Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Cabinet plant under construction

By Joy Campbell, Messenger-Inquirer
Published: Tuesday, October 11, 2011 12:15 AM CDT

Columbia Forest Products, a large manufacturer of hardwood plywood and hardwood veneer products, is gearing up to manufacture Cabinotch cabinets, a patented product created by Phill’s Custom Cabinets.

Phill’s is constructing the $1 million manufacturing plant at 2300 Kentucky 81 next to its local cabinet shop, and Columbia Forest will lease it for seven years, said Phillip Crabtree, whose family owns Phill’s.

“They are coming to Owensboro to build a cabinet manufacturing facility which will be the first of many facilities across the country,” Crabtree said. “Columbia will hire about 12 people with hourly wages in about the $13.50 to $14 range, plus full benefits, Crabtree said.

In August 2010, Phill’s Custom Cabinets won the top award at the International Woodworking Fair with its Cabinotch process — a pre-cut, do-it-yourself cabinet-building system.

That international exposure opened doors for the local company to market its award-winning product.

The local company chose Columbia to manufacture its Cabinotch product not only because of its global market reach — it owns 40 percent of the hardwood plywood in the U.S. and operates plants across the U.S. and Canada — but also because “it will use all American workers and all American hardwood and American soy-based products as the glue,” Phillip Crabtree said.

And it’s an employee-owned company, he said.

“You couldn’t get any more American than that,” Phillip Crabtree said. “We want to foster as much of an American-made process as possible.”

Phill Crabtree, Phillip’s father, started the cabinet-making business in his garage in 1975. The older Crabtree has been shepherding the construction of the building that Columbia will lease for the new plant.

Phill’s Custom Cabinets has 23 employees.

“There is no way a cabinet shop can cut up the plywood and hardwood needed to build these systems,” Crabtree said. His company is happy to be teaming up with Columbia Forest, which has 2,300 employees at plants throughout the U.S., he said.

Dec. 1 is the start-up target date at the new plant, which will operate two shifts.

For more information about Columbia Forest Products, go to

For more information about the Cabinotch cabinet system, visit’s+Custom+Cabinets.

Joy Campbell, 691-7299,