Check out Matt’s latest installment in FDMC. Northland Woodworks not only strives to be the best in what we do, but to lend solutions to the industry as well.
We’re pleased to announce that Northland Woodworks Vice President Matt Krig has been elected to a third term as president of the Cabinet Makers Association, the association for professional cabinet makers and woodworkers in the United States and Canada.
“The Cabinet Makers Association was incorporated in 1998 by a group of custom cabinet makers who thought our industry needed a group for the small- to mid-size shop to network and help each other grow
profitably,” the association explains on its website.
“From our humble beginnings in a Chicago hotel on a cold winter night, we have grown to include hundreds of small- to medium-sized cabinet shops, millworkers and furniture makers and suppliers throughout the USA and Canada, and even a few members from beyond North America.”
The CMA gives cabinetmakers and woodworkers from both the residential and commercial markets opportunities to “get together and share their hard earned knowledge and experience to help one another.”
As president, Matt will work closely with the other Board of Directors members – as well as the multi-talented Executive Director Amanda Conger – to fulfill the mission of the CMA.
This includes helping organize and promote regional events, assembling and presenting continuing education classes at the national trade shows and assisting with the private forum. He will also be working closely with industry partners and the press to educate, create opportunities and advance best practices within the industry.
Photos from CMA’s recent Regional Event in Minneapolis/St.Paul
“I’m honored to have been elected for a third term,” says Matt. “The ongoing trust and endorsement of the CMA members means a lot, and the opportunity to be involved on the front lines of the industry is invaluable.
“Serving has given me so many amazing ideas and introduced me to so many great businesses,” he adds. “I cannot imagine where I’d be if I hadn’t taken this opportunity. If you ever have a chance to get more involved in something, go for it!”
Working with the CMA, he says, brings opportunities to volunteer, teach and generally give back to others in the industry who are generous with their time and knowledge.
“It’s a privilege for Northland’s team to be considered thought leaders in the industry, and I’m pleased to be able to represent our company and its values,” Matt says. “I’ve had some great mentors, directors and Board members come before me who have really helped me along the way and laid a foundation we are excited to build on. This past year has been a blur of activities, and we are looking forward to rolling out another year of high-value events, education sessions and more.
“I’m really excited to be part of the energy and excitement of our Board and Executive director team. These people bring out the best in everyone, and it’s really something when you can see the impact our organization has on our members and their businesses. The CMA has helped Northland grow and improve in so many ways, and it’s my goal to be able to spread that to another group of up and coming cabinet businesses.”
Northland Woodworks Vice President and current Cabinet Makers Association President Matt Krig went back to high school in December.
In late 2015, Blaine High School put out a call for mentors to guide 138 seniors in the school’s Center for Engineering, Math and Science program as they completed a complex, months-long “Capstone” project.
Intrigued by the idea of sharing his education and expertise with students, Matt signed up and was selected by a team of five seniors working on a furniture-based project that aimed to make the most of space in small college dorm rooms.
Once the mentors were assigned, Matt headed over to the high school to meet his students.
“It was funny walking back into a high school,” Matt says. “All those weird feelings come back.”
He couldn’t have been more impressed by the students in his group, who had named their team MEACK & Mighty, incorporating the first initials in their names for a bit of clever wordplay.
All of the young women were honor students and were dedicated and mature.
“This was not who I was in high school,” says Matt (muttering the word “slacker” under his breath). “I could see that I was going to be working with kids who are the best of the best.”
The students had a stack of sketches to show him, and he began by helping them learn how to distill their ideas. He asked each of the five teammates to do 5 or 6 final sketches over Christmas break and bring them to the next meeting.
Together, they identified what deliverables were needed, then factored in a little extra room and worked back from there to create a schedule milestones and due dates.
When they reconvened, they talked through the sketches the students had brought in and chose what they believed to be the five best. The next step was creating quarter-scale models out of cardboard to get a better idea of what the prototype would actually be like. In the end, a few concepts were combined to create the CAD (computer-assisted drawing) renderings and –eventually – the prototype.
The students’ final concept was a cube that transforms into a desk and seat, with storage in the pull-out seat as well as a cubby built into the cube.
The next steps were choosing a final design, ordering materials and producing the prototype.
Ordering materials as well as adhering to the restrictions on where materials could come from was a challenge due to the lengthy process required to get approval of funds through the school district.
“This led the team to feel they had to rush ahead to get orders placed during the cardboard model stage, rather than refine the design,” Matt recalls. “I told them not to worry about materials as we could handle that later, once the design was right.”
He assured them that most materials could be obtained in a couple of days and that he could provide them with some scrap material for the prototype if necessary.
Serendipity – and generosity
While he was at a kitchen and bath trade show in Las Vegas in January, Matt stumbled on a new piece of Richelieu hardware that would be ideal for the team’s creation.
“This Samo hardware allowed a drawer to pull out out and fold open into a desk with minimal effort,” he says.
Unfortunately, the hardware was not yet on the market, but Matt contacted the company, explained the situation and soon got an excited call from the local Richelieu rep. A week later, he had the first one in the country, donated to the students by Richelieu.
“We couldn’t even get one for our business at that point,” Matt recalls. “The team was excited.”
Many issues came up as the team built the prototype, and there were a few frantic emails where Matt helped the team work through some complications, but overall, due to the process they had put in place, many of the issues were worked out as a natural progression of moving through the steps.
“I had to reiterate a few times that they shouldn’t worry too much about the aesthetic of the prototype,” Matt says.
The group was concerned about blemishes and issues with screwing the piece together with drywall screws. Although he planned to let them use the Northland shop for the final construction, first Matt wanted them to learn how to build something ‘quick and dirty’ – to explore ideas and concepts without being focused on perfection.
“I was afraid that if I showed them any of our shop’s capabilities in the early stages, it would influence their design,” he says. “I really love unrestrained thought, design and dreaming, when you have absolutely no idea what can and can’t work. That’s where so many innovations come from – when you don’t know what can’t be done, anything is possible.
One great example? Matt initially told the team that it would be impossible to incorporate one of the cool design elements they had come up with; weeks later, he spotted the accordion-style pull-out tabletop at the Las Vegas trade show and, thanks to the Richelieu hardware used in that tabletop, the impossible became possible!
In the big leagues
The students were very excited to learn that they would be building the final product onsite at Northland Woodworks.
“They had no idea how it’s done in the industry, compared to how you have to build things with the limited tools available in the school wood shop,” Matt says. “I wanted them to see how to cut the pieces on the equipment we use.”
To his delight, they immediately jumped on the Northland machinery and tools and “started
They had sent all of their CAD work from school, but they had no idea that they would be making perfect, chip-free cuts on the CNC (computer numerical control) wood router, a machine that creates objects from wood.
The edge bander in the shop created crisp professional edges, and dowel construction created clean, invisible and strong joints.
In the end, they buckled down and completed the final product in two visits to the shop, including making changes that required recutting some parts.
“Total construction time in the shop was less than 5 hours,” Matt recalls. “It was fun to see them show up ready to get to work, and then to go from being apprehensive about getting the final product built with only couple of weeks remaining, to quickly becoming fluent in the new processes they were learning and then finally becoming confident that they were going to in fact leave the shop with a nearly complete full-scale working design.
“One of the hardest parts early in the process was to hang back and let them work at it to understand,” Matt says. “It had to be their project.”
Although there were a couple of small challenges at the end, he “was floored by their level of professionalism and responsiveness.”
All of that hard work paid off: The MEACK & Mighty students got the top score in their class, and the school superintendent asked them to to return in the fall to present their full project to the incoming CEMS students and faculty.
“I didn’t know what I was getting into, but it was rewarding and fun,” Matt says. “They had a great group dynamic, and I was honored to work with them.”
We’d like to offer special thanks to Richelieu Hardware for its contribution to the MEACK & Mighty team’s winning project!
It has been a wild ride the last couple of weeks! Every year around the beginning of April it seems like the dam breaks and everything comes to life around here. So many great things in the works. New products, major equipment upgrades in the shop, and processes that have been in the works for some time now are all in place. Opportunity is knocking and we are underway. The energy and excitement in the shop is contagious as we feed off of the excitement of new possibilities and the added ease of improving operations. Not to mention, some highly unique projects are underway. We’ll post some finshed pictures up in the next couple of weeks when we are all installed.
We even get to toot our horn a bit this month, as we have been popping up in the media winning awards and having articles published!
As you may have noticed a few weeks ago Leah was a finalist in the 2016 Top shelf Closets Design competition. We are proud to announce that her project took first place in the Wood Closets over 18′ category!
My recent fame is slightly less prestigious, but hopefully of value to fellow shop owners. I was asked to share a shop tip for one of our industry magazines for their new cabinet shop tips feature.
We’ll try not to let it go to our heads, but we are pretty excited to be getting out there in the industry.
We love what we do, and it’s even better when an opportunity comes along to revisit and celebrate the combination of people, projects and unique spaces we encounter. To slow down and remind ourselves of how rewarding it is to make another person’s dream space come to life. It’s also humbling to work with customers who have such great ideas and are willing to push us to dig a little deeper and make something extremely custom for them, only to realize what an amazing idea they had. So many brilliant ideas are customer driven in this industry as people share their needs and express frustrations with existing situations.
We recently completed an amazingly detailed and highly function executive closet for a very fun couple who knew just what they wanted. The Project had a challenging space with all kinds of bi-secting roof angles in a significant master suite addition over a garage. Many hidden secrets are what really set the space apart from the ordinary, such as unbelievably deep drawers extending back into what would be normally wasted space. There is even a heavy duty Luggage pullout neatly concealing suitcases conveniently where they are used. There are many more secret features in this space that will remain a secret! One secret we can share is that we’ve been hard at work behind the scenes preparing to launch our new closet and storage company brand- Closet Craft of Minnesota. Here’s a sneak peak of what we’ve been up to- http://www.closetcraftofmn.com/
When the 2016 Top Shelf Closets design contest was announced we thought we thought we’d give it a try and see how we stacked up to other great companies around the country. We are excited to announce that we have made the finals and the winners will be announced March 23rd at the 2016 Cabinets and Closets conference in Pasadena, California. It is an honor to be in the same field as all of the companies involved and judged by some of the biggest names in the closet and storage industry.
2016 Trend Report