Norelco: People are Our Strength

“People are our strength and it’s really a team that is responsible for what we’ve accomplished.” This declaration by Peter Raja, owner and managing partner of Norelco Cabinets, encapsulates the essence of Norelco’s foundational philosophy. A leading name in the custom cabinetry industry, Norelco credits its success to a people-centric approach, where the value of human resources is paramount both inside the organization and in their community.

Team collaboration at Norelco is not just a strategy but a culture that permeates every level of the organization. Even as the company has grown to encompass 150 employees, it has meticulously maintained an atmosphere, often described by Raja as a “real family.” This sense of belonging and mutual respect is further fostered by Jaclyn Keppler, who plays a crucial role in ensuring an inclusive and communicative workplace, thereby amplifying Raja’s leadership ethos. Keppler states, “We give everybody the opportunity to bring great ideas right to the top,” reflecting the company’s democratic and inclusive decision-making process.

Employee growth, cross training, and recognition are deeply embedded in Norelco’s culture. The company regularly celebrates longevity awards, recognizing individuals who have grown from junior roles to senior positions over the years. Raja emphasizes, “Before we hire anyone, we always make sure it goes out to the entire team. We want to invest in and build up the people that we have here,” highlighting the commitment to nurturing internal talent and acknowledging their pivotal role in the company’s success. This strategy not only prepares employees to handle a variety of roles within the company but also ensures continuity and efficiency in operations, even in the absence of key personnel.

History and Focus on Custom Cabinetry

Norelco’s journey from a modest cabinetry shop to a premier provider of custom, high-end cabinetry is marked by strategic foresight and adaptation. Peter Raja, originally a general contractor building custom homes, recognized the potential in Norelco and transitioned to ownership. He recalls, “I was actually a customer of Norelco’s, became friends with the owners, and then we bought Norelco. Initially, I was thinking that cabinetry would be simpler than custom home building, but this is a highly complex industry.” This pivotal change set the stage for transformative growth.

Under Raja’s leadership, Norelco made a strategic pivot towards custom cabinetry. Raja was determined to differentiate the company by focusing on bespoke, high-quality products. “I wanted to push Norelco more into the custom side of the cabinetry,” Raja asserts, underscoring his vision to elevate the brand. This shift involved enhancing product quality and integrating sophisticated design elements, paving the way for Norelco to enter high-end markets.

Navigating economic challenges became a testament to Norelco’s resilience. The focus on custom cabinetry equipped the company to withstand the 2008 recession. Strategic acquisitions like Cucina Del Re bolstered Norelco’s position in the luxury segment. Additionally, expansion into the Hawaiian market opened new revenue streams, aiding in stability and growth during economic downturns, with Raja noting, “Our first delivery to Hawaii in 2012 marked a significant turning point.”

Addressing operational challenges, Norelco adeptly managed the complexities of custom projects on a large scale. Logistical hurdles, such as maintaining quality across diverse product lines and integrating operations with Cucina Del Re, were met with innovative solutions. Lean manufacturing techniques and the introduction of new technologies were crucial in enhancing efficiency and product quality, ensuring that Norelco remained at the forefront of the custom cabinetry market.

The Shop

Norelco’s manufacturing facility, spanning an impressive 60,000 square feet, embodies the company’s commitment to scale, sophistication, and technological advancement. This expansive area not only accommodates large-scale production but also maintains the flexibility essential for custom work. Recent upgrades, including the integration and expansion of space from the acquired Cucina Del Re, have significantly streamlined operations and boosted production capacity, enhancing the facility’s overall efficiency.

The shop is equipped with an array of advanced manufacturing equipment, critical for producing Norelco’s renowned custom cabinetry. Key machinery includes CNC machines that provide precise cutting and shaping of materials, essential for the custom specifications Norelco is known for. Beam saws and vertical CNCs handle the demands of bulk material processing, while automated flat line sprayers and hand spray booths in the finishing department ensure top-quality surface treatments for both high-volume and bespoke projects. These technologies are pivotal in maintaining the high standards of quality and customization that define Norelco’s products.

Peter Raja emphasizes the operational ethos, stating, “We set up a QC department in every department so everything is checked before it leaves that department.” This stringent quality control process is integral to Norelco’s operations, with dedicated QC checks at each production stage to uphold the highest standards and minimize errors. Such meticulous attention to detail ensures customer satisfaction, particularly vital for high-end, custom pieces.

Efficient material handling and logistics are foundational to Norelco’s operation. The company employs a job-specific approach to material management, ensuring that resources are not only ready on-demand but also properly acclimatized and prepared according to seasonal variations. This method reduces waste and enhances resource use efficiency, demonstrating Norelco’s commitment to sustainability and operational excellence.

Community Engagement and Charity Work

Norelco’s partnership with Habitat for Humanity exemplifies its commitment to community service and social responsibility. This collaboration includes donating custom kitchens to new homeowners and participating in build projects specifically aimed at assisting low-income families. Peter Raja notes, “Providing quality living spaces is not just our business; it’s our way of giving back to the community. These efforts align perfectly with our expertise and passion in cabinetry.”

The company also collaborates with the Child Advocacy Center, supporting efforts to enhance the lives of children within the community. Norelco helps by hosting fundraising events and making direct donations. Peter Raja emphasizes the company’s ethos, stating, “Helping the young people growing up in our community is an investment in our future, and it is crucial to nurturing a generation that feels supported and valued.”

Norelco’s community engagement extends to organizing and participating in various charity events such as golf tournaments and auction events. These initiatives not only raise funds and awareness for multiple causes but also strengthen the community bonds, fostering a sense of unity and shared purpose. Such events reflect Norelco’s deep-rooted belief in the power of community and collective effort.

The impact of these charitable activities on the community is profound, improving welfare, enhancing living conditions for vulnerable groups, and contributing to the socio-economic development of the region. Inside Norelco, these efforts resonate through the corporate culture, promoting a workplace that values compassion, responsibility, and active participation in community welfare. This alignment of external charity work with internal corporate values boosts employee morale and attracts talent who prioritize corporate social responsibility, enhancing Norelco’s reputation as not only a leader in cabinetry but also as a pillar of community support.

Auction for Habitat for Humanity

Norelco’s collaboration with Habitat for Humanity in Okanagan exemplifies the company’s commitment to community support through innovative charity events. By auctioning off a showroom custom Norelco kitchen valued at $50,000, Norelco collaborated with Habitat to increase community awareness, emphasizing the ethos of “where every bid helps build hearts and homes.” This partnership resulted in raising over $15,000 for Habitat’s Lake Country build projects, uniting community members and businesses in support of a common cause.

The broader impact of the auction extends beyond financial contributions; it includes Norelco’s engagement in volunteering and providing cabinetry expertise for housing projects. These activities not only help build homes but also foster community spirit and collaboration. Reflecting on the auction’s success, Peter Raja remarked, “This auction not only supports our community but also aligns perfectly with our expertise in creating beautiful, functional homes.” Further enhancing the functionality and appeal, the winning bidder plans to use the custom cabinets to renovate not only their kitchen but also their bathroom, demonstrating the versatility and comprehensive utility of Norelco’s products and their design team.

Jaclyn Keppler, Norelco’s marketing manager, highlighted the ongoing commitment to this charitable initiative, stating, “This initiative is planned to recur every year, with a different kitchen from our showroom being auctioned off, with all proceeds going to Habitat for Humanity.” This statement confirms Norelco’s dedication to making a tangible, annual contribution to their community, reinforcing its strategic approach to corporate social responsibility and community engagement.

Looking forward

Throughout its evolution, Norelco has demonstrated an unwavering commitment to excellence, innovation, and community engagement. From its humble beginnings as a small cabinetry shop to becoming a leader in custom, high-end cabinetry, Norelco has continuously adapted to meet the challenges of a dynamic market while maintaining the core values instilled by its founder, Peter Raja. The strategic shifts toward custom cabinetry have not only fortified the company against economic adversities but also positioned it uniquely in the luxury market segment.

Norelco’s advanced manufacturing capabilities, showcased in their expansive facility, underscore a commitment to quality and efficiency that is matched by a strong focus on sustainable and community-focused business practices. Their ongoing charitable initiatives, particularly the annual auction in collaboration with Habitat for Humanity, highlight a deep-rooted commitment to making a positive impact in the community. This engagement goes beyond mere financial contributions, fostering a culture of volunteerism and expertise sharing that enriches both the community and the company.

As Norelco continues to navigate the future, its plans to expand charitable efforts and innovate within the cabinetry industry are poised to further enhance its reputation and impact. By aligning business goals with community needs, Norelco not only succeeds commercially but also contributes meaningfully to the societal welfare, embodying a model of corporate responsibility that inspires others within and beyond its industry.

 

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.

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