Friday, September 10, 2010

Phill's wins international award

By Joy Campbell, Messenger-Inquirer
Published: Friday, August 27, 2010 12:11 AM CDT

Phill's Custom Cabinets of Owensboro earned its industry's top award at the International Woodworking Fair this week at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta.

The 35-year-old company was singled out of 22 finalists as one of seven winners of the 2010 Challengers Distinguished Achievement Award.

The seven awards are all equal in status with no top winner chosen.

"We've just been blown away," said owner Phillip Crabtree who, along with his parents, Phill and Paula Crabtree, and employee Jamie Mindrop, are attending the fair.

The company also broke a record for the IWF.

"Never before has a first-time exhibitor won this award," Phillip Crabtree said. "Now, we just need to break some sales records, and we'll be in great shape."

Phill's was recognized for its patent-pending process called Cabinotch, which is a pre-cut, do-it-yourself cabinet-building system.

On Wednesday, Phill's and the other six winners were formally acknowledged in a presentation before the fair's exhibitors and media.

"We've been told that 200-plus different trade publications worldwide will be writing about this award," Crabtree said. "It's been a 10-year dream and a five-year, uphill battle."

He hopes the exposure will translate to a big boost in sales, but he doesn't want to speculate on the market impact for his product just yet.

"I can say that we expect to expand our facilities and hire more employees," Crabtree said.

The company now has 23 employees, counting the Crabtrees.

The family learned about the award late Tuesday night -- the eve of the fair's opening.

Sixty-five companies entered the competition for the awards, and 22 finalists were picked before the seven winners.

This year's fair attracted more than 950 exhibiting companies.

"Thousands came by our booth today (Wednesday) to see us demonstrate it, and everyone is just blown away," Phillip Crabtree said. "These are exciting times."

Crabtree said the award already has had a positive impact on business.

"Our attorney saw an e-mail about the award and called to confirm that we won," he said. "She said not to worry that we wouldn't have any problem getting the patent with an international award."

Presented every two years, the award challenges the fair's exhibiting companies "to develop forward-thinking technology in machinery, materials, supplies, manufacturing techniques, services and safety," according to the website.

Phillip Crabtree's father, Phill Crabtree, started the custom cabinet-making company in a garage on Hawthorne Drive in 1975. Since then, the business has outgrown several expansions.

In 2007, the Greater Owensboro Chamber of Commerce named the company its small business of the year in the 11-or-more-employees category.

On the Web

More information about the International Woodworking Fair's 2010 Challengers Distinguished Achievement Award is available online at: http://www.iwfatlanta.com/attendees/challengersaward.

Phill's Custom Cabinets markets its patent-pending Cabinotch products at http://cabinotch.com/.