Two businesses that depended on housing business shift gears
Two companies in the same industry are taking different approaches to the slowdown they see coming.
Bill Johnson, owner of CJ’s Cabinets, 510 Fruitvale Court in Grand Junction, has been down this road before. Kyle Berger of Timeless Millworks is getting ready for his first one.
“A year ago, 95 percent of our business was in new construction. Today, less than 5 percent is in new homes,” Johnson said. “We kind of saw the handwriting on the wall” and changed his emphasis from installing new products to helping customers improve what they already have.
Berger, who owns Timeless Millworks with partner William Jarvis, had anticipated employing 10 to 15 people working on new cabinetry.
Heeding the advice of the Business Incubator Center, 2591 B 3/4 Road, Berger pumped money into equipment instead. He bought a $160,000 moving gantry machine that lets him cut and shape wood to precise specifications at high speed. Jobs that once took days can be done in hours, maybe minutes, Berger said.
When he started showing other cabinetmakers how he operated, “They just laughed at us,” he said. Now they outsource work to his shop.
He and Jarvis employ four people and anticipate they’ll be able to keep them on, he said.
Johnson said his switch from installing new cabinets to refacing and repairing them means he might not have to lay anyone off, either.
“We’re not going to make as much money as we used to,” but the business can survive, he said. “We’re not at the bottom, but there is an end.”