Chervin Kitchen & Bath: 30 Years Young

Matthew Bradford

It was 1991 when Kevin Bauman shaped his woodworking passion into a custom cabinetry business in Waterloo, Ontario. Decades later, Chervin Kitchen & Bath has spread its roots to become a reputed provider of custom, luxury millwork for all house rooms.

“It’s pretty exciting to be celebrating 30-plus years in the business,” says Kristen Weber, a representative for the company. “We’re still expanding and growing, but always with the same vision Kevin brought with him when the company first started.”

That vision, she adds, can be summarized by the Golden Rule: Do to others as you would have them do to you. This simple philosophy has guided Kevin, his brothers, and children in growing the family-owned company from a single shop in Wellesley to a group of companies that design, produce, and install bespoke interior home furnishings for a broad range of clients.

“We’ve always been a family company, and we’ve always led with the idea of doing right by our customers so that they trust us for their next project,” adds Weber. “So while we’re becoming a very large company, we’re prioritizing to keep those values present along the way.”

Welcoming new additions

Chervin Kitchen & Bath has added new members to its family. In 2010, it purchased Artco International, a company specializing in custom hospitality furniture. Later, in 2016, Chervin expanded its portfolio again by purchasing Vogel, a producer of handcrafted upholstered chairs and sofas.

Today, Chervin Kitchen & Bath’s operations include a 67,000 sq. ft. manufacturing plant in Hawkesville, ON, and showrooms in Waterloo, Muskoka, and Oakville. Meanwhile, Artco International occupies a newly built 100,000 sq. ft. manufacturing facility in St. Clements, ON, where it produces Chervin’s custom hospitality millwork and case goods, and a 20,000 sq. ft. facility in Toronto focused on creating bench-made upholstered furniture.

“We finished building that new facility just before the pandemic so that Artco could have a dedicated space while Chervin could take over the entirety of the original manufacturing plant,” explains Weber. “Doing so has helped us significantly increase our plant capacity, which is good now that demand is picking up.”

People-driven, tech-supported

Collectively, Chervin Group of Companies is home to a team of nearly 280 employees who serve the residential and hospitality industry across its companies. More than anything else, says Weber, this team keeps Chervin moving forward.

“We can’t do this without our employees; that’s one thing that we know for sure is our employees are key to delivering a quality product,” she says. “One thing Kevin has always done well from the start is surrounded himself with great talent and trust them to be leaders and take control.”

“That top-level trust in people has been a huge factor in the success of the business,” Weber adds.

Of course, sourcing and retaining talent has been among the woodworking industry’s most significant challenges long before the pandemic added to the issue. In response, Chervin’s strategy has been to invest in technologies supporting its people and bridging labour gaps.

Those upgrades can be seen throughout Chervin’s workshops. They include the addition of Winstore automatic panel loaders, advanced CNC magazines, an automated sander, and automated finishing lines.

“For us, embracing technology is about producing consistent quality, but also taking away some of the repetitive and time-consuming jobs so that our people have an opportunity to maximize their talents elsewhere,” says Weber.

Recent hurdles, future ambitions

It’s been two turbulent years for the woodworking industry. And while Chervin joins other industry players in facing labour shortages, supply chain disruptions, economic hurdles, and other challenges, it is moving forward with optimism.

“We definitely had challenges when we’re talking about sourcing materials and dealing with backlogs, and many of those things still affect us today,” says Weber. “At the same time, demand for the product has significantly increased. After about a month back in, we’re at regular operating capacity, so we’re very thankful for where we’re at.”

As for where the family woodworking company is heading next, Weber says the plans are to continue maximizing capacity and efficiencies through its operations and “continue building the team we need to produce the highest quality product.”

Matt Bradford is a writer, editor, and longtime contributor at MediaEdge, publisher 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.

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