We took the time to speak with Dustin Whisenant of Elite Woodoworks LLC in Somerville, AL. He has great insight into the power of optimizing saws and firsthand experience of the savings associated with defecting material in-house. Cutting parts with precision, reducing scrap waste, and saving money on their lumber bill each month has allowed Elite Woodworks LLC to grow from 3,600 to 8,600 square feet.
A Trip Down Memory Lane
Let’s go back a couple decades. Dustin’s father, Earl Whisenant, owned a custom cabinet shop named Mastercraft Woodworks in Decatur, Alabama for 21 years. The shop was successful and Earl decided to enter the door business, primarily serving the mobile home industry. In 2007 Mastercraft Woodworks was bought out. And then, tragically, in 2009 the business had a major fire and had to close its doors for good.
During this period the country was going through great financial hardships which were especially felt by those in the woodworking industry. Dustin did not have steady work at this time and his father Earl didn’t have enough saved to retire. So the father son team put their heads together and devised a master plan. Together, the two put all their chips in and decided to take a huge risk that would determine their futures.
Earl cashed out his entire retirement savings and with Dustin’s help, converted his small shop and green house into a 3,600 square foot manufacturing facility. The two drove across the country collecting supplies to gear up the shop.
In September 2010 Elite Woodworks LLC was born. Dustin and Earl decided to start small, focusing solely on cabinet components. “At that time we used a Powermatic up cut saw and a TigerStop system to cut all our parts for custom doors,” explained Dustin.
Inside the Elite Woodworks LLC shop
Optimizing Lumber Leads to Growth
In 2013 Elite Woodworks LLC was asked to get into the moulding side of the cabinetry business. But the team needed more space and more machine power to make it happen. After six months of careful planning and financing, Elite Woodworks moved to an 8,600 square foot building in July of 2014.
“We changed the way we were doing some things too, one of those was to optimize our lumber. We looked at several different machines, but the TigerSaw 1000 optimizing saw just fit us better. Now we download straight from the computer to the saw for no operator error. Plus, we were able to drop a grade of lumber and get the same end result with less waste because of the optimization of the wood.”
Dropping just one grade of lumber has saved the folks at Elite Woodworks LLC a tremendous amount of money on their lumber bill. They also produce less scrap waste than before and have increased productivity. A win win win situation.
Elite Woodworks' TigerSaw 1000
Easy To Use Automation
Dustin also praises his TigerSaw 1000 for its ease of use. “The first employee that ran the saw was a 52-year-old man who barely knew how to turn on a computer. Still to this day, the TigerSaw 1000 is one of the easiest pieces of machinery in my shop to train on.”
Elite Woodworks has had the TigerSaw 1000 for 2 years. After some initial kinks were worked through, the saw has proven to be a huge asset. “I’ve had the saw two years with one airline fitting going bad that TigerStop had to me the next day, in addition, one day we had to recalibrate it. Other than those two issues, it runs like a champ 10 hours a day, 4 to 6 days a week.” The saw has been in operation, shift after shift, giving the team accurately cut parts and maximizing their material use since.
Today Elite Woodworks LLC offers a full line of custom doors, end panels, drawer fronts, and mouldings. They also offer a custom cabinet kit which consist of all the parts, doors, drawers and fronts, end panels, face frames, mouldings, and soon hardware. All parts are cut, bored, and face frames are sanded through a wide belt sander, front and back, to ensure a good fit to the front of cabinets. Customers get full set of drawings, 3D, wall elevation, build sheets, and plans, and they have a great library of cad programs to do anything from cabinet cutting to carvings and posts.