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Crazy Furniture Lead Times? We Can Help! | Paul Downs Cabinetmakers

Crazy Furniture Lead Times? We Can Help!

A local architect told us that she’d been quoted 40 weeks or more for a custom table. Forty weeks! That’s insane… Even through the pandemic and all of its disruptions, Paul Downs has been able to keep its lead time between 8 and 14 weeks. So what’s going wrong with our competitors? We thought we would provide some insight into what drives lead times, and how you can avoid an unpleasant surprise when you go to order furniture.

Conference Table Designers and Renderings

Why the delays?

Three types of problems drive lead times:

Labor Issues

You’ve probably heard people complain that there are no skilled workers around. We disagree. If a company can’t find or keep workers, it’s probably a combination of low pay, bad location, bad culture, and poor working conditions. These lead to a death spiral – a company’s best workers depart for better jobs, making the remainder less efficient, the company less stable, and the workplace even less attractive. Work doesn’t get done, clients look elsewhere, and everything gets worse and worse. Companies in this position have no one to blame but themselves.

Paul Downs doesn’t have problems attracting workers. We are fully staffed and have been successful in hiring the next generation of artisans. How do we do it? We’ve committed to paying above-average wages. We also have an attractive shop located close to a major population center that still abounds with skilled manufacturers. We offer a full range of benefits and flex time so that our workers can take care of their personal needs. And we’re committed to a company culture that encourages collaboration and a happy workplace. And here’s the payoff: we don’t have labor issues. We’re getting unsolicited resumes from good applicants because everyone knows we are a great place to work.

Supply Chain Issues

Like everyone else, we’re having difficulty getting some products that we used to be able to acquire in a few days. There’s no problem with most of what we need – plenty of wood around for instance. The difficulties are with certain power/data units imported from China. We have also had issues with certain types of plastic laminates. We’re also experiencing higher shipping costs and longer transit times for shipments across the country.

Fortunately, we can usually find a substitute for out-of-stock items. Our design engineers, manufacturing engineers, and project managers are in constant dialogue with our suppliers. We work with our shippers, vendors, and clients to find ways to keep projects on budget and on track. Which leads us to the next category:

Design Issues

Supply chain problems are often design problems. During our design and approval process, we try to educate our clients as to how their decisions affect price, function, and lead time. As long as there is open dialogue about the implications of design schemes, lead times can be managed.

How Paul Downs Stays on Schedule

A properly managed company, with the ability to turn on a dime when confronted with obstacles, should never let its work get out of control. Here’s how we do it:


As custom manufacturers, we have the ability to change course when conditions demand it. We’re never locked into a limited set of options. So when conditions change, we can respond without hesitation in order to meet our deadlines.


We are staffed and equipped to do all of the work we commit to in the time we quote. In reality, that means always having reserves of labor, materials, and manufacturing equipment so that the work never stops.


Wouldn’t it be nice if your suppliers were committed to keeping you informed if anything comes up which affects lead times? And wouldn’t you be happier if you knew you could instantly get answers from a dedicated team of smart people? Paul Downs is big enough to handle the toughest jobs, but small enough that every team member is empowered to help our clients through whatever drama appears. Our internal systems allow all of us to see the status of every project so that we can help you whenever you need it.

And if bald assertion isn’t convincing, check out our testimonials, Google reviews, and client list. We’re confident that Paul Downs is the best choice whenever you need custom furniture, on time and on budget. Do you need help with a project? Contact us!