Seeing Is Believing: Behind-The-Scenes At Waypoint’s Cabinet Factories
Our design team takes you on a tour from the rolling hills of Virginia and Maryland, to the rolling assembly lines of the Waypoint parts and assembly factories.
As designers, we strive to stay up-to-date not only in the world of interior design, but also in sales, marketing, new products, and new technological innovations for our industry. We are driven by the desire to create and are constantly searching for new outlets of inspiration.
So when the dRemodeling design team was invited to the Waypoint Living Spaces training and factory tour, we became driven to create the desire for our office manager to approve of the 3-day trip across Winchester, Virginia; Columbus, Maryland; and Allegheny, Maryland. Waypoint is a premiere cabinet manufacturer line that dRemodeling carries here in our showroom. Where better to achieve inspiration and advance our technical knowledge than to be immersed in the rolling hills of Virginia and Maryland and the rolling assembly lines of the Waypoint parts and assembly factories?
We shared this trip and learning experience with other designers and dealers from Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Going into the experience, we were unsure of exactly what to expect. We were hoping that we would have the opportunity to finally meet some of the Partner Team face-to-face and also get a better understanding of their management process.
But we were most excited to see how all of the cabinetry pieces come together as we toured the facilities including the 1 – Winchester, Virginia headquarters where all of the orders were processed, 2 – Cumberland, Maryland factory where the unfinished wood pieces were profiled, constructed, and finished into the doors and face frames that would then be shipped to the 3 – Allegheny, Maryland factory where those pieces were assembled into the cabinetry boxes and shipped out to the consumer.
Hello To Headquarters
We started off our trip at their Customer Service hub in Winchester, Virginia – a 3.5 hour drive from Philadelphia. We were introduced to the key members of the Partner Team and were finally able to put a face to the names that we contact almost daily to inquire about the status of our cabinet orders. The team was so welcoming!
They started with an icebreaker to get the conversation flowing, which throughout the trip could have included anything from a history of apples in Winchester via a PPT presentation, to a casual discussion of a local rock climbing spot in Cumberland called Seneca Rocks – truly fascinating stories – look it up if you are interested, but we digress. Understanding how they are able to manage and handle 350 +/- calls and 750 +/- emails a day provided me with a new perspective and appreciation for the short hold time (Goal of <60 seconds), and email response (Goal of < 4 hours). All of the calls and emails were monitored on a digitally projected screen, so everyone on the floor could track and monitor them.
They walked us through the building, explaining each department’s role. Walking through the sea of cubicle-like desks all personalized and decorated with photos, plants, etc., you could tell everyone was working hard and genuinely enjoyed their job. But what impressed us the most was their commitment to great employee interactions. The team of employees at Waypoint were not only coworkers, they were family!
From there, we reviewed the Waypoint Website, Ordering System, and Marketing. A Specialist from the Partner Team introduced us to Waypoint’s Online Style Quiz and Cabinet Visualizer. This is a fun and interactive tool that helps us narrow down a client’s design style. It is definitely a great tool we will start incorporating while working with our clients.
Under Construction In Cumberland
The second day, we visited the door and face frame assembly factory in Cumberland, MD. The sheer scale of the building was a marvel in itself, covering 9 acres under roof, let alone all the processes that were in place to maintain cleanliness and organization. In fact, our feet were killing us by then end of the tour, even with comfy shoes on!
The organization was beyond compare. Everything had a place, and was clearly marked with color-coordinated (for lack of better descriptor) chalk outlines on the floor. Oh yeah – that orange trash can is supposed to go in that orange, trash-can-shaped outline of the floor. This walking tour gave us a once-in-a-lifetime view as if we were on the, “How It’s Made” show on the Science and Discovery channel.
We saw the process for profiling, constructing and finishing the doors and the face frame of the cabinets first-hand. The finishing process for paint and stain was also fascinating to watch – all done mechanically by undulating and rotating machines for a “factory finish.” We ended the night at a new location, the beautiful Rocky Gap Resort located on the Rocky Gap State Park. Getting to marvel at the neighboring mountains and lakes enveloped in fall foliage was an unexpected perk on our Waypoint journey.
Assembling In Allegheny
We watched a quick safety video and we were off to the 2nd tour! Upon entering the doors, we walked through some of the plant’s inventory (would you believe only a 3-day supply of cabinetry is stored here) and on through to their assembly lines. From this point on, our jaws never ceased to close.This facility took all of those parts and pieces and assembled, packaged and shipped to the consumer. It was pure amazement to watch these employees construct a full-blown cabinet under 10 seconds while handling 400 degree adhesive glue!
Amidst immense rack aisles of finished doors, employees were offloading the packed doors in a seemingly unorganized fashion. However, we later learned that this was a thought out system – each door had a scannable tag that was recorded into a numbered and coded slot, allowing all of the doorstyle and finishes to be loaded into the most available slot.
This detailed system allowed the pickers (picking doors for an assembly) to be guided by an audible system to the oldest available door in the racks, while not being crowded together in the same area. After the cabinets were assembled, they were boxed and loaded into the trucks guided by labels indicating their load order and stackable location in the truck – finally they are shipped!
Shipping Back To Philly
Overall, we were very impressed by the facilities and management of the Waypoint Living Spaces brand. This trip was definitely an eye-opening experience. Throughout the process we were able to see first-hand the commitment of all of the employees to the quality of both their service and products. We think that the personal face-to-face communication with the Waypoint Partners has given us the insight to better communicate our ideas and issues with them for our clients, and getting the firsthand look into the construction process will allow us to better educate our clients. Waypoint strives for quality, their goal is for value. They offer a limited selection of products, but the products that they do produce, they have down to a science.