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QTK Fine Cabinetry celebrate 50 years of family, success

Stephan Kleiser
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The story of Quality Tops and Kitchens Limited, now better known as QTK Fine Cabinetry, is really the story of the Toto family.
“My father (Tony) started the company in 1974, with a partner, and my mother joined him in the early 80s,” says son Daniel Toto, who, along with his brother Giovanni, now looks after running the family business.
In 2000, his father’s partner was ready to retire and with four daughters who were not interested in the business, decided to sell his share back to them.
“By 2002 my brother Giovanni joined full time and in 2007 so did I,” Daniel says
Both Daniel and Giovanni grew up in the family business working there after school and during summers, and although both completed their post-secondary education, there was never any doubt that they wanted to be part of the family company and eventually take it over from their parents.
And it couldn’t have been a better fit. Giovanni is looking after sales and design, his expertise, while Daniel is taking care of production.
“We’re very fortunate really,” Daniel says. “We work together, each of us doing what they are best at, and we never get into each others way or argue, because he does his thing and I do my thing, it really is a perfect fit.”
Right from the beginning, they had the foresight to see where the industry was going and they started planning accordingly.
They knew they had to transform and adapt in order to embrace their goal of batch size 1 and mass customization, an approach enabling the production of unique, client-specific pieces with the efficiency and consistency of mass production techniques.
So while their father had built the company using traditional methods and his skills as an artist, Daniel and Giovanni decided to leverage technology, both software and machinery, and lean into automation to achieve their goals.
“It started with the engineering software my brother bought in 2006, and that we still use today, Microvellum,” Daniel says.
“We were one of the first kitchen companies really that bought it and used it because at the time it was really primarily geared towards millworkers.
“But we are focused on batch size 1 production, because it offers us infinite possibilities and infinite customizations. And in order to do that you have to have the right software and the right tools, so that’s what we have done.”
The brothers also rebranded the company from Quality Tops and Kitchens to QTK Fine Cabinetry because, as Daniel says, “most people didn’t read past the “Tops” part and yet that’s not something they did.”
The name came about because when his dad started the company there were supposed to be three partners and one of them was supposed to do the countertops. They had registered the name and applied for loans, but right before they were actually going to enter into the partnership, the countertop guy got cold feet, so they never made countertops, but the name stuck. It’s still the legal name, but they are selling kitchens under the brand QTK Fine Cabinetry.
“So the idea behind the rebranding was that they needed to get away from the “Tops” part, but they didn’t want to throw away all the history their father created, “so we decided to do it this way,” says Daniel.
The company started on Bowes Road in Concord, Ontario in 1974, with one unit with 2,400 sf. ft. About a year later they doubled their space by adding another unit. In 1983 they moved to a 11,000 sq. ft. building on Toryork Drive in North York and in 1996 they added a 20,000 sq. ft. building next door for a total of 31,000 sq. ft.
Continued growth soon forced them to expand again, this time to a 45,000 sq. ft. building on Sante Drive in Concord in 2008.
Today, QTK is still in that location, but they have since expanded to 80,000 sq. ft. with 50 employees.

Automation
As aforementioned, automation has been key in achieving their goal of batch size 1 production and Toto says it all starts with a lot of machine-to-machine communication.
A material storage system feeds two Anderson nesting machines. There is also a Morbidelli nesting machine, one Schelling panel saw, two IMA edgebanders with full barcode integration with automated offloading to an automated assembly line. They also have a fully automated paint line from Venjakob as well as flash-off ovens, infrared drying and cool down lines and much more.
About 70 per cent of their business is medium to high-end new home residential construction; the other 30 per cent is from private contractors and renovation clients. And everything is 100 per cent engineered to order.
“What we call an engineered-to-order kitchen starts with the space and how the customer wants to use it. We make everything custom, from panels to hardware and we don’t cut a piece of wood unless the job is sold.
“We don’t use standardized sizes and stack them to get the height we need. We look at the design and how the customer wants it to look and then build it in any size we want and need.
And 100 per cent of the business comes from word of mouth and within two hours from the shop, so the GTA really, Barrie, Peterborough, Niagara Falls.
We don’t go looking for business, we have been doing this long enough now; people know us and come to us.
“And we are never static in anything we do. We are constantly pushing the envelope to improve, and constantly evolving and adapting to changing demand,” says Toto.
“I am very lucky to work with my family every day. I am close with my brother, he has three kids and I have three kids and even on weekends, if we are not working, we are often hanging out together and I get to see my parents every day.”

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