Patzer Woodworking, Inc.
Award-winning residential and commercial woodshop Patzer Woodworking, Inc., uses Cabinet Vision for everything from estimating to implementing standard build designs
It’s one thing to transform a passion for woodworking into a successful business, and yet another to keep that business thriving over the course of nearly 40 years. Such is the case for award-winning company Patzer Woodworking, Inc., which was founded in 1981 by owner Tom Patzer of Mitchell, South Dakota.
“I learned early on that college and I weren’t really made for each other, and I just had a knack for building things,” says Patzer, who learned his craft in vocational school and got his start in business by building cabinetry for a law office where his wife was employed. While his journey began as a one-man shop operating from a garage, it continues today between the walls of a 32,000-square-foot shop and with a crew of 26 employees.
Adept at weathering the inevitable challenges of both entrepreneurship and the manufacturing industry, Patzer embraces diversification and balances demands for both commercial and residential projects. His shop includes dedicated residential and commercial divisions that produce frameless cabinetry for any space in a home or office setting.
The company is also the recipient of several awards presented via the Cabinet Makers Association (CMA) Wood Diamond Awards program. The most recent recognition was a trio of 2017 awards in the program’s library, kitchen, and bathroom categories.
“Everything that we do is made and designed by us in the program, and everyone who uses it has the same information.”“Our commercial business is growing by leaps and bounds, and we’re already looking at projects for 2019,” Patzer says. “We’ve been here a long time, and the best thing is that the commercial contractors we have worked with are starting to ask for us.”
Tom Patzer, owner
In 1993, Patzer purchased the Cabinet Vision design-to-manufacturing solution, by Vero Software, after discovering that its former system was unable to meet their needs. Today, Patzer Woodworking uses the Cabinet Vision Screen-2-Machine solution to manage every aspect of their projects, including the generation of code for CNC machinery.
“We went to Cabinet Vision because we had been with another company that had absolutely failed us,” Patzer says. “My business is all about technology and, when I originally bought software, I was doing my drawings by hand. We were looking for something that would provide customers a 3D drawing.”
Patzer has continuously upgraded his Cabinet Vision capabilities throughout the years and today uses a network license to ensure streamlined workflow in the shop, as his entire team has access to up-to-date CNC programming information. “Everything that we do is made and designed by us in the program, and everyone who uses it has the same information.”
In addition to accurate code generation, Patzer Woodworking uses the solution to produce high-quality renderings, cut lists and assembly instructions, as well as to estimate jobs, automate processes and standardize quality. “The people we have now are so good at what they do and are so competent with Cabinet Vision that we use it for all of our estimating; Cabinet Vision can produce all of those numbers.”
Today, the graphic capabilities of the system go far beyond demonstrating that Patzer Woodworking’s shop drawings are not made by hand. “We’ve been sending out our shop drawings with the available 3D imaging, and I had a contractor tell me that he’s never had anyone do that before,” Patzer says. “It does add value to the drawings that we share.”
Projects at Patzer Woodworking start with the design process, and for residential jobs that includes providing realistic drawings of the customer’s space. “We draw up their kitchen and send clients home with 3D drawings, without measurements, so they can put it on their table and look at it,” Patzer says. “By the time a customer leaves here, they have a really good idea of what it’s going to look like.”
After a customer approves a project design, the project is sent to the CAD (computer-aided-design) department, where the design is refined. From there, several sets of drawings are sent out to the company’s warehouse, construction department, edgebander, and CNC operators.
With the click of a button, Cabinet Vision sends NC code, generated using the design drawn within the solution, out to the shop floor. During the programming process, parts can also be automatically nested for greater material yield.
“After the CNC operator cuts the job and puts the cut pieces on carts, the foreman gets drawings and goes over them with builders, page by page,” Patzer says. “Human error is drastically reduced and efficiency goes up. It really helps that they don’t have to read my chicken scratches and can easily read the printed pages.”
The flexibility of Cabinet Vision ensures that users are able to customize the system to handle the specific demands of their shops. Processes can be saved and reused, as well as saved and edited for use on similar projects, which saves time and eliminates the duplication of programming tasks.
Patzer further customizes Cabinet Vision to create and reuse parts lists for specific jobs, which also eliminates repetitive programming tasks and ensures consistency. “We had to produce the parts for corner drawer units, so we created our own parts list for that, and we also have one for our wine cabinets and more specialized cabinetry.”
For even greater automation, Patzer Woodworking’s team takes advantage of the ability to write Cabinet Vision User Created Standards, or UCSs, which are instructions written using a simple programming language.
Cabinet Vision follows these instructions, delivered in the form of if/then statements, which enables users to easily create and consistently enforce production rules based upon a wide range of criteria. These parameters can refer to material type, hardware type, wood grain, and just about anything else that a programmer can dream up to save time and materials while maintaining product quality and making parts exactly as they want to. Among the company’s regularly used UCSs is one written to cut radii for the curved desks common to nurses’ stations in hospitals.
“Cabinet Vision allows you to make things the way that you want to make them. We created a program for doing our overhangs and reveals the way that we want them done because everyone does them a little differently,” Patzer says. “When you set these things up and create your own standards, they carry through to other projects that we do, and you only have to create them once.”
About the Company
Name: Patzer Woodworking, Inc.
Business: Commercial and residential cabinetry
- Ability to create and automatically enforce company standards
- Greater ease in shop floor communication, resulting in improved efficiency and reduced error
- Generation of high-quality 3D renderings for customers
“Everything that we do is made and designed by us in the program, and everyone who uses it has the same information.”
Tom Patzer, owner