I have a very small, part-time shop. I never expected to be starting a business. Most of you would probably consider me “the bad guy” (none of my customers were able to pay the going rates, but bartered for equivalent services). Now due to a strong desire to go back to a non-corporate job, some increased demand, and impending downsizing, I am exploring my options. I am doing this as a business, not a hobby.
I have noticed that many folks are outsourcing (not to China, just a local shop) drawers and doors. Is anyone using a service like the eCabinets CNC to outsource the actual cabinet box? What have your experiences been in regard to quality of materials used and quality of product (assembled and parts), accuracy of hole placement, reliability of delivery?
I do not expect the quality will be better than in-shop for most of you. I wonder if this is an acceptable starting point for a startup that is primarily limited by space and needs to work a second job during transition. My intention is to actually purchase some boxes from them for personal use before starting a business on this service.
I have read the archives and started successful businesses in the past. I am to the point of developing the “how” in the business plan.
(Business and Management Forum)
From contributor C:
A lot of shops outsource most everything and are very successful. If you outsource everything, you are doing prefab modular cabinets, which works for many people.
As far as the Thermwood question, I don't know. If you use e-Cabinets, this is your best bet, but you are very limited in the number of shops that can upload your data. I only outsource doors myself, but I hear that regardless of what software you use, the CNC shop usually has to modify the data to make it CNC-ready because most customers do not take the time to do this themselves.
And just so you know, I have checked and all the "real shops" here are refusing new customers. I am hoping to sub some of the small stuff for a shop around the corner. Even if I go prefab, I hope to add accent pieces in house. Do what I do best, let others to their thing. Kind of looking for the niche.
Contributor R, you provide the raw materials? Was this your choice or the way the program works? Have you tried any pre-finished options? Do you find that the savings (overhead, man hours, hardware costs) justify the risk? On the point contributor C was making, do you have to tweak things beyond the eCab defaults before sending to the CNC shop?
I do like the eCab software. Very familiar to me, as it is reminiscent of some early 3d animation software I used. Haven't looked into anything else yet. I was planning a software evaluation a little later.
The conversation on shop rate determination was very informative. Forced me to look at some of the things I do now a little different. Specifically, that non-productive time needed to be factored in to the numbers. I am very glad I found this site before I started to make big mistakes.
I have fixed costs, no risk. No labor slippage on cutting the boxes and no mistakes or missing parts. I end up with a high quality, very accurately cut (better than anyone can do on any table saw) product. This shop does all the edgebanding required, no matter if it is framed or frameless cabinets. I sometimes provide the correct color PVC edgebanding that matches my finish.
I am told there are many shops across the country that offer similar services for e-cab users.
We use 5 suppliers that deliver to the area 2 to 3 times a week. We can order the material for you, or accept delivery of the material you order. We service shops ranging from 1 and 2 man operations to 20 man operations that don't want to tie up their capital in the equipment, or go through the learning curve to get a CNC up and running.
One of my favorite customer comments, the day after I loaded a 15 sheet kitchen into his pick-up, is: "It took me three hours after I got back to the shop and I had the kitchen assembled. The first hour and a half was spent unloading and sorting the parts."