Revolutionizing Cabinet Solutions: Drew Neven’s Journey from Custom Trim to Cutting-Edge Cabinetry

Drew Neven’s journey in woodworking began with a legacy inherited from his grandfather, a cabinet maker from the Netherlands, and continued with his father’s custom home building business. Neven recalls, “My start was in high school, working in custom indoor trim for high-end homes in the Greater Hamilton area.” This early exposure to the trade laid the groundwork for his future endeavors.

For years, Neven operated Neven Custom Trim, focusing on finishing aspects for custom homes. However, a turning point came when he noticed an opportunity with Cabinet Solutions, a small but technologically advanced cabinetry shop that he had been relying on for closets. The shop’s then-owner, a friend of Neven, was considering retirement. Recognizing the potential in the shop’s recently acquired and advanced equipment, Neven made a pivotal decision to acquire the business.

The Shop

Nestled in a modest metal building on the side of the road, Cabinet Solutions belies its outward appearance with a 10,000 square foot interior bustling with cutting-edge technology and woodworking machinery​​. Visitors to Cabinet Solutions are often surprised by the contrast between the unassuming exterior and the sleek, modern production inside.

Under Neven’s leadership, Cabinet Solutions underwent a significant transformation. Even though the shop had been outfitted with high-tech machinery, there was no software to let the machines communicate with each other or with the business administration. “The day I took ownership, we invested in Microvellum software,” Neven shares. The software, a combination of AutoCAD and Excel, allowed Cabinet Solutions to leap forward, enhancing efficiency and accuracy in design and manufacturing. This move, reflecting a keen understanding of operational efficiency, transformed the business model from a traditional workshop to a technologically advanced manufacturing unit. Neven’s insight into the repetitive manual processes and the subsequent introduction of barcoding and design software streamlined operations, reducing errors and enhancing productivity.

At the heart of the shop’s operations is a nesting CNC machine equipped with an automatic loading and unloading feature. This machine stands as a testament to the shop’s commitment to efficiency and precision, allowing for the rapid processing of parts with minimal manual intervention. The shop also features a feed-through case clamp that measures cabinets as they come down the line, and a vertical CNC that is capable of handling a wide variety of tasks, including cutting, drilling, and notching, playing a crucial role in maintaining the shop’s productivity​​.

Another key piece of equipment is the beam saw, essential for cutting large panels into smaller, more manageable pieces. This tool, coupled with the rail and pod CNC machine, forms a dual stream of production that is both flexible and efficient. This combination allows Cabinet Solutions to tackle a diverse range of projects, from individual custom cabinets to large-scale multi-unit residential installations​​.

 

A New Website

Cabinet Solutions’ new website marks a significant leap forward in the company’s digital presence and customer engagement strategy. The inception of the online store was driven by a need to reach a broader clientele and streamline the ordering process, especially since the physical shop lacks a showroom. This strategic shift not only modernizes the business but also aligns with evolving market demands.

The homepage highlights Cabinet Solutions’ three primary areas of business: multi-unit residential projects, supplying components for architectural millwork companies, and the new online store. This clear delineation helps visitors quickly grasp the company’s scope of services.

The website also features a project setup page where customers can select materials, door types, and other specifications, affecting the overall price of the cabinets instantly. This interactive and user-centric design was developed in collaboration with Jesse, Drew Neven’s son, and the web development team from Louise Street Marketing, emphasizing the company’s commitment to quality and precision in every aspect of their business.

The website’s standout feature is its customizable tool, a result of integrating Microvellum software, allowing customers to select and modify cabinet dimensions in three axes! This innovation provides a unique and user-friendly experience for online cabinet purchasing. Once the customer inputs their specifications, the information directly transfers to the shop’s machinery, streamlining production by eliminating the need for additional programming​​.

This digital transformation was partly spurred by the challenges faced during a market slowdown, prompting the company to rethink its approach and capture a segment of the market that was previously untapped​​. The website serves not just as an online store but as a data collection point, enhancing the company’s ability to understand and meet customer needs more effectively.

Adding to the site’s appeal are professional videos that showcase the high standards and capabilities of Cabinet Solutions’ workshop. These videos not only provide a visual tour of the facilities but also help in building trust and credibility with potential clients​​.

Maintaining Quality Across Markets

Despite the shift towards technology and broader markets, Neven emphasizes quality: “Whether it’s a judge’s desk or public housing, the same care goes into our products.” This commitment extends to installation, a nod to Neven’s roots in high-end custom homes.

Looking ahead, Neven is optimistic about Cabinet Solutions’ growth, particularly in multi-unit residential projects as Ontario shifts to this type of construction to meet the overwhelming housing demand . The company aims to balance traditional craftsmanship with modern efficiency, providing top-notch products across various sectors. This balance, Neven believes, is key to sustaining growth and maintaining the company’s reputation in a rapidly evolving 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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