Bill Borchert

Borchert Building Co.

Washington, Mich.

Being a cabinet dealer gives us more control, and we can be more competitively priced. The wholesaler puts his markup on the manufacturer price, and we put our markup on that. This cuts out the middleman so I can make my profit margin and still offer a competitive price.

I also buy other products directly through the SEN Design Group.

I have to offer good, better, and best options, so I carry three lines (production, semi-custom, and custom). I looked for a 15% price difference between the cabinet lines. This way, I can tell clients, “You save $X if you get this line, save $X more if you get this line etc.”

We try to educate people about cabinets before they make their selection, so that they can make the selection themselves. We talk about how cabinets are made, the furniture board, all-plywood, thickness, how drawers are made, finishes on the inside, and so on.

Most cabinet manufacturers require you to spend a specific amount on orders and to have displays. They have different programs on paying for displays — some you pay for display, get special pricing, then, when you sell a certain amount in cabinets, they put it back toward your display cost. If you sell enough of that line, it can pay for itself.

Being a dealer is more work. You have to do the design yourself. I had to learn to do the drawings. But you can close the sale faster because you can make the design changes yourself instead of waiting for a local distributor to make changes and calculate the price of the change.

Due to the recession, cabinet manufacturers are slower at sending out orders. They are offering more incentives and special pricing, especially on special finishes. For example, glazing would cost 15% more, but they are offering it for 5%.

I would suggest that remodelers go visit the factory before signing up [with a particular manufacturer]. This way you find out more about how the cabinets are made and how their customer service department operates.

Jeff Wyman

Wyman Builders

Delray Beach, Fla.

We specialize in interior remodeling. We have a small showroom and are factory-direct dealers for three different lines of cabinetry. We handle several lines to offer several price points to our clientele.

These lines are more flexible than custom cabinetry offered by local custom cabinetmakers. There are a lot more parts, configurations, moldings, wood species, etc.

The main advantage is that I am not competing with someone who is looking at KraftMaid in The Home Depot. We are dealers for well-respected custom-style lines. That fits with our clientele. If you only do a few kitchens a year, being a dealer is not a winning proposition and most manufacturers will not want to do business with you.

Most of the cabinet manufacturers require that you have a showroom and you buy one or two displays. I have more of a design studio that is 700 square feet.

You have to buy the manufacturer sample package that has 20 to 30 door styles and samples of their wood species and stains. I’m looking at another cabinet line now — the startup kit, without displays, is close to $5,000.

Due to the economy, cabinet manufacturers are running more promotions.

Jerry Levine

The Levine Group

Silver Spring, Md.

I am a cabinet dealer because I’d rather make my own mistakes and have some control over them. I have a better idea of the lead time for cabinetry, and I can make changes more efficiently.

Also, if I’m buying the cabinetry directly, there is one less markup with the middleman. However, there is work involved with being a dealer. We have to understand how to fill out the order form and do the ordering ourselves. We also have to go through the review process with the factory before anything is built.

We have two lines from Corsi Cabinets and one line from Greenfield Cabinetry.

We have a small display with doors and panels. You have to purchase these items and replace or update them over the years.

Due to the economy, the cabinetry lead times have decreased from 12 to 16 weeks to 6 to 8 weeks. The manufacturers are also being more aggressive to get sales going.

I would advise remodelers to choose a cabinet line that fits their clientele. Choose your dealership based on product requests from sweet-spot clients. If you’re going to represent a product, make sure to take advantage of it and sell it.

Also, as we continue to explore the green concept, find out if your clients might be interested in green cabinetry. Ask the manufacturer how they define green — about tangible, factual, selling points that you can use to talk to clients.