Today, 97 percent of DeWils cabinets are sold outside of the greater Portland/Vancouver area.
“We really had to ride the industry evolution from local cabinet shops to national manufacturers. Each region has its own twist to the marketplace,” Wilson noted.
To counter this regional nuance, DeWils takes great pride in their training program for their independent dealers at their facility in Vancouver. Wilson himself makes the rounds to visit his dealers.
“That is what sets us apart,” he said. “We don’t just sell cabinets, we help our dealers become successful, whether it is training, help with their marketing… whatever it takes.”
DeWils, which is now two separate entities – DeWils Industries, the international cabinet manufacturer and DeWils Interiors, the local custom cabinet and appliance showroom, has weathered the ups and downs of the economy.
“Having lived through the recession of the eighties, we resolved to rid ourselves of credit. We wanted to become an entirely cash-run organization,” Wilson said. “That really helped us get through this latest round that hit us in 2008.”
Additionally, Wilson said that being in multiple geographies has helped during economic downturns as well, since different regions of the country, and certainly outside of the U.S., are impacted differently.
However, business is not without its challenges.
“Government has become the biggest cost of doing business,” Wilson noted. “We spend more on taxes, fees and regulatory compliance than we do on employees.”
Rather than complain about challenges handed down by the government, DeWils decided to take action. Their first step was to put Tracy’s wife Lynda, who had been managing special cost-reduction projects for the company, in charge of government affairs. This role soon bloomed outside of their walls and into the community.
“Once the topic was brought up, there was no shortage of business owners who voiced their concerns and wanted help,” Lynda said.
Lynda quickly became involved in AWB (Association of Washington Business) and became an advocate on the leadership council for NFIB (National Federation of Independent Business) – organizations dedicated to helping businesses navigate the governmental landscape and have a strong voice.
Lynda’s efforts garnered calls from business owners and leaders in the community for her to have an even greater role, eventually relenting to appeals for her to run for District #17 State Representative.
Today, DeWils stands as the definition of a local success story.
“Slow and steady growth,” Tracy Wilson said. “It is tough to save up for that new machinery or expansion, but patience helps you weather the storm.”