Volume 7 | Issue 3 | Year 2004

While Home Depot and Lowe’s Home Centers are found all over the map, you’d have to look in a fairly obscure place to find one of their key bathroom cabinet suppliers. Tan US Sales, dba WoodCrafters, is located in Mercedes, Texas, about 25 miles from the Rio Grande River, which separates the United States from Mexico.WoodCrafters manufactures bathroom vanities, medicine cabinets, bath storage cabinets, cultured marble and solid surface vanity tops. The company, which prides itself on using state-of-the-art manufacturing technology, has been in business for over 20 years. With kitchen and bath remodeling remaining a dominant segment of the home center industry, the future for WoodCrafters looks bright.

“To serve de-manding nationwide customers such as Home Depot and Lowe’s is a challenge
that we at Wood-Crafters accept willingly and with anticipation,” said Vice President of Sales and Marketing Steve Strasevicz. “It is a huge testament to WoodCrafters’ capabilities, when publicly traded companies such as Home Depot and Lowe’s place their trust in us. Our customers are uniquely discretionary when selecting supplier partners and a vendor must be capable of meeting many criteria before we begin our business
relationship together”.

Clothes to cabinets
WoodCrafters is a privately owned company that was founded two decades ago by its current President and CEO Abraham Tanus, whose family owned several sewing operations outside of Mexico City. However, Tanus wanted to do something different than working in the clothing industry, which led him to Mercedes and the bathroom cabinet business.
In 1984, Home Depot and Lowe’s were not as prevalent, so WoodCrafters’ market was decidedly more regional. It was then that the company adopted its strict adherence to high-quality standards, manufacturing cabinetry that could appeal to discerning contractors whose businesses depended on satisfying demanding homeowners. That demand was and is two-pronged: high-quality but at great prices. And while other cabinetry companies have tried to meet those benchmarks, few others than WoodCrafters have been able to succeed year in and year out.

“Our operating philosophy is quite simple: provide our customers with outstanding value at all price levels and remain very aggressive developing new and exciting products and merchandising programs,” said Strasevicz. “Traditionally, value has been associated with opening price points but we created a market niche when we applied this principal at the mid-to-higher price points. Value is important to our customers at all levels”.

Strasevicz explained the company’s success is the result of Tanus’ philosophy to re-invest in WoodCrafters in order to promote the planned and controlled growth of the company. “I’ve worked in a few other companies in similar businesses around the country but I am completely serious when I say that we have the absolute best people for the job right here at WoodCrafters,” said Strasevicz. “It starts at the top with Abra-ham Tanus and permeates right down to the assembly floor and also with our sister company that makes our marble vanity tops.” That company is located in Rio Bravo, Mexico, which is the number one manufacturing plant of cultured marble in North America, said Strasevicz. Offering marble tops makes good business sense. After all, if you are in vanity wood cabinetry, you should make complementary counter tops, too.

“Our employees work in a family like atmosphere where great pride is taken in being of service while delivering the absolute highest quality products in the market,” he added. “The company has grown within our markets by continuously expanding our product offering with new designs while never ceasing to build on its proven product base. Throughout the years, the company’s success has been attributed to its core principles that are the foundation of the entire company.”

Household hunting
The number of households in the United States is of strategic importance to WoodCrafters since the company manufactures its products for retail outlets which, in turn, supplies WoodCrafters products to homeowners.

The recent housing boom had a decidedly positive impact on WoodCrafters’ bottom line. Between sharp upswings in new construction and strong statistics indicating a surge in home remodeling, WoodCrafters’ products have been marketed successfully around the country. The United States is a primary market for WoodCrafters, but additionally, the company has already begun to serve customers through Home Depot’s expansion into Mexico.

Additionally, the company follows other reliable demographic forecasts, which also indicate a positive future. For example, Strasevicz said, basic products for the bathroom and beyond will continue to self generate growth when based on three catalysts, which work on WoodCrafters’ behalf. First is the number of people achieving upward mobility via a better economic standard of living, which means continuous re-modeling and construction. Second is the fact that the world’s population continues to expand every hour. And lastly, WoodCrafters services have only just begun to tap into competitors’ markets both domestically and internationally.

“We are set up to provide furniture and fixture products of any type to any room
in the house regardless of geographical location,” said Strasevicz. “We support our products with aggressive point-of-purchase aides and through a very hands-on effort with our customers. Our merchandising goals include maintaining our quality of image, simplifying the buying experience, and providing customers with crisp, clean and easy-to-understand signage and graphics. We set the industry standard for colorful and informative packaging and create a fashion environment where we can sell ideas and solve remodeling problems.”

Flat and growing
Much like the terrain upon which WoodCrafters facilities sit, the organization is flat. A mid-sized administrative staff manages 800-plus employees orchestrating lean production runs. It is the company’s plans to grow its infrastructure but not lose sight of the fast response and “quick-to-market” competitive advantage it has over it’s larger and slower competitors.
“Most employees are involved in the production and logistics process,” said Strasevicz. “But we don’t try to be all things for all people. We occupy a certain market niche and try to be the absolute best at what we do. It is important for us to maintain that focus and continue to be a low-cost producer of these products.

WoodCrafters has every intention to continue its expansion. In fact, since launching its marble plant, the company is in the process of its third major expansion in the past five years. WoodCrafters continually makes an effort to keep its manufacturing infrastructure updated, said Strasevicz.

“Working with the two largest home centers in the United States is a tough challenge, so we must continually analyze and augment our capacities” said Strasevicz. “We want to continue to find innovative ways to grow our markets while maintaining our core competency of providing the best value and the best quality.” “We will never provide low cost at the expense of quality. Our competitors have made that mistake and we won’t.”
With sales growing every year and solid expectations of growth and expansion, WoodCrafters appears more than able to meet homeowners’ bathroom cabinet needs, whether it’s Assembled Vanities, Combo Ensembles, Medicine Cabinets, Wall Mirrors or Storage Cabinets. As long as there is a need for quality and affordable bathroom remodeling products, WoodCrafters will continue to grow and prosper.