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Ingredients for Success – What's Your Story?

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CKCA by Caroline Castrucci
Caroline Castrucci is CP/Owner of Laurysen Kitchens Ltd. & President of Canadian Kitchen Cabinet Association. For more info email
Did you know the Canadian Kitchen Cabinet Association turns 50 this year?
But we are not alone. Many companies have celebrated or are about to celebrate their anniversaries too. Companies like Richelieu (50 years), Grass Canada, (70 years), Upper Canada Wood Products (31 years) and manufacturers like NuWay Kitchens in Newfoundland, (51 years), Downsview Kitchens, (50 years), Windmill Cabinets (40 years), Frendel Kitchens (50 years) and Nu-Way Kitchens in Ontario (53 years). That’s a total of 395 years of industry experience just from this list and there are plenty more companies still to add.  It is a great testament to the sustainability of the kitchen cabinet manufacturing industry and I wonder what the visionaries who started CKCA back in 1968 would have to say about the longevity of these businesses and the association they started?
The industry has come a long way
Kitchen cabinet manufacturing in Canada came into its own in the early 60’s. Before that, most kitchens were built by trim carpenters and other tradesmen who were building other parts of the home. If you’ve ever owned a home with an original kitchen from the ‘50s like I have, you’ll recall the heavy wood doors with layers of paint, framed cabinets where the cabinet door didn’t quite close properly. While these kitchens did their job and were often solidly built, we have indeed come 
a long way.
These humble beginnings laid the foundation upon which business thrives today. Many businesses started in people’s garages and grew into very successful enterprises. With an influx of skilled craftsmen from Europe, businesses were created and propelled forward adopting many of the practices from Europe including the frameless cabinet, a building practice that sets Canada apart from the U.S. to this day.  Advances in hardware design, finishing systems, CNC machines and computer automation and now cyber physical systems driven by software have created a different manufacturing environment. This environment still relies on people as it always has, but now the skill sets are changing and a shortage in skilled trade labour is propelling companies to consider more robotics.   
While none of us have the crystal ball of what the future will hold, we can learn from the past because the last 
50 plus years in the industry has seen a lot of change. There are many stories to tell, many lessons learned. The next generation of cabinetmakers is already taking the reins. What can our industry share to ensure we prepare the next generation for what lies ahead?  How can we set that generation up to succeed? Perhaps this is the ultimate legacy and one that CKCA founder’s would be proud to see.

The industry is 
strong together
Celebrating the CKCA’s 50th anniversary gives us an opportunity to not just focus on the CKCA, but to focus on the industry. To all those companies who have persevered, we congratulate you for your success and encourage you to tell us your stories. Whether you’ve been in business for just a few years or longer, what experiences can you share? CKCA’s founders believed that bringing the industry together would make the industry stronger and better. A collective voice was needed and it is still needed today. Continuity and momentum comes from a collective approach. CKCA founders knew this back in 1968 and as one manufacturer recently said “we are competitors, we are not enemies.” These are wise words to live by.  When we look at our industry, it’s important to also acknowledge the many suppliers to the industry. Companies like Blum, Upper Canada Wood Products, Richelieu, Taurus Craco, Planit Canada, Grass to name just a few, have all given their time and support to ensure the industry thrives with some of them also celebrating milestone years.  

What’s your story?
Together we form one national voice for the industry, comprised of hundreds of years of experience.  Take a moment to feel proud of the industry and what you do. What’s your story? What are your ingredients for success?  We want to hear from you because we want to share this valuable information to help our industry get stronger and to ensure the next generation of cabinetmakers are as successful as the ones who came before them.  
Watch for more information coming soon. Be sure to attend one 
of CKCA’s events in 2018. Tell me your story at  

Harvey Short, CEO, 
Nuway Kitchens Ltd., Nfld.
•In business since 1967 
(50 years)
•Ingredient for success:
“Building relationships can 
save you money.”

“From attending the first CKCA meeting I felt a door had been opened and I had an opportunity to use various cabinet manufacturers as a sounding board on various topics. I met many leaders of our industry which I have phoned numerous times throughout the years to discuss issues that in the past were only learned by trial and error. Nuway Kitchens has benefitted and prospered over the years, for example, we discussed with one prominent Ontario manufacturer the dominant materials we both use in our process and the pricing they were receiving for the same material. That liaison and comparison saved Nuway a fair amount of money and allowed us to offer something that our competition could not.”

Legacy: Harvey was President of CKCA in 2003 and valued opportunities to talk to other business owners so he started the Manufacturer’s Roundtable, an idea that to this day CKCA still uses because it is so valuable to the industry.

Kevin Tratt, President 
and Managing Director, 
Blum Canada, Ont.
•In business since 1978 in Canada (40 years)
•Ingredient for success:  “Knowledge is priceless and we all should take every advantage of opportunities to learn.”

"CKCA is a great place to meet people and talk about similar issues and problems.  It allows them to benchmark themselves, earn respect from others and see a bigger picture.  Being involved with CKCA has helped our business prosper because we have met many people who have given us insight on topics which have helped us understand issues and topics that are relevant to our business now or in the future.  It’s a place for a little guy to learn from the bigger guys, the big guys to learn about topics they don’t address every day.  All of them can learn from the international companies who have experiences that they are willing to transfer.”

Legacy:  Kevin Tratt is well known in the industry and has forged many long standing relationships. He is a current member of the CKCA Board of Directors. Blum sponsors the CKCA EuroCucina program that enables kitchen manufacturers to attend this trend setting event in Europe as part of a Canadian delegation. In 2018, Blum has again offered to run the program and they continue to be avid supporters of the CKCA.

Caroline Castrucci, 
VP Administration, 
Laurysen Kitchens, Ont.
•In business 1970 (48 years)
•Ingredient for success: “You are not alone, interaction helps your business grow and evolve.”

"My father joined the CKCA back in the early 70’s so that he could meet other people in our industry, also to learn from others and see new products and techniques coming into our industry. A primary value of CKCA is the networking and social interaction with other manufacturers. It helps to know that we are not the only ones that have issues or problems and it helps to discuss things with them and they offer up a solution that worked for them. Social media is great, but sometimes face to face events help to build a better relationship and foster better understanding. You can’t think of yourself or your company as an island, you need interaction with suppliers, customers and sometimes competition to help you grow and evolve your business.

Legacy:  Caroline, her father and brother have all served as presidents of CKCA through the years. As well, Laurysen Kitchens believes in education and created an accredited kitchen designer program at their local college to ensure a qualified pool of designers were entering the profession, the program continues to run to this day with great success and is recognized by the NKBA. Caroline is currently the CKCA President, and you can meet her at any one 
of the upcoming CKCA events 
in 2018 where you will hear 
just how passionate she is about the industry and CKCA.

Jake Wolters, President, Nu-Way Kitchens, Ont.
•In business since 1964 (53 years)
•Ingredient for success:  “You will never get all the answers on your own, become more proactive”

"My business is better because of my CKCA membership.  If you become more proactive and ask questions, there’s a great group of business owners willing to help and give advice. You will never get all the answers on your own. Come and learn! I wanted to give back to the industry and CKCA because CKCA enabled me to build strong business connections and implement many business improvements including switching to abrasives for a better finish, switching to better spray systems in the paint booth and better filters in the spray booth, improvements to our airlines, shifting advertising dollars, embracing social media to name a few. When my father first started the business there was no association or community to go to for help, but now there is and the face-to-face interactions I’ve had, have helped me navigate challenges in my own business through the years.”

Legacy: Jake worked with his father who started in 1964 and they are one of the longest running kitchen cabinet manufacturers in Canada. Jake served as president of CKCA for 3 years bringing his sound experience to the CKCA to give back to the industry. Jake is an enthusiastic attendee at CKCA events and continues to learn. But now, he is also passing along his experience to his son who is learning the business. For Jake, continuing a business his father started and having the next generation come into the business is a proud legacy.

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