SHELTER

June 2003

Texas-Size Hospitality
Dallas-based MAi Welcomes 
Customers and Distributors Alike
by
Penny Beverage

Dallas is home to the Cowboys and the Mavericks, TV’s fictional Ewing family and many famous attractions and historical events. Dallas also has given birth to a prominent moulding and millwork provider in the building-products industry: Mouldings Associates Inc. (MAi), which is based approximately 30 miles outside the city in Wylie, Texas.

Raford Cade founded the company in 1982 and still serves as chief executive officer. Over time, he has added several other family members into the management mix, including sons Jeff and Roger as president and executive vice president in charge of purchasing, respectively.

Raford Cade says, however, that it’s not just the corporate staff that keeps things moving at MAi.

“It is really a family with many valuable people in sales, in marketing, operations and service to our customers who add to the value of our product,” he said.

The company’s motto even reflects its familial nature.

“Our motto is, ‘Nothing Welcomes Like Wood,’ because today our greatest competition in this business are doors manufactured of steel and fiberglass, rather than a natural wood product, which we think adds great warmth and value to the front of any home,” Raford Cade said.

Of course, though, in any family, conflicts do arise. However, Paul Bellows, marketing manager for the company, said it handles these problems just like it would any other among coworkers.

“Family members are a part of the complete team at MAi,” Bellows said.

Likewise, Bellows said it encourages not just the Cade family but other employees as well, to keep an even balance between their work and home lives.

The Products
The company began selling five models of doors, all of which were manufactured offshore and then brought into the factory where the wood was prepared, mouldings added, glass installed and the finished units were packaged.

“Our business has evolved [from the original five] into several hundred designs of doors and at least 15 different collections,” said Raford Cade. “We now use mahogany, oak, cedar, pine, Andean Walnut™ and other woods in our door products.”

The company has door-manufacturing facilities in Southeast Asia, South America, Europe and the United States. The company also fabricates glass for its doors and manufactures all its mouldings, frame materials, sidelites and transoms in the states.

“All of these things are assembled to build the complete entrance unit, which can be prefinished in the color desired by our customers,” said Raford Cade.

In addition to doors, MAi manufactures stair parts from European beech wood in Northern Italy. Among its stair offerings are closed and open spirals, wood and metal combined in the balusters and posts designed in the company’s own line, La Scala™.

“In the future, we are looking to expand this line of stair parts to include spirals, spiral stairways and even some more rustic designs that may fit nicely into developing trends,” said Raford Cade. “We also see a change in the use of more natural wood doors in the formal area of the higher-end homes. We think that builders are changing from mainly painted doors in the interior of the house to more natural stained doors that show the wood grain.”

Working on the Chain Gang
MAi uses a variety of machinery available to make its doors and mouldings, including two 30-horsepower air compressors, an Atlas Copco Rotary Screw and 20 air sanders. In addition, the company has two Norfield door machines, five Delta table saws, ten miter saws, one 12-inch Rockwell radial arm saw, one double-end and trim saw and one door sizer, along with two Delta 5-horsepower shapers, seven Makita 3 ¼-horsepower routers and 11 Dewalt 1.4-horsepower routers. It also has a Graco power-feed system to glaze glass and a variety of nail guns, pin nailers, staple guns, screw guns and cordless screw drills.

An Average Week at MAi

With its extensive product line, MAi certainly stays busy throughout the year. Following are the numbers on what the company produces in an average week.

Doors                   400-700
Stair Parts             300-500
Mantels                 7-10
Millwork Items      15-23

The company chooses its machinery to ease its employees’ work load, according to Jesse Hollock, facilities manager for the company.

“We have chosen industrial types of machinery for our company and reliable brands that will last,” he said. “We choose machinery that makes what we do easier for our employees.”
But what happens when something goes wrong with one of these machines? ”Most of the time, we have an employee that can fix minor and sometimes major repairs himself. If not, then he sends it out for repairs or replacement,” Hollock said.

Even with the best machinery, though, quality control is an issue.

“Our quality control really starts with aligning ourselves with the best partner manufacturing mills,” he added. “We have traveled extensively to find the best [mill] partners and regularly visit them to maintain the quality consistency that we need.”

The company does a final check on the door assembly at its facility in Wylie, according to Jeff Cade.

“Here [in Wylie] doors are sized, glazed, finished, sanded and rigidly inspected overall before they are shipped,” he said. “If we have a door that doesn’t measure up, we catch it here so that we don’t pass along a problem to our customers.”’

According to Jeff Cade, this is what sets MAi apart from its fellow door manufacturers.
“Before a product leaves MAi, it is checked twice to ensure that it meets our high standards,” said Jeff Cade. “This extra quality check is what sets MAi apart from our competition.”

Space Issues
With the amount of product that MAi produces in a week, it has to have some serious manufacturing space. So, it’s no surprise that the company’s 4-year-old facility in Wylie is 70,000 square feet, situated on five acres. MAi keeps approximately 18,000 entrance doors in inventory and prides itself on being able to ship from inventory in seven to ten days.

The Wylie facility houses 70 employees, with about 45 in manufacturing and 25 in sales and office positions, according to Raford Cade.

“Depending on the economy and business, we run about 1 ½ shifts per day,” he said. “We work an average of six days per week, depending on business demands.”

MAi is a privately held corporation and would not release its annual sales.

Signed, Sealed and Delivered
When it’s time to send its many products out to distributors (both one- and two-step), MAi ships most of its products by common carrier.

“Because of this, we have learned how to package our doors to consistently avoid damage,” said Jeff Cade.

He continued, “All slab doors are individually cartooned and, depending upon quantity, palletized with corner protection, a heavy cardboard “bonnet” and straps. Small quantities of doors are actually stood on edge on a pallet with the same type of protection. We do this so that the freight line can’t load anything on top of our skid.”

In addition, the company sends out several pre-hung units that are fully assembled and strapped standing to an oversized pallet and then crated for protection and stability in 
transit.

MAi’s typical customer is a millwork distributor, and its typical end user is ultimately an average homeowner.

Relationships 101
Working with one- and two-step distributors in the United States and elsewhere, MAi thinks it knows what it’s doing when it comes to dealing with people. 

To assist its distributors (both one- and two-step), the company offers full-size display doors, entry doors and stair displays for the distributors’ showrooms on a shared-cost basis. In addition, it has available free color literature, door and decorative glass corner samples, finish samples of stain colors, display boards of Alpine forged iron accessories and showroom office doors or model home doors on a shared-cost basis.

“If a distributor has a customer with a tight delivery date, we will do everything possible to meet the time requested,” Raford Cade said. 

He continued, “Other ways we go beyond normal supplier activities on behalf of our distributors is to have booth space at the Builders’ Show, to have membership in our local homebuilder associations, to conduct sales and product meetings after normal business hours, to participate in distributor sales meetings and open houses and to make sales calls with distributor salespeople in one our mobile showrooms.”

Finally, MAi employs a consultant to connect builders and distributors, according to Bellows.

“We employ a full-time millwork design consultant who presents MAi doors and stair parts to builders and architects for their consideration,” Bellows said. “They are referred to MAi distributors when they have decided to include their selections in their projects. This person has several years of design experience in the building/design industries and can recommend the best choice of MAi products for a project.”

Into the Future
As MAi heads into the future, it relies on its dealers to help with feedback.

“Total and candid feedback is what we want our distributors to give us when any concerns develop with regard to MAi’s service, quality, competitive prices, sales or any other issues,” said Raford Cade. “We also encourage creative feedback on products we offer and new products we should consider.”

Of course, this all goes back to the welcoming nature of the Texas corporation.
“At MAi, ‘nothing welcomes like wood,’” said Raford Cade. “This phrase is the threat that is woven through all that we do—from producing top-quality wood products to the promotion of these products.”

What does MAi see in store for the future?
“MAi is very optimistic about our industry and sees an opportunity for those who want to work to make it better,” Bellows said. 

Penny Beverage is the managing editor of SHELTER magazine. 
 


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