Kitchen designers are being introduced to two new cabinetry brands today. After what the company calls an 18-month "rebranding and reinvention process," Echelon Cabinetry and Advanta Cabinets have been born from the legacy Armstrong Cabinets brand. A new design tool comes with them.

In 2012, Armstrong World Industries, which also manufactures flooring and ceiling products, sold its Armstrong Cabinets division to American Industrial Partners (AIP), which took the brand private. Since then, AIP has changed to ACPI, and gave the Armstrong product line a thorough overhaul to create the new Echelon brand for homebuilders and remodelers, and the Advanta brand for multifamily projects.

Brand Reinvention

"This was more than a brand launch for us internally," Steve Stephens said in an interview on Aug. 1. Stephens is vice president of marketing and business development for ACPI. "The business was in a state that needed to be re-evaluated because the marketplace was changing. Knowing that, we engaged in a massive undertaking of reconnecting with what's important to customers, and which customers we should focus on."

The organization brought in a new executive team with experience both inside and outside the building products industry. Conducting end-user research gave the team the information it needed to refine the Armstrong product line. "The first thing we did was remove non-productive SKUs, which reduced the overall Armstrong product line by 30%, "Stephens says. "That gave us a more effective platform to build from. From there, we started to break the products apart into the two brands we new we were building: one multifamily commercial brand, Advanta, and then the Echelon brand for single-family builders and remodelers."

Removing unused SKUs helped improve production efficiencies. Other changes, such as moving to all-wood drawers from particleboard also had a positive impact on through-put. To create the two new brands, the team mixed-and-matched some designs, while others products were seen as more valuable for one brand other. Paint, stain, and glaze options were also tweaked. Pictured in this article, top to bottom, are Echelon cabinets in the Wesley, Edinburgh, and Trevino door styles.

New Design Tools

Found in ACPI's market research for Echelon was a gem of a statistic for remodelers: Of recent homebuyers and those in the market for a new home, 61% felt they would have made a different cabinetry decision if they could have better visualized their options. Knowing that, ACPI developed the Echelon Cabinetry Visualizer, a web-based tool that will let homeowners experiment with their kitchen design and make more informed choices.

"The tool has some great features for a remodeler or a dealer," Stephens says. "You can choose from a variety of kitchen layouts and really mix and match products to see them coming together. Users can e-mail their selections back to the showroom before they even come in, which gives the designers time to focus more on elements like accessories and related products. The dealer still has an important role to play, but fundamentally it narrows down the choice, lets users see their options over and over again, and helps them become much more confident that they're able to visualize their selections."

New Brands, New Promises

ACPI is focused on brand awareness as it brings Echelon and Advanta to market. Backing the introduction of Advanta for the multifamily market (pictured at right in the Novara door style) is a "delivered on-time, 100% complete" promise.

CEO Nick Billig says the brand has invested heavily in capital equipment and operations to "bring certainty to kitchen cabinet ordering." Single-family Echelon customers will also benefit from the on-time, in-full focus. Echelon has taken steps to ensure consistent lead times and 100% complete deliveries. Its product line-up features tiered good-better-best categories to simplify decision-making.

"We've accomplished a lot, but we're not standing still," Stephens says. "We get very excited about identifying unmet customer needs and working hard to find ways to solve them."

Billig agrees. "ACPI is proud to launch this new phase of our business, capitalizing on six decades of experience and a lot of work to re-energize the mission to deliver a superior kitchen cabinet experience for our customers and their customers.