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  • Writer's pictureEric Goetting, COO, Millwork

Talking Shop: Shop Series Part 1

As our company grows—and the scope of our expertise and the range of our projects expands—it’s sometimes easy for even the long-timers here at MN Builders to forget our humble beginnings as a custom cabinetry shop 42 years ago.

But step into our 16,000-square-foot shop today, and you’ll quickly discover that the spirit of creativity, collaboration, and craftsmanship that guided Mike Mueller and Steve Nicholls through those early years is still very much alive.

Because while everything else about MN Builders has changed over the decades—our location, our business model, our scope of work, heck, even our name—the one thing that’s never wavered is our passion for building custom cabinetry solutions for discerning homeowners and businesses.

What’s not to love about custom?

There are many reasons to go with a custom cabinetry solution, but the one that leaps to the top of our list is the total freedom it grants you, the customer, when making design decisions.

For five decades, we’ve witnessed how this freedom allows people to build cabinetry that’s right for them. Still, we never grow tired of receiving a call months, even years, after installing a client’s custom cabinetry and hearing how our work has positively impacted their lives. Ask anyone who has taken the custom route. They’ll tell you that more than aesthetics, more than function, more than durability, the real payoff to custom cabinetry is the joy and satisfaction that comes with living in an environment purposely built for the way you live.

Of course, the custom approach has more practical benefits, too, starting with value. There are cheaper, faster stock alternatives for cabinetry. You’ve seen the off-the-shelf options available at the box stores and the ads for “hybrid custom” solutions on your Instagram feed. Either choice works for people facing tight deadlines and budgets. But when it comes to crafting cabinetry explicitly built for your lifestyle and taste—while also giving you the biggest bang for the buck—nothing compares with custom.

Why? Because in addition to being built specifically for your needs, custom cabinetry is made using superior quality, often thoughtfully sourced materials and, especially in MN’s case, by skilled specialists using the most advanced millwork technologies available today. We’re not just talking remarkable quality here. We’re talking remarkable quality that lasts a remarkably long time.

Always new is never dull.

So what’s in it for us, the men and women who work in the shop?

It’s our livelihood, sure. But there are lots of great ways to make a living in the construction business. What makes custom cabinetry so special for our team is the fact that every custom millwork project we build is basically a prototype.

From a simple but well-made kitchen layout to intricate shelving units that wrap seamlessly around multiple curves and corners, each custom job we take on is the first of its kind. Everyone who works on that job faces fresh challenges, from the project managers who get briefed by the designers to the carpenters building out the box to the installers in charge of putting together all the pieces of the puzzle on-site.

Custom work is never easy. We get tested every day. But one thing we never get is bored. And we like it that way.

Different asks. Same approach.

Another thing we love about custom work is the partnership it creates between clients, designers, and builders. Over the 42 years we’ve done this, we’ve pretty much seen and built it all. And while it’s true that no two custom projects are ever the same, our collaborative approach to each one is a constant.

This approach entails asking a lot of questions, listening carefully to every answer, problem-solving both in the design and on the fly, and rigorously applying our wide range of skill sets and technologies to the task at hand. We do this not just because we’re nice people to work with but because this approach delivers the very best results—in the form of beautiful, enduring work and in equally enduring relationships with people, families, and businesses all around the Bay Area.

Coming up in the weeks ahead, On the Level will be sharing our enthusiasm for all things custom in a series of posts that will hopefully get you excited, too. So read on for more insights on how you can confidently navigate the journey from inspired drawings to finished drawers with a proven partner like MN.


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