THE CRAFT OF CABINETRY

BY RICK VILLA | PHOTOGRAPHY BY HOLGER OBENAUS

The skill of a master carpenter, like other old-world art forms, is still passed down from generation to generation. This brings the craft forward from the past and allows future carpenters to add their own unique touch.

This craft can be found alive and well at Chandler Cabinetry. The company has been providing outstanding carpentry to Dallas families for almost 40 years.

“Our factory can produce anything from architectural beams to shiplap wall paneling,” says Josh Chandler, head of operations. “We continue to make our own trimwork, doors and drawers. Our finishing factory allows our clients to choose any color or stain they want. We use many different types of wood, including white and red oak, walnut, cherry, as well as exotic woods to create our cabinets for kitchens, baths and our new built-in closet systems.”

The ability to produce products like this didn’t happen overnight. When Josh Chandler committed himself to the family business full time, he did so with one goal in mind: to grow the organization through the adoption of technology. At that time, Chandler Cabinetry employed only 10 team members. Chandler saw a lot of potential in utilizing computer-aided design (CAD) programs to streamline their process. He worked day and night to keep up with the demand. When his younger brother, Colby, joined the team, he helped to ease the load by throwing himself into production.

Since that time, they have gone from one cabinet shop to 12, and Chandler Cabinets now employs over 200 team members. The business has also added new machinery to its finishing shops. “The investments run between $150k – $250k, but this allows our clients more creative freedom when designing their cabinets. These updates have also helped us stay in front of our competitors. Very few people can factory finish in this market,” Chandler says.

The company was founded by Buster Chandler in 1975. Prior to serving in the U.S. Army during the Korean War, Buster spent summers working with a carpenter. It was a trade he continued when he returned home after the war.

Buster and his wife, Vicki, developed a name for themselves by helping families see the continued value in custom craftsmanship. Both Josh and Colby were raised in the shop, learning the trade before they were old enough to drive.

“I almost can’t remember a time when I wasn’t in the shop with my dad,” says Chandler. “My brother and I would work there in the summers.”

“The shop was always a second home for us,” Colby Chandler adds.

In 2012, after 37 years running the business, Buster stepped down to care for Vicki, who had been diagnosed with cancer. Thankfully, after two years of fighting, she went into remission and continues to be a strong influence on Chandler Cabinetry.

Buster Chandler decided a quiet retirement wasn’t for him. He opted to start a new business as a homebuilder. He continues to mentor his sons and is very happy to see them running the business.

“It makes me proud to see the boys running things,” Buster Chandler says. “My wife and I are very happy with all that our sons have accomplished.”

Vicki Chandler says, “Our boys are continuing what we started and that makes us both very proud.”

Rick Villa is a freelance writer based in Dallas.