David DiRanna spent his entire corporate career using erasable whiteboards to illustrate points for meetings, track important projects and jot down new ideas. Little did he know that whiteboards would one day become a very lucrative second career for the talented woodworker.
Whenever time allowed over the years, David loved revving up his garage workshop to create all kinds of furniture for his home, including dining room tables, cabinets and staircases. So much so that after taking early retirement in 1995 from the automotive industry (where he oversaw 750 auto parts chain stores), he opened up his own cabinet shop in Fountain Valley, California, called DiMac Designs. “While our offerings were very well received, I found the cabinet-making process a bit tedious and repetitive,” he said. “Then one day the K12 Alliance called and needed 190 lightweight and portable 24″ whiteboards for teacher institutes across the state. White-boards? Why not!”
Never having made a whiteboard, David started from scratch. He researched materials, figured out how to cut each piece and eventually designed a “jig” that allowed him to make more pieces quickly. The whiteboards were such a hit with educators that he received another order for 450. Suddenly, the handwriting wasn’t just on the wall; it was on thousands of whiteboards too, as word spread about his quality products and service.
“Business was booming, but creating the product was rather cumbersome since I still had to cut each piece manually using a template,” he said. “It was clear we needed to tap into CNC technology, so we went to several woodworking machine companies and all the trade shows we could. And you know what? Laguna Tools was the only outfit that actually asked me, ‘How do you plan to use the machine?’”
Not long after, David took Laguna Tools up on its offer to bring in some whiteboard raw materials to see how its CNC equipment would perform.
“Before I knew it, they were cutting my products and making a comprehensive check list of what I needed and what I didn’t need in a CNC machine. Basically, they wound up customizing a unit that fit my unique manufacturing requirements!”
That was about two years ago, and David said he was able to pay off his new Laguna Tools CNC Swift Model in the first five months. “The reason? My labor costs were dramatically reduced, as was the amount of materials waste. I was amazed that DiMac Designs had been transformed from a traditional cabinet-making operation to a high-production, high-profit-margin enterprise. We no longer have huge inventories, and the environmentally safe raw materials are cut and shipped every afternoon.” David calls his association with Laguna Tools the “best business partnership I’ve ever entered into … and it didn’t cost me a dime.”
“They truly care about the customer and do everything imaginable to make sure we’re happy,” he said. “If I have a question, I can get the answer in a few minutes – that’s how customer-friendly they are. It’s obvious that Torben Helshoj, the owner at Laguna Tools, has an amazing knack for hiring the right people for every position. There’s not an employee there who isn’t a great ambassador for their business. For example, “Router Bob” Alsup is terrific at training people to run the CNC software, within minutes or days, not weeks or months, to the point that even an old guy like myself understood the software effortlessly.”
Business is doing so well on the whiteboard side of the operation that David has started a different company with his daughter, Kate.
“I started making high-impact, high-quality kitchen drawer dividers because I couldn’t find anything really good on the market,” he said. “Typically, the flimsy dividers out there never fit right and leave tons of wasted space. I was making them for friends and family and then all of the sudden everyone wanted to outfit their kitchen or office. The new business allows anybody to easily measure their drawers and send us the measurements via the website. With the help of our Laguna CNC machine, we can easily create high-quality, bacteria-resistant frameless dividers that fit perfectly and utilize all of the available space.”
With the success of his initial CNC Swift Model, it’s not surprising that David is in the process of purchasing another Laguna Tools machine for the drawer divider endeavor.
- Laguna Swift 48″ x 48″ CNC Router
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