by Randy Volk
Jenny has been designing and providing kitchens for over 30 years. Over that time she has represented many cabinet companies and local craftspeople. In 2010 she decided to establish her own showroom and began to acquire cabinet lines. Plato Woodwork was a line she was familiar with and she sought to obtain them an exclusive dealer. It actually works somewhat the other way around, with Plato Woodwork seeking who they see as a good fit. It turned out that Jenny and Plato Woodwork shared the same goals of high quality, incredible customer service, and a dedication to providing a product that will last a lifetime.
We are very proud to be able to represent Plato Woodwork, one of the premier custom cabinet companies in the United Sates. They have a pretty nice website and good literature that will explain much about who they are, the product and their philosophy. We thought we would give you our perspective here.
Plato, Minnesota is a small farming community about an hour outside Minneapolis. Well over 100 years ago the Pinske family started woodworking in various forms finally settling into the cabinet business. Their dedication to their craft and their employees has allowed them to prosper. They are family & community oriented with some families in their third generation with the company. They know the biggest asset they have is their employees. From what we can tell Plato Minnesota is pretty much Plato Woodwork and farms.
When we visit we get a strong sense that they are very much like successful Vermont businesses, small scale (about 100 employees), dedicated to their product and looking to perform in an environmentally and socially responsible way.
This has become our family too and we have come to know many of the folks who work there and of course the owner. We feel very connected when we can speak directly with a business owner. This is our local, sure, they are miles away, but in the end they may as well be right here in Hinesburg.
Plato Woodwork’s product is different. It is the culmination of over 100 years of running a successful woodworking business. Incredibly efficient, spotlessly clean and healthy are words we would use to describe their single facility. Being a woodworker myself I am always in awe when I visit. That dedication to improvement over the years means that they are able to produce a very high end product without undue cost, waste or inefficiency. It means they are able to offer their product at a reasonable cost, something Jenny looked for when trying to achieve a good fit with Vermont.
The materials that Plato Woodwork uses are not “off the shelf” as so many craftspeople are forced to use. They are large enough to set their own specifications for the panels and wood that they use. Combined with relationships that have matured over the years they can source the very best product, a product quality that is not available to you or me.
As you will see in their literature they pay close attention to sourcing in an environmentally responsible and sustainable way. Plato doesn’t skimp on hardware either, their drawer slides, hinges and other mechanism are typically the very best that can be purchased.
Plato Woodwork’s workmanship reflects a commitment to high quality. It is the product of their dedicated work force. I admire the older seasoned “graders” who have earned the right to select cherry boards for assembly and decide which piece goes where. It seems to me the work force has just as many women as men. Tolerances are very tight and product is calibrated for humidity to assure that it will look as good when it gets to you as when it left the facility.
Plato’s finishes stand out. They are usually the first thing that new clients identify with as high quality. That makes sense because that is what you see. Plato’s finishing process is second to none using a full additional coat beyond what most cabinet manufacturers provide. They use Industrial grade products which are typically unavailable to local craftspeople. Sanding between coats is done by hand. Ovens cure the product. The finishing area of the facility is incredibly clean and uses a vapor reclamation system that recycles their solvents. Because the finishing is done by hand there is a great attention to detail. They offer an incredible array of specialty finishes. In the end it is not how the finish looks when you get it new but what it looks like 10 years down the road.
We can say, without reservation, that other than normal fading, Plato’s finish will look as good as new in 10 years. That’s a claim that the majority of fabricators cannot make. In fact, Plato keeps a sample of each kitchen they do and should you need a new cabinet or door 10 years down the road they will pull that sample and color match to it.
Only a business with true longevity can offer a lifetime warranty. We have seen too many fabricators come and go over the years. Plato just celebrated 125 years. And from what we see they are serious about standing behind their product. Have a door that cracks a panel 10 years down the road and they will replace it at no cost, no questions ask. That is why they have a reputation as a company that stands behind their product and that is why they work so hard to produce the very best product to begin with.
You can probably tell that we are pretty excited to offer this cabinetry. It so fits us. And we hope it will fit you too.