It’s been 45 years of challenges, pivots, and pandemics, but the Benson Cabinetry & Millwork team knows a thing or two about surviving in the wood industry. Today, the BC-based manufacturer has grown from its two-person operation to become a trusted, large-scale partner in the multifamily construction space.
The company was founded in 1976 by Paul Benson, who had the vision to create quality wood products that would withstand the test of time. With this in mind, he and a partner began building various cabinetry and furniture pieces in a 1000 square foot shop.
“At the time, they were building anything they could, like vanities, credenzas, and random bits of furniture,” recalls Tim Benson, Paul’s son and current owner of Benson Cabinetry & Millwork. “His partner left a couple of years into it, and that’s when my dad started getting more involved in building kitchens and supplying millwork components for family residences.”
“We started with an apartment building in Port Hardy and went from there. Vancouver was a substantial portion of our business at the time and still is today,” reflects Benson.
As the years stacked up, Benson Cabinetry & Millwork (then Industries) moved into an even larger facility while braving market shifts and recessions. Along the way, the family business continued to pivot and carve deeper inroads among multifamily developers. Then, in 2018, the company was ready for another round of modernization, prompting Benson to buy the business from his father.
“I grew up in the business, starting from when I used to sweep the shop during elementary school right up until I became full-time after graduating high school,” says Benson. “I was lucky to have the chance to get involved in various aspects of the business, like sales, manufacturing, field management, installation, and engineering. So although the acquisition was a risk, it seemed like the right thing to do.”
Today, Benson remains committed to growing the family business alongside his wife and partner Natalie, who had joined the company in 2014.
“Since then, we’ve seen some pretty significant corporate improvements and are definitely looking to continue that trajectory,” says Benson.
Against the grain
Benson has enjoyed a successful journey to date, but it hasn’t been without its obstacles. Over the years, Benson and his wife have worked to foster the workplace culture necessary to thrive in the ever-shifting market and remain an employer of choice.
“I remember coming into the company and focusing on bringing our little corner of the construction up to speed with modern values,” recalls Natalie. “We’ve worked hard to bring more women into the business and build a culture of diversity of inclusion, which wasn’t always easy, but necessary if we wanted to continue attracting and retaining new talent.”
Over the years, the team has also invested in improving its manufacturing process and product quality while keeping pace with customer and market trends.
Looking back, the pair attribute the company’s resilience to its constant evolution and the support from its network of staff, developers, and industry partners.
“That relationship component is really quite critical to the success of any business, and certainly ours,” says Benson. “Whether it’s relationships with the people that are within the company, or our suppliers or customers, so much of our business comes down to having strong, collaborative, and authentic relationships.”
Matt Bradford is a writer, editor, and longtime contributor at MediaEdge, publishers of Wood Industry e-digest and magazine. He has spent years reporting on the wood and construction industries and values the opportunity to provide insights into the secondary wood manufacturing community’s successes, challenges, and opportunities.