Online Kitchen Store is a well-known supplier and manufacturer of high quality kitchens. We spoke to the company about their use of the latest machinery while keeping the human touch. Also, how Leave Dates has been an “lifesaver”, helping them keep their staff away in one place.
Online Kitchen Store makes high-quality, affordable kitchens, selling directly at local housebuilders and developers.
Olly Martin, its managing director, created it 10 year ago from Waterford Kitchens which Olly’s father Tim started in 1997. For 25 years, the family business operated from a bespoke manufacturing plant in Ampthill.
The company stocks a wide variety of kitchens: traditional shakers and traditional, contemporary, high-gloss and hand-operated kitchens.
It also offers a designer service. Each customer is assigned a dedicated designer who will create photorealistic images based upon the particular dimensions and adjust the design until it is perfect. After receiving a quote and placing an online order, your kitchen will be manufactured on-site. It is fully assembled and ready for you to use.
Quality is the main goal. All cabinets are made with glue and dowell construction to provide strength and durability.
Fittings and accessories are exceptional, including Kessebohmer storage options (German engineering at the best) as well as Grass Scala drawers directly from Austria. Cabinet doors are sourced from well-known manufacturers like Burbidge or Multiwood.
Everything is made-to-measure: “We offer hundreds upon hundreds of different colors of cabinets. If a customer wishes a pink edging with bright blue doors, we’ll make it happen. We won’t turn down any request. Olly said that everything is made-to order. There’s not a stock item that has the same size as what customers require.
Another distinctive feature of the company is the fact it sells directly at trade prices to the general public.
The human touch
The second generation family-owned business is rich in experience and has deep roots.
“I started it 25 years back with my dad, then I joined three more years later. Now, I own the business. Online Kitchen Store was founded and is run by me. I didn’t just launch into manufacturing from nothing; we also had a smaller production facility in place.
“I love watching things grow. I remember when I first started making kitchens. It was only two to three per week. But, I transformed the facility with technology and development. Now we make 25 to 30 kitchens each week. That is to me a remarkable achievement.
Although the company constantly invests in the best computer-controlled technologies to stay ahead of their competition, it remains a hands-on business that still retains the human touch.
Every door is hand-fitted. Each unit undergoes a thorough inspection to ensure that it meets all requirements before being wrapped, packed, and shipped to its destination.
While we do have state of the art machinery, ours is not comparable to large European manufacturers that use fully robotic factories where humans are not allowed to touch the product. Robots can be great for making machines but they aren’t able to spot any flaws. “We have the best machinery and quality control. It’s human touch that actually touches it, and we work with it throughout the process.”
Everyone is connected
Leave Dates allows for innovation with a human touch.
Olly says Leave Dates “has been a little bit of a lifesaver.” Before Leave Dates the staff took their leave by keeping a log. “It was very archaic. But the person doing it had done it so many times, for twenty-odd year, that it was hard for them to change. They had retired so I thought it was time to fix this and get it digitalized.
Olly went through a variety of software systems and ultimately chose Leave Dates. “I was looking at something that I could manage all in one place. It is nice and organized, and it works perfectly for us.
It’s a big success. It’s easy to see that everyone is in the same room.
All 20 staff members have Leave Dates downloaded to their smartphones. “Everyone uses them. They can ask for holiday on their phones. Production managers can view who’s on and off. We also receive an email reminder each day about who’s absent that day.
“If someone goes off sick in the manufacturing plant, the operations manger just marks them down sick. It is something we use every day. It’s an integral part of our day to day business.
Leave Dates is now in its third consecutive year. Does it solve all their problems in organising vacation? “Yes, massively. We used to have a lot of trouble remembering to email people and say “Oh, you have to make a note that this person is off”, but now everything’s in one place.
He is also impressed with Phil’s customer service. Phil responds immediately to any email I send him. He says, “Just do it like that” and is on the job. Brilliant.”
Olly would recommend that you leave dates? “Definitely, yes. I have already recommended it several times to friends who have started their own businesses. It’s very easy to use, simple to learn, and everyone will find it simple.