Written by Jeff Poole Jan 3, 2019, Orange County Review, click here for entire article.
The Orange County Chamber of Commerce and the Orange County Review are partnering to highlight a Chamber business of the month. Those recognized are Chamber members and demonstrate support for both the Chamber and the community. Each month, a different business (selected by the Chamber) will be featured with a questionnaire designed to give the community some insight into both the business and the individuals responsible for its success.
This month, the Chamber selected American Woodmark which, in one form or another, has been operating off of Madison Road in Orange for 100 years. An early predecessor, West Virginia Timber Company, was a charter member of the Orange County Chamber of Commerce in 1924.
We spoke with plant manager Adam Kell, human resources supervisor Lauren Crowell and training specialist Daniel Troyer.
Describe your business
Lauren: We manufacture kitchen and bath cabinets. We’re the beginning of the manufacturing process. We’re a dimension plant: Anything you see on the front of cabinets—from the doors, fronts and frames. We supply to our sister plants, where they do the assembly and painting and glazing of the cabinets.
What’s the best thing about your job?
Daniel: Working with so many different kinds of people. Working with this diverse group of people, you never get the same thing two days in a row. I really love that about my job. I’m fortunate to get to work on things the company things the company thinks are important.
What’s the best thing about being in business in Orange?
Adam: We’ve been here as a business entity for 100 years now. We’ve done different things but we’ve been a part of the history of town for a long time. It’s nice to know we touch and impact so many people in the community. If you live in Orange and haven’t worked here, you’ve probably had a friend or family member who has.
How would you want someone to describe your business to someone else?
Daniel: As a company with a great culture. American Woodmark puts its money where its mouth is. We don’t take shortcuts. We always try to get our customers a good product—whether they’re internal customers or external customers.
Adam: As a company with great people. We take who we are very seriously.
What’s next for your business?
Adam: We just finished investing $5 million in new equipment in the facility, which is a pretty big investment and shows the longevity expected of us here. Next year is about us getting better about what we do.
American Woodmark bought RSI—another cabinet manufacturer—at the beginning of the year. Our environment is changing, but we have an opportunity to learn from that. We took on a company about the same size as us.
What did you want to be when you grew up and what was your first job?
Lauren: I wanted to be a marine biologist and then in college I studied sociology and criminal justice. I had a passion for crime scene investigation. Now, I’m an HR manager—so, I still get to do investigations. I did get to keep one of the fun parts.
Adam: My grandfather started and ran a successful business—so I knew I wanted to go into business. I figured I’d end up in a cubicle farm though. In college, I started to get interested in manufacturing and I haven’t regretted it for one day. We make kitchen cabinets and the kitchen is the center of the house. What major decision doesn’t happen in the kitchen?
Daniel: I wanted to be a teacher. My first job was a lifeguard. As the trainer, I get to teach.
What’s your hidden talent or something most folks may not know about you?
Lauren: I’ve been working since I was 8 years old. I come from a family that’s had a business that’s been in operation more than 80 years. I learned everything from them.
Adam: I got married in a Las Vegas drive-thru in front of a friend’s blue 1987 Honda Accord.
Daniel: I was a 10-year 4-Her in the Loveable Llama Club.
Favorite book, movie or TV show?
Lauren: I’m obsessed with “Friends.”
Adam: I’m not sure. I like “Fantasia.” It’s beautifully choreographed and I love music.
Daniel: “The Prestige.”
What are you listening to?
Lauren: Pop punk, Blink 182.
Adam: Right now, Queen—not sure why. My music library is pretty big. I’m listening to a lot of audiobooks.
Daniel: Podcasts; Freakonomics.
Who is someone you really admire?
Lauren: My grandfather. He still helps with the family business. I can go to him with anything.
Adam: My wife. Anything she wants to do, she figures out how to do it and inspires me to be a better person.
Daniel: My brother, Kevin. He took an interesting path from a small town and now teaches in Korea.
What’s a perfect weekend look like?
Lauren: Watching “Friends”—even if it’s just on in the background. Enjoying time with my boyfriend and friends.
Adam: We’ve got three kids—so it’s all about ball and scouts right now. But we’re amusement park junkies—so a perfect weekend could be about us going to Kings Dominion and Busch Gardens or Six Flags.
Daniel: Go out with my friends on Friday, hanging out with my girlfriend on Saturday and going to church on Sunday.
Best business advice you could offer?
Lauren: Take care of your people first.
Adam: Embrace change. It’s the only constant in the universe. If you don’t, you’re going to get passed by.
Daniel: Get outside your own perspective.
—Compiled by Jeff Poole