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Craig Balzarini Member

Website: http://territoriesinccolo

Question? I have a client general contractor that we have done lots of work for over the years....A new project came up to bid for a past client same designer, owner, general.
We didn't get it. General said designers choice not price. OK so now I get a call from the general and she asks me what the finish we used on the cabinets we did on their last house. Because it is perfect and has held up so well. I said its proprietary and I don't want to be responsible for telling my professional competition. Liability for me...… Big blow out name calling threats of no further work and bad reviews.....30+ hard work doing this so names don't hurt me but.. Bad business on me or? Idk small town highest end work

8/12/19       #2: Business ...
Pat Gilbert

Doesn't sound like a faux pas to me

More likely someone got their ego bruised

8/12/19       #3: Business ...
Craig balzarini

Ego....I wouldn’t know Anything had I not been Taught thank you

8/12/19       #4: Business ...

Craig I think it's in poor taste they come back to you for the color. It sounds though that you may not have done yourself any favors. My response would have been something along this line:
Happy to help, here's what you need you need to know. After you sand the project up 180 grit you need apply a consistent coat of wood bleach to ensure an even color coat. We find it works best to use a 23.5% dilution with distilled water. Keep the solution at 9 to 12 degrees above the ambient room temperature. You don't want grain opening up unevenly. Let this and dry 30 to 36 hours and re-sand with your 180 grit. Use an open coat J weight paper on a soft backer pad. Next spray a wash coat of 50% diluted 2# cut of shellac and hand sand at 220. Now your ready for your stain. We used a Varathane weathered grey as a base coat. Remove 4 oz out of a quart can and at .5oz of black analine dye and 4 drops of red universal colorant. Stir these well. DON'T SHAKE. You don't want to be dealing with air bubbles. This needs to be hand applied. We let sit 20 to 25 minutes before we wipe it. If the humidty is above 60% add 2 minutes for every 10% of humidity. Unless the dew point is falling. If thats the case only add 90 seconds. Let dry 14 -18 hours. Make sure you control the drying temperature ideal keep it under 60 degrees. If it drys too faat the color won't develop right. Next apray your viynl sealer and hand sand to 220. Vacuum down, don't use compressed air and force particals into the open grain or you'll be stripping it and starting over. Next wet sand to 400 grit. Use minieral spirits as your wet medium an thoroughly clean with denatured alcohol and tack cloth before applying your first top coat. We used a 20.5% sheen catalyst lacquer. Let this dry to the maximum amount of time you can while still hitting your recoat time. Repeat your wet sand. This time sand to 450 grit. Now that's a little hard to come by. We have ours made to our specs but that's probably the most important step. Next is your final top coat. Spray it to a wet mil of 1.2 to 1.275. Let dry to the max recoat time and hand polish to finish. Best then to let it sit 3-5 days before handling or processing further. If your cabinet guy has any question just have him call me directly.

Then I spend the rest of the day or week chuckling to myself and imagining the subsequent conversations that will be had between the contractor and new cab guy

8/12/19       #5: Business ...

Craig Balzarini:

It sounds as though a bridge may have possibly been burned. There is a point at which all business relationships end, which is why one advertises and continues to look for new sources of work. Sometimes you know why they end, sometimes you don’t. Something must have happened such that it was determined to use another cabinetmaker. If it wasn’t price, then it was something else. But you are not sure what that was.

If the designer had called to ask about the finish, then you could have found out if what the contractor told you about awarding the job was true. It appears that the contractor wants to play both sides of the ball, or perhaps is not being honest about why you did not get the job. Maybe the contractor is using a replacement for you and trying to convince the designer and owner that the replacement can do the work, but needs to match the finish.

I suppose that my response would have been: “I always supply shop drawings and finish samples based on specifications from the client, designer, or architect, and I would expect other cabinetmakers to do the same. I would not tell another cabinetmaker how to do their job, nor would I expect them to tell me how to do mine.”

If it is true that the designer chose to use another cabinetmaker, then perhaps the designer should choose the finish that they want to use. If you are on good terms with the designer, call them up and ask why you did not get the job. It may be interesting to find out who actually decided that you would not get the job, and why. It would allow you to channel your resentment towards the proper individual, and to not burn more bridges unnecessarily.

For a strictly "feel good about myself" response, I like what Joe said.


8/13/19       #6: Business ...
james e mcgrew  Member

Website: mcgrewwoodwork.com

I was on both sides of that fence many times

If I was the new cabinetmaker i would tell them not to call you and match it on my own unless they knew the color, on the same note i refused to look at someone elses shop drawings if they were asking me to quote it.

Ethics are everything, New doors open when others close, Recently i had to let go of a contractor were i was his only cabinetmaker for fifteen years they kept shortning time allotment then not obtaining choices for 1/2 of that time, jobs were always compressed and they would not allow a price increase.. I wish them well, We filled those slots within the week...

Good luck to ya !

8/13/19       #7: Business ...
Paul Miller


First off, I wouldn't give them advice either. They chose someone else, I would say something like I'm sure he can do a great job and have him call me if he needs help. He is not going to call.

I would never get into a shouting match. If I am on the phone and the conversation is going in that direction, I ask them to excuse me, I have to take another call, I have guys on a job site and there is an issue I need to deal with. Let them sit on hold for four or five minutes and come back and if they are still there, tell them you are going to have to call them back. If they are not there and they do call back, ask them why they hung up on you.

In all of these situations, there is a victim. You must always be the victim. If you are firing someone, always start out by telling them how hard you have tried to make it work with them and repeat the many times you did this or that and how disappointed you are that he or she let you and the team down. Never let them be the victim with all the this and that they will come up with. You must always be the victim.

In this situation, you must be the victim. You are the one that has always gone out of your way to take care of them, you have always done this or that. You have worked so hard for them and you really wanted this job. You love working with them and you thought you had a great relationship. You can go on like a jilted lover with hurt feelings. If you can, leave them feeling guilty. What they are doing is like a guy cheating on his wife and taking his wife's jewelry for his Mistress to wear.

Its all psychology at this point. They went with someone else because they (most likely) were cheaper. If they do come back to you and if you are truly good and unique, they will, charge them more, not less.

8/13/19       #8: Business ...
Alan F.

If sounds like you burned a bridge.

Part of this business is matching finishes of other vendors or samples architects / designers have.

What did you do that makes this a proprietary finish that makes you believe it shouldn't be matched? Did you trademark or copyright it?

Is it so unique that you don't see anything like it in trade magazines, furniture show rooms, cabinet showrooms, premium websites from one of a kind manufacturers?

Is this something so unique a professional coatings rep couldn't come in and duplicate?

You should be able to express it in professional terms like a water based seal coat, a stain coat , a wash coat, an acrylic topcoat. The stain would changed based on the wood without giving the formula.

If you had Sherwin Williams match it then tell them that's what you did.

You have no liability for how another sub does the steps.

You could offer to provide them a step sample but they should have an approved sample that they can match to.

8/13/19       #9: Business ...
Alan F.

If you are in an area that has changed the coatings you can use since the job was done (more restrictive) then give them the match in materials that can't be purchased or tell them you would have to develop a new color based on new materials required by air quality district.

sorry by I can't edit the original response

8/13/19       #10: Business ...
David R Sochar Member

You may have burned a bridge, maybe not.

In business, you need to keep fair and level, no matter what is going on around you. Treat all customers as equals - equal to each other and to you. The customer is not god. This one has shown you who they are. You might ask yourself if you need customers that treat you as they did.

You need the confidence and the strength of your business to stand your ground. Not giving in, being consistent and firm is as important in Customer Training as it is Dog Training or Child Training.

Say very little to your former customer. Apologize for being unable to help. Remind them that that finish is one reason why your shop is superior - there are a hundred other things you do that are not even mentioned. Then change the subject or excuse yourself and move on.

You should have enough business that you can move on painlessly to work that will not require to give up your gains. I bet they are back in a year or less.

I have burned a few bridges, with no real regrets. Usually, by the time I fire them, I have put up with enough cr*p that I am glad to see them go. I had to learn that it is OK to let them go, for me to walk away ( price 50% higher than usual, don't quote, etc). I thought I needed every job, and every bit of every job. Even if I did need the work, I still learned that walking away from some jobs is what is needed.

Across the sea to an island
While the bridges brightly burn
So far away from my land
The valley of the unconcerned

John Prine always says it best. "...The valley of the unconcerned"

8/13/19       #11: Business ...
Pat Gilbert

BTW a little deductive logic says that if you dealt with this contractor for 30 years that the problem is not being caused by the contractor.

If you are having "Big blow out name calling threats" the cause is Not the contractor but an outside person probably the designer.

Point is that it might work to restore the rapport with the contractor, maybe something like what Alan suggests that you feel you could offer without compromising your viewpoint.

8/13/19       #12: Business ...
Alan F.

I guess my point is it doesn't need to escalate to a shouting match. Someone else bid the work to Match the finish, its their responsibility, so you throw them a generic bone unless it really is a one of a kind mix.

My point is a lot of finishes can be duplicated, it takes skill by the other party. You can tell them generically and let them figure it out or you can mix the stain and sell it to them.

We aren't allowed to sell stains in California so we always apologize and say sorry we can't send you chemicals, its not allowed.

You could charge them for a step sample if you want to but it really is the shop that bid its responsibility, maybe he told them he didn't know how and the designer said they would get it from you.

We don't know anything other than we aren't doing the work and they want to match it. Figure out how to help without telling them how to do it.

8/13/19       #13: Business ...
Alan F.

The questions are how to save the relationship with the contractor if you want to and why they went with the other vendor, was it price, quality, delivery time?

8/13/19       #14: Business ...
Mark B Member

I believe the OP said initially that the contractor said they didnt get the job because it was "designers choice". Had nothing to do with price, time, etc..

8/14/19       #15: Business ...
D Brown

A lot of it depends on what % of your yearly volume comes from the general ?
Maybe the designer is getting some cabinet work cheap or a kickback from the other shop? It is almost like them asking for part of your plans. I agree with your quality finish and product have kept you strong.

"Designers choice" what the heck does that mean, you had ugly shoes on he had Italian leather? Good luck

8/14/19       #16: Business ...

We have been in business for 38 years now. If a designer calls for a finish sample for someone else to match I ask them to come over to go through the hundreds of sample we throw in coxes int he back. I don't keep files on finishes. They end up poking around for 10 minutes and give up. No harm no foul. I would give a sample up if it meant ticking off one of our designers.

8/14/19       #17: Business ...
Craig Balzarini Member

Website: http://territoriesinccolo

Thanks for all of the responses....interesting. The general contractor came to the shop and apologized. I didn't respond to the blow out. it was one sided. she is a fairly new client under 10 yrs. after consideration Pat may have been right EGO so I gave the original sample that had the recipe on it. still hard to follow even with the steps laid out. dyes, grain filler, sap stain and dulling paste. I also reached out to the new cabinet guy. He was very interested in the process but had no experience with the above methods so not really threatened by their skill set. in the end I feel we didn't get the job because I don't have much on my web page for the designer to show off to their clients. our work has always been word of mouth. You don't advertise to multi B air in the newspaper. our work stand for itself and is sold when the Jones's see it. This is a young designer and I believe she wants to see lots of web presents.

8/14/19       #18: Business ...
james e mcgrew  Member

Website: mcgrewwoodwork.com

A simple facebook page can provide tons of your photos where a client can see the work by simply clicking on "Photos" once that bridge is crosses both of you are on the phone talking product in minutes

My Web site is one thing but both website abd facebook page are propogated on google


8/14/19       #19: Business ...
Pat Gilbert

[web presents]

Glad to hear it worked out

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8/16/19       #20: Business ...
MarkB Member

This is the sad trajectory we are now in. You have to have a wayfair/amazon/competitive web and social media presence in all but the extreme commercial/architechture world. And even that may not save you if you dont offer a shop/store where they can click thru and buy. We are dealing with interior designers that pretty much order ZERO from their local markets. They are basically lowes, home depot, target, walmart, bundled into a package.

Whether or not we want to see it, and this is not meant to be anti-corporate, but this industry is going to be corporatized just like olive garden and red lobster. In my area local restaurants struggle while there are lines out the door at olive garden that gives a standard meal that leaves people on the throne in minutes or hours. The costs of being able to offer infinite variables, in mere days of lead time, are already beginning to turn from the rarity into the norm. There will long be a market for the custom flush inset, melamine and plam, solid surface, and of course the high end for those that are still in that camp. But we are in an ever shrinking world.

We have had several of these young type designers that are just click-and-stick, burn out, go broke, run from the market with their heads hung in shame, but sadly its becoming the norm for designers, owners, and so on.

8/16/19       #21: Business ...

If you find the right designers you can make bank. We do all custom woodworking and upholstered furniture. The designers cater to the people with lear jets and car collections. They want something that is unique and of the highest quality. Occasionally one of the younger designers try the Restoration Hardware or Ladlows route but they learn quickly about quality and imports.

8/16/19       #22: Business ...
MarkB Member

Absolutely, but more and more your seeing the sub-Lear jet crowd, shopping in the exact same locations as the single wides. There will always be the individuals that have staff that populate the fridge, fruit bowls, and cabs in their various homes with fresh food on a weekly basis in the event they choose to swing by. But those have always been the rarity and then there was the thick layer below. That layer below are now parking their 100K mercedes next to a chevy S10 with 2 temporary doughnut tires on it in the walmart parking lot. Great they are rubbing elbows... but...

This cross applies to them shopping for furniture at the big box that sells camo recliners 36" wide along side $89 wide screen TV's. I dont mean to sound condescending but at least in my area the days of having a decent to high end furniture store, and then a down and dirty, are gone. There is one option and one option only. And again. In that parking lot you will see a 165K range rover parked dead next to a rusted out ford F150.

The Lear jet crowd doesnt set foot in the parking lot, or the store, they have people to do that. Unfortunately the bulk of what keeps the mid size shops afloat is not the Lear jet crowd though Im sure we all dream of landing on that airstrip.

8/17/19       #23: Business ...
Pat Gilbert

It should be mentioned that future is not necessarily dour for cabinet guys.

The basic reason is demographics.

It was the main reason for the crash and the main reason things are going to pickup next year

Not that it will sky rocket but it will grow.

The buyers are going to be millennials

There are 140 million existing houses in the US. New houses cannot compete with existing houses because of current costs of labor and material. Existing houses are going to get most of the sales.

Remodeling is where the action is going to be.

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8/17/19       #24: Business ...
Pat Gilbert

Some context on home sales, they are still very low

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8/20/19       #25: Business ...
Karl E Brogger  Member

Website: http://www.sogncabinets.com

Pat, I'm not as hopeful as you are. I'm trying like hell to add accounts as I'm pretty sure next year is hoping to be rough.

Last year was bonkers good for us. This year has been soft. Markets are shakey, next year is an election year, and I hope I'm wrong.

8/22/19       #26: Business ...
Pat Gilbert

That is an interesting story Karl but the facts would indicate otherwise

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