Pivoting to a new cabinet supplier turned out to be a win-win for this family-owned remodeling firm in Machesney Park, Ill. Not only have its owners found better turnaround and craftsmanship than before. They’ve also delivered more options with flexible pricing – and that’s a major win for homeowners.
When it takes 26 weeks to receive an order of cabinets, it might be time to look for a new supplier.
That’s what Tony and Cassie Bonnet of Macktown Construction did. The couple and their Machesney Park, Ill., design-build-remodel company have carried three lines of cabinets in the past three years.
When the time it took suppliers to deliver material began to string out longer and longer with the pandemic, the Bonnets started searching for a faster supplier.
What they found was Custom Wood Products (CWP), in St. Marys, Kan.
“They’re fully customizable at a semi-custom price,” says Tony Bonnet. “They’re a family-owned shop, and the way they do their cabinets really blows anything else away. Their craftsmanship is amazing, and we can get it in 10 to 12 weeks.”
Macktown Construction has been busy with whole-home remodels recently, so customers aren’t necessarily just looking to re-do a kitchen or bath, as was the case just a few years ago.
“The housing market is crazy right now – there’s not enough houses to buy,” Tony says.
“And with everyone who had to work from home the last two years, a lot of companies are deciding that’s what they’re going to continue to do, so we have a lot of people who want to remodel their basement as a home office,” adds Cassie Bonnet.
When Tony, a U.S. Navy veteran who has 25 years of experience in home remodeling, says the CWP line is fully customizable, he means it.
Many cabinet lines are restricted in size, with most standard heights and widths only able to increase by 3-inch increments. That typically means filler pieces are used, creating wasted, unusable space in rooms that can’t always afford it.
But CWP can customize cabinetry down to 1/8th of an inch, Tony says, and the company gang-builds their cabinets – or joins multiple cabinets into one large box – which increases the storage space inside the cabinets, making them easier to install.
“For the most part, it’s reducing our field staff’s time by 60% because there aren’t so many individual box cabinets,” Cassie says.
Ginger Lamm, an interior designer for Macktown, enjoys the flexibility CWP gives her to create exactly what her clients want – like a customized pantry with a bottom cabinet filled with vertical cookie sheet dividers, roll-out trays and upper adjustable shelves.
The versatility really helps her to find the best functionality for a space while making it aesthetically pleasing.
“I drafted a custom wine bar that’ll be constructed as one piece, so it looks like a piece of furniture,” she says. “This will set it apart from the other cabinets in their kitchen. I was able to add embellishments on it and decorative features. The cabinetry line has pretty much infinite possibilities, and I really love the door styles and variety of color choices.”
Door styles usually aren’t too versatile, but CWP offers more than half a dozen variations of a door in one specific style alone, and that truly is unique, Lamm says.
In addition, there are roughly 16 types of panel inserts to customize a door even more.
Customized edge profiles also are available.
“There are a dozen edge profiles, such as chamfer, beveled and 3/8-inch drop radius,” Lamm says. “All profiles can be applied to the cabinet door, drawer and even the cabinet corner and finished opening frame.”
CWP uses a plywood box construction, which is stronger and more durable than the particle board many other cabinetry lines use, Tony says.
And as long as a client lives in their house, they’re guaranteed a limited lifetime warranty.
“Any craftsmanship defects, they’ll take care of at no charge,” Tony says.
Besides finding an American-made, customizable cabinetry line, Macktown has another ace in the hole when it comes to renovations: the company always completes the design first.
“It’s a unique process,” says Lamm. “Some contractors will come to a job site and estimate it will be X number of dollars, and the next thing you know, they’re getting change orders. Or, you’re given an allowance for cabinetry, but that barely covers the builder-grade option.”
Macktown avoids these hiccups by using the design-first concept. Lamm first takes measurements of a room and then covers the functionality of the space and what a client really wants to change. Based on that conversation, an estimator gives a ballpark range of what it might cost to complete the project.
Then, Lamm drafts up a floor plan of the existing space, plus a draft of the proposed floor space before sharing that with the client online.
At a second meeting, the client meets Lamm at the company’s Machesney Park showroom to review the plans in person and pick out their finishes.
“I educate them about different finishes,” Lamm says. “Something like a square knob for a cabinet: some people really love that modern look, and I do, too. But I do point out to them, those square knobs, the screw over time becomes loose and the square knob will start to tilt so they aren’t perfectly aligned. You can simply tighten them, but that’s something that bothers me, and I wouldn’t want to deal with it. Homeowners find these bits of information helpful. I’m always educating clients on the benefits and features of products, and the same thing with how they use their space.”
By the time Lamm and the client make it to the final proposal meeting, the floor plan and all of the finishes are chosen, and Macktown knows exactly what it will take to finish the project.
“We tell them, ‘This is what your investment is going to be,’” Lamm says. “It’s a hard number. Barring we open up a wall and bats come flying out, that’s the final amount. If any unexpected changes come along the way, we discuss what it’ll take to resolve them and write a change order. Keeping open lines of communication and offering transparency is important to Macktown, and our clients appreciate it.”
One of the biggest struggles homeowners can experience during a renovation project is a lack of communication.
Several times, Macktown has been asked to take over a project started by a different company because the homeowner couldn’t get in touch with the project manager.
Macktown makes communication a top priority by utilizing a project management software system called Builder Trend. This tool tracks a project from start to finish and includes a communication portal so clients can stay in contact with their contractor.
“When we go through the design phase, I use that to communicate with the homeowner and say, ‘Hey, I have five garbage pull-out options, here’s a photo of each, and which of these would you prefer?’” says Lamm. “Likewise, if they find inspiration, they can upload pictures and send them to me and tell me, ‘I like this about this picture.’”
Once a project is started, Builder Trend helps Macktown communicate each day’s schedule so homeowners know which tradesmen will be on site at any given time.
“Our project manager does daily logs – this is what happened on your project today, this is what we expect to happen tomorrow – it’s great for the homeowner,” Lamm says. “They know what’s going on, and they’re not lost and wondering if someone is going to show up today.”
Tony says he often has clients ask if they can be gone during a renovation. With Builder Trend, it’s possible and there’s a nearly seamless transition from when the homeowner leaves to when they return.
“They come back, and the work’s finished,” he says.
Thus, the CWP cabinetry line is helping make remodeling projects across the area easier and less stressful.
“We’ve been working with them for six months now, and we have extremely happy customers,” Tony says. “The craftsmanship and attention to detail is great.”