Design Firm Uses Dual Focus to Bolster Success


Metropolitan Cabinets & Countertops has long been accustomed to “doing it all” – from designing and building projects to manufacturing its own cabinetry.

The firm – which designs kitchen and bath cabinetry for homes and multi-family projects as well as a variety of other projects for both homeowners and the trade – has been in business since 1984, starting out as a cabinet distributor. Six years ago, the company began manufacturing its own cabinet line as well, according to owner Stuart Elfland – a move that he says has given the firm many competitive advantages.

Dual Focus

In a time of tighter budgets and greater competition, design firms need to be able to offer their clients the best possible deals. And, as Elfland sees it, “By manufacturing our own product, we can control quality, cost and lead time. In terms of the homeowner, we have eliminated the middleman in the distribution process, thus passing that savings on to the consumer.”

Time savings, too, is another benefit of the firm’s dual focus, Elfland says. “The homeowner gets the benefit of quicker response time in the event of project changes or installation issues. When changes occur, the customer isn’t waiting for a truck from North Carolina or Pennsylvania or a container from Europe.”

He continues, “Because we both design and build almost all of our kitchen and bath projects at our Norwood, MA location, our designers are always aware of the progress of the projects that they are working on, and can keep contractors, architects, designers and homeowners up-to-date.”

Another benefit of being both designer and manufacturer is the ease of communication – something that is increasingly important in these competitive times. Elfland states, “If there’s a snag on the manufacturing end, our design team is aware of it immediately, and challenging design issues can be resolved with a face-to-face meeting. Our designers are never isolated from the product they’re designing.”

Finally, performing both design and manufacturing functions allows the firm to enjoy greater creativity, Elfland believes, noting, “If a client has an unusual design request or if there are specific space constraints or architectural impediments, our designers can work directly with our engineers to develop creative, functional solutions.”

Showroom Appeal

With three showrooms in Norwood, Natick and Watertown, MA, offering a collective square footage of some 18,000 square feet, the firm has the opportunity to showcase a wealth of products.

According to Elfland, “We have a mixture of contemporary and traditional cabinets on display, as well as an extensive selection of cabinet doors in every species of wood, stain and glaze choices, thermofoil and laminate.” The firm also carries sinks and faucets from Franke, Elkay and Artisan.

He adds, “We have natural and engineered stone, laminate and Corian on display, and we make all of our own laminate and Corian countertops as well as fabricate stones such as granite, marble, CaesarStone, Silestone and IceStone.”

Additionally, the Norwood showroom features a fabrication facility with a stone gallery where customers can view full slabs. “Ideally, we want people to come in, point to a display and say, ‘That’s exactly what I want in my home,’” Elfland says.

The showrooms also embrace many green practices. “Aside from recycling products such as sawdust, stone, packaging materials, cardboard and office paper, our internal processes are designed to reduce or eliminate waste. For example, our cabinet shop is automated and the use of optimization software leaves little room for leftover plywood or furniture board. Our stone fabrication process consists of 100% recycled water,” he notes.

Also, the firm’s cabinet line is the only Massachusetts cabinet manufacturer accepted into the KCMA’s Environmental Stewardship Program, according to Elfland.

Because 90 percent of what the firm sells is made in Norwood, the firm also leaves a smaller carbon footprint, something that Metropolitan’s environmentally conscious clients appreciate, according to Elfland.

The firm employs 16 designers, 10 of whom have more than 20 years of experience each working in the kitchen industry. This is also key to the firm’s success, Elfland adds.

Visibility Marketing

Metropolitan believes that staying visible is one of the best marketing tools around, and the company sees local associations as a good way to accomplish this goal. Elfland notes, “We are involved in several trade organizations such as the Builders Association of Greater Boston, the Eastern Massachusetts National Association of the Remodeling Industry and the New England Affordable Housing Management Association. In addition to attending regular meetings and events, we take sponsorships with these organizations, which puts our name out there on a continuous basis.”

The firm also participates in various trade shows and Green Expos, showcasing its products and professional expertise.

Elfland adds, “We take booth exhibition space at Build Boston and the Residential Design and Construction show. Metropolitan also holds events for these and other trade organizations at its own showrooms.”

While Metropolitan is active in the community and local associations, the firm eschews traditional advertising, and Elfland concludes, “[Because we don’t advertise], word of mouth and contractor loyalty are essential to our success.”