Deslaurier Custom Cabinets Inc.
Renfrew, Ontario
Custom cabinets and millwork
Primary market: Ontario
Number of employees: 150
President and co-owner: Denis Staples

Cabinet maker hammers it home

When Denis Staples took a stake in Deslaurier Custom Cabinets he did not expect the surprising side benefits. “I am very popular at parties with women,” he jokes. “You would not believe how passionate they get about home interiors.”

As the name implies, Deslaurier Custom Cabinets, which Staples’ father founded with partner Jim Deslaurier, develops custom kitchen and bathroom cabinets, which it markets through three main sales channels. These include the company’s 7,500 square-foot Ottawa showroom, a province-wide dealer network and local builders.

Business has been good in recent years due to continued strong housing starts, sparked by exceptionally low interest rates. That’s particularly true in the nation’s capital, Deslaurier Custom Cabinets’ core market. “It’s a government town,” explains Staples. “So activity is fairly constant.”

That said competition has been tough in recent years. The strong Canadian dollar has hampered exports and forced local producers to make due with the domestic market. As a result, Deslaurier has had to constantly do more to stay ahead. That includes continuously updating the company’s catalogue, which now has 48,000 designs that workers can program into their saws to enhance the precision of cuts made. Product quality is also crucial says Staples. “We are always under pressure to reduce prices,” says the veteran craftsman. “But we never cut corners by using sub-par materials.”

The good news is that the loonie’s rebound during the last weeks of 2013 and the start of 2014, coupled with the strengthening US economy is enabling Staples to look south again. “We completed a nice project in Boston last year,” said Staples. “It now looks like there may be more where that came from.”

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