By Lorie Palmer / Idaho County Free Press - Jul 15, 2020
FERDINAND – What started as a small community cabinet shop in 1979 has grown into a commercial cabinet force in the Northwest.
Pacific Cabinets, Inc. (PCI) began in 1979 as the small custom shop of Frei Cabinets (with owner Steve Frei) producing residential custom cabinets and furniture. “At that time, it was basically Steve and a couple other hands,” explained general manager Casey Forsmann. “By 1987, our business had experienced dramatic growth. Incorporating Pacific Cabinets, our emphasis shifted to custom fabrication for a commercial market.”
PCI became an ESOP in 2017. Founder, Frei, learned about the ESOP opportunity and determined it was the best way to continue on the legacy of PCI by allowing the employees to become 100 percent owners. The buyout process is still ongoing, as it usually takes between five and 10 years, and does not require any out-of-pocket expense to the employees.
PCI currently employs about 70 people at the Ferdinand facility, between the production shop and office. Another five people are in an engineering office in Lewiston, and then there are 12 remote employees who work out of home offices or on job sites in markets throughout the Northwest and in California.
“We also have union carpenters local to our job sites who average around 30 people, but this does fluctuate, as we work with subcontract installers as well,” Forsmann explained. “At any point in time we will range between 115 and 130 people altogether.”
Forsmann started at PCI in March of 2008 as an estimator. He had recently graduated from Lewis-Clark State College with a business administration degree and also attended North Idaho College in Coeur d’Alene.
“I was working construction down in Lewiston and heard about an opening back in the community where I grew up on the prairie with PCI and decided to try it out,” he recalled. After some time in estimating, he eventually started doing some project management work on specialized laboratory projects before also becoming the full-time estimating manager. He eventually moved into the operations manager position, which oversaw the production and engineering facilities, and then finally moved into the general manager position.
PCI does 100 percent commercial work, and their market spreads across the entire Northwest in the states of Idaho, Washington, Oregon, Utah, Montana, Wyoming, Nevada and California.
“We have also done work in Hawaii and Alaska as well as other eastern states with dealers,” Forsmann said. “We are a full-service casework contractor and provide estimating, engineering and design, project management, fabrication, shipping, and installation of cabinets, countertops, architectural millwork, laboratory equipment, and many other fabrications.”
PCI specializes in educational, healthcare and laboratory environments, working with various materials including mainly laminate, wood, and solid surface, and also works with vendors to provide metal, stone, upholstery, epoxy, phenolic, and many other glazing and plastics.
“Even though our larger volume projects are out of the local area, we do still try to do as much work as we can here in the local community as well,” Forsmann said. “We currently have work ongoing at St. Mary’s in Kamiah and Cottonwood, North Idaho Correctional Institution and the Monastery of St. Gertrude in Cottonwood, as well as the Lewiston High School.”
Since it has been open, PCI has expanded tremendously, “from the little shop Steve originally started in and has been in pretty constant growth mode with some of the larger increases happening throughout the last five years,” Forsmann said. “We doubled our manufacturing space in 2016 when we built a new 20,000 square foot custom facility and also started doing the solid surface countertops that were previously being bought out through vendors,” he explained.
“We have increased our warehouse space a couple times over the last few years and also added in our Lewiston office and hired more remote staff in the California and Nevada markets as we’ve branched out. Another one of the big expansions we’ve done in the last year is starting up our own laminate bonding process which allows us to have tighter controls on our supply chain and lead times,” Forsmann added. “We’re currently looking at several other new expansions as we strive to continue to take over market in our territories.”
Forsmann said PCI’s goal is to “provide great career opportunities for our local communities while also being able to expand our reach and give the prairie a name as the place where the best quality commercial casework is made, amongst all of the other things it is already great for.”
“We want to stay true to our roots, and the original goal founder Steve Frei had, for providing quality jobs for people in the community,” Forsmann emphasized. “We want everybody in the community to know about the various positions we have including CNC machinists, manufacturing, craftsmen, machine operators, forklift operators, truck drivers, administrative and accounting, estimating, engineering, project management, and many other support roles as well. We pride ourselves as the premier commercial casework provider in the West and look to stronghold our position with smart and strategic maneuvering in the market.”
Pacific Cabinets, Inc., is located just outside of Ferdinand (2010 Front Street), tucked away in the rural farm fields of the prairie. It can be seen from U.S. Highway 95 just above the south hill above Lawyer’s Canyon Bridge.