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Cabinets 101
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Lesson #1 - Cabinet Brands & Pricing Prev Next
The cabinet brand is the name placed on the cabinet. Typically the brand is the name of the manufacturer of the cabinet. However, there also are generic and store brand cabinets where you do not know who built the product. As an example, think of office supplies. You can buy a pen made by a specific company (like parker or cross) or you can go to the dollar store and buy a pen that has no name on it and you have no idea who made it or you can go to staples and buy a staples brand pen which says staples on it, but, was not actually made by staples. The vast majority of all cabinets sold are name brand, the generic Chinese built cabinets, though, are becoming big and store brands are a very small percentage of the buisness.

Most cabinet manufacturers do not sell direct to the homeowners. To get a name brand cabinet you need to go through a dealer, distributor or contractor. The brand you choose will affect the price you pay more than any other factor. In fact, all the other factors will be dictated by which brand you choose. For example, if you want to install a utility cabinet with a unique set of shelves, then you need to choose a manufacturer that produces that style cabinet. Or if you like a particular door style in a particular color, you will be limited to only those brands that carry that style and color.

The most often asked question I get is why the different brands vary so much in price. My best answer is, why is a Mercedes so much more than a Ford? Some cabinets are indeed made better than others, for example, plywood cabinets are better than particle board cabinets, and dovetail drawers are better than box drawers. Also, the more types of cabinets, door styles, colors and customizeable options a line offers the more the line as a whole will cost. However, the differences in construction and choice do not account completely for the vast difference in price between manufacturers. In short, the manufacturers set the price based on what they feel it's worth and what they can get. The cheapest brands currently available are the generic chinese built cabinets. Good prices, all wood construction, but not a lot of variety of colors, styles or options.

Another question I get all the time is why do the discounts offered from the different brands vary so much. In the cabinet world, our cost is a certain percentage (factor) of the list price and every manufacturer gives a different cost factor (all arbitrary as far as I can tell, although I'm sure they have a good reason behind them). For example, one supplier might give me a .5 factor and another .3 so if I price my cabinets out to have a 25% gross profit margin, the company with a .5 factor will sell at a 25% discount and the company with a .3 factor will sell at a 60% discount. The end result of all this is to make it nearly impossible to compare cabinets based only on list price. Maybe that's the real reason?

Last question, why do different stores charge different prices for cabinets made by the same manufacturer? For the same reason 2 different car dealers sell the exact same car for 2 different prices--because they can. Each store sets its own pricing structure based on its own criteria. Cabinet manufacturers do not require their dealers to sell at certain prices; it is completely up to the individual dealers how much or little they want to charge. This is the main reason manufacturers do not publish their prices in ads or on their websites. The list prices would be too high and scare off potential customers and there is no way of knowing what a typical discount price is since it varies so much from store to store. In general, though, a store's cost structure plays an important factor; with rent, advertising and payroll being the biggest contributors. A store located in an area where rent is cheaper, has been around a few years and does not advertise heavily (relies on word of mouth) and is run by the owner will have fewer expenses and be able to sell their cabinets by as much as 20% less and make the same profit. Advertising, in particular, is very expensive in NJ. A color ad in a typical mailer (like ValPak) runs $500 to $1,000. A store that has full page color ads in several mailers (or several TV or radio ads) can easily spend $5,000 to $10,000 a month. If that store sells $50,000 to $100,000 a month, then they have to add 10% to each order just to pay for the advertising.