Smithville's newest industry is off to a great start
After only eight months in operation, Master Custom Cabinetry of TN. Inc. is already preparing to relocate to a larger facility within the next two weeks.
The company, manufacturer of custom cabinets, began operations in October after renting the old popcorn factory building on Miller Road. The owners, President Tim West and Vice President Chris Vanatta soon realized that the facility would not be large enough to meet the growing demands for their products. They have since purchased the old Texas Boot building just down the street.
Both West and Vanatta spoke with WJLE in an interview Tuesday.
"We opened October 1, 2014 and began setting equipment. We started with Chris and I and two other employees setting equipment. In November 2014, we started up production with one set. In December we began taking on two or three sets per week (smaller jobs). By January 1 we were in full production. We're outgrowing this location. This building (old popcorn factory) is 32,000 square feet. We're using 23,000 square feet of it. We're going to need more square footage in order to be able to hire the people and put in the extra processes to get the job done," said West.
"Within the next week or two, we'll be relocating to the old Texas Boot building. We're currently moving things but we won't be completely up there for probably two weeks," added Vanatta.
According to West, the company currently employs around twenty five people but plans are to add hundreds more over the next few years. "Our first year is going well. We started laying foundations in the very beginning in putting things in place. But the sales grew so fast that between Chris, myself, and another office person we could not keep up with it so we've had to bring extra people in to do separate jobs. We were trying to wear many hats and do several different jobs. It didn't take but a few months to outgrow that. Our ultimate plan is going to be like a seven to eight year plan. We'd love to get to a $50 million dollar a year company, which would employ 350 plus people based on those sales," he said.
While the industry is capable of dealing directly with the consumer for custom work, they primarily sell to distributors and designers. " It's mainly custom cabinets but we do basically any type of cabinetry or wood work that they need for their house including trim, book cases, entertainment centers, vanities, etc. People can come by and tell us what they need. We would need a set of drawings and any pictures of what you would like. We can show you some door styles and color blocks but we're not a design house. We are doing a few local jobs but most of ours is through distributors," said Vanatta.
Master Custom Cabinetry currently does business in six states. By bringing in revenue from other places, West said the company is contributing to the economy in Tennessee. "We're currently selling in six states and bringing in revenue from other states that is distributed a lot here in Tennessee not only with employment, but we deal with local businesses, hardware, and supply places. We try to do everything we can locally as far as buying from local vendors. The majority of the other vendors we do have as far as hardwoods and plywood and things of that nature. They are all Tennessee based. So we are distributing the money back into the state of Tennessee," West said.
Master Custom Cabinetry is an equal opportunity employer and while skilled laborers are preferred, on the job training is available. "We have some people that have training in a specialized field. For example, in our finish department, we have people with training in finish, but we also have hired people we are training in finish," said West.
"We want to start training people three deep. For example, if you have one guy that's over the cutting department, we want him to train two other people so that if he gets sick or goes on vacation, it's not a big deal. He can leave without having to worry about the job getting done. If you've got two other people filling in for him, it keeps the production and flow going. We don't want people to work harder. We want to make it to where they can work smarter and enjoy what they are doing," West continued.
As for wages, West said the industry is competitive with others in the area and plans to offer attractive benefits to employees. "We're trying to be competitive. Our wages depends on their experience as to where we start them out at. Our very entry level jobs start at $8.50 per hour. We look at it at 30 days as far as how fast they progress and then every six months we review their performance and set goals for them. As long as they make the goals and they're at work like they should be then they will get their raises every six months until they top out. We're still in the process of determining where that top out is. We also want to try and give the employee a bonus two times a year for the person who is working on the floor. We want to be able to give them a bonus at Christmas and when they take their vacation," added West.
"One of the best benefits we're going to try to do as a company is we're only going to shut down during the Christmas holidays. We will probably shut down for three or four days during the Christmas season to let the whole company off. As far as the summer vacation, what we're going to do for the employees is let them plan a time when it is convenient for them and their spouse or family. They'll be able to plan their vacation when they need it or when it will be best for them. We're going to work with them on that. After they are here for one year, they will have one week of paid vacation. Probably after three years, they'll get two weeks. We're still trying to determine where that three week vacation mark will be. We haven't decided on that," said West.
Currently , the company works one shift but it may have to alter that as the business continues to grow. "When we go up there (new location) our main goal is to have one shift but there will be times when we will be running either a split shift or two shifts and we may even work toward having a full second shift at some point," said Vanatta.
"Our normal work schedule week is Monday-Thursday. We work 10 hour days. That's our 40 hours. If we have overtime to do, we have Friday left for that. At this point we've had to work about every Friday," added West.
Both West and Vanatta said they want their company to be family friendly and supportive of the community. "We try to create a family atmosphere. In the morning, we have meetings for those who want to participate. We actually have a prayer meeting. We pray for any family needs they have. We want to be a Christian based company and put God first in everything we do. We truly want to be a community based company. We want to support the community. We want to give back to this town and the people," West concluded.