2415 Carp Road, Stittsville, Ontario, K2S 1B3
Year established -
321919 - Other millwork
Major expansions -
Laurysen Kitchens Ltd. is a kitchen, bathroom, cabinet, and vanities manufacturer located in Stittsville, Ontario. It houses a 55,000 square foot facility with state-of-the-art technology to service customers in Canada and the United States. Since its inception it has been family-owned and -operated, and the business is currently run by the second and third generations of the Laurysen family. Its major customers include all of the biggest home builders in Ottawa, local retail consumers, renovators, and customers across Ontario who purchase its products through its extensive dealership network.
Thriving family-owned and -operated businesses are becoming increasingly rare in the global economy. Yet Laurysen Kitchens Ltd. (Laurysen Kitchens) is the exception to this rule. Located in Stittsville, Ontario, Laurysen Kitchens is a family company that has been manufacturing cabinetry since 1970. Its major customers include many large home builders in Ottawa, as well as local retail consumers and renovators. In addition, the company has an extensive network of 40 active dealers—ranging from Ottawa to Windsor and Sault Ste. Marie—all of which sell its products.
Laurysen Kitchens was founded in 1970 by John and Adri Laurysen in their small garage. Having immigrated to Canada from Holland in 1960, the Laurysens were looking to leverage their experience in cabinet making in order to support their new family. In 1972, the Laurysens moved to the company’s current location, and by 1987, that production facility had expanded to 40,000 square feet. With state-of-the-art equipment, a growing number of employees, and a reputation for quality in the Ottawa area, Laurysen Kitchens was one of the most promising businesses in the region.
Then, on August 4, 1987, the entire facility burnt to the ground. Despite the tragedy, the Laurysens were determined to keep the business running and immediately began to construct a new facility on the same spot. That rebuilt facility is now 55,000 square feet and the business has grown to employ 128 people.
Today, Laurysen Kitchens is run by five members of the Laurysen family. Bill and Caroline, John and Adri’s children, are both vice presidents, along with Caroline’s husband Giuseppe. They are joined by the third generation of Laurysens, Corey and Michael, who are both heavily involved in the business. Together they continue to build the firm’s reputation for expertise, accountability, and longevity at levels only possible at a family-owned and -operated business like Laurysen Kitchens.
While there are many aspects of Laurysen Kitchens that make it successful, one of the ways it differentiates itself from competitors is through its clear span production facility. After the fire in 1987, the Laurysens had the chance to design a new manufacturing facility according to their exact specifications. They decided to spend slightly more for a clear span design because it allows for no internal support posts. This structure enables Laurysen Kitchens to rearrange its equipment whenever, and in whichever way, the plant managers see fit, so the company can stay extremely flexible and effective in its production process.
Having a flexible production process and facility proved to be crucial when Laurysen Kitchens completely revamped the way it manufactures roughly six years ago. The traditional way production kitchens and bathrooms were manufactured was to produce thousands of identical parts and build up a large inventory. With longer lead times and a less responsive supply chain, this was necessary in order to produce the desired product in a reasonable time frame. However, as consumers began to demand more customization and suppliers improved their responsiveness, the Laurysens realized they needed to offer more personalized products.
Accordingly, Laurysen Kitchens switched to producing batch sizes of one for individualized products. This change drastically reduced its inventory of raw materials and redirected much more effort towards optimizing the production process. As Caroline notes, the young minds at Laurysen Kitchens, like Michael and Corey, have been working hard at this initiative and are excited by the change. The team that includes Christian Slanina, Brent Toop and Lindsay Buckingham has installed new production software and equipment to coordinate the new logistical challenges. The benefits of the change are not only in cost reduction and customer satisfaction, but also in data analytics, as managers are able to glean a plethora of data from the entire production process.
Another factor critical to the success of Laurysen Kitchens is its ability to stay on top of market trends. Both John and Caroline are past presidents of the Greater Ottawa Homebuilders’ Association and the Canadian Kitchen Cabinet Association, and work hard to stay involved with similar organizations so that the company always has a finger on the pulse of the industry. Bill is past president of the Canadian Kitchen Cabinet Association and Giuseppe is past president of the Greater Ottawa Homebuilders’ Association. The company also attends trade shows across the world. Recently, it attended the world-famous EuroCucina show in Milan. At the same time, as Caroline explains, being involved with stakeholders at the local level is crucial to stay on top of market trends, which is why Laurysen Kitchens maintains close relationships with its suppliers and customers.
If Laurysen Kitchens’ misfortune in 1987 proved anything, it is that the company is resilient in the face of adversity. Despite the tragic fire, the passing of family members, and the daily challenges involved in running a business, Laurysen Kitchens has kept fighting and come out on top. Yet one of the biggest challenges that the company continues to face are attracting qualified workers.
The company’s team of 128 employees consists of individuals with a variety of skillsets—engineers, computer experts, designers, labourers, hands-on woodworkers, and more—and each employee brings their own unique contribution to the business. However, attracting people to a manufacturing company in Ottawa is not always easy. Laurysen Kitchens is addressing this by focusing more on employee recruitment. In fact, it recently hired its first human resources person in the company’s history.
When asked if the Laurysens were worried about any of the challenges ahead, Caroline’s answer was a resounding “no.” The company was built on adversity and it is always open to (and indeed, excited by) new challenges. Moreover, Caroline emphasizes that just because the company is doing things one way today does not mean it will be doing the same thing tomorrow, so everyone must be ready to adapt to future trends.
In the future, Laurysen Kitchens will continue becoming more environmentally friendly. The company prides itself on offering water-based finishes for most of its products and making a conscious commitment to becoming environmentally sustainable.
Another significant opportunity involves leveraging computers and other Industry 4.0 technologies to improve the manufacturing process. Everyone at Laurysen Kitchens is adjusting to the production-style shift implemented six years ago, and motivated to keep exploring similarly interesting opportunities. The team is currently looking at adding an inventory management machine and moving a few things around in the factory. Laurysen Kitchens has also opened an additional 23,000-square-foot facility in Carleton Place, west of Ottawa, which houses its countertop department and equipment for increased capacity and testing new products.
The Laurysens are confident that their company will continue to grow, while still maintaining the family culture that underpins their success. They encourage anyone interested in a new kitchen or bathroom to visit their showroom in Stittsville, where a member of their family can answer any questions you may have.
For more information about Laurysen Kitchens, visit their website.
Published: September 10, 2018
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