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Special Order Specialist11 May, 2007
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  Special Order Specialist

The hardworking craftsmen in the Specialty Division at Harlan Cabinets do whatever it takes to give their customers exactly what they want.

Article by Shirley Kawa Jump 

A home is the signature of the person who owns it. Each is unique in its own way and deserves a special touch that sets it apart from others. Harlan Cabinets specializes in creating high quality, one-of-a-kind pieces that define your home and give it those singular qualities you’re seeking.

Since 1962, the craftsmen at Harlan Cabinets have been creating custom cabinets for kitchens, baths, laundry rooms-virtually any space in a house that needs a storage option. The 100,000 square-foot manufacturing area and 4,200-square foot showroom allow plenty of space for the innovative designs Harlan Cabinets is famous for.

“We can do everything from curved cabinets to custom angles, creating anything a customer wants,” says Dick Hathaway, supervisor of the company’s Specialty Division. “One thing that’s really popular right now is inset cabinets where the door sits flush with the frame.”

Curves are becoming more popular in homes, creating demand for panels and moldings that will circle the room. These complicated designs are par for the course at Harlan Cabinets, which has evolved to meet changing customer demands. Hathaway says the craftsmen in the Specialty Division work with the sales staff to create a customer’s vision in wood. “The sales-person will go out to the house and meet with the customer to get a true picture of what they want,” he says. “Then we create it here in the shop.”

There is also more interest in architectural details like fluted columns and faux panels. Kitchen customization is being taken to new heights, with range hoods designed to blend with the cabinetry, along with built-in pasta shelves and baking drawers. 

Galen Plank, who also works in the Specialty Division, recently completed a custom wine glass holder that mounted on the ceiling like the one on the TV show Cheers. Lighting was built into the rack, along with glass openings on the side, creating a muted lighting effect for the room.

Custom entertainment centers that can hold big screen TVs along with VCRs, DVD players, etc. are also growing in demand. “Those kind of units are often a combination effort by our people,” says Galen. “The pantry people create the box for the television, then the specialty division creates the pullout shelves and CD holders, along with any fluted columns or pediments that might be added to decorate the piece.”

People are asking for cabinets in locations throughout their homes as the need for more storage increases. Harlan Cabinets has created cabinetry for everything from garages to laundry rooms, providing a wide range of custom looks and interiors that match the customer’s vision for the piece.

“People are also looking to customize the insides of their cabinets,” Hathaway says. “They are ordering more things like built-in cutting boards and tip-out vegetable bins.” The design team at Harlan Cabinets talks with the customer about their lifestyle, matching the way the customer lives with the design of the finished piece.

Harlan Cabinets does more than just match designs, it also matches colors. Deb Witmer, paint and color specialist, can match any color, whether it is from a paint chip, wallpaper or floor covering, to get the exact color the customer wants. “I’ve matched everything from a one-inch square of wallpaper to a full-size tile,” she says. “We can march colors much faster because you don’t have to send in the sample and then wait. We do all our matching right here.”

After a match is found, Harlan Cabinets blends a custom paint or stain for the wood. This ensures that the finished piece is an accurate match for other furniture or décor. Sometimes, customers opt to make their cabinets stand out from the rest of the room by using a distinctive color. “Some of the most popular colors right now are the hunter greens, sages, lavenders and cranberries,” say Deb.

Harlan Cabinets’ commitment to old-time craftsmanship is still evident in the quality of its products. However, the company has made use of technological advances so the work is more precise. Computers do the detailed design work and then communicate with shop computers, so every cut is exactly right. The craftsmen at Harlan Cabinets then execute the design and invest numerous man-hours in making sure the finished piece is flawless.

Jim Wagler, one of the owners of Harlan Cabinets, says in the long run, creating the right design the first time out is more cost-effective for the customer.

“People try to save money by getting cheaper cabinetry,” he says. “ Then they end up living with a design that they are less than satisfied with and that doesn’t really meet all their needs. They buy off the shelf instead of building what they want and need in the first place.”

The job of the sales staff at Harlan Cabinets is to truly listen to the customer and take a number of variables into consideration, including lifestyle, home layout and usage, before creating a design. This ensures longevity of the piece, an approach that customers appreciate.

At Harlan Cabinets, the commitment is to quality. Satisfied customers return often for additional pieces, and refer friends to the Harlan Cabinets’ shop. Jim says Harlan Cabinets is committed to making people’s homes more beautiful and more enjoyable. “You spend a lot of time in your home. Our goal is to make it a nicer place to be.”

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