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Overview of the Series

The Cabinetmakers & Millworkers' Guide to Operations Management is an in-progress 5-part educational series that will feature a collection eBooks, resources, tools, and course material to give your modern cabinet shop some old-world insight. During last 10 years I've been developing a program that, when released, will help you:

  • Grow your bottom line.

    The tools you need to see growth in your bottom line.

  • Learn efficient operations.

    Old-world techniques and tips of the trade to increase the efficiency of your operation.

  • Stop making costly mistakes.

    Resources and examples that show early warning signs of costly mishaps (and how to avoid them).

Like a good movie, there must be a beginning, middle and end. The beginning is the estimate & the sale, the middle is the engineering & the fabrication, and the ending is the installation and closeout. All of which are important to a successful project and will be outlined here as we discuss at macro-scale the flow of operations and project management for the cabinet and millwork industry.

All projects need a foundation to stand on. We'll start the series by gaining a larger understanding of the business itself, and then work our way into practical, everyday knowledge and techniques.

Selling a project has quite a bit to do with knowing your local market, but quite a bit more to do with your knowing the numbers and costs of production. In this book, you'll learn how to build an estimate, have an accurate take-off, how to assess the actual cost of materials and labor, and ultimately be given the tools needed to build a profitable project on paper.

Reviewing your own spreadsheet and practices, as well as comparing your original estimate against the actual numbers at the end of a job will become common practice. I like to say, ``knowing your competitors numbers is one thing, but knowing your numbers is everything!``

Starting with the turnover meeting, you'll learn what information is most critical to receive from sales and the client or contractor. By knowing the right questions to be asked and answered, you'll begin to learn how best to support your draftsmen and engineers down the line. As the project manager, they'll be thanking you instead of begrudging you.

Turnover meetings and the use of RFI’s (Request For Information) are the tools you'll need to be on top of from day one. Understanding proper communication practices is a must, and pairing those with a reliable job book will make you successful and efficient in managing multiple jobs simultaneously.

The draftsmen and engineers are the gatekeepers of the production and fabrication. You will come to understand that they are part of the checks and balances for both your success and the company’s bottom line. It is important to understand that all team members share in the responsibility of accuracy.

The production floor that will receive the information sent forward for fabrication must get accurate information from their office team. It is at this stage of the process that you will learn some of the most important steps to success in the field.

Your installers are on the frontline, they're the face of the company once the work leaves the shop. Sure, you'll go to the job site and check-in every once and awhile, but the installers are there every day and being asked daily questions. Do they have everything they need to responsibly make decisions? You'll learn what to give them in order to succeed.

But job doesn't end when the installers are finished, or even when the punch-list is completed. It's back to the office staff to handle the closeout documents and processes. You'll learn the proper checklist for a closeout, and how to make sure you'll always get that final check.

Who is Don Z. Richman?

As a member of the industry for over 40 years, I have hands on experience as a finish carpenter, project engineer, estimator, senior project manager, and presently the general manager of one Southern California's premiere custom cabinet and millwork shops.

I've grown thru the years to involve myself with every level of millwork operation. I've worked all across the continental United States (and even in Hawaii) in the restaurant, medical, auto dealership, and large corporate interior sectors.

My focus now is to bring the old-world knowledge of operations and the tricks of the trade into the present day by sharing what I've learned thru the years with the coming generation of millworkers.

Why am I developing this series?

Many years ago I was looking for a good “training manual” so I could become more effective as a project manager. However, I was not able to find one specifically for the millwork and cabinetry industry.  While there are many project management books, none are specific for the millwork industry project managers. Many are simply books for the general contractor or the college construction course material. I was looking for something more “practical,” with information that could be used on the job today.

It is in the spirit of sharing and giving back to the industry that I have assembled this collection of ideas and techniques to encourage you to work successfully as I have as – an employee with an owner’s attitude.

Read the full story ➝

Estimating & Sales

The greatest risk to an estimate is overlooking a key element that is both necessary and significant to the cost. A well-written proposal can eliminate losses. Does your sales proposal match your spreadsheet?

Engineering & Production

Errors on the shop drawing often breed costly mistakes. Having a project manager review them at all drafting stages can aid the engineering team. Has production received correct plans for fabrication?

Installation ➝ Closeout

When installers receive inconsistent plans, mistakes become immediately apparent. Accurate shop drawings with layout tickets will eliminate delays. Are you sending a complete field package to the job?