Cabinet Fever

The Lancaster country road that leads to Quality Custom Cabinetry, Inc., in New Holland is shared by cars and horses. It’s clear this is a place where tradition matters—a fitting backdrop for a company known for superior craftsmanship.

What began in 1968 with two men building cabinets in a garage has evolved into a business whose exquisitely made cabinetry appears in homes around the country. “We started out with a teddy bear and ended up with a monster,” says Glenn Good, CEO of Quality Custom Cabinetry, and one of the men who toiled away in the former auto body repair shop that served as QCC’s first headquarters. Working with his father-in-law Martin Weaver, who founded QCC, Good helped the company evolve into the vast—but still family-owned—enterprise it is today, with nearly 300 employees, 136,000 square feet of manufacturing and office space, and a product sought after by movie stars, sports legends and anyone with an appreciation for quality design.

Knock on Wood
Although its salespeople often say, “If you can draw it, we can make it,” QCC has never tried to be all things to all people. From its inception, the idea was to be a high-end custom manufacturer of a luxury product—when luxury in the kitchen was almost unheard of, 37 years ago. These are cabinets for people who are in love with their kitchens, think cooking is sexy, thrill at a beaded inset, spend the industry-advised 10 to 25 percent of their home’s value on cabinets. And it shows.

“The quality of the construction, the handwork of fitting door and drawers, the materials used, the finish—the difference is visible to the naked eye,” says Sally Pierce, sales representative for quality at QCC. “For most people, though, it’s the experience of a high-end product. You know you’re dealing with a fantastic drawer slide. It’s quality furniture.”

Last year, QCC produced $27 million worth of cabinets at its New Holland facility, and none were exactly the same. “We do not stock any cabinetry whatsoever,” says Pierce. “It’s all made to order.” The company’s catalog, with page after page of custom styles, “is just a starting point, more of an idea book,” she says. “All of our designers start with a blank piece of paper.”

At the New Holland factory, workers add touches like raised door panels, pilasters and columns, moldings, chicken-wire inserts, beaded insets (a QCC specialty) and custom hardware. And in addition to basic doors and drawers are options like built-in knife blocks and spice racks, wine storage, slideaway trash cans, Lazy Susans and butcher blocks. “It’s become a much more complex product that we build,” says Pierce. “I think the desire from the consumer to have a more high-end and custom product has grown through the years. Everybody wants something different.”

“The product 37 years ago was very basic,” says Good. At first, there were maybe a dozen different door styles. Today, that number is close to 100, with everything from early American to contemporary. “A little while ago, the old English look was popular,” says Good. “Now, there’s a flair for some French country.”

One increasingly popular request has been covering integrated appliances with matching panels so they blend into the cabinetry. “[We’re] able to make a refrigerator completely disappear and look like an armoire,” says Pierce. “Or conceal a dishwasher behind a panel so you’d never know it’s there.” She has even seen a design that appears to be an entire row of cabinetry, but is actually a walk-in closet.
QCC makes its cabinets from seven woods, including cherry, knotty pine, red oak, mahogany and maple, that it buys from local lumberyards.

“The equipment we use is state-of-the-art,” says Pierce. “But we still hand-cut when it comes to detail work.” QCC master craftsmen are adept at following the perfect arch of a hood, or hand-sanding a panel door. These are the kind of details that seem minor, but have a major impact. “Every single aspect of it has to have the same amount of attention,” says Pierce.

As distinctive as the handcrafting are the finishes, from glazes and stains to paints. “Through the years, we saw finishes becoming multistep finishing processes,” says Good. “We do an exceptional job when it comes to the artsy, hand-done finishes. Ours look more authentic.”

QCC can match almost any finish or technique, from distressed wood to specific paint colors. At Coventry Kitchens in Frazer, “Someone wanted fire-engine-red cabinets,” says showroom designer Mike Dietrich, “and we worked with Quality Custom Cabinetry to make it happen.”

“Special colors are about 12 percent of our finishes,” says Pierce. “I’ve seen canary yellow, purple—I mean, purple. It’s usually interior designers, and somehow, they pull it off.”

QCC finishes its cabinets on all sides, even the back, and seals and varnishes the inside as well. The end result of this attention to detail are cabinets you’re happy to display in any room of the house—and QCC makes them for almost any room. While kitchens and baths are the standard, QCC also makes cabinets for home offices, home theaters, even garages. Really nice garages. “The sky’s the limit,” says Pierce. “We’ve done libraries with wall-to-wall wainscoting and molding. We’ve done children’s playrooms. I’ve seen cabinets designed to just hold pets’ food.”

While QCC makes a fine product, the company attributes its success to service. “I’ve always said anyone can knock off your product relatively quickly, but when it comes to the heart and soul of your company, you can’t copy that,” says Good. In addition to a quality control department, QCC has a product development committee that scouts out and develops new ideas, and constantly looks at how existing products can be refined. “That’s how we come out with different hardware designs, molding profiles and decorative trims, such as pilasters,” says Good.

Customer service keeps pace, too. “There’s a degree that our customer service goes into making sure the product is right,” says Pierce. “We look over floor plans, catch mistakes, just making an extra effort to make sure the customer gets what they want, and gets it done right the first time.”

Remaining family-owned even as it has grown, QCC has dedicated an equal measure of attention to the quality of its products and the quality of its workers’ lives. “One thing that I think is very important to us here is our culture,” says Good. Employees, many of whom are neighbors or even relatives, stay with the company for 10 and 20 years. In 2004, QCC made the Best Places to Work in Pennsylvania list, ranking 24th among large companies. The result seems to be employees and craftspeople who take pride in their work that is as personal as the cabinets they make.