Hariender (Happy) Roupra and Gino Collalto both immigrated to Canada in 1987. After working together to make kitchens for another company, the two entrepreneurs teamed up to build CR Technical Woodworking in 1999 with the motivation to work for themselves. Starting with just three employees, the business has grown to include over 30 full-time employees and a reputation as the leading kitchen cabinet designers in Southwestern Ontario for commercial and residential spaces.
CR Technical specializes in designing, building, and installing kitchen cabinets, vanities, counter tops, desks, storage units, custom woodworking, and commercial store fixtures with CNC Machining and experienced specialists.
If you’ve recently moved into a new home or renovated an existing space, you’ll understand the challenges of having too many choices: from picking amongst 50 shades of the grey to deciding on your material (granite, quartz, acrylic solid surface, manufactured stone, laminate), to trying to match all of the design elements together.
CR Technical can help you decide on different styles, colours, materials, and finishes. We chatted with Happy and Gino about how it all goes down at CR Technical Woodworking:
What would you consider the most significant developments in woodworking and cabinetry over the last 15 years?
Gino: Everything has gone custom. Before, there would be less choices. You would see 4 different colours, 8-10 laminate countertops, and half a dozen handles. There would be one pantry, stove, sink, fridge, and maybe a dishwasher.
Happy: Now there are just too many choices and too many colours. There are thousands of shades to choose from for your wall colour, floor colour, and kitchen colour. There’s like 60 shades of white and when you paint them wet, they all look the same. When they dry in different lights they don’t look like the same colour.
What do you look for when selecting materials and where do you source them from?
Happy: Price. But the cheapest is not always the best. We deal with distributors from Toronto and manufacturers in Quebec and Pennsylvania.
What is the process like when someone is looking for a new kitchen?
Happy: Sometimes people come in with designers, sometimes they have seen something they like in someone else’s home, sometimes they go on the Internet and have ideas. Sometimes they bring in their own measurements to get the ball rolling and we measure later, other times they just call and ask for someone to come measure their kitchen. Sometimes people bring their house plans and ask for a price, and we end up telling them a window may have to be moved. There’s lots of different ways you can do it. The girls downstairs sit with them and find out what type, colour, style, and materials they are looking for.
What were some of the challenges starting your own business?
Happy: There weren’t many challenges. We knew what we were doing and how it do it. Everything sort of fell into place.
Gino: Dealing with people. The kitchens are all different and customers have their own ideas so you have to make it work.
Happy: People have their own ideas from someone else’s house, something they have seen online, but they don’t all work together. There’s a reason everybody doesn’t have those things. Sometimes it is very hard to make people understand that this is not going to work and this is why.
Gino: People spend hours and hours in the showroom with 10 different designs of the same kitchen. They will see something in a magazine that works, but the reality is when you go to their house, they are renovating an old house and it is not possible with the space.
Happy: The law of physics just says we can’t (laughs). We go through a lot of that to make people understand why something may not work.
How long does it take after decisions are finally made to create and install?
Gino: If they come in and sign the contract today, it could be 5-6 weeks. More fancy designs take 8-10 weeks depending on the material.
Should people design their rooms around their cabinets and vanities or start with other areas?
Happy: Yes, design around your cabinets.
What are your roles now?
Happy: Looking after the production and how we can improve, what machining can make the processes faster, how we can build better. We are active in day-to-day activities with what goes on, who is doing what, what is going out today, what materials we need, what the problems are, and if we have enough work to keep everybody busy.
Do you still build furniture today?
Gino: When you have your own business, you don’t have to! They do it in the factory. I’m renovating my own house now. Anything fancy, I will make myself. If it’s normal cabinets I’ll get the guys to make it.
Happy: We’re too old!
What is your favourite piece of furniture you’ve made?
Happy: All of them. (laughs)
Gino: Barn board stuff (right). I made a vanity out of a barrel and cut the doors into it. The sink sits on top of the barrel (left).
Where do you look to stay up to date with the latest trends?
Happy: The Internet and woodworking and kitchen design magazines.
Gino: Houzz, everyone goes on there.
What are some trends you’re seeing now?
Happy: We’re getting more and more into modern slabs and chic-er looks. Greys are back and oak is making a big comeback. Five years ago, everyone was staining their kitchens dark colours like maple and dark brown.
Gino: All the furniture and chairs were espresso.
Happy: Now 80% of kitchens are painted a white or off-white colour or cement grey.
Contact CR Technical Woodworking for your custom kitchen cabinets and custom woodworking needs in Hamilton.