Another year is in the books, and it was one in which we ourselves were extremely booked. While my usual go-to method of recapping the year is a video, I thought this year we could also recap our Most Memorable Moments with a blog post. But since there were so many things going on – projects, hirings, new buildings, new machinery, and so on – I’ve decided to narrow things down to the Top Ten Moments of 2019. These are in no particular order; we’re grateful for every part of the experiences we share here, but there are definitely some that stand above the rest:
10. Best of Houzz
In early 2019 we were #blessed with two shout-outs for our Houzz account. A photo of our custom laundry room was among the winners of Best in Design Photography for the Vancouver Metro (congrats to Tony Colangelo Photography); the other photo is of a small condo kitchen we worked on and it placed in Best Kitchen Design for the Vancouver Metro (kudos to Mari Kushino Design and thanks for the collaboration). Despite our sometimes-glacial pace of uploading new photos (we’re working on that particular 2020 resolution) we continue to gain followers, saves, and view; it’s an honour to place among the best and most popular millwork on a site full of amazing, cutting-edge projects.
9. Putting the “custom” in “customer”
One thing about being a custom cabinetry company is that we often have to put our thinking caps on to accommodate the custom part. To think outside of the 3/4″ birch plywood box, so to speak. Due to the location of my work station I’ve had the privilege of being caught in the middle of many creative storms, and it’s quite something to witness. Pictured below are a few of the more eclectic challenges we undertook this year, including (top to bottom) a custom media room wall made of strips of walnut; a fish tank surround with custom lacquered, shaker style doors; and kitchen ceiling panels whose installation was expertly and carefully handled by our installers (as per usual).
8. CARE Awards
This year we were nominated for nine CARE Awards for our involvement in three different projects. We were of course excited about the nominations, and especially about being able to collaborate with such creative and hard-working co-nominees: Terry Johal Developments; GT Mann Contracting; Rannala Freeborn Construction; Kimberley Williams Interiors; and Step One Design. We received eight silvers and one Gold (pictured below, cradled lovingly in Roy’s hands) for Best Contemporary Kitchen 251-350 sq.ft. (our Terry Johal collab “Notting Hill,” pictured below left). While customer satisfaction and a job-well-done is its own reward, it’s still nice to be recognized and get a fancy dinner too 😉
7. New showrooms
As someone who spends 97.6% of her time in the office (and the other 2.4% at various fast food outlets to keep up worker morale . . . did you see that math?! That’s why I do the accounting as well) I’ve had a front-row seat to the multiple front-end changes we’ve experienced this year. We closed down our William Street office and vacated that shop space as well; both of our designers went on mat leave, which resulted in bringing in a new receptionist (hi Bronka!), as well as me listening to a lot of podcasts to simulate Genuine Human Connection during the work day. Our Langford showroom is completely set up now, with several sets of cabinetry that showcase a good chunk of the work we do and (most importantly) air conditioning. Meanwhile, at the Lake, the exterior of our new showroom has come along quite nicely – the deck, windows, doors, illuminated logo, and framework for the front steps is ready and waiting for this darn weather to smarten up. The Lake Cowichan space will function more as an office/business center than a showroom, but we hope that it will still serve as an example of our creativity, work ethic, and attention to detail. Also, air- conditioning. Did I mention air-conditioning?
6. Being busy all year
Being constantly booked is a stressful yet good problem for a business to have, hence its place on our top ten list. We were lucky to work with not only many previous clients and contractors, but also to add a few new collaborators to our job list (usually more than once, actually). So far 2020 looks to be just as busy, if not more so; the new showroom allows us to more adequately showcase our work and field potential projects, while additions like the CNC machine will help churn that work out faster. We’re currently booking into spring, so if you’d like us to take a look at something, hurry on in 😉
5. New shop space and machines
Speaking of the new CNC . . . well, we have one! We closed down our shop in Victoria this year and have centralized all our production to Lake Cowichan; with a combination of the additional lower-floor space from the new showroom building and some inventive maneuvering, we’ve managed to further streamline our production process and create new dedicated areas for storage of millwork and stock supplies. Our CNC (no consensus on the name, but I’m going with “Cindy” for now) will be invaluable when it comes to production and making the best use of our available shop space. We’ve brought machines up from our old location as well, and once the various moving days were finished we found ourselves with a nice, productive working layout. With more employees in the shop now since the merger, it’s nice to have those wide open spaces (Dixie Chicks reference, anyone?)
4. Statement rooms & pieces
The best and often most challenging part of a job is making something with that little extra “oomph,” whether it’s something a designer has already envisioned or something we’ve been tasked with conceptualizing ourselves. A few ideas for staple custom pieces have been sussed out – affectionately titled “the South Shore Arm” and “Slim Shaker” – but more than anything we see creativity thrive from project to project. From ceiling panels to custom mouldings, hidden doors and floating cabinets, wall panels and office tables, we’re always happy to provide the piece that gets people’s attention (or not, in the case of a secret door. Shh, pretend we didn’t show you).
3. Cover people/ recognition
Another form of recognition we received this year was through magazine publications, specifically Boulevard Magazine (based in Victoria). Our kitchen with Terry Johal Developments (“Notting Hill,” pictured on the left) was featured in the fall issue, along with an interview with Terry and the homeowners and stunning photography by Vince Klassen (check out our website gallery for more pictures from this shoot)! In the spring our design team was featured in Boulevard’s “The Influencers” series; they offered advice on how to execute great projects, as well as a visual representation on how not to safely cross a crosswalk. It’s always special for us when we have our work featured, but being able to shine a light on some of the people behind the projects is something for which we’re always grateful.
2. The Great Giveaway
‘Twas the afternoon before Christmas, and we had a bunch of chocolate left over, and . . . well, some things speak for themselves.
And this is where we find out that I lied a little up top, because this one is definitely meant to be #1. We would not be able to achieve any of the other things on this list without the dedication, hard work, and talent of our employees: the shop workers in assembly, cutting, finishing, and delivery; the installers; the management and the office staff (hey-o); and the designers and collaborators, both in house and with other companies. It’s my goal as social media manager/content producer/sole proprietor to shine a spotlight on the human component of our business; at the end of the day I can only hope that you know just how much we appreciate and rely on every single person that works here. 2019 was a hard year at times, and if it wasn’t for our staff this top ten list would be a lot shorter. We couldn’t do it without them (and I don’t even want to think about trying).
We’re looking forward to bringing you new content in 2020 (top 20 moments, perhaps?). See you next time!