FRESNO, CA— Much like the Lotto slogan suggests, Earl Bier III and Robert Ladner know that “all it takes is a dollar and a dream.” Or, in the case of Bier and Ladner’s firm, Cabinetry Design Center, based here, it might be more apt to say “$30 and a great idea.”
After all, if kitchen and bath professionals such as Bier and Ladner have enough belief in their talents to take a chance on entrepreneurship with little more than an idea and the money in their pockets, it’s hard to bet against them.
As the legend goes, Bier and Ladner set up their first display at a local appliance store and it consisted of a mere five cabinets (which they had gotten on loan, no less!). Before Cabinetry Design Center was even an official business, Ladner had secured the pair’s first sale – but since the two hadn’t yet gotten a business license, they couldn’t cash the check. So, with each putting $15 in toward the permit, Cabinetry Design Center was born.
“When we first started, most of the design was done in my house and most of the estimating was done at a fast food restaurant, because we didn’t have an office,” says Bier. “But we always operated strictly on what we made before we would go to the next thing. We probably didn’t pay ourselves at that time – but we never had to take out a business loan.”
Indeed, say the co-owners, the faith that they showed in themselves nearly 10 years ago is being repaid today with a debt-free, $1 million business.
The firm caters to all levels of design professionals, as well as homeowners, and focuses on all period styles to meet the specific needs and desires of the client. According to Ladner, the company specializes in high-end, luxury custom cabinetry built to their customers’ specifications. He adds that the typical Cabinet Design Center’s customer is a professional or business executive, ranging from 40 to 75 years old, with a $150,000 income.
Bier adds: “Our clientele is the middle to luxury class, fashion conscious and discriminating buyer with an upward lifestyle.”
At Cabinetry Design Center, Bier serves as lead designer while Ladner procures sales – natural roles for both, Ladner claims.
“Earl designed his first major project when he was only 12 years old, and later earned an award of excellence for a design competition at the San Joaquin Chapter of AIA,” Ladner reports. “He also has an AS Degree in Architecture.” He continues: “I grew up on a family farm in South Dakota where my family built their own custom home. That experience really set the standard for me, and I have been involved in the building business ever since.”
As Ladner notes, the company has even grown to become one of the country’s top dealers of Crystal Cabinetry.
“In terms of volume, we are in the top one percent of all Crystal dealers,” he boasts.
In addition to Crystal Cabinets, the pair also carries a variety of other high-end product lines, including UltraCraft, Hertco, Just Sinks, Chicago Faucets, American Bath and Classic Brass, among others.
He adds that the partners receive their greatest joy from bringing clients’ wishes to life.
“Most of our clients have an idea taken from a picture they’ve seen. Whether it’s that, or a variation of it they have in mind, we can do it. We can build their dream,” he concludes.
According to Ladner, the key to the firm’s success is a company-wide focus on design details.
“We pay attention to detail and are always available by cell phone to answer questions and concerns,” he says. “We as business owners feel it is very important to stay active in all aspects of our business, and support our design team with the best training and involvement possible.”
To that end, he notes that the firm has access to a team of five designers, all of whom have ample design experience, which enables the firm to capture any design theme requested by a client.
“Our success is that we utilize the strengths of each person involved,” says Ladner.