Next Generation Woodworking

Sandra Wood

Imatree Cabinets & Woodworking LTD started in 2018. The idea of founding the company came when Lucas Pudsey’s father renovated their family home in Burlington, ON. When it came time to renovate the kitchen, Pudsey’s father had a very particular plan in mind. He reviewed various quotes from several companies, but nothing fit his expectations and budget. Pudsey jokingly proposed building a better kitchen for a better price given his prior renovation experience, and his father took him up on the offer. They struck a deal to make the kitchen out of the family’s two-car garage. Sawing, sanding, and assembling in a space no larger than 220 sq ft. After completion, Pudsey decided to start Imatree. They have since grown to 12 employees and recently moved into a new 5,000 sq ft. shop in the center of their city. They have one 4×8 Auto Tool Changer CNC purchased in early 2021. They now do custom cabinetry, bathrooms, custom built-ins, and other general renovations. Early on, they didn’t have enough custom cabinetry work to sustain the business, so they took on more flooring, wall removal, tile, painting, and trim work projects.

Pudsey says their clients like working with one company, and they help customers make selections and design choices as they move through their projects. It allows his company to build the space or make adjustments easier when fabricating the cabinetry. All of the projects usually have many cabinetry elements, whether kitchens, built-ins, or vanities. They do about five kitchens a month and a lot of other smaller projects thrown into the mix.

Supply shortages led to expansion

Lucas Pudsey and his brother James were teamed up in 2020 to move to a 1,200 sq ft. shop, but when the pandemic hit, they started to grow, and their space became too small very quickly. In addition, material shortages created difficulty, and as the company adapted, they realized they needed a larger inventory of commonly used sheets, hardware, and other materials. So they moved to a bigger shop, which allowed them more opportunity with processes that otherwise were difficult to uphold in a small shop. More space meant properly segregated workstations to give employees more room to operate.

Learning, innovating, and growing

Imatree is a young company that has plans to grow. The pandemic created acute challenges, but Pudsey has learned and responded. He revitalized the company’s operating procedures realizing they were reactive to the changing market and labour force, which caused them to make many small adjustments. Pudsey realized he needed to be proactive and avoid certain complications, minimizing chances of making errors that would affect his customers’ overall experience. Imatree talks to their clients from the beginning, given current market conditions. They plan and allow for more time to secure materials. They have organized themselves better, prepared for longer lead times on appliances, kitchen accessories, and updated the homeowners. They are finding their customers like honesty. They feel more confident in their decisions, what they can expect, and trust Imatree is using their knowledge to ensure the customer doesn’t have to compromise on too many elements of their project. As a result, Imatree is planning on furthering this hands-on approach by bringing customers through the showroom and the facility to see the kinds of products they can expect, improving the overall experience.

Appealing to younger generations

Pudsey sees that younger generations care more and more about the environment and social causes, and he knows they will be the next ones buying homes and are Imatree’s future clients. Pudsey says, “It would be wise to get on the train early and start figuring out ways to be known for environmental stewardship. This will be so important to upcoming generations that it could be the difference between them buying your product or not. Everyone wants to feel as though they are contributing to something good, and this mindset will only grow stronger with time.”

Pudsey also knows that attracting staff to his company is important, and the labour shortage is a big concern. While he knows that environment is essential to the younger generation attracting talent to his shop is about fostering a good culture within his company and says, “the cherry on top could be the company’s values around the environment.”

Getting the next generation involved

Imatree is taking steps to interact with their community and has begun a Co-op placement at their new facility for young people interested in woodworking by reaching out to local high school programs. Their goal is to bring fresh, young eyes into the world of trade jobs and show them how rewarding it can be. Pudsey wants to inspire the same passion in these students he had when he got into the industry by encouraging new creative ideas and advancements.

Imatree also believes in environmental restoration and has a passion for having the industry recognize sustainable practices. This is why Imatree has plans to coordinate with local organizations, such as the Burlington Green Network, to revitalize green spaces in their community with funding and participation in tree planting and invasive species removal events.

Projects on the go

Imatree is busy completing an entire townhouse renovation project, including kitchen, bathroom, main floor, and several custom millwork built-ins throughout the whole home. Some of their upcoming jobs were referrals from recent kitchens they built for their local Home Hardware, where they will soon be featured in-store. Imatree is very excited about upcoming projects with a popular pizza restaurant chain and a cosmetic clinic planned for 2022.

The future is right here

It was so interesting speaking with Pudsey and seeing his passion for the industry and the values embraced within his company. Pudsey knows that the future means more automation, and attracting young tradespeople is an ongoing concern. Imatree also had the foresight to join CKCA and be part of something bigger. Imatree is doing its part to respect its clients, environment, and community and add their voice to our industry. We can’t wait to see where this young company goes!

Check out part two here!

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