Page 3 of 5

Posted: Tue, Aug 22 2006, 8:34AM
by DanEpps
OK guys, I did a little thievin' here from Mitch's website and made just a quick and dirty flyer from the info in his home page.

This is the sort of thing you can easily take to begin with and put into print to get in front of people. Get a stack of flyers to every decorator and interior designer in town. Get a stack to every real estate agent in town. Get a stack to every insurance agent in town.

Don't overlook the insurance agents! People buy homes with cabinets already in the. They start a little fire in the kitchen and damage the cabinets over the range. The first person the call is their insurance agent for a claim. While they are talking to the agent, they ask for a recommendation for someone to replace the cabinets.

Likewise, don't forget to reciprocate with all of these people and ask if they have brochures or business cards that you can take with you and give to your customers. A little good will goes a long way.

Anyway, back to the flyer. This is very rough, the graphice I took from the website so the resolution is not high enough for printing but you can get an idea.

I will create a sample catalog later today a post a page from it.

Posted: Tue, Aug 22 2006, 9:14AM
by Mitch Cain
This is great, Dan! I was working on something similar in Photoshop for a brochure design...this is a great tool for tapping someone on the shoulder...

Now, after I tap them on the shoulder, what do we show them? The larger need I think is for a catalog to display the designs that are in the design sharing program and a drop in section for our own designs. Flyers and business cards are an important part of an overall marketing strategy, but that simply creates the small window of time you have to make an impression on the customer and let them know that you are not just \"one guy makin' boxes\" but \"part of a global alliance of cabinet makers and designers\"...

Does that get the juices flowing? We almost need to have some pics of the kitchens done with the designs -

what do the rest of you think? We're putting a lot of pressure on Dan here to be the creative one...not that he's not equal to the task

Posted: Tue, Aug 22 2006, 9:34AM
by Paul Ellis
Now THAT makes me excited! Letting the customer understand that you actually have the backing of International cabinet/furniture/etc designers at your fingertips without it costing them International designer's fees!
I can't wait for this to really kick off!

I have been in the IT world since 1979 (and actually still am!) But it's been mostly mainframe and later on database servers. I have done my fair share of programming (Cobol, SQL and Pl/Sql) C or C++. My cabinetry/woodworking is starting to take up more and more time. I plan to do it full time by this time next year!


Posted: Tue, Aug 22 2006, 9:53AM
by Mitch Cain

That's my plan as well. I am currently working as a system architect during the day and cabinetry and teaching cabinetry by night. I want out of the IT gig altogether and can't really do it until I have the cabinetry established with a backlog, hence my STRONG DESIRE to see this through and OVERARCHING NEED for a viable marketing strategy.

I am working through all these little kinks with the first few small jobs and, as us IT guys typically do, over-ANALyizing everything before jumping out of a perfectly good airplane, if you get my meaning...I'd rather hit the ground softly as opposed to leaving a 10 inch impression of myself in the mud...

Posted: Tue, Aug 22 2006, 10:51AM
by DanEpps
Mitch and Paul

I gave the IT industry over 30 years of 16-20 hour days before I decided it was time to do what I REALLY enjoyed an inhale some sawdust and lacquer fumes :shock: .

Try as I might though, I just can't get the bits and bytes out of my blood :wink: .

How is something like this for a catalog? Again, this is about 30 minutes worth of design so it is very rough but it gives the idea of what can be done. This one is in the style of a mailer but I can do it in any style we need.

I can create a \"static\" catalog with the Design Sharing library catalogs and a customizable section for each member's own designs to be included.

Posted: Tue, Aug 22 2006, 10:59AM
by Mitch Cain
You're good Dan, you're really really good... :)

I'm thinking we could augment what you have here with some actual Kitchen shots from the design sharing library, and some of our own stuff and then we've got something.

I'm not sure if the format of ordering is appropriate though. In my case, since my overall message is \"custom design\" I would hesitate to put cabinets in a \"check here to buy one\" format - it makes it look too much like factory cabinets...I'm thinking of it more like an \"idea book\", where we can stretch the readers mind a little bit and let them know we have the juice to create simple or elaborate custom designs....

this is great stuff! I hope that you and Joe get to talk this up at IWF...

Posted: Tue, Aug 22 2006, 11:06AM
by DanEpps
That is the point of this--to get everyone to thinking and providing input. If I create a design and provide it to everyone to use it would be the same as everyone selling KraftMaid cabinets :D .

I want input from everyone on just what they want in something like this.

Posted: Tue, Aug 22 2006, 11:10AM
by Rolf Bergstrom
Maybe I am missing something here but just what designs are we talking about? I don't see the connection between a library of cabinets and a room design. Taking a proven manufacturable set of cabinet designs and building them is one thing but designing a kitchen with them is quite another. You all know there is more to it than sticking a bunch of boxes on the wall and adding some moldings and turnings. Several have mentioned having a stock catalog to show up against the krap made or nomasville catalogs, to show you are not just box makers. But those catalogs show finished rooms. Do you want a catalog of someone elses work? Wouldn't that be much like showing them a picture out of a woodworking magazine and saying \"I can build that\"? Why not just take an Enkeboll catalog and say \"sure, that's nice but check this out\"? Having a printed catalog of Kerry's cabinets is not going to somehow make you able to build one of Kerry's rooms any more than having an Enkeboll catalog will make you able to build one of those rooms. Maybe you have a better eye for design than Kerry (just an example, no offense Kerry) and can put together a beautiful room but can you build it? I guess that is a rhetorical question, if we couldn't build it we wouldn't be doing this, but you see what I am geting at. I'll stop now since this is geting about as long as this thread is becoming.

Posted: Tue, Aug 22 2006, 11:29AM
by Mitch Cain
Good points Rolf - I'm always game for a good discussion -

I suppose I could buy a CD of Kerry or Bill's designs, make some cabinets, and spend a lot of time and money creating my own mock ups of kitchens/ecenters etc. for my own idea book. For that matter, I should probably make my own doors and such, since putting a conestoga door on my box might be showing somebody else's work (please take that the right way ) - and I guess if that was the right approach, there really wouldn't be any need for a Thermwood furniture network (somebody else's design, you just put them together) or a Design Sharing platform.

But the reality is this. I'm one man. I need to Design, Spec, Build, Finish, Install and all of that AFTER I Market, Sell, Quote, Price, Sell, Administrate, Pay Taxes, Sell, eat, sleep, Sell, and say hi to my wife. I need all the help I can get. I could very very easily punt, become a distributor for a line of cabinets like Omega, but its not how I want to do things.

Now, as a part of the Thermwood Cabinet Cooperative, I have at my disposal, furniture designs, cabinet designs, machining, all the things that bigger guys have and all the things that little guys I compete with DON'T have - now why would I NOT take advantage of that if I were really a businessman first? Not only that, but instead of making Omega more wealthy, I am taking care of ME and taking care of YOU (if its your designs I'm selling) at the same time and we both get better for it....

I guess that's just my twisted little way of looking at things...

Posted: Tue, Aug 22 2006, 11:50AM
by Mitch Cain
and ANOTHER thing...(sometimes I just can't shut up - it WILL be my undoing)...

Rolf made the very good point that showing a room design is NOT the same as showing a CABINET box. I agree. But I just lived through this experience and lost a deal because I showed a really nice box, well made and all, but didn't have a bunch of nice rooms to show how the box \"could be applied\"

...Now I know for a fact the guy at Home Depot didn't build the rooms in the catalog the lady had in her hand, but that didn't stop him from taking those same cabinets and coming up with a design for her based on what was in that book, NOT based on his past history of successful applications of what was in that other words, there isn't a book at Home Depot, or Omega, or Kraftmaid or anywhere else of their dealer's ACTUAL install history - its an IDEA book. Its what COULD BE done...

I'll go way out on a limb here and make a bold statement. We have to stop thinking like artisans (its not all mine so its not REALLY mine) and starting thinking like the guys that are eating our lunch. I don't mind beating them with their own stick.

Please take this post the right way, its meant to be constructive and thought provoking...

Posted: Tue, Aug 22 2006, 12:58PM
by Joe Stone
Sorry guys,

I actually am the only full time woodworker with my !@# on the line with this program and I say it will work. The one thing that not enough of the full timers seem to realize yet ( even thos in the program ) is that the key component here is the ROUTER. Designing in Ecab is nice for me now, but when the router shows up I CAN AND WILL compete with the box junk for like pricing and make good money doing it. I have never been able to do so with regular tooling and half a@# expensive labor, and I know I am not the only one who aced this. I have done HUNDRED of hours of research on this being able to put me in a position to REALLY compete with the junk stuff. If you learn to give up some of your pride and realize a \"good\" product is only perception, then build what they want and make money on it. You will still get those customers who will pay for hand crafted high quality product, and you'll still be in business to be able to give it to them. I think once more old schoolers realize they are now better off to outsource everything but the design, sales, service, assembly, and maybe install we will all be putting the box idiots back in the box where they belong. Les face it until we wake up and make people realize that they are getting some 20 year old kid as their \"cabinet designer\" who doesn't know squat we will be getting our buts beat by them. I have never really pursued the commercial field either for similar reasons. Anything we can do together to help make us look more like the box idiots the better for now. In the long run you simply have to do good business and you won't have to convince anyone that you are actually better than HOME CHEAPO.


I like it so far, the adjustability of entering some of your own \"custom\" designs is a must for most I think. By the way I am not computer illiterate as I may have painted myself but I have an Engineering background, not IT that's where I am not close to you gentlemen. I don't try to do things that don't make good economical sense any more, I know what I do well and I work hard at improving in those areas every day. I am not foolish enough to believe I could get anywhere close to someone who has 30 ys. experience at something so why waste the time and effort when I can hire someone to fill that gap. Back to the dust parade, but I will check tonight when I get done to see if we have any other interested parties chime in.

Posted: Tue, Aug 22 2006, 1:55PM
by Mitch Cain
You are absolutely right Joe - its about the router...

right now my only access to the router is through Bill or Dave, but I still have access to it. I can still offer a cabinet that is 42 1/2\" wide and 20\" tall if I darn well have to to make the customer happy and the router will cut it right. I don't have to re-tool, set up idiot jigs, re-cut because my fence was out of whack, or any of that stuff. So I can enter the business without putting my entire retirement and my family at risk. Like my father used to call it \"Old wing walker's advice...Don't let go of nuttin' til' you got hold of something else\"...

To bring this thread back to where it started, I don't get that chance if I can't get past the guy in the orange apron with thousands of dollars of professional designs he has never seen in real life as his marketing tool...

I need to be able to level that part of the playing field too.

Posted: Tue, Aug 22 2006, 2:31PM
by Rolf Bergstrom
I think the problem here as there are several topics being discussed and I think that is causing my misunderstanding.
I, like everyone else, use other people's designs from books, magazines, catalogs, tv, whatever for ideas and inspiration. I am in no way saying that anyone shouldn't or wouldn't. Nor am I saying that outsourcing any or all components is good or bad. Nor am I saying there is anything wrong with taking someone's designs from the design sharing program and building and selling them.
I am simply asking where these designs you are talking about putting in front of your customers are coming from? Kerry's library is a library of cabinets. Someone has to put these cabinets into a room design before they are of any use to you in front of a potential customer. That is where I got off on the tangent about other people's designs. I don't see the difference between taking photos of one of Kerry's finished projects and putting it in \"my\" catalog, versus using a picture from the Enkeboll catalog. In either case I can buy or build all of the components but just like you say using the Home Depot guy as an example, someone still has to sit down and put a design together for that customer. What is in the picture is just a starting point.
Do you see what I am getting at? You say you want an idea book but again, the ideas have to come from somewhere. Are you asking Kerry to supply photos of finished kitchens he built from his libraries? Are you asking him for renderings he has done using these libraries? I am sure you could build any kitchen in any catalog using Kerry's libraries. I am sure you could build any of Kerry's kitchens using Bill's libraries (okay maybe, maybe not, just making an example). My point is that it doesn't matter whether it is your design, my design, Kerry's design or a design out of a cabinet catalog you are showing to the customer, you are still going to need to design it for them.

Posted: Tue, Aug 22 2006, 3:50PM
by Joe Stone

I don't think any of us are foolish enough to believe that the design isn't a key component. It's THE component with some customers, with others not as much. The customer we loose often is the fool who thinks if you buy a name that makes it good. These fools in my experience are not the ones who stiff you, or cause you a lot of grief usually that is why I don't like loosing them so often. I don't think this idea is the cat's meow, I just think its another great piece to add to the puzzle. If you don't have a lot of different things to hit them with, you loose sales. You sure don't hit them all with everything you have, it's a waste of time and money to do so, but there are combinations of things I find work very well with some and not at all with others. If Dan was able to do this with such little time and effort, why not look into it and see where it goes. I don't think I have ever sold a job because I AM THE BEST, I just need the customer to percieve me as such. I will try anything that could help my business separate from others.

As for where these \"things\" are coming from to go in front of the customer, I don't think we have \"things\" clearly defined yet as to what the group interest may be. The way Ecabs has moved along has been driven by what do the masses want, and how can we do it? I think the answer to the first is usually give me as many choices as possible built in to what your doing and then let me pick and choose how I want to use it. I doubt everyone here is interested at all in producing a video, I will do it no matter what the group feel is. I tend to be very aggressive in my approach and I like to push the edges, it costs money to do this usually so it keeps me reasonable about my ideas. I don't want anyone to think I have deep pockets to throw at this thing cause that's not the case. I had to get private investment in my business to allow me to do this one, I did not think trying to do it with my money would do it justice. I do however have some to spend wisely and I don't see this as a wildly expensive trip- no matter how we all decide it best to structure it. Back to work again....

Posted: Tue, Aug 22 2006, 3:56PM
by Joe Stone
Just to clarify my earlier post about being the only one with my a!@ on the line, it didn't come out as I intended. I know there are plenty here with more at risk than me, I was trying to cut it off at the pass before we got a you guys are only part timers and start ups so your opinions get washed aside by the more experienced guys. I have made myself look like a part time guy by defending their opinions more than once (not here, but other forums), I think all opinions should be heard without prejudice-that's all.