|Mr. [and Mrs.] Hendrickson's Neighborhoods|
|Building a business|
|The old and the new|
Hendrickson developed a five-step design/build methodology to ensure that every piece meets the same high-quality standards. Elements of the program include: architectural drafting; hand selection of hardwoods and veneers; custom fabrication; custom finishing; and professional installation.
Step one begins after the architect has designed a custom piece for the consumer. HCC prepares its own drawings, which further define the architect's vision by engineering functionality and durability into the piece. No work begins until the shop drawings meet the client's approval.
Hand selection of hardwoods and veneers, Hendrickson tells clients, is "critical to the beauty, durability and uniqueness of your custom millwork. Our staff travels to lumber yards and suppliers and examines each and every piece of wood and veneer to ensure quality, color and suitability." Wherever possible, the woods used in a job come from the same tree, in order to maintain a consistent appearance.
Once the woods and veneers have been selected, HCC's staff lays out all the materials. At this point, pieces are book-matched and end-matched to ensure aesthetic balance in the finished piece. Then, says Hendrickson, it's time for the actual fabrication â€” cutting, molding, shaping and assembly.
Step four involves disassembly of the piece, which allows for more efficient sanding prior to custom finishing. Installation is the final step and one of the most critical.
"The success of any installation starts at the drawing phase when we apply the architect or designer's actual field dimensions to the architectural drawings," says Hendrickson. "We check and recheck our field measurements so our installation process is quick and exact."
Despite the focus on precision, Hendrickson says the human element isn't overlooked. He uses two words, "friendly" and "professional," to describe the people HCC sends into consumers' homes.
The old and the new
Today, modern equipment blends with the skills of experienced craftsmen to keep HCC humming. Key machinery and technology acquisitions during the shop's first five years include an OTT Kantomat edgebander, a SCM Sanya 1CS 95 Plus 37" x 60" wide belt sander, a Hastings air makeup unit and Kremlin finishing equipment.
The modernization of the finishing neighborhood has Hendrickson raving. "We added an in-line paint heater for such materials as sealer, coater, lacquer, polyurethanes â€” anything with a high solids content. Heating the material enables us to achieve better coverage while using less thinner, and this translates into less VOCs (volatile organic compounds) and lower cost."
One other significant addition, adds Lisa, is a Microvellum AutoCAD-based manufacturing and design software system that is expected to optimize the creation of shop drawings, takeoffs and cut lists, and the conversion of submittal drawings to machine code and reports. While the Hendricksons were being interviewed for this story, three of their employees sat huddled in front of a computer terminal taking an interactive class to bring them up to speed on the new software.
HCC planned to have the new system under control by the first quarter of 2008, paving he way for installation of its first CNC router.
"We've narrowed it down to a couple of models," says Felix. "We didn't want to go ahead and make the purchase until we had the software mastered. This way, when we bring the machine in, we can put it to work right away."
While HCC has been making strides on the manufacturing side and building its volume significantly, it has not broadened the type of customer it serves. "We started out building millwork and cabinets for upscale urban residences, and that is still what we do."
One slight difference: the amount of millwork done by HCC has picked up somewhat. Felix explains: "When we say millwork, we are thinking of work that is more closely tied into the architecture of the existing space; it is not just a table or chair that can be carried in and carried out. Thus, we often include cabinets when we are talking about millwork, along with paneling, moldings and so on.
"As the jobs have gotten bigger and more expensive," he continues, "we find that the designers are calling for a more integrated look throughout. Their goal is to transform a room, not just replace a cabinet. And our job is to give them what they want."