Firm Demonstrates That ‘Two Heads Are Better Than One’

LINCOLNSHIRE, IL— For Dave Heigl, CKD and the entire staff at CabinetWerks, based here, two heads – or two businesses, as the case may be – are definitely better than one.

Consider that Heigl – who started as a trim carpenter for parent company Orren Pickell Designs & Builders – established CabinetWerks in 1994 as a means to offer custom cabinetry to Orren Pickell customers and improve delivery time for Orren Pickell custom home projects. Today, the two function as separate and unique entities, yet each contributes to the other’s success.

Of his firm’s beginnings, Heigl explains: “Orren was outsourcing his cabinetry and things wouldn’t show up on time, or would arrive with pieces missing. We spoke one day and decided to keep the service in-house. It gave us much more control over getting the cabinets there on time.”

He continues: “If the cabinets don’t get there on time, it backs up the tile, the countertops and all sorts of other things that come up behind them.”

According to Heigl, all it took was one project to spur on his punctual nature. “At one of the first jobs that I went to for Orren, I was asked to install some cabinet parts. The parts showed up a year late because the dealer was negligent! Those are the types of horror stories that we work to avoid.”

Since its inception, CabinetWerks has grown from a small cabinet division for Orren Pickell into a separate entity. Today, CabinetWerks still provides custom cabinetry, but also caters to high-end custom and semi-custom home projects, taking on both new construction and remodeling kitchen and bath designs. The company, which currently employs 15 team members, handles some 200 projects per year, Heigl notes.

Reinforcing the company’s growth, he adds: “We are a full-service design firm, and we have connections with quality vendors, carry samples, showcase room vignettes in our studios and work with our own installers so that we know that the project will be completed on time and within the allotted budget.”

Although CabinetWerks exists apart from its parent company, the two do share resources and talents. “It is a really great relationship, because the two companies ‘tag team’ with each other, and yet CabinetWerks is its own separate entity,” he says.

But – he is quick to add – the two companies share something else: a business philosophy. “Our design and business philosophy is based upon five elements: integrity, quality, pride, commitment and value,” he says.

Project Purpose

According to Heigl, each project the firm accepts gives it the opportunity to showcase its design talents and staff. Among CabinetWerks’ staff are two certified kitchen designers, but most of the team members have design degrees, since the company recruits regularly from the area’s top schools, Heigl notes.

Giving greater insight into the firm’s design process, he offers: “Before we create a design, we first build a partnership with each client. Our service begins when we brainstorm for ideas, and it doesn’t end until the cabinets are installed and the homeowner is delighted.”

To that end, Heigl describes a recent project the company did that called for an unfitted design approach. “It was a Nantucket Cape Cod, and the room featured a round window in the middle of a wall. While it was a great architectural element, it was also a challenge because you want to install something functional,” he notes. The design team planked the window with two large cabinets, added an arched valance above the window and then incorporated a curved window seat below. “It’s a great window seat for children to play on while mom is cooking dinner, and it’s also a great place for guests to sit during a casual party.”

Heigl notes that some of the firm’s most interesting projects include homes that have integrated cutting-edge technology into the residence.

He also points out that the firm’s location aids in targeting its clientele. “Being so close to Chicago – one of the nation’s design centers – is an added bonus. Not only do we have access to the latest products and hottest trade show, but we are also serving a clientele that appreciates good design!” he exclaims.

With such an educated and target-rich environment, Heigl notes that the company has also recruited local artisans for hand-crafted detailing within some homes, including pot racks, brackets and metal inserts.

Idea Center

The striking designs the company creates would not be possible were it not for the company’s two showrooms, according to Heigl. In fact, the two showrooms – which offer a combined 6,000 square feet of space and feature boutique-style settings – allow the CabinetWerks staff to not only offer complementary consultations for customers, but also spark their imaginations as the design process begins.

“Both of our showrooms have eclectic vignettes and samples that allow people to mix and match. Therefore, we really view ourselves as an ‘idea store’ backed by an exceptional design team,” he explains.

Based in Milwaukee, WI and Lincolnshire, respectively, the showrooms feature a variety of wares, including Wood-Mode, Brookhaven and Neff cabinetry, as well as Spekva countertops and cabinets from Denmark.

“Our Milwaukee showroom has also partnered with Knob Gallery to offer unique knobs and hardware – much of which is hand-crafted,” he adds.

Customers are often referred to the showroom from Orren Pickel, as well as other area builders. But, Heigl points out that the firm has also made a conscious effort to cater to retail, walk-in customers – an approach that allows the staff to further showcase its skills.

“When retail customers come into the showroom, we try to make them feel as welcome as if they were coming into our home,” he says.

During a customer’s first visit to the showroom, the person is walked through and introduced to the products and services offered. “At that point, we get as much information as we can about the scope of the project,” he adds. Then the company has a designer call and set an appointment with the lead, and most times the client will come back and sit down with the designer, Heigl reports.

“It is at that point that we require a retainer,” he explains. “That gets us started on our design. If they are ready, we make selections and we get going from there. It depends on the clients, however. They decide how fast or slow the project will roll.

“It has been a natural progression that, as we got busier, people would inquire about us. Clients from three or four years ago now ask us if we can build other things for them, such as entertainment centers. That gave us the idea to do retail and sell to other builders, so we let it evolve into this separate retail showroom and we now sell to builders,” he states.

Marketing Moves

Through its unique services, the company has developed a very loyal client base, Heigl believes.

“Many customers come back when they buy a new home, build a second vacation home or want to remodel other rooms,” he notes.

While the firm relies heavily on word-of-mouth referrals, it also utilizes the Yellow Pages and print and media advertising to market itself.

“We also host educational seminars and special events to reach our audience, and we participate in promotions and charitable showhouses,” he concludes.

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