Diamond CNC’s Drive Towards Efficiency and Innovation
Mike Clare, a seasoned veteran in the wood manufacturing industry, embodies the entrepreneurial spirit. With over four decades in the business, his current venture, Diamond CNC, started in a modest 1,800 sq ft space behind his house and now occupies a sprawling 32,000 sq ft facility.
Tracing back the company’s lineage, Mike mentioned, “I’ve been doing this since I was 12 with my dad.” From these early days, Mike’s journey saw him through 3 businesses, built and sold, and then a career working at Richelieu Hardware for 12 years. But the spark of entrepreneurship didn’t fade, and with his son Rob coming of age, they decided to venture into the business, focusing initially on cutting parts. As he candidly put it, “From just doing cut to size, now we do everything as demand shows up.”
The evolution of Diamond CNC is evident in its expansion to various wood products. What started as a cut-to-size venture has now diversified into edge banding, screwing, finishing, and a special focus on premium products like outdoor cabinets. Highlighting the economic sensibility behind this, Mike stated, “If you do 40 boxes in the kitchen cabinets, that’s like 300 bucks a box. But if you do 40 outdoor cabinets or closets, that’s 1000 bucks a box. We’re making way more money doing the higher value cabinets.”
This shift towards higher-value products didn’t come overnight. Mike emphasized the importance of product quality, particularly with their transition into outdoor cabinets. Finding the right materials, testing various brands of waterproof MDF, and ensuring the finished product lived up to the company’s lifetime guarantee were all part of the process. “There’s no point in doing it if it’s not going to be quality. People spending 1000 bucks on a cabinet expect a certain quality,” he pointed out.
On the digital front, Diamond CNC has embraced technology to streamline operations. With ordering technologies that eliminate manual keying in and order entry systems through Allmoxy, the company has capitalized on efficiency. As Mike quipped, “The most important investment we made was in the software.”
As Diamond CNC gears up for another expansion in 2024, the company’s vision remains rooted in its founding ethos. Mike’s visit to Europe, for instance, was aimed at exploring high-tech machinery from Homag and planning the next steps for the company. This, combined with the expertise of his son Rob, ensures a balance of experience and innovation at the helm.
Beyond the company, Mike is also deeply involved in the industry as a board member of the Woodwork Manufacturing Cluster of Ontario (WMCO). The WMCO consists of approximately 150 woodworking shops in Ontario, fostering a sense of community among them. It encourages collaboration and learning, with members regularly touring each other’s facilities and attending meetings at educational institutions offering woodworking courses, such as Conestoga. Mike emphasized the forward-thinking nature of WMCO members, contrasting it with businesses that remain static in their methodologies. At its core, the WMCO promotes the sharing of innovative techniques and strategies, focusing on incremental improvements that compound over time. The collective knowledge sharing and dedication to efficiency and modernization make the WMCO an essential pillar in Ontario’s woodworking industry. As Mike aptly puts it, “Everybody’s open to share. Like they’ll tell you, whatever they know, they’ll tell you.”
While the craftsmanship and art of woodworking run deep in Mike’s veins, his current focus is clearly on optimizing the business side of things. “I’m more looking after the efficiency than anything,” he remarked, echoing the sentiments of many business leaders navigating today’s competitive landscape.
Tyler Holt is the Editor of Wood Industry / Le monde du bois magazine. He has a master’s degree in literature and publication, and years of experience in the publishing and digital media industry. His main area of study is the effect of digital technologies on industrial and networked production.