Nordstar is a company that has used continuous innovation and strategic investment to sustain its success and growth in the manufacturing and construction industries. Kreykenbohm Corporation, Nordstar’s parent company, originally began in the 1950’s when Bill Kreykenbohm, the owner, was one of the first in North America to utilize a melamine press, a new technology at the time, to manufacture and supply panel products to a wide network of distributors. In the 1970s, the company started creating more cabinet parts to local cabinet builders, ultimately developing Nordstar into a full service cabinet manufacturer specializing in supply of products to multi-unit high rises or condominiums.
Four years ago, Jason Coroy joined the Nordstar team as Director of Sales, Marketing and Business Development and saw an opportunity to bring Nordstar to the forefront for Kreykenbohm. Observing increasing demand in North America for German and Italian products, which were unique in finish and materials, Coroy moved to shift Nordstar in this direction to fill demand.
Coroy says, “A lot of the technologies that drive the kitchen industry come from Germany so we decided to really focus on that and start developing products that are German inspired and engineered but producing them in a local manufacturing facility. We are the first ones to actually do this.” Many customers are shopping and buying cabinets half way around the world from Germany and now Nordstar is the first company in North American to supply the same engineered product locally, which has proven to be one of the company’s strengths and has contributed to its success and steady growth.
Making Innovation Part of the Company Culture
Coroy understands the importance of innovation and strives to maintain a culture in the workplace that embraces innovation and incorporates it daily. To Coroy, it doesn’t matter what the competition is doing because his goal is to come up with something new, that competitors are not doing.
Drawing on Richard Branson’s philosophies at Virgin, explains Coroy, “I try to move my team and I away from conventional thinking when it comes to business and our approach. I believe in today’s marketplace you must continually innovate. How do you innovate? Yes you use your creativity, but it’s really about attracting a culture of talented people that disrupt convention, collaborate effectively and nurture their ability to lead and create.”
Nordstar emphasizes innovation and investment in new technologies and instills this in its employees to push through the barriers and strive to create something that will make Nordstar stand apart from the competition. One of Nordstar’s main goals is to sustain its growth and recently the company purchased and implemented a new laser edge banding system. The system is new technology to Canada and creates a seamless finish to modern slab door profiles. This European style is the hottest trend on the market right now and Nordstar is the first kitchen manufacturer in Western Canada to invest in this technology.
Coroy expresses the importance of investing and stresses that, “We need to be continually looking and communicating with our client through all mediums. We need to ensure we are on top of trends and that we are internally developing towards being able to cater to those and be the first to bring these things in. It is a risky position for any company to continually invest in product trends that are not proven, but in today’s business that’s not only your survival but it’s your way to prosper.”
Nordstar has brought a youth into the organization that is continually looking to innovate and is continually looking to disrupt the traditional way of doing things so that the company may cater to the emerging market and bring not just a product, but a culture that customers are looking for in a supplier.
Forging Strong Partnerships
Nordstar has maintained excellent relationships with its clients over the years and part of this is because they are constantly communicating and listening to the clients to identify the needs for their businesses. Nordstar understands that every developer, general contractor, architect and designer all have different needs, therefore listening to the client is critical. Coroy explains that Nordstar’s initial approach to a project is different than competitors because of the pre-planning and scheduling processes, effectively resulting in on time, complete quality products.
One of Nordstar’s recent projects they are working on, in collaboration with Bosa Developments and Axiom is the Lido/Stir project. The project is a two tower project consisting of one residential and one rental tower and Nordstar is excited to be working with them on this iconic project in downtown Vancouver.
Coroy explains that Nordstar is selective of who they work with and states, “At Nordstar we try to find leading partners like Bosa in our client group. We don’t try to work for everybody, we want to work with the best and Bosa certainly is one of the leaders.”
Another project Nordstar is supplying cabinets for is called “First”. This project is a tower being developed by Fram/Slokker in East Village, Calgary, and is being constructed by ITC Construction. Both Fram/Slokker and ITC Construction are prominent companies in the industry and additional groups that Nordstar is proud to have as leading partners.
Keeping Up with Fashion Trends
Not only do clients appreciate the overall experience working with Nordstar, the company also offers an extremely wide range of products that clients can select from for any given project. Coroy reveals that the cabinet industry has evolved into a fashion industry and, just as any product does, is following fashion trends.
The industry has changed dramatically over time. Fifteen years ago a cabinet manufacturer could offer a selection of thirty product types that they build and clients chose from that selection. Today, every developer wants something unique for their projects so manufacturers have to change the entire manufacturing structure to meet these new demands.
“We’re developing products on the fly to fit the specific needs of customers and instead of just giving a stock product we’re actually innovating as we go. Because of our flexibilities,” says Coroy, "our customer enjoys the ability to collaborate and create new products with us. Nordstar now has the ability to create almost anything a client may be looking for in cabinet products and design.
With its innovation and flexibility to adapt to any specification clients are looking for, Nordstar is clearly a leader in cabinet manufacturing and will continue be successful and grow in the industry.