Photos: Distinctive wood products
Distinctive Wood Products has almost doubled its production space and number of employees over the past two years.
Alec Huynh is the President of Distinctive Wood Products of Kitchener, Ontario, and is proud to speak about the recent growth they have been able to achieve through a carefully planned expansion of their facilities and product offering.
Distinctive Wood Products now operates out of two buildings – after expanding in early 2020 – totaling “just over 35,000 square feet in total with 53 employees, 38 of which are in manufacturing.”
“It’s a really great story,” says Huynh. “Two years ago I was the 24th employee hired, so we were very fortunate, even in these difficult times, to be able to significantly grow the business. “
Manufacturing is roughly divided with a drawer box manufacturing plant and the new door production plant.
“We have strategically split the production of our two core products and although we had to increase the size of our fleet, we did not have to double any equipment as the two business units use different types of equipment for manufacturing. and assembly.
“It was part of our plan for growth and the search for efficiency. “
In the beginning
Joe Duimering and his wife Sue started Distinctive Wood Products in 1992.
“As a cabinetmaker, Joe was not very happy with the quality of the doors he received from his suppliers and he began to study the manufacture of his own dovetail doors and drawers, which made him feel better. eventually led to starting his own business to make a better product. “, says Huynh.
“And so he started to focus on making quality cabinet components rather than cabinet work, and the business took off and he refocused all of his efforts to build better components. . “
Then, in 2019, Duimering was looking for investors and / or partners to further develop the business and this is how AnnexPark got involved.
AnnexPark Capital was founded by Alan Lever and Stephen Luengo to invest and develop a small portfolio of small and medium-sized private Canadian companies. The company is based in Toronto and founded on the guiding principles of trust and integrity.
“So Stephen and Alan arrived on board July 1, 2019, Joe continues to serve on the board,” Huynh explains.
Distinctive Wood Products specializes in providing quality and trendy products including MDF cabinet doors, primed components ready to paint, as well as dovetail drawers and custom wood components and accessories.
Huynh says the company has enjoyed a period of incredible growth over the past two years as “we are riding this unprecedented wave.
“We have almost doubled our production space and the number of employees and the increase in our sales has kept pace, so we are very lucky. It was truly remarkable, especially given the short period of time. Alan and Steve have made significant investments to make growth possible.
“Most recently, we invested in a fully automated Venjakob flat line finishing system that goes up to a seven-deck oven, increasing our added value through consistent product quality by priming our MDF doors rather than ‘by doing it manually.
“And that has already made a huge difference for us. We are also considering starting the finish coating. “
Huynh says they have several clients who have joined us and are ready to work with them as they are slowly introducing finish coating options on their lines.
“Our approach has always been that we want to be good at something before we go into the mass market. So we work with these customers to compose it, and then we will offer it to all of our customers. “
At this point the finish line is solvent-based, but Huynh says some customers are asking for a water-based option “and we are testing with our suppliers to introduce a water-based universal primer option that allows the primer to meet both solvent and water-based topcoat preferences.
“We are excited about this new opportunity and how it could provide our customers with another sales opportunity to their respective end customer. “
Looking ahead, Huynh says they continue to plan for further growth.
“Since I arrived in September 2019, we have added four CNC machines, automated with a flat line and an oven to the finishing department, and we just placed an order for two more CNCs and it’s right on the side of the carries and additional capital investments in our infrastructure to support our growth plans.
“On the drawer side, we added an assembly machine and a dovetail to support our two main lines. Maple, which is our premium range and we have the birch range, but we also have other species such as walnut and white oak, but these require a bit longer lead time, but if it is anything anyone wants, we can provide it. For some clients, we have also just launched a plywood line which has been well received to complement their project work offerings.
Distinctive Wood Products ships most of their products to customers in Ontario and the majority are smaller cabinet makers, but they also have a few large accounts and “we’ve just started to expand out west. Canada and Quebec ”.
Moreover, through relationships and word of mouth, they have also recently started adding new customers in the United States.
And again, Huynh says it’s the same type of philosophy for their customers, some large accounts, but the majority are cabinet makers who complete a kitchen or two a week.
“Of course part of our growth is the result of this wave of renovations that we’re seeing across the industry as people sit in their homes all day and spend money on upgrades.” , he said.
“Having said that, I think a lot of it has to do with our quality, the way we build our doors for example. It brings so much value to our customers and more and more people are seeing it.
“Joe has put us in a position of innovators, the way our two-piece door is built, and we are taking full advantage now with careful planning and strategic investments.
“One of our main selling characteristics is the quality of our products and the premium materials we use,” says Huynh.
“As a cabinet maker you can certainly buy a cheaper door than ours, but people are realizing that they can add a lot of value to their kitchens by using our high quality products and at the same time lower their costs. respective internal manufacturing processes. We understand our customers and that’s part of the reason we’ve been able to grow so much because of their confidence in our product.
And Huynh says the business is seeing further growth now because their customers demand more and more that extra added value and order more finished products, “because their problem is to hire pavers and open up their capacity.”
“We have now automated our painting process, so this is the biggest progress we have made in almost three years. That and other automations, like rotary sanders, and we’ve used those efficiencies to help us grow.
You can’t grow a business without loyal customers and a trusted supply chain, “which has been a big factor for us, especially in these tough times. For example, we are not facing any significant supply chain issues despite the well-known challenges in this area at this time.
“Our suppliers are very supportive of us and our plans and I really believe this is another critical key to our success.”
“With exponential growth comes challenges as we scale up our operations. Adding new teammates and supporting their development of our best-in-class manufacturing and quality principles is a big part of our future success. During these periods of expansion, our delivery times have certainly been extended beyond our standards, especially during this peak period, “said Huynh,” but they have been able to “meet the commitments of delivery that remain well within industry standards ”.
What is the difference?
“Simply put, we think we make a better product using higher quality materials and we follow it through to the finish.
“Our experience and loyalty, both to our customers and our supply chain, ensures our customers can be confident in our ability to maintain supply and improve products for their customers,” said Huynh.
“We also have a top notch customer service team so we don’t lose that strength and at the end of the day I think we’re just selling a better product.