It all started in high school when a concerned woodworking teacher suggested Don Fesenmeyer pursue a job at a cabinet company following graduation. Three companies and 35 years later, Don has built a first-class custom design business that continues to evolve and grow with market demand.
Don started Don’s Custom Cabinets after working for two companies that went out of business. “A customer encouraged me to start a company on my own since I knew what I was doing.” In 1981, Don did just that and grew his company to 25 fulltime employees by 2007. Then the recession hit and Don had to lay off over half his staff. “We were doing everything in house which was labor intensive. When the market went south, so did demand for our product.”
To help grow his company before and after the recession, Don needed working capital. When banks turned him down for financing, Don’s wife and co-owner, Heidi Fesenmeyer, along with their accountant suggested he contact Colorado Enterprise Fund (CEF). Don qualified for four loans – the first in 2001 to help buy equipment, and later to address cash flow needs and reduce debt incurred with their vendors during the recession.
“CEF looked at us as people and realized our business potential,” Don recalled. “Their staff believed in us and helped us survive when things weren’t great, so we could keep our doors open.”
Don’s experience with the highs and lows of the economy and related financing taught him to run a leaner business. This included reducing his staff to 6 current fulltime employees and creating partnerships with other shops that now do 85% of the manufacturing work so he and his staff can focus on customer sales and service. He also transferred his operations online using a web-based design program that helps his staff complete projects in real-time, simplifies communications and reduces waste.
“We handle more volume now with fewer staff and get customers their products faster than ever before,” says Don. “This new process, along with our rebranded website, helps us exceed our customers’ expectations. Sales have increased by 30% this year making us stronger financially.
Don’s efforts to grow his business better post-recession have garnered him a “best cabinet shop in Longmont” award along with many returning customers and increased referrals.
“By promoting a positive customer remodeling experience, we’ve added value for our customers,” Don remarked. “But without CEF’s help, these last few years wouldn’t have been the best.”