Bartlett Cabinetry makes high-end custom cabinets in a high-production environment with Cabinet Vision
Tucked into an industrial cranny among countless busy streets in Oakland, California, Bartlett Cabinetry is a sawdust-coated oasis among the city’s bustle.
Laden with high-end projects in various stages, the expansive woodshop owned by Lyle Bartlett is an earthy surprise — as further evidenced by Ted, the shop cat in residence.
Devoted to the uncommon combination of customization, quality, and production, Bartlett Cabinetry is a booming business with an easy-going flair.
Just as unique is Bartlett himself, whose road to success is paved with both adventurous detours and a passion for excellence.
Reared in a small town in northern Idaho, Bartlett embarked on the quintessential American adventure when he moved to California with a friend in 1983. With a total of $500 between them, the pair got jobs at a gas station and lived in a truck until they’d saved enough money to rent an apartment.
“Just do what Cabinet Vision can do. If you really take advantage of the capabilities of the software, it makes all the difference.”Bartlett then secured a modeling gig and jetted off to Madrid, Spain, where he remained until 1987. Upon his return to California’s San Francisco Bay Area, he buckled down and got serious about becoming a woodworker.
Lyle Bartlett, owner
“I was really into shop in high school,” he says. “Woodworking was just a natural thing for me to know and understand. I was a country boy in the Bay Area, but I never had a problem walking into the richest houses and asking people what they wanted, and how they wanted to live.”
Bartlett quickly made connections in the city by the bay and its surrounding areas, which were ripe with opportunity.
“I was working with another guy in a garage in Menlo Park, and a neighbor lady had a showroom in downtown San Francisco,” says Bartlett, who became part of a woodworker’s co-op. “I had a bunch of tools, but I needed a garage to put them in.”
As part of the co-op, forward-thinking Bartlett gleaned working knowledge simply by watching other members make mistakes. “I saw a lot of what they did and realized they would never get any volume because of the way they did things.”
With the need for increased volume and efficiency on his mind, Bartlett acquired the Cabinet Vision design-to-manufacturing solution, by Vero Software, in 1992.
“When I saw Cabinet Vision at a show, I was like, ‘Wow, this is really cool,’ because I hated to draw,” Bartlett says. “By the time I bought Cabinet Vision, I knew exactly how I wanted to make my cabinets. I just had to make it do what I wanted it to do, how I wanted to do it.”
Today, Bartlett, who opened the doors of Bartlett Cabinetry in 1997, uses the software for far more than its drawing capabilities.
To begin a job in Cabinet Vision, Bartlett starts by drawing the room in which his custom cabinetry will be installed. Once the cabinets are designed, he is able to easily edit and manage each detail of the project, and to produce material and cut lists.
As Bartlett has expanded his machine inventory over the years, he has used Cabinet Vision to maximize each piece of equipment. Most recently, Bartlett purchased an SCMI router, and also houses a line-board machine and a point-to-point router, among other pieces of equipment.
In 2012, Bartlett moved into his current business headquarters, a clean and professional-looking 30,000 square-foot space complete with a covered deck for enjoying the typically mild Bay Area climate.
Bartlett was the building’s sole occupant when he moved into the space, but today employs a staff of 25 — including three project managers, an estimator, and an office manager.
Achieving his goal of creating high-end custom cabinetry in a high-production environment means that organization is essential to Bartlett’s operation.
“Cabinet Vision is the key that turns the engine on. It makes the motor in the background run — which is your shop.”
Within Cabinet Vision, Bartlett is able to create program-specific barcodes that can be printed and physically attached to materials for each project, as well as to the final products.
Machine operators are able to swipe barcodes with a barcode reader to call up the programs for each project. Bartlett finds that this system saves time while eliminating both error and paperwork. “We’re trying to do high-end production at rapid speeds,” he says. “We can be so much more efficient with Cabinet Vision.”
Bartlett also utilizes Cabinet Vision’s nesting capabilities, which save on both time and material costs. The software’s nesting function will automatically arrange a cutting pattern that yields that maximum number of parts with the least amount of material.
By programming each aspect of the job, there is no guesswork when it comes to cutting.
“One guy can do a 60-sheet job in a day,” Bartlett says. “That means it’s cut, bored, dadoed, rabbeted, and ready to go. By comparison, a woodworker could do about 50 sheets a week by hand.”
Bartlett realized the extent of his savings on material costs when he paired Cabinet Vision with his SCMI router.
“When I bought the machine, the first three jobs I ran were 100 sheets. I had one empty garbage can and two-thirds of a sheet left out of 100 sheets. I got to the end and thought, ‘Well, I don’t have any scrap.’ ”
If 3-inch maple is $50-$60 a sheet and the typical job is 30-35 sheets, the cost of scrap on higher-end materials accumulates quickly.
“You basically made your software payment on material saved,” Bartlett says. “The nesting capabilities in Cabinet Vision are huge.”
Bartlett also uses the costing functionality within Cabinet Vision, which means there are no surprises when it comes to understanding the full scope of project.
“I set up all that stuff in Cabinet Vision, so when I print out the material summary, I have within $50 of what my materials cost will be on the job,” he says. “It breaks everything down into departments, which helps me do the same in the shop.”
For Bartlett, who is primarily self-trained on the software, fully utilizing the capabilities of the system quickly changed the workflow in his shop.
“Just do what Cabinet Vision can do,” he says. “If you really take advantage of the capabilities of the software, it makes all the difference.”
About the Company
Name: Bartlett Cabinetry
Business: High-end, custom cabinetry
- Improved ability to maximize materials and decrease scrap
- Greater overall efficiency, with ability to perform high-end production at rapid speeds
- Barcode system simplifies work and reduces error on the shop floor
“Just do what Cabinet Vision can do. If you really take advantage of the capabilities of the software, it makes all the difference.”
Lyle Bartlett, owner