Craftsmanship Defines Fourth-Generation Design Firm

MANHASSET, NY — In the age of technology, craftsmanship sometimes gets pushed aside. But that’s anything but the case at Showcase Kitchens, with upscale showrooms here, in Island Park, NY and in Greenwich, CT (with a fourth showroom opening in New York City this spring). The family-owned design firm, which has roots going back through four generations and some 80 years, focuses on hand-crafted designs that begin with real drawings, done by designers who conceptualize the design and draw it up to capture all of the unique details of a project.

“We are one of the last design firms that still crafts each design by hand – we only use the computer to engineer the details,” maintains Showcase Kitchens President and CEO John Stark Jr. He notes, “Each design is sketched by the designer, ensuring the most creative approach to design – yet still yielding the accuracy of engineering that design by CAD provides.”

The firm specializes in upscale kitchens, custom designs and cabinetry for any room in the house. “From traditional and Old World to ultra-modern or transitional, we can create any style our clients desire,” Starck states. His design philosophy is simple and effective: “First and foremost, form must follow function. We cater the design to each and every client’s specific needs and then work the aesthetic to their tastes.”

A FAMILY AFFAIR

Starck has spent 25 years in the industry, and was literally raised on kitchen design, having started at the firm at the age of 14. He received his Bachelor’s in Architectural Design, and went on to get certified by the National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI), as well as receiving a certificate as a PKBP (professional kitchen and bath planner) and ACSD (accredited cabinetry and space designer). His father, John Starck Sr., is currently v.p. and COO of the firm.

The Starcks believes that a big part of the firm’s success comes from the family values that permeate the business, along with a strong sense of history, and the knowledge that comes from having a business that has seen both the best and the worst of times.

“When my great grandfather and grandfather started the business in 1933, it was during the Depression,” he notes. “My roots run deep and our belief is that hard work, determination and a strong ethical platform always lead to success. It hasn’t steered us wrong in almost 80 years and I suspect it will not going forward.”

Starck is a big believer in giving credit where credit is due, and he is quick to add, “It certainly doesn’t hurt having design talent and surrounding yourself with individuals who share in your vision.”

SHOWROOM SPECTACULAR

Working on the ‘Gold Coast’ of Long Island as well as in Greenwich, CT, Starck deals with a customer base where “the homes are grand and the kitchens need to feel equally grand.”

As such, the showroom needs to reflect the firm’s custom capabilities. According to Starck, the roughly 1,800-sq.-ft. showroom is filled with custom displays featuring a plethora of detail work. “It’s pretty spectacular,” he asserts, noting that displays range from classic Old World to modern.

High-end clients who visit the showroom not only want beautiful custom work that will truly set their kitchens apart, they also want one-stop shopping for all of their design needs. To meet these needs, Starks says, “We offer interior design service and full jobsite project management services, and we source all materials and handle every aspect of our projects.”

The showroom carries a variety of high-end product lines, including Premier Custom Built, Quality Custom Cabinetry, Signature Custom Cabinetry, Cesar, La Cornue, Wolf, Sub-Zero, Miele, Gaggenau, Best by Broan, LeFroy Brooks, Rohl, Whitehaus Collection and Franke.

While “grand” is a major theme for the firm, he notes that the soon-to-be-opened New York City showroom will mirror the “typically smaller projects and more minimal tastes” associated with Manhattan residences.

GETTING THE WORD OUT

Starck believes that involvement in the community is one of the best forms of publicity, and as such, Showcase Kitchens is active with a variety of local charities. The firm also hosts various special events, sometimes tied to charitable institutions, which not only enhances the firm’s visibility with its upscale consumer base, but also gives back to those who live and work in the community.

Word of mouth is also an essential part of the firm’s marketing strategy, as high-end clients tend to choose design firms referred to them by those they know and trust. And, indeed, referrals are a big part of the firm’s business, with past clients doing a great deal to help spread the word about the firm and its custom capabilities.

Starck adds, “We also have an advertising budget for local magazines, and we recently hired a publicist to get our work published in more places and to aid in better brand visibility.”

But, in the end, Starck notes that the firm’s success is tied to one simple dictum: “The clients always come first.”

At a Glance

SHOWCASE KITCHENS

Principals: John Starck, Jr. - president and CEO; John Starck, Sr. – v.p. and COO; Luis Viteri – Island Park v.p.; Rand Rockmore – Greenwich managing principal

Showrooms: Three (Manhasset, NY; Island Park, NY, and Greenwich, CT), with a fourth showroom due to open in New York City later this spring

Hours of Operation: Monday thru Saturday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Number of Employees: 10

Major Product Lines Carried: Premier Custom Built, Quality Custom Cabinetry, Signature Custom Cabinetry, Cesar, La Cornue, Wolf, Sub-Zero, Miele, Gaggenau, Best, LeFroy Brooks, Rohl, Whitehaus Collection and Franke.

Design Software: AutoCAD

Business Philosophy: “Our clients always come first.”

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