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lilienthal cabinets

Listing #663   Listed on: 05/22/2008

WOODWEB Content Editor, Ted Cushman, Interviewed Lilienthal Cabinets in July, 2008.

Ask Dennis Lilienthal about his business, and he won’t talk about machinery. He’ll talk about people.

Running Lilienthal Cabinets, an 8-employee custom cabinet company in a Nebraska town of 45,000, Lilienthal doesn’t have to do a lot of marketing. After 30 years in business, he says, “Most of the people in Grand Island know us. We have a good reputation in our community. We have been fortunate in that regard: our customers are the ones who sell our product. And that has always been my philosophy: the customers should be the one that sells your products — and/or the product sells itself.”

Continue Reading about lilienthal cabinets

the planer
paint room pic 2
shop pic 3
shop pic 4
The edgebander
shop pic 2
paint room pic 1
shop pic 1
the shop
The CNC andi straus sup
custom closet
custom closet pic 2
custom closet pic 3
Company Name:   lilienthal cabinets
Contact Name:   dennis lilienthal
Location:   grand island, NE  68801
Year Founded:   1978
Sq. Footage:   9,000
Employees:   8
Gross Sales:   N/A

Product Specialties:
    Accessories and Gifts - General
    Architectural Millwork - Lathe Turning
    Architectural Millwork - Millwork Installer
    Cabinets - Cabinet Designers
    Cabinets - Cabinet Installers
    Cabinets - Closets and Storage
    Cabinets - Commercial Cabinets
    Cabinets - Components
    Cabinets - Custom Cabinets
    Cabinets - General
    Cabinets - Kitchen & Bath Cabinets
    Cabinets - Residential Cabinetry
    Cabinets - Store Fixtures
    CNC Services - General
    Finishing - General Wood Finishing
    Furniture - Custom Furniture
    Furniture - Furniture Repairs
    Veneer and Marquetry - General
    Woodworking - General

Shop Equipment:
    Andi - straus sup
    Holz Her - edgebander
    Dust Collector System -

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Company Description Continued
Customers also bring ideas, he says. “Our customers really are the ones that inspire us,” says Lilienthal. “I personally like challenges — the new type of stuff that a customer will bring that somebody else doesn't do, or won't do. And generally speaking my employees enjoy that the most too.”

“Our customers have been our driving force of the company,” he goes on. “What they bring to us has most of the time challenged us and enabled us to grow. And working with our employees and our customers has always been something that we look forward to.”

Lilienthal remembers his first customer, back in 1978: “Bob Barry. He was a developer, on a small scale.” And he remembers his first employee: “My wife helped me stain the first job, and she helped me put on hinges.”

That first shop had seven-foot ceilings, Lilienthal recalls. “And not much for heat. No cooling.” Thirty years later, Lilienthal owns a 9,000-square-foot facility and employs 8 people, including himself and 22-year-old son Trent (who handles the website work, helps with design, and pitches in on CNC software problems).

But the focus hasn’t changed. “No matter what size of business you are,” says Lilienthal, “there are things that you can't do without, and those things you have to refuse to lose: core values, communication, relationship, and product quality.” That philosophy extends to the workforce: “We try to find people that have the values and the work ethic that we have. And we also give them training.” Regular weekly company meetings provide the workers with the information they need to do their jobs, says Lilienthal — “and also a venue to express what their views might be and what their ideas might be for improvement. They educate me on occasion too. It’s not always easy to listen to, but it's a valuable resource.”

Not that equipment doesn’t play a role. Anchoring the production side is an ANDI Stratos/SUP CNC router purchased six years ago. That involved some adjustment, says Lilienthal, “for a guy who was born in 1952. I had been drafting on the computer for 15 years, but this is a little different.” The CNC replaced several other machines: “We sold a multi-spindle boring machine, a table saw, a couple other things.” Now the CNC would be hard to part with, says Lilienthal. “Once you get into it, you say, well, I would sure hate to be without that. it's not that you couldn't go back to the old way of doing things, but …”

The CNC cuts out all of the company’s cabinet parts, and can easily keep three men busy assembling. But it also plays a role in the specialty custom work. For one recent custom job — an extensive custom built-in cabinets for a walk-in dressing room — Lilienthal met with the customer and they sketched a design together for one of the custom touches (a unique decorative moulding profile). Lilienthal ordered a custom moulder knife to cut straight runs of the specialty moulding, but he also needed curved stock for one part of the project. After drawing the profile in AlphaCam, it was easy to send the file to the CNC and cut out a template. Then, a local craftsman used that template to turn the curved pieces on a lathe.

What’s next? In mid-2008, the slow economy has him looking to commercial work. Years ago, he explained, his company did all the casework for a large regional supermarket chain, traveling over a nine-state territory for installs. “Living here in ‘Greater Nebraska,’” he says, “has its benefits — the lifestyle and the community that we have. But it also has its moments where there isn't quite as much to do. Typically we don’t go into the production style jobs, but we are set up for it with the CNC, so we are going to investigate that market. We can really crank the work out, that's for sure, and we feel that we can do anything that anybody throws at us.”

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The editors, writers, and staff at WOODWEB try to promote safe practices. What is safe for one woodworker under certain conditions may not be safe for others in different circumstances. Readers should undertake the use of materials and methods discussed at WOODWEB after considerate evaluation, and at their own risk.

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