Talking Shop with Steve Seyer of S&W Cabinets

Monday, August 27, 2012
S&W Cabinets president Steve Seyer poses Friday at the Chaffee, Mo., cabinet manufacturer. (ADAM VOGLER)

S&W Cabinets company president Steve Seyer was born the same year his father and grandfather started the company. Now S&W has grown from two men in a shop in Chaffee, Mo., to three divisions with a nationwide client base and continues to grow. S&W is run by the same family and operates by the same traditions and workmanship that it was founded on.

Q. How has your career evolved to get you where you are today?

A. My father, Marcus Seyer, and grandfather, Gregory Westrich, began this company in 1954, the year I was born. So S&W has always been a part of my life. I started as a young child helping Dad in the shop doing custom cabinets. When I graduated from high school I went to work full time with the company and have been here ever since. Today I am the president of a company that has three successful divisions and continues to grow.

Q. What was your business like when you started?

A. When Dad and Grandpa started in business, they produced one line of cabinets and did those with pride and quality. That is what they did, and that is what they taught us boys. Woodworking, cabinets and quality. The two of them started a small millwork shop with not much more than a hammer, a saw, a paintbrush and a desire to build high-quality cabinetry.

Not much had changed when I joined the company. We had very few power tools and continued to do most of the work by hand. Today there are so many advancements in the software we use for designing and the machinery used that today the options are limitless. We are able to perfect much more intricate detailing in the cabinetry. When I started we had six to eight employees. We now employ between 60 and 70 and have increased from one set of cabinets a week 30 years ago to over 50 sets of cabinets a week today.

Our sales area was Chaffee and surrounding areas like Cape Girardeau, Sikeston, Marble Hill and etc. Today we are a nationwide company and deliver cabinets from the East Coast to the Rockies and from Florida to New York. Our market continues expanding as nationwide contractors learn about this company in Chaffee, Mo. We continue researching and supplying various market needs nationwide.

Q. How are things different today?

A. Today we strive to maintain that high standard for quality started with S&W in 1954. We have grown from that small millwork shop to a custom cabinetry division as well as a commercial casework division and a new manufactured cabinetry division, American Traditions.

The unique craftsmanship and impeccable quality that has carried on through the generations of family cabinet makers is what sets S&W Cabinets and American Traditions apart from other cabinet companies. The various divisions that are currently part of S&W Cabinets provides unlimited opportunities to customize and specialize according to the needs of the customer.

S&W Cabinets designs, builds and installs anything from typical kitchen cabinetry, medical offices, schools and so much more. We can offer cabinet repair and upgrading services. Also, the company can fit any budget option a customer could need.

Q. To what do you attribute your business's longevity?

A. First, our longevity begins at the beginning 58 years ago. It was the standards for excellence set by and taught all us boys by our father and grandfather that instilled the value of hard work and quality products that has given S&W the longevity and outstanding reputation it has today.

Second, family. We have taken each of our talents and interest in various market areas and expanded those to grow to where we are today as a company. As a family, we not only have each other to encourage but also to keep us on track. In addition, being a cohesive team, we have excellent problem-solving techniques. This support system has been invaluable for this company.

Third, our employees. We have some of the best employees in the world. Some of the employees have been with the company so long I do not remember an S&W without them. This knowledge, skill and ability acquired through the years are not replaceable. We have always had the philosophy at S&W to seek out and secure high-quality employees. We believe the best employees will produce the best product for our customers.

Q. What are some of the biggest rewards of your work?

A. First is the accomplishment of our family seeing the company grow to the level it has as of today. Being able to work with family and continue my dad and grandfather's legacies is my biggest reward.

But also, it is a reward to go to a school function or ballgame and see our work in the locker rooms, knowing that S&W will be a part of someone's school years. It is a reward to know our casework quality is in doctor offices, dialysis centers, hospitals and other medical facilities that provide designs and workmanship to allow medical personnel to do their work.

It is rewarding to receive short thank-you notes or letters from customers that love their new kitchen cabinet either from the custom line or from our American Traditions division. S&W receives rewards in being a part of people's lives. By knowing our quality product is part of everyday life and part of memories for years to come is our reward.

Q. Anything else you can think to add?

A. The company is currently managed by me and all three brothers: Richard, Rodger and Tim Seyer. We manage the day-to-day operations as well as keep our eyes on the strategic plan and future growth of the company. We have a multitude of other family members that assist in areas of their skill set including website design and maintenance and other social media outlet connections. Our family is involved with the company in every aspect they can be.

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