Braam’s Custom Cabinets got its start as a humble three-man family operation in Southwestern Ontario. Four decades later, with founders Peter and Rob Braam still at the helm, the business has grown to fill a 47,000-square-foot manufacturing facility and two showrooms in London, Ontario and Oakville, Ontario, and employs about 70 people across all three locations.
Known for merging aesthetics with functionality and for blending old world craftsmanship and modern manufacturing, the company’s work is in demand throughout Canada and the United States.
“Over the 43 years of the company’s operation, we have really developed skills within our staff to be able to increase our abilities, our production, and our sales in order to foster a bigger company,” Peter says. “Our staff are highly skilled in what they do, and that’s allowed us to grow to a size that I didn’t think was possible back when we started the company.”
The team has completed projects throughout the continent, from Boston and New York to Michigan, Virginia, South Carolina, and Florida. “We go all over the place, and we have become very skilled at doing that,” he says.
“I think one of the things that’s important about us is that we handle logistics very well,” Robert adds. “We can go to New York; we can go to Florida; we can go to Mississauga; we can go to Vancouver; we can go wherever necessary to be able to put a job in and get happy clients… when you can get a company that can go 1000 miles and get a happy client, that’s what separates us from other companies.”
Braam’s customization capability is another major point of difference. “We have grown to become one of the premier custom cabinet companies in Ontario and probably even within North America,” Peter says. “As far as customization goes, the reason people are looking for us far afield is because we have the ability to do virtually anything that they’ve seen in any magazine anywhere and even a combination of those items. For instance, our design team have begun incorporating a lot of white oak veneer with a j-pull or a channel pull in the top or the bottom of the drawer head. Very, very few companies have the ability to do that because you have to have a very wide variety of equipment to do that. You have to have a veneer press; you have to have a moulder. You have to have a lot of machinery that a lot of the smaller shops or a lot of the bigger shops that want to be mass production aren’t willing to do. So we have carved out a niche for ourselves. That’s for sure.”
The company’s in-house design team helps take customization to the next level. “In general, most cabinet companies—especially the ones that don’t allow very much customization—they’re not necessarily designers per se as much as they are cabinet salespeople,” says Designer Ava Rubee. “Braam’s has always put a lot of emphasis on design and function. So when we design kitchens, we have a lot of rules and a lot of guidelines we follow to make sure that the aesthetic [is there].”
As a result, the company’s work clearly stands out. “You can recognize a Braam’s kitchen when you see it because of the specific features we set ourselves apart with,” Ava says. Face frame cabinetry with inset doors is one particularly popular example, “because in Canada, no one does face frame cabinetry anymore,” she says. “In the States, there’s a lot of face frame cabinetry but most of it is with overlay doors, and each cabinet box is separate from the next, and then there are a lot of seams in between. Whereas Braam’s has created a very unique face frame cabinet that has an inset door with the frame being practically connected from one cabinet into the next. So when you look at it, it’s a very unique craftsman-type cabinet. It looks phenomenal, and there aren’t very many people that can really do that kind of product. So it makes us quite the destination for anyone looking for those types of cabinetry.”
The team has been busy with a variety of projects throughout North America. “We have a lot of very, very cool projects that are unique and different for our area, because the design aspects and the customization is just really phenomenal,” Ava says.
In one recent example, the team brought the glitz and glamour of Sin City to Ontario. “In our area here, we did a project last year that was inspired by Las Vegas, where the client wanted to have a very showy home,” Ava remembers, “and the amount of customization we did there between the high-gloss finishes, the custom metal details, the backlit countertops, and all the custom features was just extremely unique… It’s not the type of thing you see every day. Every aspect of it was extremely unique and custom, and it shows. That client wanted something quite glam, and we were able to achieve it for them.”
When delivering custom cabinets, the team works closely with clients in a four-step process. First, one of the company’s design team members sits down with the client to discuss ideas and offer advice and guidance. Next, that design team member walks the client through the different custom styles so they can choose exactly what they want. Then the manufacturing team and the installers bring the concept to life. Lastly, after the project is complete, clients are covered by service and warranty guarantees should any issue arise.
The team stays on top of the most recent developments within the industry to ensure it can offer clients the latest and best solution. “We strive to have very innovative products,” Ava says. “When it comes to designing our showrooms or doing any kind of project for a client, we’re always looking into new products, from fully-integrated appliances to built-in induction cooktops. [We’re always working] to bring what’s newest and most innovative in, regardless of where we have to bring it from,” she says.
“Some of the products we have to fly over from Spain and we do a lot of work to be able to integrate them into our Canadian market. But we’re always trying to stay on top of the current technological advances in the industry—whether it’s lighting, slides, hinges—just to give our clients the best possible outcome when it comes to functionality of their product.”
The result is top-of-the-line custom cabinetry that clients can depend on for years to come. “We want to make sure that ergonomically and functionally, those cabinets are going be able to withstand a lot of use and a lot of movement for a very long time,” Ava says.
The company is eager to continue to offer its unique, custom cabinets even after the founders retire. “I am 65; Rob is 63,” Peter says. “There’s a possibility of people taking over and furthering the company beyond where we are.”
They have already hired a Controller to streamline and grow the business, helping to steer it successfully into the next decade. With more than 40 years of innovation and success under their belts, Rob and Peter have laid a strong foundation for whatever the future holds for their company.