Charles Cabinet Co. designs, builds, and installs all types of custom cabinets and countertops for residential and commercial projects. The company was established in 1954 in Roseville, MN by Don Charles. In 1974, Don hired Jim Schreier as an apprentice cabinetmaker. In 1976, Don retired and sold the business to Jim's father, Mathew Schreier, who had been a cabinetmaker for 20 years. Matt and Jim worked together until January of 1991. At that time, Mathew retired and Jim bought the business. Jim’s expertise is in the design, sale, and installation of the cabinets – his wife, Deb Schreier, is responsible for the office duties and accounting functions.
Jim and Deb Schreier have been customers of North American Banking Company since we opened our doors in 1998. You have probably seen their work in person at one of our branch locations. Charles Cabinets designed and built our original teller line in Roseville, and since that time have been instrumental in the design of our offices in Minneapolis, Hastings, Woodbury and Shoreview.
In 2000, North American Banking Company provided financing allowing Charles Cabinets to double its shop space, purchase new equipment, and construct a 2,000 square foot showroom.
In 2016, North American Banking Company helped finance the sale of Charles Cabinets to Pat Heavirland, a shop foreman at Charles Cabinets with over 20 years of prior business ownership experience. To ensure a smooth transition for Charles Cabinets, Jim and Deb continue to work with the company in a consulting role.
We spoke with Deb and Pat about the business, transitioning ownership, and plans for the future.
You’ve been a customer since the beginning of North American Banking Company in 1998.
We were actually with Mike (Bilski, CEO of North American Banking Company) when he worked at MidAmerica Bank.
What types of loans have you taken out with the bank in the past?
Vehicle loans, equipment loans and obviously when we tore the building down and did the new building, they facilitated the SBA loan for us as well, so it was a combination of SBA and the bank’s loan but they managed it all for us. Anytime we have a purchase, we call. And they run equity lines for me. Usually we know what we need, we call ahead, and we go in and sign papers [laughs].
It sounds like response time is a big deal for your industry. Have you experienced a similar response time at other banks?
I’ve never actually banked anywhere else! [laughs] You hear these horror stories from other people. We have a lot of friends that run their own businesses where they’ll call a bank and not hear for days and days and they don’t have their answers and they are so frustrated. Even for the personal stuff, I can call and talk to Amanda, Debbie, or Sandy and get my answers instead of sitting here waiting for an answer. I wouldn’t be somewhere for this long if that wasn’t the case. That’s why we stay, because we get such great service.
I like the idea that they are in the community and are active in the community. I feel like they have something vested in us, taking our building down and building this one, getting the SBA to work with us, because they are in the same community as we are. I think that makes a difference.
If you were to give advice to someone who is seeking financing for their business, what would it be?
I would definitely tell people if all you get is “Push 1 for this and 2 for that”… I wouldn’t do it. It’s just too big of a waste of time when you get stuck in those loops and you can’t get your answers. It can literally stop you dead and you’re going to sit there until you get the answer. And if you push the wrong button and you’re in that loop for an hour, you’re just going to end up frustrated. So I would tell them to go to a place that is small enough to know their business. I give Mike (Ostergren, AVP/Business Banking) all of my financials every year so whenever I call and need something, my file is up to date. So it makes it easy for him and he’s not waiting for me to do my job.
I would always say go to a community bank that understands what you do and have them in. Come and see your business and see what it entails. I think it is really important that they understand how your business operates and that you have your finger on the pulse.
You recently sold the business to Pat Heavirland. What does that transition look like from your perspective?
My role is pretty much going to be the same, just a big step back so I can get new people trained and make sure it is going smoothly. Pat worked here for a long time but he never worked in the office, so that’s kind of a whole different animal for him to get up to speed on. Jim and I are both on board for five years in the transition.
How did you approach the idea of purchasing Charles Cabinets?
I was a residential building contractor, that did all my own architectural drafting and design for 20+ years. And throughout those years as a contractor, I got to know Jim and Deb. So when Jim and Deb started to think about retiring they approached me and asked me if I was interested in buying their business. So I came to work for them as shop foreman and lead installer for a few years until we could work out the details of buying the business.
What is your vision for Charles Cabinets?
My vision for Charles Cabinets isn't much different than Jim and Deb's was when they bought the company. Their goal was to take it to the next level. And that's my goal now, to take it to the next level.
Below: See our KARE commercial featuring Charles Cabinets!