SHELTER

March  2004

 

Striking it Rich
Las Vegas Distributor’s 
Wood Products Background Pays Off
by Samantha Carpenter

When people think of Las Vegas, a few words come to mind: black jack, poker, slot machines, Celine Dion and Siegfried and Roy. Low on the list is warm weather, but it certainly is a draw, especially with the rage in water parks that has come onto the Vegas strip.

It may not have been the water parks, but the weather itself, that drew Jacob Haleva, president of Quality Wood Products (QWP), to Vegas, and, thanks to his booming business, he is here to stay.

Haleva emigrated from Israel to the United States in 1985. He first went to New York and worked as a carpenter for six months. Then one winter day, he and his wife, Zipi, flew to Vegas. They saw the weather which was in the 60s, saw the construction opportunities and decided to stay. They didn’t even go back to New York to get their things. Haleva started his business with a hammer out of his garage.

Haleva didn’t work out of his garage for long. His brothers in Israel, one of his wife’s cousins and a friend in Vegas loaned him money to move out of his garage, rent a shop and buy tools and machinery. All loans have been paid back.
A Family AtmosphereQWP now is 18-years-old and has grown from a mom-and-pop shop to a company with 140 employees and a 50,000-square-foot facility. 

While it’s grown from a small company to one of the biggest trim companies in Las Vegas, QWP hasn’t lost its family atmosphere. Much of its management is made up of family, with Darren Student (Jacob’s son-in-law) as vice president, Zipi as treasurer and Michal Student (Jacob’s daughter and Darren’s wife) as controller.

Staying Efficient
According to Darren Student, QWP is a unique facility. 

“To my knowledge, we have the only facility built specifically for our business by people in our business, not by an architect or engineer,” Student said. “Jacob had the luxury of designing a business to meet all his needs and wishes. Being in the carpentry business for 40 years, he finally had an opportunity to make a building work.”

In Las Vegas, the term trim refers to finished carpentry. QWP is considered a distributor that also installs trim, so the company is viewed as a subcontractor. 

“We’ll supply pre-hung interior doors, exterior doors, baseboards, casing, crown moulding, bath and door hardware and any type of upgrades regarding trim and custom closets,” Student said.

To put together its doors, the company uses the Norfield 5000 for interior doors and the Magnum 94 and Magnum 95 for heavy doors, big doors and exterior doors.

To help its company run more efficiently, QWP uses WoodWare software. The software is used for accounting, inventory and purchasing, but not for payroll, which the company outsources. 

Student says that the software allows the company to build doors more easily and build entire systems on the fly.
 
“We put our production tickets through WoodWare; we do our bids and estimating through WoodWare … It really allows us to get a grasp on what can be such a complicated business, since we deal with so many parts, pieces, sizes, variations, colors and textures,” Student said.

Product Popularity
Student says there isn’t one product that is most popular in the Las Vegas market than another. 

“Most of the tract homes have a selection of several different doors from which to choose. The company buys a lot out of California from American Door. We also buy a lot of Therma-Tru, which is very popular in Las Vegas because of the weather,” he said.

Because QWP installs its own products, it faces more challenges than most one-step distributors. 

“The challenge for anybody is to have an ‘A’ class of installers that have integrity and realize that when they install [these products] our name and their name are on the door … It’s very important to me that installers take pride in their jobs as if they were their own houses. That’s my biggest concern. I don’t accept anything less than an ‘A’ install,” Student said.

Quality Assurance Program
The widespread allegations of construction defect claims in Nevada have forced many companies to refine their procedures and improve quality.

About a year and a half ago, QWP implemented a quality assurance program, introduced to them by the National Association of Home Builders. 

“We have a quality assurance manual and we’re very strict about it … It documents all your procedures, so you know that you are installing [the product] right … We find that by documenting it and insuring that all new installers and all veteran installers are doing it the same way we reduce service calls and, ultimately, reduce our exposure to construction defects,” Student said.

There are supposed to be some changes in Nevada, as a result of Senate Bill 241, which passed in the state this past August. The bill gives subcontractors the right to repair, according to Student. 

“[This bill states that homeowners] have to first notify us before they file an alleged claim,” Student said.

Communicating with Customers
Because there has been an increase in construction-defect claims in Nevada, it’s more important than ever for QWP to communicate effectively with its customers.

“We need to be concerned that we have an open line [of communication] with both their office employees and their field personnel,” Student said.

According to Student, QWP has five field superintendents whose sole job is to spend the entire day out in the field visiting each job, to see and converse with the builder’s superintendent and make sure the company is meeting all expectations and are on time with the construction schedule. 

“They are instructed to visit each job, each day—no exceptions,” Student said.

QWP’s project managers communicate with the personnel of the builder assigned to them. Each project manager is responsible for receiving contract/PO changes, answering any questions a builder’s office may have and providing new bids.

To make sure both field superintendents and project managers are communicating well and doing their job, QWP’s general manager Russel Radke as well as Student make regular rounds to all of its customers.

QWP has grown substantially in its 18 years. While Student wouldn’t reveal what the company’s revenue was last year, looking at what the company has in its back log, he forecasts a 20-percent growth.

QWP’s Sister Company Fills Niche

Before being located in Las Vegas, Panda Windows & Doors, QWP’s sister company, manufactured windows in Israel.

Distant relative Avi Shoshan and Haleva met and decided that there was a great need for the products that Panda could offer the Las Vegas market. Shoshan and Haleva went into partnership and brought Panda to Las Vegas two years ago.

Panda Windows & Doors manufacturers lift and slide doors, panoramic lift and slide doors, panoramic windows and imports, from Italy, wood and aluminum/wood windows.

“We noticed that the windows [homeowners] were putting into high-end homes were nothing special. They were putting in beautiful doors, mouldings, flooring and spending lots of money. They would buy plain, old aluminum or vinyl windows for really expensive houses,” Student said. “We also saw beautiful houses on golf courses and lakes, and on the corner of the house there would be a rotunda area or a patio area, but there would be a radius in the wall ... So we realized there was a need for panoramic windows and sliders, which are very hard to find in the United States, especially in aluminum/wood.”

Panda is in the process of setting up a dealer network throughout the United States.

“Currently, we’re in negotiations with different dealers throughout the country. Right now, we sell direct, but it is our intent to set up a nationwide network,” Student said.

SHELTER

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