First place: Kitchens by Deane, Stamford,
Design Firm Exceeds Three Generations of
As a third-generation business started in 1961, Stamford, CT-based
Kitchens By Deane principals Peter M. Deane and Carrie Deane Cooney
have a lot of expectations to meet.
Meeting the established standards of a business with a long-held
reputation for excellence and service while continuing to grow and
enhance that reputation has served as an impetus for the company’s
Focusing on the high-end residential market in Fairfield and
Westchester counties, the company has become a fine example of
smart design, service and marketing strategies, earning them first
place honors in Category One of K&BDN’s second annual Industry
Working with a staff of 21, including 10 commissioned designers,
and two showrooms, the company uses an “open-door policy,”
incorporating weekly designer meetings and general office meetings,
which give all staff members a forum where they can contribute
ideas, and benefit from each other’s experiences.
A wide variety of products allow designers the ability to design
in Contemporary, Traditional or Old World styles. A company-wide
focus on offering unique architectural elements and distinguishing
finishing techniques adds to the firm’s design appeal.
As with any business, publicity is key to bringing in new
business. To spread the word, the company uses “consistent,
recognizable color endorsement ads in regional magazines,” and “has
pioneered the use of local cable TV with our own spokesperson,
Ingrid Deane Casey,” Deane and Cooney report.
Additionally, the firm uses the local newspaper to promote
itself, maintains an impressive Web site, arranges kitchen tours,
and has been involved with community charities and program to
further raise community awareness and gain support.
This strategy has led to a referral base of approximately 85%,
according to the company.
But it’s when a project has actually begun that Deane and Cooney
show why the real reason the business has succeeded for so
The company believes in accountability, and supports this by
servicing all previous clients, offering restoration work and
providing a one-year installation warranty on all jobs.
In addition to the in-house staff, Deane provides installation
for all projects with eight sub-contractor crews, ensuring accuracy
and top-rate service.
While striving to maintaining the legacy of their family, Deane
and Cooney have also shown that the sign of a successful business
is one which is willing to change. While the firm was an exclusive
St. Charles dealer from 1961-1988, the dealership realized the
value of offering a wider selection, and in the late ’80s,
partnered with Downsview kitchens, Draper DBS and Heritage Custom
Kitchens, thereby broadening the firm’s design capabilities with
regard to architectural elements.
To increase internal efficiency, they have restructured their
order entry procedure so that all cabinet orders are reviewed by
the project engineer with the commissioned designer to ensure
clarity, accuracy and consistency. All cabinet pricing is executed
on the computer, they note.
Furthermore, the Web site offers intra network capabilities
between two offices, including Internet access for research.
Deane and Cooney also make sure to keep up with industry trends.
Their belief that mill shops have become increasingly competitive
among architects led them to partner with a local mill shop. This
type of innovation has led to direct, positive results for the
firm, they report.
Aside from their design team being recognized nationally with
numerous sales/design achievement awards, the company has also seen
an increase of sales volume at a 10%-15% rate annually. In
addition, they report that the company’s profit margin continues to
increase, and jobs are completed at a more efficient rate.
Both Deane and Cooney work hard to exceed their company’s
historical mission statement: “The Kitchens by Deane family honors
its legacy by providing the highest-quality custom cabinetry,
innovative and compelling interior design, superior craftsmanship
and outstanding customer service,” However, they also differentiate
themselves from the competition through a more recently created
slogan : “When it’s a Kitchens By Deane, it’s your kitchen.”
Second place: Wood Palace Kitchens, Inc., Middleboro,
Design Firm’s Forward-Thinking Mission Breeds Success
With a mission statement which reads, “21 years into the 21st
century,” it’s pretty safe to say that Tim Holick, president of
Middleboro, MA-based Wood Palace Kitchens, Inc. has always looked
With one eye to the future and the other focused firmly on his
clients’ present-day needs, Holick has built Wood Palace Kitchens
into a leader of quality service, earning the company second place
honors in Category One of K&BDN’s second annual Industry
His success formula is based on planning ahead, while never
neglecting to take care of the basics whether that means showroom
cleanliness, customer service or personalized product design
development. A major key to his success is knowing his competition,
customers and staff, he reports.
With his forward-thinking vision, Holick is attending to
customers’ needs even before he gets them. First, Holick stays on
top of who is obtaining building licenses in the area. By doing
this, he knows who to contact for these new building and remodeling
construction jobs before they actually begin.
In addition, this allows the company to ensure a personal touch
is used in all its business dealings.
To get an early handle on his clients’ wish lists, the company
uses a strong pre-qualify screening session, Holick notes.
Not only does this allow the company to better understand
clients’ needs, but it also educates clients by asking detailed,
The paperwork used throughout the pre-planning interview process
carefully documents plans and expectations on both sides of the
table, to pave the way for all planning and requirements throughout
each phase of the design process, Holick adds. To ensure customer
satisfaction and prevent mistakes, “Once the initial design is
complete, it is transferred onto the floor with black crayon so
customers can actually stand on the kitchen to make sure it’s what
It is this kind of attention to detail, along with the firm’s
dedication to “unmatched product quality, service dependability and
innovative merchandising,” that drive the firm’s success.
Distinctive Kitchens, designs by Steenbeke & Sons, Bedford,
Relocating From Lumberyard to Freestanding Yields
For Melvin Hebert, general manager of the Bedford, NH-based
Distinctive Kitchens, a single, well-thought-out decision made in
1998 has meant enormous success for his company.
Prior to 1998, Steenbeke & Sons Building Supplies, Inc. a
46-year-old firm serving building contractors in New Hampshire had
seven kitchen centers, all located in Steenbeke’s lumberyard
stores. However, some high-end builders feared that their customers
would not want to go to a lumberyard to select their cabinets.
Thus, the decision was made to take the kitchen centers out of the
lumberyard and open freestanding kitchen and bath design centers a
decision that has been the catalyst for enormous growth.
Currently, three Distinctive Kitchens showrooms have been opened
(in Bedford, Laconia and Concord), and three more are in the
planning stages, and the results have been nothing short of
startling impressive enough, in fact, to win the firm third place
honors in Category One of K&BDN’s second annual Industry
As a result of the changeover, Distinctive Kitchens has been able
to attract a high caliber of kitchen design employees, Hebert
It’s no surprise, then, that since the opening of the first
Distinctive Kitchens showroom, sales for the kitchen division of
Steenbeke’s has skyrocketed.
But it’s more than just location that has aided Hebert in
growing the company. Flexibility, service and a wide product
selection are also key to the firm’s success. Hebert and his staff
of 10 have worked to offer their customers a wide range of cabinets
and countertop products that can go from basic builder grade to
full custom lines.
Likewise, innovation has played a role in the firm’s impressive
growth all Distinctive Kitchen designers are supplied with
high speed PCs and the latest Version 6.0 of 20/20 design programs,
according to Hebert. In addition, color printers are used to
furnish every customer with color perspectives of their kitchen
Furthermore, Distinctive Kitchen personnel are trained to design
kitchens for customers by budget which the customer defines. The
showrooms are meticulously maintained, which adds to the level of
The results speak for themselves: The Bedford, NH showroom, the
smallest of all the showrooms, has surpassed the sales performance
of the entire Steenbeke & Sons kitchen division for the 1997
sales year, and current overall sales for Distinctive Kitchens’
second quarter will surpass the half year sales of any previous
year, Hebert reports.