Topic: Cabinets can be hassle for pros: heavy, expensive, shipped “ready to assemble.” CliqStudios solves these problems turning what was a hassle into a delight! With designers as part of the cost of the product, plywood instead of particle board, and semi-custom products available, they make a product with the consumer AND the pro in mind.

Guest: Dan Jones – Sales and Product Training Manager



3 Points for Success – Dan Jones:

  1. Get the best design for the customer and ultimately it’s their kitchen they’re gonna have to live with it don’t cut corners on your design.
  2. Be transparent about everything. It’s just that type of world right now with all the information that’s out there you’ve got to be transparent.
  3. A sale includes after-the-sale service. To a pro that can be the difference between a good project and a bad project. And that’s extremely important.


Podcast Transcript

James [00:00:00] So good to have you with us for another episode of CareyBrosPros. Hi I’m James.


Morris [00:00:06] And I’m Morris and you know as professionals we know that the design of a project is certainly one aspect that is crucial to a successful end result. We’re always looking for ideas and options to give our pro listeners a broader menu to offer their customers. On this edition we’ll be talking the ins and outs of manufactured cabinetry.


James [00:00:30] Yes indeed and we’ve had the opportunity to install their product. It is CliqStudios and joining us is Dan Jones. Hhe is sales and product training manager for click studios. Dan welcome to CareyBrosPros.


Dan [00:00:47] Hey thank you James.


Morris [00:00:48] You know Dan most people don’t really know how to select an order manufactured cabinets. Dan could you help us out a little bit by explaining what manufactured cabinets are and then give us some tips on how to buy them.


Dan [00:01:02] You bet! There is homework involved but there’s basically four areas of manufactured cabinetry. You start off with the ready to assemble and that’s a pretty thin thin lines of what you have options for. Then you move up into stock cabinetry and stock of a different one you might find them in store at the big box stores. They’ll be on the shelf. Again, limited. Then you move into the semi custom and these are the cabinetry that most people are seeing in the big box stores and in dealer locations that they’re used to seeing a lot of selections colors styles options. And then you’ve got custom, and custom can mean a lot of things. And it can go very very high in price it also can be pretty reasonable depending on the market that you’re in. So each four of these categories specifically what’s hard and where the pro and the consumer have to do their homework is really research what they’re looking for is it budget, is it quality, is it warranty, is it look, is it style. All these things play into it and it’s kind of like purchasing a car a little bit. You go look at a car we want to like the looks of the outside you want to like the color well does the engine make a difference, do tires, the wheels, does the inside, do all the bells and whistles, do you want leather? It’s very comparable to do that where you got to do some research before you can isolate it and then you’ll get good at what it has the better warranties looking for a lifetime warranty on a cabinet is key you want that thing to last as long as you’re going to be in your home you also want to look at the construction of it there’s various levels of construction ranging from particle board to MDF medium density fiberboard to all plywood box construction and how they’re assembled and that’s the manufactured question that you’re looking at hasn’t been assembled and packaged and ready to ship to whoever is installing it. Is that cabinet ready to go and it makes a big difference some cabinet companies aren’t and are better than others.


Morris [00:03:03] Well let’s talk about quality of a cabinet. For example, I don’t want five eighths inch thick shelving in my cabinet tree because the minute I put plates honored it starts to bow and deflect and I know from experience that if I don’t use three quarter inch high density MDF What is it.


Dan [00:03:22] Morris I believe you’re right there is now there’s a new layer it was its particle board MVS medium density fire reward.


Morris [00:03:29] Right.


Dan [00:03:29] High density fiberboard.


Morris [00:03:30] High density filberboard! High density fiberboard works as well if not better than plywood if it’s three quarters of an inch thick plywood is correct I will tell you that I would not use any material plywood MDA if anything that’s five eighths of an inch thick period I wouldn’t recommend anybody who builds that right and I also think that five eighths inch thick face frames suck. I think they ought to be three quarters of an inch. I think face frames ought to be solid wood. I don’t think face frames ought to be made out of MDF. First of all they hold the front of the track for the draw glide they hold the hinges MDF won’t last. Wood will. MDF wont. not plywood. Solid wood.


Dan [00:04:14] Hardwood frames that’s one of the key things and write cabinet a hard wood frame ha solid hardwood frames because of one screw holding power.


Morris [00:04:23] Oh right.


Dan [00:04:23] The hinges.


Morris [00:04:24] That’s right.


Dan [00:04:25] And repair ability.


Morris [00:04:26] That’s right.


Dan [00:04:27] Screws on’t last forever you can repair hardwood if you have an MDF or an HDF those screws can wear out they call it egging in the business and they can also blow out someone goes wrong way on the door. They hit it by accident.


Morris [00:04:40] One of the things that irritates me an awful lot is when the back of the cabinet is recessed in and away into the cabinet and away from the wall and then the nailing strip is sitting on top of that. And so when you use the nailing stripped to Cabinet.


James [00:04:56] You  blow the back out!


Morris [00:04:56] You blow the back out! There are cabinet makers who make cabinets who obviously have never installed a cabinet. I installed thousands of linear feet of Cabinet when I was an apprentice and I must tell you that the company that I worked for made its own cabinets.


James [00:05:17] Those were the days before we were using screws to fasten cabinets into framing.


Dan [00:05:22] You were actually nailing.


James [00:05:23] No. No we were using a pea shooter. You know what a pea shooter is?


Dan [00:05:26] No.


James [00:05:28] [laughs] That was a device that had a tube. It was a steel tube and it had a rod that with a handle and you would pull the rod back in the tube insert a nail in the end. it was about I don’t know three feet long two and a half feet long 30 inches 36 inches whatever. You would get the nail inside the tube with the rod pulled back and then you would position it at the nailing cleat in the back of the cabinet and.


Morris [00:06:02] You’d ram that 16.


James [00:06:04] Take that weighted handle back and you’d run that sixteen nail right through the cleat. Those were the old days of doing production.


Dan [00:06:12] Man.


Morris [00:06:12] Yeah. We had a.


James [00:06:13] There was no finesse. What you had to do was you had to do you know three kitchens a day and.


Morris [00:06:18] You know what. We put our cabinet in with 16 penny nails.


James [00:06:22] Yeah.


Morris [00:06:23] Back in the 70s and I will tell you couldn’t get them off the wall once they were right.


James [00:06:29] What was the question? What was the question Dan?


Dan [00:06:31] I redid my own kitchen and that’s the kind of cabinetry I took down.


Morris [00:06:35] [laughs]


James [00:06:36] I think today’s methods.


Dan [00:06:39] Two by fours that are actual real two by fours with 16 penny nails. Yeah. Want to come apart easily.


James [00:06:44] Well we certainly have changed with regard to installation techniques and I think that’s one of the bright spots about dealing with the company that is very thorough and I have to say for builders who decide that they’re not going to do a custom or a semi custom cabinet. And even if they are but if they go with a manufactured cabin like CliqStudios I will tell you that from beginning to end that experience was amazing. We know you guys have over I believe a hundred in-house kitchen and bath design professionals that use the best in technology. I have to tell you when you created a plan for us. the finished photographed product looked exactly like the animation that you created at the front end and all of the cabinets were shipped to the site no damage and all the installation accessories. Now I have to tell you that we had an experience with another project where we did RTA. I wanted to blow my brains out where we did the ready to assemble I did the guy I said get set the guy on the job. He said hey boss the cabinets got delivered today I said Shoot me a picture shoot me a picture I’m dying to see the boxes then he shot a picture and these were small six inch high locks that box you know by 30 I said Where where are the cabinets. He said those are the cabinets 30 knock down you got to assemble them. I thought Oh dear.


Morris [00:08:25] And they were all assembled with exposed brackets.


James [00:08:28] Yeah.


Dan [00:08:28] Yeah.


James [00:08:29] They look great when they read on grade install but I gotta tell you we lost money on that installation.


Dan [00:08:36] You don’t want to take the time and if homeowners do on it it could be even come. Yeah but the pro doesn’t want to take the time.


James [00:08:41] All right. So let’s talk about where the rubber meets the road. Dan why would one of our pros listening whether they’re a designer or a specifier a kitchen and bath professional a design build contractor or contractor why would they want to consider manufactured cabinets instead of the custom semi custom or at the other end the RTA. I think we all know why they wouldn’t want to consider the area. But what about modular?


[00:09:08] First of all modular is actually the easy name that is technically correct with ClicqStudios I’ll say this and I know everybody does their product different. Most manufacturers start off with particle board box which makes them a lot heavier. We haven’t all plywood box construction half inch plywood side stops bottoms and it gives a little bend. Nothing is ever perfectly square and you know plumb and so it’s that plywood and the way we assemble our boxes and the jointery that we use of the beetle joints and fully captured tops bottoms gives that installer a little bit of play let’s say because it’s plywood. Particle board will not give that play you’ll you’ll most likely snap something because we all know the pros. Time is money and you want that cabinet to be light. You want it to be a square as possible and if it’s not. You want to be able to what we call rack it rack the cabinet without damaging the cabinet. You can do that with plywood as well as our construction. So that’s the number one thing is is just picking up the cabinets. We did a study one time and that the average installer touches and picks up a cabinet ten times before they finally put it in. And you don’t want to be picking up half inch or three quarter inch particle board. It’s almost 30 to 40 percent heavier than plywood and it is not as it doesn’t have the holding power that plywood does. So you’re buying a product and we come in. Our product our all plywood box construction comes in about the same price as the big box starting particle board construction. So that’s one big thing and then the plywood is less susceptible to damage one of the things of if there there’s a pro installer out there they know that damage is part of the game. So you want good packaging you want the cabinets to come on time and you want to see everything you can do to prevent damage or reorders which every pro should know as part of the game. But we try to minimize it and plywood just have more give. If a Cabinet gets dropped accidentally or if damage does happen plywood is so much more resilient than particle board. So there’s that.


James [00:11:13] Well listen I think one of the real benefits is the most obvious and that is and you use the car analogy earlier and my brother and our father both sold cars and not everybody wants to buy a Cadillac or you know I. And luxury automobile you have to have a vehicle that fits everyone’s needs and everyone’s budget. And would we love to sell the most expensive most custom product on Earth. Well why not. But not every consumer’s budget will allow for that. And so you have to have alternatives that will provided however that the product is good and that you can walk away from the job holding your head high and feeling like you’ve done a great job for the client and that what you’ve installed will bring them many years of pleasure and good fortune. But I think one of the when the advantages of what you’re talking about is price and the ability to get work that you otherwise would not be able to get.


Dan [00:12:15] That is correct. We’re going to come in at a lesser price and a higher quality product. And I think again talking to pros directly that’s what they’re looking for. They want something that’s got a high end look not a high end price because let’s be honest pros need to make they’re there they may be making money here they might be passing it on to the consumer you’ve got different pros doing different things and whatever works for their business but it is it is that savings and if they need to take him up a step and they want the Aquafina colored door that’s great that’s not us. Yeah we’re going to be in the middle percentile that’s going to fit most customers which is today everything’s painted white which is one of our main mainstays the cost the budget the quality we’re just want what’s easiest to install for the professional.


James [00:13:03] Yeah. I want to ask you a question candidly. You’re not competing in general now this is a gross generalization but for our pro audience you’re really not competing with the high end custom cabinet. You’re probably trying to take a little of that semi custom and you’re trying to compete with the big box cabinets the vignettes that you see there and that a lot of builders are turning to for their projects. Yes or no?


Dan [00:13:38] That is exactly correct. We have basically two forms of competition we’re Internet based company we like you said we have over 100 designers that are employees they’re not contractors working for us. They’re all out of three locations St. Louis Indianapolis Minneapolis St. Paul area. They work for us and that is a big difference. I don’t want to disparage the big box but I learned a lot from the Big Box I started with them back in the late 90s that’s how I got my start in the kitchen business. Medium sized big box store had eight designers back then you’re lucky if you’ve got two now and that’s just the way they’re doing business. The truth is that the pros this is the other part you want. You want a good quality box for a good price and you want it to be a solid be delivered on time. Well there is the fourth component and that’s the design you brought it up earlier. What we do you want a good design. I wish every pro who’s out there meeting with the consumer trying to do it. Our designer’s job while they could be going to get another job and this is what we do. Free of charge complimentary our designer will take your customer and meet with them if that’s what’s needed on the phone by Internet screen sharing whatever the customer’s comfortable with and pass that information back and forth qualify him what do they want storage solutions looks that. That type of thing revisions is all included. We don’t up charge there’s no hidden costs. That design is free if you want to change it six times. We don’t want you to do it that much. Hopefully we’re doing a better job of getting the design right the first or second time but that is key for the pro and that’s a way for them to make money. So instead of meeting with their customer for two to three hours of something that they’re not an expert at we’ll meet with them. We’ll take care of that design and then we’ll deliver the packet that you described earlier with the floor plan the visuals and then that pro can take that and walk it through their customer and make sure that that’s going to work for them. But at the end of day it’s their customer. But we fully believe that their customers our customer also and that’s a big difference. That’s a big difference. And that doesn’t happen in the big box too often.


James [00:15:47] Well I tell you this I didn’t have a 25000 dollar budget for my small kitchen that I did with you. I didn’t have it. I didn’t have it and I didn’t have it because it was not elective remodeling it was caused because I discovered mold. I had to tear everything out. There was no coverage.


Morris [00:16:05] You didn’t have 25000 dollar budget because you’re cheapscate.


James [00:16:09] That’s true! Easily the cabinets would’ve cost 25 30 maybe 35000 depending upon who you got him from. I think out the door I was about 12000 dollars with your product.


Dan [00:16:21] Yeah. And I would guesstimate in a big box store that same quality cabinet would probably be in at least 20 to 40 percent more.


James [00:16:30] And I don’t need to say this and you don’t have enough money to make me say good things but I’m going to tell you that from the beginning to the end the experience was very very positive. I had no idea that one could get a design get all of the components get the product delivered and have installation support and have the experience go so well. It really was great.


Morris [00:16:57] Dan here on CareyBrosPros we’d like to ask our guests to share three points for success with our pro listeners. Could you share yours?


Dan [00:17:07] You bet. You know I’ve been thinking about this and one is get the best design for the customer and ultimately it’s their kitchen they’re gonna have to live with it don’t cut corners on your design. Then the second thing is be transparent about everything. It’s just that type of world right now with all the information that’s out there you’ve got to be transparent. And the thing that really hits it with cabinetry for me is not just everything we talked about. Those are all great things. But it’s after the sale where is the service. What’s the warranty. If you have an issue what’s going to go wrong. And to a pro that can be the difference between a good project and a bad project. And that’s extremely important. I think when it comes to cabinetry no matter where you’re getting it what’s the after sales support.


James [00:17:57] Three good points. He’s Dan Jones sales and product training manager of CliqStudios you may learn more about them and their products by visiting their website. It is click


Morris [00:18:14] And remember you’ll find our guests information as well as additional podcasts videos and articles on our web site at


About The Author CareyBrosPro Staff

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