Improving productivity and cabinetry with new engineering capabilities

Decor Cabinets Ltd.

February 17, 2014— Morden, Manitoba

Decor Cabinets head office

Decor Cabinets head office in Morden, Manitoba, hosts some of its 400 employees

Decor Cabinets Ltd., a Manitoba company based in Morden, has been dedicated to making beautifully crafted semi-custom cabinets since 1977. The company was able to gain market share despite fierce competition and the housing market crash in the U.S. that started in 2008. How? By focusing on the customer, adopting the latest innovations in cabinetry and increasing productivity through the addition of new engineering skills and the implementation of performance optimisation strategies within its two production facilities. The National Research Council of Canada Industrial Research Assistance Program (NRC-IRAP) played a valuable role in helping Decor Cabinets adopt these changes and best practices.

Improving productivity through technology & engineering

The relationship between Decor Cabinets and NRC-IRAP began in 2009 and has focused primarily on supporting improvements to the company's manufacturing productivity. The first interaction involved using factory simulation software to help optimize product flow through the company's panel processing area. The simulation software enabled the company to efficiently assess the results of various shop floor layouts, as well as determine where potential bottlenecks might be created.

Later, in 2011, Industrial Technology Advisor, Dennis Deley, was contacted by technical staff at Decor as they were looking for technical assistance for a new contemporary line of cabinets they were developing called Zonavita. Through NRC-IRAP support, Decor was able to hire its first engineer to work on this project. Dennis also worked with the company to develop a plan for several subsequent IRAP funded projects, investments that would grow the company's internal manufacturing engineering technical capabilities over time.

In 2012, IRAP support helped Decor hire two additional engineers, including a specialist in wood properties. This expert helped the company refine its manufacturing processes for cabinet doors resulting in a 40% decrease in rework due to incorrect door sizing.

The engineers, along with a team of Decor R&D staff also contributed to improving and reformulating many of the company's custom colour finishes. Creating these custom finishes can take up to 12 steps before the colour is complete. Over 30 finishes were reformulated, reducing overall finishing time and rework due to colour-related issues by 33%.

A far-reaching success

Dave Schellenberg and Larry Dyck

Dave Schellenberg, VP of Finance and Larry Dyck, President and CEO at Decor Cabinets

Decor Cabinets' sales have grown from $30.3 million in 2009 to a projected $42 million in 2013 (an increase of 38.6%) despite a decline of 25% in the cabinetry industry during this time.

"NRC-IRAP's support has been instrumental in helping us achieve our results. Their advice and the funding they have provided for key technical staff has allowed us to improve processes, reduce rework, improve information systems and ultimately become more successful. With IRAP's help, our productivity has increased by 20% since 2010", says David Schellenberg, Vice President of Finance at Decor Cabinets Ltd.

According to Larry Dyck, President and CEO, "IRAP has been very helpful in building our company's engineering capabilities. Not only have they funded new personnel but they have also provided valuable manufacturing insight and advice".

The success of Decor Cabinets is not only felt within the company, but also in the local community. Decor Cabinets hopes to continue growing its sales revenues and increasing its market share within North America, while making a positive difference in people's lives. The company supports a variety of local and international organizations that lend a compassionate hand to those in need.

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