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Freight Fright! RTA or in house?

Neo Member

I'm getting back in the cabinet business after the last 9 years in a 9-5. I want to stay a 1-man shop and my initial plan was to focus on selling and assembling RTA cabinets from a large manufacturer back East (I'm in CA). I have a long history with this manufacturer and their quality and service is very good. But on my first project the freight cost was 25% of the cabinet cost. Before the pandemic it was more like 7-10%.

Obviously it's looking difficult to be competitive with these trans-continental shipping charges. But I'm wondering if I should:

1) Find an RTA manufacturer closer to CA (if so, any recommendations?)
2) Tool up and start building my own carcasses, and buy out the finished doors and drawer boxes? I have 22 years in shops large and small, and CNC, faceframe, frameless production are all in my wheelhouse.

The #1 consideration is what will make me a decent living. I don't care about being in architecture magazines anymore, just want to put my kids through college and save a little for retirement.

2/4/24       #2: Freight Fright! RTA or in house? ...

You've done a business plan and competitor search for that kind of cabinet in your region? "The #1 consideration is what will make me a decent living. I don't care about being in architecture magazines anymore, just want to put my kids through college and save a little for retirement." There must be thousands of easier ways to meet those goals before considering a one man business assembling cabinets. The phone never stops ringing (you hope) and with just one man doing everything, you likely won't start assembling until after lunch. You'll have to put in 12 hour days just so you have 8 hours to actually build things. At least that is my experience.

2/4/24       #3: Freight Fright! RTA or in house? ...

By the way, freight from Viet Nam is likely cheaper than across the United States.

2/6/24       #4: Freight Fright! RTA or in house? ...
Bruce H

You will make more money and have a better retirement getting a job at the Post Office. Or, get a job as an installer for a company already selling cabinets.

2/7/24       #5: Freight Fright! RTA or in house? ...
Neo Member

Too bad about this forum. 3 thoughtless replies and a spambot. Used to be some good discussions, not anymore.

2/7/24       #6: Freight Fright! RTA or in house? ...

Neo, yep Woodweb killed itself when it didnít want to offend anyone and it ran out commentators who actually contributed. Instead of stopping by several times a day I stop in once a week. All the good one are long gone. People who are passionate about cabinetry and business are passionate about the things going on in our world that affect those. I wonder every other time Iím hear how long this site will stay up.

We are actually in a freight recession. If your shipping costs are up you are doing something wrong. Try a different shipper. Or bundle several jobs into one order and use a broker to have an independent shipper bring it out.

2/7/24       #7: Freight Fright! RTA or in house? ...
Neo Member

I got a quote from a broker for my last big job and it was roughly half what the mfr. was charging me for FedEx LTL, which is great, but when there is the inevitable damage claim I'll be the one fighting with the carrier or underwriter to be reimbursed. Maybe with the savings I can afford to eat a few replacements.

The manufacturer told me that when Yellow shut down it took 400,000 trucks off the road and that resulted in a 6% hike this January.

2/7/24       #8: Freight Fright! RTA or in house? ...
Todd Member

I get a good rate with my FedEx freight account, but I still cost compare with brokers like Freightquote, which beats FedEx a good amount of the time.

2/7/24       #9: Freight Fright! RTA or in house? ...
Bozzy Member

Neo, how much are you paying right now and how much space do you need for a kitchen? I'm in Vancouver, Canada and can ship a full 53ft trailer to San Diego for under $2k

2/8/24       #10: Freight Fright! RTA or in house? ...
Neo Member

Bozzy, my last project was 7 pallets of flat packed cabinet parts, at least one of them 8'+ long. $4600

2/9/24       #11: Freight Fright! RTA or in house? ...
Rich  Member

Website: http://www.hausmann.com

If you have more than a couple of pallets you should be getting quotes for a full truck dedicated delivery as opposed to an LTL freight quote the difference can be significant and as a bonus you get a direct delivery so a lot less handling and less chance of freight damage.

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