Plant of the Month: Kountry Wood Products

Just waiting patiently for the economy to turn around before investing in the latest technology is not the norm at Kountry Wood Products.

This northern Indiana kitchen and bath cabinet manufacturer has more than weathered the down turn. It has shown growth and has maintained its place as one of the top, medium-end manufacturers in its market area – primarily the Midwest, but with dealers nationwide.

“We haven’t been affected much by the down economy,” says company vice president Virgil Yoder. “In fact, we had growth from 2008 to 2010. Our strengths are that we produce a reasonably priced cabinet, with structural integrity and a quality finish.”

Other reasons, Virgil says, are on-time shipping, shipping complete and an automated plant that includes two CNC Schelling panel saws – an FH-6 430 Duplus2 and one FMH-330 auto load – that handle a majority of the panel-cutting duties. The FH-6 features Schelling’s Duplus2 dual feeder system, a double-strip aligner for high angular accuracy, integrated automatic panel turning device and separate push-off carriage to load material from the back at reduced cycle time.

Kountry Wood Products got its start in the spring of 1998 in a small shop in the northern Indiana countryside, with a philosophy that “building a quality product, selling at a reasonable price and providing customer service,” are the keys to success, according to company owner Ola Yoder.

With the growth of the company and limited space in a small shop, the company moved to a 42,000-square-foot facility located in the town of Nappanee, Ind., near South Bend, Ind.

“In 2006 we found ourselves struggling to keep up with the production volumes due to customer demand,” says Virgil. “At that point, an expansion plan of 34,000 square feet was put in place. With the expansion of the new addition we added an automated finish line, an on-demand packaging system and, most recently, another Schelling panel saw, thus helping us double our production of cabinets.

“Today we’re producing 2,300 kitchen and bath cabinets a day and we’re again talking about an expansion plan. Currently, we offer over 750 modules in a variety of flat, raised panel and miter door styles, coated in many of today’s most popular finishes. We market our cabinets through sales reps that contact dealers. We don’t sell direct.”

Commitment to automation

All cabinets are built to order.

“We build cabinets on a per-order basis, although we utilize batching of component parts for assembly and finishing efficiencies,” Virgil explains. “These batches are separated for each order or truck load prior to cabinet building. We use solid wood for the face frame of the cabinet. The boxes of the cabinets are laminated particleboard or veneered plywood. MDF material is also used for shelves as well as plywood.”

The Schelling saws cut all the panel components for the cabinet boxes. ARDIS software is used at the saw for panel optimization. In the production scheme, Kountry Wood utilizes an MRP system with ADRIS software.

So, why did Kountry Wood choose the Schelling saws over the many other brands on the market?

“We chose Schelling because it’s a solidly built saw, plus, electrical and mechanical parts are not proprietary. Schelling has provided excellent service since we purchased a used panel saw in 2005 and with the most recent addition of the FH-6 Duplus2 saw,” says Virgil.

“Even though we purchased the used saw at an auction, Schelling was willing to install the saw and provide operator training. Schelling has built a good relationship with us, and I feel confident they will continue to provide excellent service to us today and in the future.”

Besides the Schelling saws, Kountry Wood’s manufacturing footprint includes the automated finishing line, a flatline sanding line, a shape-and-sand system for edge profiling, a CNC point-to-point machining center and an on-demand packaging system.

Kountry Wood cross trains on the saws but doesn’t have a specific training program. Its immediate region “has a fairly large workforce, and people we hire are local people within a 20-to-30-mile radius,” says Virgil. “We have a good core of people to draw from, and our workers have a lot to do with our success.”

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