The last 10 years have seen a tsunami of products from China washing up on the US market shore. One product that is having a noticeable impact on the western states is cabinetry. This article is intended to give some insight into the impact this has had on the cabinetry market as well as alert consumers regarding this products value and deficiencies.
First let me mention why I feel qualified to address the subject. I have been in the remodeling and construction industry for nearly 40 years. Currently my wife and I own and operate a kitchen and bath remodeling firm in southern California. We were involved indirectly with the importation and directly with the installation of hundreds of sets of Chinese cabinets in the past. We purchased, with others, from several manufacturing sources and have experience with over a dozen types of product. I also have numerous friends and contacts in the remodeling and construction industry across the country, who have shared their experiences with me. Also my wife is Chinese.
First let’s talk about the channels of distribution and then get into the features of the product itself.
Most of the people importing Chinese cabinets to the states are Asian or Middleastern. This is only natural since they are from that part of the world and are accustomed to bringing eastern wares to the western market. Typically a sizeable company or consortium will contract with a manufacturing facility in China either directly or thru a proxy. They obtain pricing based upon a agreed number of units/container loads over a specified period of time. They receive the containers from the Long Beach or LA harbors and warehouse the product locally or ship it overland to be warehoused in some inexpensive logistically advantageous location.
The product is then disbursed thru a loose network consisting of builders, remodelers and retail outlets. These retail outlets are generally small showrooms in strip centers or flooring and carpet centers.
The product is hawked as quality for cheap. It is not uncommon to see ads in the newspaper offering complete 10×10 kitchens of solid oak including granite countertops for under $3,000.00.
This massive onslaught of inexpensive cabinets has taken considerable market share away from US manufacturers who catered to the new construction and low end remodeling markets. This has had only a marginal effect on manufacturers who cater to more upscale clients. However, as occurred in other areas, most notably the automobile industry, the competition from the east began with inexpensive low quality offerings but later adapted higher quality standards such as those employed by Lexus. You know the rest of the story. The same scenario is likely to play out in this market as well and astute manufacturers need to avoid the complacency that sent the US automobile industry into bankruptcy.
Let’s take a look at the product. In the interest of time we will only deal with the general characteristics of the product. This will suffice to make consumers aware of the products …