Early risk reaps rewards - Another generation

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The company does a fair amount of kitchen-oriented advertising in some local venues and occasionally will exhibit at a home show.

There is a perception that the Portland area is a haven for environmentalists and the green movement. But locals will tell you that once you leave the city, the surrounding area becomes quite conservative in just a matter of a few miles. That might explain why there is not a significant number of clients requesting sustainable or certified products from Hayes Cabinets. However, the company was recently certified by the Kitchen Cabinet Manufacturers Association for the trade group’s new environmental green program.

“I think the whole building industry now is in turmoil about what all this green business is about ... that’s why we got on this KCMA program, because there are a set of rules you have to meet. The criteria, even as loose as they may be, at least there is a set of criteria.”

Another generation
When Swanberg looks back and considers the transitions he has gone through, both personally and with the business, he feels that changes just gradually happened over the years and he directed the business to where the demand was greatest. He readily admits he misses shop life and the creative opportunities he used to have.

“I enjoyed that part where I was more in the sales side in creating and satisfying customer’s needs, and now I don’t see that at all. I’m just overseeing and solving problems once in a while,” he says.

His greatest satisfaction now emanates from thank-you notes the company receives from satisfied customers. The notes are posted so everyone in the company can read them and gain the satisfaction of knowing they contributed to a job well done.

Now in his 36th year of business, Swanberg appears to have his future, as well as the company’s, mapped out. Hayes Cabinets has been at its current location since 2000 and the owner says there still is enough room for growth in the facility to gross another $4 million or $5 million a year.

“It’s a tough business. In our market and at the level we are at, the client’s expectations are extremely high. Some of those are even unrealistic expectations but it’s their dream home, it’s the home they’ve lived in, and if they want to remodel, they know every square inch, so it’s our challenge to try to deal with that.

“I have two sons who got out of college and have come back and worked with us, so the game plan would be for me to slide aside a little bit and have them take over. They’re eager and involved with it. My older son is running the shop and the younger one is running the installation crews. I’ll slide out of the way here eventually.”

Contact: Hayes Cabinets Inc., P.O. Box 2330, 660 Mitchell Ave., Woodland, WA 98674. Tel: 360-887-3581. www.hayescabinetsinc.com