and informed. A great resource has been published called the COVID-19 Company Playbook by Ask Almanac. It provides answers to some of the most frequently asked questions by employees, which could be a helpful resource for communicating with your team.
Check off Any Pending Tasks
Do you have tasks on the backburner iny our mind that you’ve always wanted to work on but never had the time? Tasks like starting a blog on manufacturing, creating an online portfolio of cabinetry samples,etc.? Now is a great time to revisit those ideas. Not only will it keep your workforce moving forward, but when this pandemic is over, you will have checked items off your to-do list and even taken some great business steps forward.
Collaborate with Other Companies
There is power in unity and numbers. By partnering with other companies in the industry, you can support and recommend creative ways to help each other’s businesses and cover gaps in workflow as a result of this pandemic. Think of it as a way to help grow the pool of ideas to make it through these tumultuous times.
Keep Your Team Safe
We know there are situations where you and your team won’t be able to switch to working remotely, so it is important to provide an environment where precautions are being taken. Wearing masks, maintaining 6-foot distances, additional cleaning and disinfecting of workstations are just a few examples. The CDC has put together a great list of safe workplace practices for essential workers.
Cabinetry Factory remains dedicated to growing and supporting our customers, especially during these difficult times, with our Quality, Competitive Price, Steady Lead Time.
The U.S. Department of Commerce has issued final duty determinations on Chinese imports of wooden cabinets and vanities - marking the end of a chapter in a nearly year-long ordeal.
The total antidumping and countervailing duties are as follows: Dalian Meisen 269.91%, Foremost 122.1%, Ancientree 13.33%, with all others 58.89%. This means that almost all Chinese manufacturers will now face a combined AD/CVD cash deposit rate of about 59%.
"Today's final determinations by the Department of Commerce mark a historic day for the American cabinet and vanity industry," said Wellborn Cabinets director of product development Stephen Wellborn. Wellborn is also a member of the American Kitchen Cabinet Alliance (AKCA), the group who began its petition against unfairly-traded Chinese imports in March 2019. "We thank Secretary Ross and the team at the Commerce Department for their leadership in standing up for American jobs. China is not playing by the rules and today's announcement will help level the playing field for American kitchen cabinet workers."
"The final determinations rendered by the Commerce Department are a major step forward for the American kitchen cabinet industry," said Mark Trexler, President and CEO at AKCA member Master WoodCraft. "Our fight is still not over, and we are hopeful for a positive outcome at the International Trade Commission in late March."
In October, the Department of Commerce issued preliminary antidumping duties ranging from 4.49 percent to 262.18 percent, with most Chinese producers facing antidumping duties of 39.25 percent. These antidumping duties are in addition to earlier countervailing duties averaging 16 percent, which have been in effect since August 2019. As a result of this final decision, cash deposits will continue to be required on all wooden cabinets and vanities imported from China.
On March 6, 2019, the AKCA initiated one of the largest trade cases ever filed against Chinese imports at the International Trade Commission and the Department of Commerce – a case which claims China's "manipulation and unfair trade practices" have resulted in a significant rise of the Chinese cabinetry imports - creating a threat to the estimated $9.6 billion American industry.
The scope of the petition covers both face-frame and frameless cabinets, made of solid wood and composite panel construction, RTA cabinetry, cabinetry components including doors, drawers, back and end panels, as well as desks, shelves, and tables that are attached to or incorporated in the merchandise.
The petition was fought every step of the way by the American Coalition of Cabinet Distributors, a group made up of U.S. distributors, dealers, contractors, installers and importers, which claims imposition of the proposed duties could significantly impact the RTA option from the U.S. marketplace. They say RTA companies serve a niche demand for RTA cabinets in the U.S. that prioritize limited selection and short lead times over customized products that take many weeks to complete.
They also claimed some cabinetmakers were seeking to exploit U.S. trade law for their own financial gain.
The AKCA targeted RTA importers on their tariff exclusion applications.
The fight isn't totally over though. While Commerce determines amount of duties, the ITC will determine injury and severe threat to the industry in March.
The war between importers of RTA wooden cabinets and American kitchen cabinet makers is easily visible on official tariff exclusion applications.
Companies hoping to get an exclusion must explain to the U.S. Trade Representative's office why they think they deserve one. There's also a spot for comments from the public and organizations, who can choose to support or oppose the application.
The American Kitchen Cabinet Alliance (AKCA), which formed in March to file an antidumping petition against China, says the Chinese government's "manipulation and unfair trade practices" have led to a more than 75 percent rise in Chinese imports of kitchen and bath cabinetry since 2015, creating a threat to the $9.5 billion American industry.
AKCA submitted comments on the applications of several importers of RTA cabinets. On CNC Cabinetry's application, the AKCA wrote:
"RTA imports do not constitute a separate, niche market, but rather a part of the U.S. market, as they compete head-to-head with the cabinets and vanities produced by the domestic industry, regardless of whether they are assembled or in RTA form. Both assembled and RTA cabinets are comparable with regard to quality, lead times, and other purchasing factors."
CNC Cabinetry countered:
"AKCA argues RTA cabinets are 'interchangeable' with domestic made-to-order stock, semi-custom, and custom cabinets. However, as emphasized in CNC’s request, short lead times and efficient delivery methods set RTA cabinets apart from the made-to-order cabinets produced by domestic manufacturers. These characteristics allow RTA cabinets to appeal to a completely different set of customers than made-to-order domestic cabinets."
Fabuwood – also applying for RTA exclusions – saw similar comments on its application.
RTA importers formed their own group, the American Coalition of Cabinet Distributors (ACCD) to fight the trade action earlier this year. Rather than emphasizing price, these RTA distributors say they are providing a product not available from most U.S. producers – a ready-to-assemble cabinet that can be delivered in days instead of weeks.
In October, the Department of Commerce announced an affirmative preliminary determination in the antidumping duty investigation of imports of wooden cabinets, vanities, and components from China, finding that exporters from China have dumped wooden cabinets in the United States at margins ranging from 4.49 to 262.18 percent.
The AKCA commended the preliminary determination, which it says is an important continuation of the work to address unfairly traded Chinese imports of wooden cabinets and vanities. Preliminary duties range from 4.49% to 262.18%, with most Chinese producers facing antidumping duties of 39.25%.
"This is a good next step in the process of leveling the playing field for American manufacturers, and we look forward to the final determinations," Perry Miller, president of Kountry Wood Products, said at the time. "Today's determination makes it possible to move forward and continue to fight for our workers and for American jobs. We are all grateful to the Department of Commerce for their continued work on this issue."
In response to the DOC's preliminary decision, the ACCD had said:
“It is important to understand that an affirmative finding does not in any way suggest that imports of RTA cabinets and vanities from China are causing injury to the made-to-order cabinet industry behind this petition. In fact, the U.S. cabinet industry overall is healthy and growing.
“The distinct RTA cabinet market accounts for less than 10% of all U.S. cabinet sales. RTA cabinets fill a specific consumer need, providing a limited selection of options that are available to consumers in a matter of days – a dramatically faster turnaround time than made-to-order cabinet companies offer. The made-to-order cabinet industry does not offer this niche product, and there is no justification for trying to penalize a segment of the market that their U.S. production does not serve. Remember that RTA imports are already saddled with 25% duties due to the trade war with China, making additional AD/CVD duties nothing more than punitive."
SAN JOSE, Calif. - Countervailing duties on plywood and softwood, tariffs on steel and aluminum are "having a profound impact on U.S. cabinetry manufacturers," says John Sherwin (left), a researcher with Freedonia Group.
After a 20.83 tariff was imposed on on Canadian softwood imports in November 2017 (including pine, spruce, and fir), softwood lumber prices jumped, and they have remained high since. Longer-term anticipated results include:
• an estimated 7% increase in the cost of new home construction in the U.S. (according to the National Association of Home Builders)
• surging profits for U.S. lumber producers.
In May 2018, the Random Lengths Framing Lumber Index hit the highest level since its inception in 1995, rising 30% from the previous year. (It has since lowered but not to pre-peak levels.)
Despite the price rise, supply was not impacted, and in a May 2018 survey, 31 percent of single-family homebuilders reported a framing lumber shortage. "These additional costs are leading prospective home buyers in the U.S. to either postpone construction, opt for a smaller home, or buy an existing home instead of building," Sherwin says. He will be presenting resuilts
The issue is still in flux, as the United States continues to bargain with China on trade. In early December, President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping agreed to 90-day halt of a tariff increase from 10 percent to 25 percent on $200 billion worth of Chinese exports.
The deal postponed a March 1 deadline for a new round of tariffs that would have be levied on oak, beech, maple, ash, cherry, moldings, rods, particleboard, various types of plywood, doors, charcoal, corks, and stoppers, and wicker and bamboo baskets. Furniture items include bedding, mattresses, car seats, wood chairs, furniture designed for offices, kitchens, chandeliers, and lamps.
However until it is resolved, the effects transcend housing construction alone, with remodelers and manufacturers of flooring, cabinets, and related building and construction products purchased by both professionals and DIYers worried about the longer-term effects. For example, consumers may not be as willing to finance lumber-intensive home renovations given the higher costs.
Not only wood is affected - but raw materials for hardware as well, as steel and aluminum tariffs also carry significant implications for the U.S fasteners industry, which is an intensive user of foreign-made steel and aluminum. Because fastener companies primarily compete on the price of raw materials, US companies could lose share to foreign concerns as import costs for these metals continue to rise, or in some cases even go out of business.
Where we live – and the methods and products we use to build our homes – can help or hinder the environment. According to the EPA, more than 500 million tons of construction and demolition debris are sent to landfills every year. Once the products are installed, Americans tend to waste more than 180 gallons of water per week and roughly a third of home energy monthly. Fortunately, kitchen and bath manufacturers are working to make products healthier for the environment and for homeowners.
At Cabinetry Factory, sustainability is not just a buzzword, it is the basis upon which our company was founded and is central to everything we do. First and foremost, Cabinetry Factory is about a worldview that our place on this planet is shared. Through our company and the products we create, we hope to change how people interact with environment in their daily lives and, in doing so, inspire a generation of people to innovate toward a more sustainable future.
All our kitchen cabinets are Carb 2 compliant, meaning they adhere to the lowest and most strict formaldehyde emissions standard of .05 ppm. All wood or wood-based products emit formaldehyde, but the cabinet manufacturing process for some companies can greatly increase these emissions. We are taking steps to ensure the air around is healthy and free of carcinogens in all our cabinetry products.
Cabinetry Factory take responsibility for the environment and the safety of our customers and employees, and takes conscious steps to minimize the overall impact of our operation on environment.
All sawdust generated in our cabinet manufacturing process is collected, removing 98 percent of dust particles. This eliminates virtually any discharge of wood dust into the atmosphere. Our dust collection system not only provides a clean air environment, it also uses a computer controlled, variable frequency drive system that saves a considerable amount of electricity. Sawdust is regenerated to produce heat.
We use eco-friendly paint for kitchen cabinet finish. It has no measurable level of formaldehyde or hazardous air pollutants, and extremely low levels of volatile organic compounds (VOCs). The air filtration system in our finishing department removes 97 percent of particulate matter, keeping our air clean inside and out.
A successful finished project first starts with a creative design and then becomes fully functional and inspired during the manufacturing, however, all it takes is a few hiccups during the installation process to turn success into failure and turn a happy customer into a disgruntled one who.
One of the best ways to ensure a successful project is through personnel: You must hire the best people and hiring a great installer is as important as hiring a great designer. An installer should not only be skilled in construction and assembly methods, but they also should be problem solvers, great at time management and skilled at customer service and communication, among other attributes.
Once you’ve hired that person, below are few tips on how to prepare your customer for the install, how to make the jobsite more efficient and how to deal with the common challenge of uneven flooring.
Homeowners have a role to in ensuring a successful closet installation. In fact, how well they do their part is key to the process. Following are seven tips you can share with customers so they can make the proper preparations before installers arrive:
Clean Up: Make sure the room is completely empty and the walls are blank. Not only should all personal items be removed – clothing, shoes, purses, etc. – also remove any moveable item such as shelves, cleats, baseboards and clothing rod.
Paint: Closet walls should be painted at least two days prior to the installation giving the paint time to dry. Painting the walls helps to give the closet a fresh facelift especially if the customer ordered an open back closet system where the wall can be seen. Painting walls to contrast with the color of the closet system can also give the entire closet a
New Floors: All flooring should be cleaned or replaced prior to the installation of the closet system. Once the closet system is installed, it will be a challenge to remove it if the homeowner later decides they want new floors.
Clear the Area: Remind homeowners that closet installation is light construction, so they should remove all pictures, mirrors and knickknacks in the immediate area since the installers need a clear path to the closet and its surrounding area. If the walls that adjoin the closets have artwork or decorative items, those items should be removed as well so that any hammering won’t cause something to shake or fall.
Plan a Playdate: If the homeowner has small kids, suggest that plan a play date at someone else’s home since there will be construction materials lying around. Also, they should plan on where to keep their pets for the day since the workers have to carry materials in and out and you can’t constantly watch the door for a pet that’s not allowed outside.
Decorate: Shop for finishing pieces such as rugs, chairs, footstools and other accents, before the installation begins will allow the homeowner a seamless transition to their new system. This is also the time to replace all old hangers with new ones to give the closet a showroom look.
Make Time: Homeowners should decide on how they want to organize the new closet – whether it’s color coordinating or sorting by seasons. Then schedule enough time to organize clothing and shoes before putting them back in the closet. This is a good time to clean your shoes and purses, get certain items dry cleaned or properly store your occasion clothes.
Make the jobsite efficient
Dan Rush, a professional trim carpenter, specializing in cabinet installs, has the following tips on how to improve efficiency and productivity on the jobsite.
Evaluating Tool Usage: Take time to identify and separate your tools into these three categories:
Daily or weekly use – Keep these in your site kit.
Occasional use – Pack separately but keep in your truck.
Rarely/never used – Put these is your shop’s storage.
This helped reduce his truck cargo by 30 to 40 percent.
Site Tool Kit: Rush uses a Systainer system because it offers a unified approach to tool organization and transportation. Now, along with four Systainer boxes, a worktable, compound miter saw, vacuum and step ladder complete his site kit.
To minimize trips between the truck and jobsite, he decided on a 24 x 48-inch lightweight work cart with 8-inch pneumatic wheels. The large tires help negotiate curbs, gravel drives, cords, etc. on site. Using the Systainers and work cart, saves him 30 to 45 minutes daily.
Site Work Area and Clean Up: An MFT worktable is the center point of his site shop, with the work cart and Systainers set up next to it in the same order each day. A consistent loading plan ensures proper workflow, as well as the ability to immediately notice something out of place on a crowded jobsite.
Another time saver: Rush uses a dust extractor with a number of his tools. On average, it saves 15 to 30 minutes during clean-up time.
Anothy Noel, a cabinetmaker and former contributor to Closets & Organized Storage has a few tips on how to deal with a common problem on jobsite - uneven floors. When the floor is uneven, you can typically get away with shimming a system up to ¼ to ½ inch. But what if the floor slopes up to 2 inches?
Tip 1: Panel Sizing
Cut the panels and scribe the toekick.
A. Start with the panel at the lowest end (do not cut that panel)
B. Place the panel in place
C. Draw a level line from the top of the panel to the end of the system
D. At the location of each panel, measure from the floor to line – that’s the height of your panel. Cut the panel on the bottom and continue to the last panel
E. Scribe toekicks in to fit
Tip 2: Hardware Tricks
Mounting hardware can help correct problems in closet spaces that are out of plumb or out of square. Some closet installers, for wall-mounted systems, use brackets that provide an allowance of 1-1/4 inches of play in several directions.
Tip 3: Filling Gaps
Scribe tape, self-adhesive edgebanding, can be used for small gaps. For gaps larger than 3/8 inch, the entire closet organizing system is shrunk down in the design stage and fillers are included.
Tip 4: Scribe Moulding
Make a scribe moulding with the HPL and scribe it to fit the wall and then laminate it to the edge of the board. Fill in any tiny gaps with caulking.
Industry Stats & Facts
More consumers are hiring designers for their kitchen remodeling jobs. Design professionals (employedby dealers, distributors and kitchen design shops)are involved in a little over one-third of all kitchen remodeling projects, representing over half of the revenue generated by kitchen remodeling (pointing to higher average project costs than DIY kitchen projects).
Satisfaction with kitchen cabinet purchases is about more than price. J.D. Power’s “Cabinet Customer SatisfactionStudy” revealed that the top characteristics that lead to customer satisfaction (and the percentage of people citing each as the primary factor determining satisfaction) were operational performance (26%), ordering and delivery (21%), design features (20%), price competitiveness (17%), and warranty (16%). Kitchen Cabinet manufacturers, dealers, kitchen designers,and other retailers should keep these priorities in mind when determining kitchen cabinet product lines to carry, price points, ordering procedures, delivery methods and schedules, and marketing and advertising messages.
Consumer Reports (August 2007) evaluated customer satisfaction with remodeling jobs undertaken by homecenters, independent contractors, local stores, and manufacturer-recommended contractors. When it comes to installation, home centers ranked about 10 points lower in customer satisfaction levels than smaller cabinet dealers and kitchen design shops, which ranked around 87 (out of 100). Fewer consumer problems occurred with manufacturer-recommended or local store installers than with home center installers(30% and 40% experienced problems, respectively).
Consumer interest in “green” (healthy and environmentally friendly) kitchen design is growing. A big concern for customers is the level of formaldehyde in cabinet-box construction. A number of alternatives are available, such as Medite, a type of fiber board free of formaldehyde, which consumers should be educated about before and during sales presentations.
Critical Success Factors
Offer a variety of cabinet product lines, but ensureplenty of choices exist for high-end consumers and designers -- since higher-end products carry better profit margins and the customers who buy them are less price-sensitive.
Keep steady cabinet supply chain. Cabinetry Factory is the leading cabinet manufacturer that focus on American style kitchen cabinet manufacturing, who manufacture and export kitchen cabinets from Vietnam with 0 tariff.
Ensure customer satisfaction by streamlining the kitchen cabinet ordering process, offering warranties on products and workmanship, delivering on time, and hiring top-notch contractors to install cabinets and countertops. Cabinetry Factory is a kitchen cabinet factory that can keep their customer satisfied.
Create awareness of the company’s services and increase traffic into the showroom by inviting website visitors and home show attendees to sign up for a weekly email newsletter series about the kitchen remodeling process, and include in the newsletter images of the showroom and staff to familiarize them with the firm.
Encourage referrals from past customers; for example, create a cooking club and host parties in kitchens completed for customers, and have them invite their friends and neighbors.
Use the showroom for more than selling cabinets and countertops; make it available for fund raising events like luncheons, cocktail parties, and celebrity chef demonstrations -- to build awareness, generate goodwill, and encourage referrals.
Kitchen Cabinets Factory in Vietnam