Merit Kitchens

Merit Kitchens dominates its market by being innovative with its cabinets. For Merit Kitchens, the word “merit” is more than just a name – it is also a reflection of the company’s business philosophy. “We pride ourselves on providing good quality at a fair price,” President Frank W. Siekmann says. Based in Surrey, British Columbia, Merit Kitchens manufactures multiple collections of kitchen and bathroom cabinets and sells them through independent dealers and two retail outlets. Siekmann says the company’s roots go back to 1974, when a group of craftsmen started the company in Burnaby, British Columbia.

The group later sold the company, and Siekmann purchased Merit Kitchens from its second owner, Vedco, in 2000. Today, Merit Kitchens has a staff of nearly 100 workers that include tradespeople, craftspeople, technical specialists and customer service experts. Merit Kitchens’ products have been sold to clients in the United States, Japan and China. Siekmann adds that the company has earned a record in the past five years for delivering all of its products complete and on time. “If you ship something that is incomplete or late, it is just a bloody disaster out in the field,” he says.

Legacy in Cabinets

A longtime veteran of the cabinet business, Siekmann’s family has a long legacy in the industry that exceeds 80 years. “My grandfather started his own cabinet manufacturing business in 1929,” Siekmann explains. He notes that his family still operates his grandfather’s cabinet business, SieMatic. “I grew up in and around cabinets and manufacturing,” he adds. When Siekmann purchased Merit Kitchens, he was the owner of his own cabinet group in Philadelphia. “I purchased Merit as a strategic investment initially and I became more involved,” he recalls, noting that he sold his interest in the other businesses. He adds that he is extremely proud of the staff that he has assembled.
“Our entire sales and customer service staff are extremely dedicated and do a fine job for our customers,” Siekmann says, adding that success at the company starts with its associates’ ability to provide strong customer management. “I couldn’t think of one employee that we have that I’m not proud of.”

Siekmann says he is also proud of the level of product Merit Kitchens provides, as opposed to its competition. For instance, many of the features its competitors offer as extras come as standard on its cabinets. These include solid backs that are 5/8ths of an inch thick and allow its cabinets to be much more rigid, Siekmann says. “[It also] provides ease of installation,” he says. But the benefits don’t end there. “Our cabinets are always square, which makes it easier for installation,” Siekmann continues. “With an solid back, an installer can drill through and attach the cabinet to the wall wherever he chooses.”

“Right now, we’re in the process of adding a lot of new cabinet options to choose from,” he continues. “In our market segments, we’re one of the leaders with new ideas.” One example of this is the company’s green products. Siekmann notes that the company is a “pioneer” in environmentally friendly cabinetry and began offering it before it “became fashionable in North America to talk about.”

For instance, Merit Kitchens started selling these cabinets to clients in Asia 10 years ago. “The product focus on indoor air quality is much more important there than here,” Siekmann says. Merit Kitchens’ EcoPlus near-zero-formaldehyde emission cabinetry is constructed to meet the Japanese indoor air quality regulations. According to the company, the product was issued the coveted four-star rating, “guaranteeing it to be healthier for homes, businesses and the environment as a whole.”

Branching Out

In North America, Merit Kitchens focuses on serving clients in Western Canada and the western United States. While the market is strong in Western Canada, “The cabinet industry in the United States seems to just try to make it to next year,” Siekmann says, noting that the recession is still having its affect on that market. However, the company currently plans to grow its reach in its home country. “We have a plan to go from Western Canada [to the East], one province at a time,” he says. “Our plan is to have controlled geographic expansion,” he continues. “A sales representative will research the province and find out who would be a good business partner for Merit.”

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