By Dan Sanchez | Feb 27, 2020
Industry: Built Environment
Products: Custom cabinetry
While the custom home market across California can be up and down, the need for custom cabinetry in the San Diego area has provided a steady stream of work for Matlock and his cabinet company, Premier Cabinets.
Originally founded by Matlock's father in 1987, Wayne was introduced to it by helping the family business, which was originally an installation company. "Around the mid-1980s the recession hit and with our background of installing cabinets, we simply decided we could begin manufacturing them," says Matlock. "The market for custom cabinets has been good, especially within the last three years."
Matlock's work is so well regarded that the company doesn't advertise. "Everything comes from word of mouth . . . a result of working well with architects and custom home builders," says Matlock. "Our philosophy is to do really good work and charge for it. I know that sounds simple but when you are dealing with custom homes in the $2 million to $15 million price range, the work needs to be exceptional."
Matlock's attention to detail and planning has allowed the company to concentrate on quality not quantity. "Over the years, we've found that it's better to create kitchen cabinets for 40 to 50 high-end homes per year, rather than 100 to 200 kitchens a year," says Matlock. "We don't do tract homes. Most of our work comes from high-end remodels." The company also makes cabinetry for bathrooms, home offices, laundry rooms, entertainment centers and more.
According to Matlock, walnut is the most popular wood that custom homeowners want, followed by rift white oak. "It typically depends on the customer, but we go in, meet with customers, designers, and architects, then measure the layout of the cabinetry and come back to our shop to create it all."
While Premier Cabinets is sought after by designers and architects in the San Diego area, it's also an added bonus that the customer's cabinets are manufactured by a championship off-road racer. Matlock and his wife, Kristen, are championship UTV racers sponsored by Polaris. They've been racing for decades and Wayne recently was crowned 2019 SCORE Pro UTV Champion, while Kristen won the SCORE Baja 1000 in her division.
Consistency and attention to details are some of the traits Matlock applies to both his racing team and his business and it has shown to be a recipe for success. Other than the website, the company has no business listing and does no print advertising. "All of our clients are referrals or repeat customers. There are times when I'm out pre-running in the desert for a race, and I'll get a call from one of them," says Matlock. "My really good customers have my cell phone and I'll take the time to stop what I'm doing and call them back. Even though racing is another career for me and my family, it's important to me that I give my clients my full attention."
Needs: "My guys that work for me are in their 50s, and I think about how I can get younger people to come and work for me," says Matlock. "My guys are very experienced and being 30 minutes away from San Diego makes it difficult to find a good labor pool where we are in Alpine. If I can't get younger people to come and work for me, I may have to substitute younger workers with machines."
Challenges: "Having a business is much more difficult in California than Texas or New Mexico," says Matlock. "Working both the cabinet business and a racing business is dividing my time and it's a challenge. I have a CNC machine that I can use to help automate some of the processes, but it's just sitting there. I'll need to get it up and running to be more automated."
Opportunities: "The market for remodeled and custom homes is good here," says Matlock. "But like all construction, it's all economy-driven. Because of the quality of work we do, it allows us to get new clients and recently, there's a lot of business along the coast."