CNC router purchase or not

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Neal Reeves
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CNC router purchase or not

Postby Neal Reeves » Fri, Jul 25 2008, 9:06PM

This question is for employers across the country who use ecabinets and have a Thermwood CNC router. I have a 5000 square foot shop in a rural area of the panhandle of Florida. My wife and I employ 4 full time employees at the present time. We build, finish, and install custom cabinets, wall units, entertainment centers, etc. I am torn between continuing on as I have been or purchasing a Thermwood CNC router. The economy situation has my attention, but we have been staying busy in spite of the slow-down. I have been praying about buying one, but I would like to hear from some of you and get your opinion on what you would do in my situation. Is this a good opportunity to buy and learn to use it while things are slower, or should I wait and see if housing will bounce back?
God Bless You,
Neal Reeves
Country Cabinets, Inc.
Bonifay, FL

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Damon Nabors
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Re: CNC router purchase or not

Postby Damon Nabors » Fri, Jul 25 2008, 10:05PM

Neal, I am a two man and a wife cabinet shop. I have only been in business full time for three years now, but have been building cabinets on the side for over 15 years. I contacted my Thermwood rep around 8 years ago (maybe 10yrs now) because I was curious about how a router could help me with my side business. I knew then after finding out how much a quality router would cost me, I could not afford one. My rep stayed in touch with me over the years, I had gone and visited the Thermwood Plant several times. I knew I would be making a transition into full time cabinet building sometime in the future so I gathered as much information as I could. After going full time three years ago, I got a reality shock. I found out that the cabinet business is a self destructive business. Everyone in my area wants to undercut the other guy just to stay busy. As a one man shop at the time, I found out that I could not compete with the time clock. The clock spun around the dial faster than I could cut cabinets. This time phenomenon was costing me a lot of money. I tried hiring employees and that was very expensive (Workers Comp, Payroll Taxes, Damaged and lost equipment, calling in late, no shows, etc......). I got to looking at my situation and decided that the best employee is one that has no limitations, one that will be on time everyday and be willing to work late if needed and not expect to be paid overtime, one that I did not have to buy workers comp on and pay taxes on. This employee would soon be a CS45-510 Thermwood CNC Router. Having not been in business very long I had a hard time qualifying for a loan to purchase one. I kept on pumping out cabinets and struggling with the time Phenomenon. The following year (last November) my Thermwood rep called and said "Well, another year has gone by, are you ready to try it again?" At this point I would qualify, and my new employee would soon be in the shop. I was worried about making payroll for this new employee, but all the math added up. I figured the payment would be around $2,500 per month. I broke down the payment into a 40 hour work week and came up with a $14.42 per hour employee. My new router can out work any $14.00 and hour man any day of the week. My new employee became a "Time Machine". Kitchens that used to take 4 to 6 week projects soon became 7 to 10 day projects. Just adding one more job per month pays for the new employee. It has also opened up new doors for us. We are able to cut parts for other shops and make parts that we couldn't make before with out spending hours making jigs and fixtures.

I have also been able to change the skill level of my employees. I used to have a $15.00 per hour man working for me, I had to have a skilled laborer to help cut and one that understood cut list and had an understanding of what we where doing. Now I can get anyone to be an assembly guy. My 10 year old son often comes out to Assembly cabinet to make some extra money. It's very easy with the blind dado system.

I have a small cabinet shop in my back yard. I don't work as many hours now. Life is good and I would hate to think about going back to cutting cabinets on a table saw again. I would suggest looking at your situation, if you are turning down work because you can not get it out, buy a router. You can cut enough parts in one day on a router to keep two or three people busy the rest of the week assembling. We have grown so much since the purchase of our router, we are currently looking at a new shop. We have outgrown our back yard business, we are still turning down work just simply because we can not get it out the door. It seems like the faster you build, the faster the work comes in.

I have rambled on enough, I get excited about my router and could talk for ever, Good Luck and let your heart and God lead you in the right direction.

Damon
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Re: CNC router purchase or not

Postby Michael S Murray » Sat, Jul 26 2008, 7:37AM

Neal,
Do it......

Damon,
DONT DO IT........
Mike Murray
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Damon Nabors
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Re: CNC router purchase or not

Postby Damon Nabors » Sat, Jul 26 2008, 7:52AM

Mike,
???????
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Re: CNC router purchase or not

Postby Michael S Murray » Sat, Jul 26 2008, 8:25AM

Damon, I was referring to more overhead, employees, I will pm you so as not to take over this thread
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Damon Nabors
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Re: CNC router purchase or not

Postby Damon Nabors » Sat, Jul 26 2008, 8:40AM

"I see, said the blind man". Yes definitely, More equipment and less employees. I call it working smarter and not harder.

Thanks Mike and good luck Neal with your decision. If you haven't taken a trip to the Thermwood Plant yet, I would suggest going. You will get the bug.
Damon Nabors

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Re: CNC router purchase or not

Postby jerry johnson » Sat, Jul 26 2008, 4:43PM

Neal, I have been in the cabinet business for over 30 years and 9 or 10 years ago I started to see ads in trade magazines about nested base processing on cnc routers. I knew this was the wave of the future for our industry and hoped that one day I would have one of these awsome machines. About a year and a half ago I had the opportunity to work with a contractor on some hotels in our area with the possibility of future work in the hotel industry around the state. I have a 4000 square foot shop and 4 to 6 employees so the only way I could possibly keep pace with this kind of work would be to purchase a router. To make a long story short, I got the router but not any more hotel work! On top of that, our local economy took a huge downturn in the housing market. All this said, I have no regrets in getting a router even though it came with a substantial payment. It changes almost every aspect of your process of cabinet making in a positive way. These machines are incredible and all the people at Thermwood are fantastic!

If things are a bit slow in your area this is a great time to begin the learning curve on one of these machines because it is substantial and requires a lot of your time in the beginning. I had been using a different cabinet design software for over 20 years when I switched to ecabinets and the router so having the slow time to learn and practice on the software and the machine was great for me. Also, I took my foreman with me to the training and that helped too because we were able to remember more between the two of us.

Well, that's my two bits. Consider all you hear from others around you and what you receive from this forum in your decision making. Also, I saw in your post you were in prayer about this decision. That is where you will find the most important advice. (but I think you allready know that) God bless you and your business. 8)

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Re: CNC router purchase or not

Postby Neal Reeves » Sat, Jul 26 2008, 9:39PM

Thank you all for your input. Hearing that machines are purchased in slow times as well as good times makes me feel better about it. Before 2005, business for my area was unbelievably booming. Then all of the sudden, things slow down. I have heard that some shops that had been open for a long time closed their doors. We have been running 13 years strong and have done everything by hand from the job layout to the cutting, assembly, and finishing. I'm going to the IWF show in Atlanta in August and my main objective is to see one of these machines in action.
Thanks again for all the advice and the prayers. It is wonderful to know that Jesus is alive in the hearts of other cabinet makers around the country. God Bless You All!!!!!!
Neal Reeves

Country Cabinets, Inc.

Bonifay, FL

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Re: CNC router purchase or not

Postby Nick M Singer » Sun, Jul 27 2008, 1:46AM

Neal just to add my experience for what it is worth. I bought my Thermwood over the internet sight unseen, and was the first in South Africa (not with CNC but with a Thermwood) The thing that got me interested was eCabs, because I had been working with Solid Manufacturing for a few years and knew that going screen to machine was the thing to do, I came across eCabs first and then saw the machines on the web. I could see they were superior in build to anything else I had seen here and so I placed my order. I run a relatively small specialized operation so mass production or high volume throughput is not the issue, I have found that using the software/machine package imposes a discipline on the production process and improves productivity, quality and accuracy. It also enables you to achieve tasks on your own that would normally require you to hire more highly skilled individuals. Oh yes it also doesn't take lunch or tea breaks!! Get One!!!!

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Re: CNC router purchase or not

Postby Ron Shultz » Tue, Jul 29 2008, 6:51PM

I have a question for you Thermwood owners. What sold you on Thermwood? Versus, say Onsrud?

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Re: CNC router purchase or not

Postby Thom Davies » Tue, Jul 29 2008, 7:18PM

Hey Ron

What sold us on a thermwood was 2 things. The fact that they make the program (eCab) They make the controler and all the software in it and the machine and its all theirs. so when there is a prob you can email or phone one company and it will get fixed. Not like other CNCs. They could say its not the design soft ware thats the prob it could be the machine. and backward and forth like that. then you have the hassel of trying to phone mayb 2 or 3 different people to sort the prob out. That takes time and $$$ and down time. Thermwood are great. Cos im in NZ i can email USA @ say 5pm NZT and go home sleep and come back next day and prob will be fixed near to be fixed. And also this great forum is a good reason for a thermwood. We have the kings of eCab here that help every one ( Dan and Kerry) and the other thing that drew us to thermwood was how soild the machine is and looks. not like some of the others we have seen. They look like air hockey tables!

Cheers

Thom Davies
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Re: CNC router purchase or not

Postby Damon Nabors » Tue, Jul 29 2008, 7:38PM

Ya know Thom, one guy on here did convert his into an air hockey table.

For me, it was the customer service. I am 120% sold on customer service. You can have the best machine in the world, but without the service you have nothing. Thermwood has always given me an answer for any question that I have had and I have never found any information to be untrue. Every time we have had a problem, the thermwood team has come to our rescue. Also another reason I purchased a Thermwood router was because of the salesman that stayed in touch with me over the years. I requested quotes from companies that didn't even get the quotes out for 3 months. I had one company call me three months after I had received my new router and wanted to come by the shop and talk to us. I had to explain to them that after three months, I had already purchased a machine.

I like the fact that like today, I had a problem cutting a part and all I had to do was pick up the phone and get an answer immediately.

Thermwood= Great customer support and service
Damon Nabors

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Re: CNC router purchase or not

Postby Thom Davies » Tue, Jul 29 2008, 7:46PM

You are so right Damon.

Thermwood does = Great customer support and service! :beer: :beer: :beer: :beer: :beer: :beer: :beer: :beer: :beer: :beer: :beer: :beer: :beer: :beer: :beer: :beer: :beer: :beer: :beer: :beer: :beer: :beer: :beer: :beer: :beer: :beer: :beer: :beer:
CHEERS TO THERMWOOD!!!!!!!!


Thanks

Thom Davies
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Re: CNC router purchase or not

Postby Michael S Murray » Tue, Jul 29 2008, 8:29PM

Ron, lets not forget one other important thing, made right here in the good old USA by good old Americans. Yes, the service and knowledge are important also, along with the one phone # that will get you to every one you need to keep your machine running, and they dont treat you like a dumbass when you call in with what probably is a dumbass question, I am sure I am still asking them after two yrs. and several thousands of sheets being cut up.I could not imagine buying a router from any one else, even without e-cabs!!

Alvin, Mark, etc. Please send me my commision, you know the adress..... :D :D :D
Mike Murray

Versatile Cabinet & Solid Surface

mike@versatilecabinet.com

http://www.versatilecabinet.com

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Re: CNC router purchase or not

Postby DanEpps » Wed, Jul 30 2008, 6:22AM

Show me another company who has such a large sale staff (customers) or a huge technical support staff (forum members).

Not only do you get great customer service from Thermwood, you have access to hundreds of "real world" experts eager to help via the forum.

Damon's cost analysis is great for showing the ROI and the replies from everyone else shows the esprit de corps everyone has for being part of this family.


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