Getting Started in Green Cabinetry

Part 2:  Starting out the easy way
In a slower economy, many dealers are scouting around for new profit opportunities, and the kitchen/bath/office cabinet market may indeed bring new customers in the door. But before you can compete in a community already stocked with some well-established suppliers, it would help to have some product offerings that set your company apart, and this year, green cabinets offer just that opportunity.

Aside from whatever design appeal they may offer, environmentally safe and sustainable cabinetry will have some serious value-added attraction to three major client groups:
1) Homeowners who would prefer to keep their family's food  in certified non-toxic storage.
2) Commercial clients who are environmentally responsible or seek a good PR boost for their company.
3) Project managers looking to earn LEED credits for new construction or a major remodeling effort.
A lumberyard or building material dealer who already performs value-added enhancements such as custom moulding, door manufacturing, or the like may already have the manpower and equipment to cut and build cabinets in-house with no major additional investments.

Other dealers might prefer to work with manufacturers who can supply ready-to-assemble materials that comply with green guidelines. Oregon based Timber Products Company offers hardwood plywood panels under the GreenT label that are produced with no-added urea formaldehyde resins. There are 3 principal families of GreenT product: Arreis™ pt is a MDF core product; GreenT Veneer Core™; and GreenT Particleboard Core™. Arreis is made from 100 percent post-industrial recycled wood fibers. The products are available with either SFI or FSC certification.

In terms of appearance, GreenT is available in all the popular domestic veneers – birch, cedar, cherry, maple, and more – plus many of the exotic tropicals. But it's the value-added benefits that might make this line attractive to cabinetry newbies: the company can quickly produce ready-to-assemble certified green cabinets based on a dealer's CAD files. “We can turnaround the costing in 24 to 48 hours, depending upon how complicated the job might be,” said Roger Rutan, Timber Products Vice President. “We can provide people with the finished, cut parts. Typically, we're looking at a 1 or 2 week turnaround to do the job. If the work is highly specialized, it might take longer. But we have 9 mills, and we make a lot of panels here.”

The wood veneers can be shipped with edge banding and their sprayed-on RhinoCoat finish, or a dealer can choose a decorative laminate, such as melamine, on one or both sides. “Our pre-finished panels have a strong resistance to scratches and are available in a full range of wood species,” said Rutan. “They also allow finishing labor to focus on more critical areas of production, which can improve the bottom line when it comes to completing projects.” RhinoCoat is a UV-cured VOC-free finish that contributes to the Kitchen Cabinet Manufacturing Association (KCMA) ESP environmental certification.

Working with ready-to-assemble materials reduces the complexity of starting up, but developing the right marketing approach will be vital to any success in selling cabinets, Rutan advises. “We have extensive resources here to help people establish their products as meeting the environmental requirements,” he said. Proper documentation is key. “You don't even have to ask for that; you're going to get it. In California, the CARB documentation is mandatory. In the case of FSC it's required, but we also think it's good information for the customer to have. We have sales folk across the U.S., so if a dealer calls in from New York, we have a salesman who can be on their doorstep. We are ready to give dealers the simple, straightforward answers about green products that they need.”

Rutan contends that green cabinets are a product the wood products industry has been eager to move into the marketplace. “We think the focus on environmentally preferable products is good for the wood products industry,” he said. “The average person needs to understand that wood cabinets are made from a renewable resource, and rank among the most sustainable and environmentally sensitive things that people can put in their homes.”


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