Post-Tour Post

Kanda and Nandi spent Friday and Saturday, April 26th and 27th, representing Rivendell at the Children’s Support League of the East Bay’s 2013 Heart of the Home Tour. By donating $1,000 to help disadvantaged kids in our community, we became one of the organization’s “best friends” and were invited to participate in the classic charity event.

April Gruber of AG Design Studio worked hard to coordinate the designer showcase home on Muir Avenue. Since we built the kitchen and beyond in this beautiful house, our representatives were stationed there, where they could answer visitors’ questions and point out special touches.

The owners got together following the event to discuss their experience.

“It went really well,” said Nandi. “I feel like we made a lot of connections. We got to see a lot of people and a lot of people got to see our work. I was surprised at the sheer number of people that came through. They expected 750 per day.”

“They had a great turnout,” Kanda said. “They ran out of programs by Saturday afternoon.”

“It was good to see people’s reactions to the kitchen,” said Nandi. “There were a lot of people who were wowed. The comments that came up again and again were about the attention to detail, which was nice to hear, because attention to detail is something all of us here at Rivendell see, but I’m not always sure that everyone else outside of Rivendell sees. People appreciating our work was reassuring that we’re doing things right.”

“It was kind of funny,” Kanda mused, “but the one thing more than anything else people asked about was the 1930’s oven from the original kitchen that was remounted in the new cabinets as a working warming drawer. Everyone would say ‘What’s that?’”

“The warming drawer was definitely a conversation starter. I think it was a lead in for those of us that worked on the space to talk about other things.” said Nandi. “I enjoyed chatting with designer Carlene Anderson, contractor Mike Swenson and Becca Lauffenberg, who did the ‘finishes’ as she put it. Everyone was proud of what they contributed to this project. It was really nice to be able to say that we did what I think was the best kitchen on the tour, and then to say that we did this owner’s previous home, and to say that we did another home on the tour down the block too!”

Although the Lafayette Avenue house had been sold since Rivendell did the kitchen, few changes were made other than alterations to accommodate new appliances.

“The Muir kitchen showed very well, you can’t even tell it’s a year and a half old,” said Kanda. “The one across the street, on Lafayette, also showed well especially considering it’s close to seven years old… it’s still in excellent condition! The important thing to keep in mind about these two kitchens is that they are both the more difficult style of cabinetry, the flush inset style, where the doors and drawer fronts have to be mounted precisely, in a precise way, or it doesn’t work. In a typical kitchen with the overlay style of cabinet, there is a lot of fudge and wiggle room. There is no wiggle room in this style of cabinet and they are still holding up after all these years.”

“I thought it was very impressive that we could return to a job that we did a year and half ago, or six and a half years ago, and everything was still exactly how we left it in terms of door adjustments, drawers, everything was closing properly, everything lined up just like how we intended it,” Jeremy added.

The owners agreed that the Heart of the Home Tour was a wonderful opportunity for Rivendell to support an amazing organization and showcase our outstanding woodwork as well.

“It’s hard to tell if we will be in a home on the next tour, but it would be great if we were! We got lucky to be in two houses this year,” said Nandi. “We hope to be involved next time too… it’s for a great cause.”

Heart of the Home

Some say that the kitchen is the heart of the home. We would be inclined to agree, especially because we built the kitchen in this year’s designer showcase home for the Children’s Support League’s Heart of the Home Tour.

Since 1986, the Children’s Support League of the East Bay has used their annual Heart of the Home Tour to raise funds for at-risk youth in Alameda and Contra Costa Counties. This volunteer organization has contributed almost 3 million dollars so far to non-profit programs serving disadvantaged children in these communities.

On Friday, April 26 and Saturday, April 27, the 2013 Heart of the Home Tour will provide an intimate peek into five sensational Oakland and Piedmont properties.

Rivendell did extensive work in the Muir Avenue designer showcase home. The impressive kitchen includes a wonderful walnut island and fabulous flush inset face frame cabinets. Our craftsmanship here earned us an Honorable Mention from the Cabinet Makers Association’s 2012 Wood Diamond Awards national competition. In addition to the kitchen, we built cabinets for the family room, home office, bathroom and mudroom.

“This is a unique opportunity to see some of Rivendell’s work in a private residence that have been generously opened to the public,” said Nandi. “Attendees can also meet the talented team that put it all together. It was a pleasure collaborating with designer Carlene Anderson and contractor Mike Swenson on this project.”

Rivendell also built another Heart of the Home kitchen at the Lafayette Avenue tour stop. It features some alluring atypical curved elements. We even upgraded cabinetry in the home hosting the VIP 25th on the 25th Silver Anniversary Celebration the night before the tour.

And while we’re honored that homes highlighting our woodwork were chosen for this acclaimed charity event, we’re honored to be helping out this amazing organization as well.

“The Heart of the Home tour allows local businesses like us to give back to the community that’s given so much to us,” said Nandi.

One of the ways Rivendell has been able to give back is by donating $1,000 to become a Children’s Support League Best Friend.

Last year’s tour raised $205,000. This year, on the tour’s 25th anniversary, we’re hoping to raise $225,000. You can help us reach our goal. Tickets are still available. We look forward to seeing you at this outstanding event that assists underprivileged kids in our community.

Digital Designs

When you think of woodworking tools, you probably think of things like hand planes, table saws and even edge banders, not computer programs. However, today’s technology provides powerful tools for professional woodworkers. AutoCAD, AutoDesk’s Computer Aided Design program, is a drafting tool that can you can use to draw, engineer and present projects. Prior to 2007, Rivendell did all our drawings manually. Investing in AutoCad for the past five years has made a huge difference in our business.

“The biggest difference is drawing to scale,” Nandi explains. “You’re never just approximating, you always know exactly what things are. Your drawing is as accurate as your information.”

“It’s really helped improve our entire process,” said Jeremy. “We’re able to quickly produce accurate drawings in AutoCad, which translates into faster, better builds on the shop floor and in the field.”

These guys should know. They’ve both taken AutoCAD and AutoCAD Advanced college courses. Jeremy even became a Certified AutoCAD Associate in 2012 and is working towards Professional certification in 2013.

“We’ve gotten better as users of AutoCAD over the years. We’ve developed our skills as and found more uses for it,” Jeremy asserts.

“One way we’ve improved our use is through Jeremy’s development of blocks,” said Nandi. Blocks are already completed, dynamically adjustable, drawing elements that you can modify for use in your project. Block attributes, such as dimensions, can be displayed in a spreadsheet format, or tables. “Jeremy has created tables that have streamlined our methods of ordering and cutlisting.”

Rivendell expanded into the AutoDesk Product Design Suite about a year and a half ago. We’ve been finding advantages elsewhere in the package as well. We’ve been progressively using more of the 3D programs such as Inventor and 3dsMax to augment AutoCAD’s 2 dimensional capabilities. Currently, we mostly use 3D for client visualization or to break down a complicated part of a project. We look forward to creating more 3D models in the future. These allow us to look at jobs from multiple angles and eliminates the need for several different drawings of 2D views.

We’re also looking forward to doing more drafting work. Our skills are at a level that allow us to provide these services professionally. We can draft projects for architects or translate clients’ hand drawings into engineered designs. We’d be happy to draft and design your project, even if don’t choose us to build it… although we’d be happy to do that too!

Wood Diamond Awards

The Cabinet Makers Association Wood Diamond Awards program promotes excellence in woodworking and cabinetry and creates a mean for members to be recognized by their peers. They are presented annually at either the International Woodworking Fair in Atlanta or the Association of Woodworking and Furnishings Suppliers Fair in Las Vegas. This year, Rivendell Woodworks was recognized with two Honorable Mentions, one for European Kitchens over 25K category, the other for Face Frame Kitchens over 25K.

The East Coast dominated the competition. Kanda noticed that of all 47 awards, only seven went to shops west of the Mississippi. The West Coast received just three awards, two of which were won by Rivendell.

“While we weren’t top winners in our categories, we were the only winners from California,” Kanda noted. “If only the photographs could have been captured in a 360 degree swing, the full scope of the very large jobs could have been appreciated, and I believe, gotten greater recognition.”

This isn’t the first time Rivendell has been recognized by the Wood Diamond Awards. Last year, we won first place for our website.

“We’ve always strived to provide our clients with the best products possible, but until the website was developed, we didn’t have a place to showcase our work,” Nandi said at the time. “For the last few years we’ve focused on integrating design and manufacturing software into the shop. Combining technology with traditional woodworking has given us the ability to craft custom pieces more promptly and precisely.”

We’re already looking forward to participating in next year’s competition and hope to be honored again!

Cover Story

The men of Rivendell can now add “Cover Model” to their resumes after appearing on the front of PROFILES magazine, a publication of the Cabinet Makers Association. We’re honored to be one of the top stories with only three issues being published this year. And while husbands and wives have made headlines before, we’re the first full-fledged family to be featured. The article focuses on our shop’s unique history, from Kanda’s humble beginning as a toy maker to President of the high-end custom cabinetry business he operates with his sons today.

Kanda’s kids have been helping him in the shop since they were little. In addition to being rocking horse test pilots, Nandi and Jeremy remember their first “job” making matchbox cars, gluing wooden wheels on to axles for a penny apiece. Nandi, now Chief Executive Officer, is in charge of customer relations and installation, and Jeremy, the Chief Operations Officer, manages drafting and production. Their younger brother, Kendiah, is the Shop Foreman. The business truly is a family affair with Nandi’s wife Kim working in the office and myself, Jeremy’s wife, Nicole, contributing to the website.

In addition to addressing all that is relative, the article also examines the company itself. It discusses the tools and materials used in projects as well as location and market share. It talks about the challenges that Rivendell faced during a difficult economy and delves into our hopes for the future.

I asked the men of Rivendell to share their thoughts about seeing themselves on the cover of a magazine.
“It’s inspiring,” said Kendiah, “Knowing how many other shops were considered and ours got the spotlight.”
“It’s fun to see our company in print,” Nandi said, “It feels like we’ve arrived.”
Kanda said, “I’m proud of my family.”
Unlike the others, Jeremy just wondered “Do I look fat?”

Kanda was so excited about Rivendell being chosen as a PROFILES cover story that he hired fellow Toastmaster and Business Networking International member, Gurpreet Kaur, proprietor of Kaur Photography, to take some professional portraits.

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