There are plenty of reasons quality cabinets cost more. What are yours?
“Why does Pennville cost more?” is a question Mark Goldman, president of Pennville Custom Cabinetry, hears regularly. The answer is that his company tries to make every detail extraordinary while others merely try to make those details acceptable.
Here are a few examples:
1. We build our own doors. Because of this, we sand the panels better. We pick wood for the finish that will be used, and we use a better grade of hardwood. We pre-stain or pre-paint our panels the same color as the job before the door is put together so shrinking and swelling will not be as noticeable. You will also notice the tops and bottoms of our raised panels are the same color as the vertical raises. We use larger tenons to join our mitered doors, and everyone says they hold much better. We can actually build a door to match any of our customer’s drawings – in any radius. We pre-fit our inset doors to the face frames before the cabinet is built, so the gaps are consistent. I often hear “The backs of your doors look better than the fronts of any other cabinet manufacturer we use.”
2. We really look at your order when you send it in; and we find errors. Robert Houston has been doing this for 25 years, and Zora Norris has been with us since the 1970s. We try to help you make sure that things just work right. We help you with quoting special items – not just with pricing, but also with engineering. Face it, there is a plethora of information when you send in an order for a custom kitchen, and we try to help you make sure it is the right information. And, we do this after you’ve used one of the best price books and ordering software in the industry. I often hear, “We make more money when we sell a Pennville Kitchen.”
3. We spend more time on finish than our competitors. Not only do we use a clearer harder finish than most (which we can because we use a better grade of wood), but we also spend more time sanding. We glaze doors and cabinets together (as opposed to on separate lines), so there will be a general evenness. We test our finishers for color hue perception. We have a sanding booth so that pigments from one color don’t contaminate other product in the paint room. We make sure that antiquing is more random and less contrived. We even store our finishes in a controlled environment, so that when we use them, we know that they haven’t been compromised by weather. I often hear, “You didn’t make that. – that's really an antique; isn’t it?”
4. We only use American and European parts. Despite the cost savings of buying plywood in Asia (where bad drywall, toothpaste with melamine and toys with lead paint come from), all of our “no-added formaldehyde” plywood cores come from North American mills and North American trees. Our hardware is from Europe or America, and you will see the gaps are tighter, the motion is better, and the finish will hold up longer. In addition we install it better. For instance, our drawer glides are attached to the cabinet sides – not to some thin piece of metal or plastic in the back. I often hear, “________ uses drawer glides that look just like that, but they don’t work the same.”
5. Our cabinet construction is built to last for generations. Our cabinetry is built with completely captive construction. That means it is assembled much like a three-dimensional puzzle, and once glued, it should last for centuries. Our drawers have ½-inch thick plywood bottoms. Our backs are ½ inch thick so no hang rails are required. Our beaded inset frames are haunched and put together with loose tennons, so they will stay together. When other cabinetmakers come through, I often hear, “But doesn’t that take longer?”
6. Our frameless cabinetry is built better. We use screws, glue, and dowels to assemble our 3/4-inch plywood frameless Epicure. We engineer pieces to close up the gaps between cabinets. We use ¼-inch solid wood fronts while most just use a thin edge tape or a piece of PVC. And, just like on our Pennville line, we will build anything you can draw. I often hear, “Your frameless cabinets are sturdier than anyone else’s face frame cabinets.”
7. We help make sure you don’t forget the details. When you order a glass door, we automatically use the same wood species on the interior. When you order a 5/4 inset door, we make sure you have a 5/4 face frame. We monitor our humidity and add to it in the winter. We stock 10-foot plywood so that tall cabinetry doesn’t have gaps in the end panels. We will make 13 inch deep cabinets at no extra charge to accommodate certain dishes. We often hear, “Pennville is our only company that always says ‘Yes!’”
8. We have the best machinery. Not only does this help us make parts more accurately, but it also allows us to make anything you can draw in any radius. We can engrave any part – even on a curve. We can make almost any part a customer can draw. We make wood parts more accurately than some machine shops make metal parts. Our 60,000 square foot factory is full of some of the most state-of-the-art equipment in the industry. We often hear, “You have better equipment than companies five times your size.”
9. We spend more time on research and development. Whether it is accessories like our Gourmet Chop Blocks or our Wusthof Knife Drawers, or the hardware or ideas we have first because of tours through European factories, or our new rollout system, our Parisian Inset, servo-drive drawers, or innovative hardware and lighting; you can bet that Pennville will have it first. I often hear, “Now that's cool!”
Explain some of these things to your customers, and ask them, “If every detail could be extraordinary instead of ordinary, would that be worth 10-15 percent?” Goldman asks. "Or, on the other hand, 'Would you prefer to compromise on these details and save 15 percent, or would you rather just have this job done right?' ”
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