antique #3It was an astonishing announcement right before KBIS in Vegas, but today BreakFront (formerly CompanionCabinet Software) announced it will be opening its first cabinet manufacturing facility.

We interviewed Brent Jackson, their President, to get the scoop.

Interviewer: Why on earth would you do this?  I thought you were a software company?

Brent: Well yes, technically, we are a software manufacturer.  So since we are already a manufacturer it can’t be that hard to add cabinets into the mix.  We decided to make it easy on our customers so they can get their software and their cabinets all in one place.

Interviewer: But that doesn’t make any sense.

Brent: Of course it does!  Think of it this way: a manufacturer spends decades learning the ins and outs of all the nuances of running a successful manufacturing operation.  Then they hire IT folks or software vendors and start designing, producing and shipping pricing software to their dealers.  This is no different.

Interviewer: What do you mean?

Brent: Well, we’ve conquered all the really hard stuff. We’ve been at this cabinet software gig for over 15 years now.  All we have to do now is build a manufacturing facility, immediately understand how to staff and manage it, produce the product with the appropriate quality assurance, hire a few reps then start shipping cabinets by the boatloads. How hard could that be?

Interviewer: Uhmm.  That sounds like a daunting task, no?

Brent: We don’t think so.  Just look at how easy the cabinet manufacturers rolled out software for their dealers.  Dealers are raving about their manufacturer’s pricing programs.

Interviewer: You mean raving mad, right?

Brent: Ok so maybe not raving.  But they achieved success.

Interviewer: They did?

Brent: Ok so maybe not success, but they did get a small percentage of their dealers to use the software.  Besides, I bet it was an absolute blast to build all that stuff, wasn’t it?

Interviewer: But now it has to be rebuilt.

Brent: Party like it’s 1999 I say.  Get on the cabinet industry rollercoaster that loops around every 5 years or so with really high “highs” and really low “lows”.  It’s one heck of a ride, if you can afford it.

Interviewer: Are you drunk?

Brent: No not at all. Think of the fun we will have building a manufacturing facility.  All that staff, all the management, solving all the easy challenges, the quality issues, the logistics, the customer demands, it’s going to be really wonderful.  While everyone else is buying cabinets from proven players, we’ll be giving cabinets away for free.

Interviewer: For free?  Are you kidding me?

Brent: We’ve adopted the model the manufacturers use.  They charge their customers for the cabinets, and give them pricing programs for free.  We are going to charge our customers for Equilbrium software, but give them the cabinets for free.

Interviewer: How can you afford to do that?

Brent: Well it doesn’t really cost us any money.  We’re using a some of our employees who are craftsmen in previous lives and they will do this in between projects.

Interviewer: Don’t you think doing this on your own will spin out of control and your staff will get overwhelmed – or that it will cost more than you think to do it right?  It just sounds like you haven’t really thought this all the way through…

Brent: Nah. Like I said, it’s mostly done in between projects and in their free time.  Besides, how hard can building cabinets really be?  You get some particle board and some stain and some glue and staples and stuff.  Big deal.

Interviewer: What kind of cabinets will these be?

Brent: They will range from low end stock to high end custom – and everything in between.  There will be millions of products, millions of customizations and millions of selections – oh, and millions of colors too. And the customer can modify whatever they want all the way up to the last 15 minutes of production.

Interviewer: So let me get this straight, you have some particle board, stain and some glue, a few guys who will do this in between projects, a completely customizable line that surpasses anything on the market – and all for free.  This just doesn’t even sound plausible.

Brent: Well a lot of the cabinet manufacturers waste too much money on quality assurance.  We’ve eliminated that from our operation.

Interviewer: What?

Brent: We’re going to use our customers as the feedback mechanism.  If they see an issue, they’ll tell us and we’ll fix it.  But we don’t see any real issues coming up.  We’re going to start this project with a positive attitude – and a zero defect policy.

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