For those who own the brand’s CNC machinery, Thermwood is offering a new Internet-based program called YouBuild to generate new business. The free program designates a shop as a cut center, able to produce custom parts from online orders.
Company owner Ken Susnjara says he wants YouBuild to take the valuable skill set of participating cabinetmakers and offer them a more efficient way of supplying furniture to the mass market. He says that using online ordering through the YouBuild approach, where the order is cut by a local shop near the customer, will reduce production costs significantly.
“The traditional way is to use a centralized factory that manufactures furniture in large batches of identical products, which then go through a distribution channel which is a bit inefficient when you look at markups. By the time they reach the consumer, the markups can range from 100 to 300 percent. Because of these huge markups, the factory cost is very important and you want to try to use lowest cost materials and labor,” says Susnjara.
The process starts when customers visit the YouBuild.com website, which offers a host of designs for home and office furniture and closets. The designs can be customized and are available in walnut, maple, oak and cherry, either finished or unfinished. Wood is supplied by Columbia Forest Products and is available to program participants at special rates from The Home Depot.
The program relies on Thermwood’s new control system, Quad Core, which can run multiple processes at the same time.
Susnjara explains that during the quoting stage, the system creates all of the CNC programs needed to make the project, calculates how much material is going to be used, what the cycle time is going to be and how much machine time it’s going to take. “The technology between the design, communication and the manufacturing is all tightly integrated. When [a customer] selects a project online and decides what pieces and materials are to be used, the online system will provide a quote in a matter of minutes.”
Once a quote is accepted, the CNC program is available for download to the shop’s machine. All new Thermwood machines are ready for YouBuild, while older machines may need to get some level of software and control system upgrade.
“Once the builder is set up, he becomes a cut center and set his own pricing. Essentially, this is a prepackaged business model that you can plug yourself into,” adds Susnjara.
This article originally appeared in the September 2012 issue.