Modern Cabinetry with Rob Staropoli Cabinetry
By Maryann Valentine
After growing up in New York City, Rob Staropoli attended the School of Visual Arts in Manhattan, NY. He completed his Bachelors with a degree in fine arts, and continued his education in Virginia for graduate school. After graduation, Rob opened up his own carpentry company, where he quickly learned carpentry wasn’t the career path he was looking for. Rob and a partner decided to open a separate company for general contracting with over 51 employees, where they found themselves focusing on architectural millwork. Rob yearned to work for himself, and left the company in 2001, where he then went off to do custom cabinetry on his own. For the past 14 years, Rob has thrived in the cabinetry industry; creating unique, modern components and cabinets. Whether it be design, sales, build, spray, install, etc., Rob does it all himself in a 900 square ft. shop at Rob Staropoli Cabinetry in Triangle, Virginia.
Recently, Rob purchased his first CNC router to continue his successes in the cabinetry business. After doing extensive research to find the perfect CNC machine and company, he fell in the love with Atlas Series CNC router from Techno CNC Systems. “I did extensive CNC research and researched each CNC competitor vigorously. I learned that most companies want to sell to either the hobbyist or the fortune 500 type of company: there were no “in between” machines for your typical small business that doesn’t consider themselves a hobbyist. I learned that most of the CNC companies were either way too expensive, had horrid customer service, or had machines that were made with flimsy materials that would most likely fall apart over after one cut. I needed a machine that had a lot of strength and would perform aggressively, but also wasn’t going to break the bank. I also am running a complete single phase operation, so I needed a CNC company that could give me single phase power. Most of the CNC routers I researched strictly had 3-phase, where I would then have to lay out even more money for converters, to then change the power. Techno CNC was the only company willing to help me set the machine and vacuum pump up for single phase operation. Techno found answered each and every question / concern I had, offering complete solutions. I was concerned about running all of my other auxiliary equipment at the same time as the Techno machine. Their sales staff and engineers put together system that works in my small production shop. “Everything works beautifully”.
“I finally came to terms that the accuracy and quality of a part cut by a CNC router is something you will never be able to do by hand. That’s why I took the plunge to invest in a CNC router, and I regret not taking the plunge sooner. I have been up and running with my Atlas Series for 4 weeks now. In that time frame, I have completed 4 fairly large projects. Without my CNC router, these 4 projects would have taken me at least 8-9 weeks to complete. My CNC router has also given me accuracy when creating shelf holes. It does everything perfectly and precisely every time. You can’t beat that”. Rob’s productivity is up to 50% in less than four weeks. He has made a total of $22,000 in gross sales since his CNC router purchase four weeks ago, and could normally only do less than $12,000 in gross sales prior to owning CNC machinery. “Now, it’s not about doing the work – it’s about keeping up with the cuts and building fast enough. The CNC can spit parts out way faster than I can build them. It’s also given me so much more free time than what I am used to. Before I purchased my CNC router, I was working 7 days a week to keep up with demand and to meet deadlines”.
Rob currently promotes modernism and value engineering in his cabinetry business. “It’s about finding products to make better without the cost of things increasing. I am able to now have that solution and offer a better quality cabinet to my customers because of my CNC technology”. Rob has also worked on a series of projects outside of the cabinetry world. He recently made parts to build a wooden toy box for his granddaughter, as well as wooden signs and plaques. “I can do anything now. My mind is always racing with new things to build. I even considered using part of my waste and scrap materials to make unique items to sell at my local craft fairs”. Recently, Rob has been working on an extensive project for a client that includes a 9 ft. by 7 ft. wardrobe closet with drawers and shelving. He’s also completed a laminate front commercial kitchenette, book cases with crown molding and other detailed moldings, and a vanity. He has since also taken on two full kitchen jobs, which will pay for the CNC router in the first quarter of purchasing it. “Within 1-4 months, the CNC is paying for itself. I’ve actually second guessed not going for the large 5×10 bed with an automatic tool changer. I wish I went with the larger model. CNC technology has been a total game changer for my company”.
“Prior to my CNC router, I had a table saw that took up a little over half of my shop. It was taking up greater than a 16 ft by 20 ft footprint, and now, my Techno Atlas Series takes up a lot less space and it much easier to work with, as well. I love the accuracy of the machine. Whatever you put in the computer is what will come out on the material. I used to make mistakes doing everything by hand because nothing was exact. Nothing was precise. Now, my CNC router makes things limitless and I think differently now. I used to be afraid of curves, so whenever a customer would request a curve on their cabinet, I knew it would take me a really long time to sand it and make it look previse. I would have to charge my customers more for the time spent making the curve look perfect”.
Rob had little background experience using design and manufacturing software. When I purchased the Techno Atlas model machine a day of training was included. The day it arrived, I was so excited to play with my new toy, I just dove right in, and started playing with it. Before I knew it, I was drawing, and cutting all kinds of neat projects. The software and machine was easy to learn, use, and operate. I then called Techno and told them I did not require training, and asked for a credit for some tooling which they were very accommodating. “I’d always been a little intimidated by CNC technology – I had the mindset that it was extremely difficult and that it would take vigorous trainings to be able to operate the machine by myself. I was very wrong. It’s so simple. I looked at a few YouTube videos, figured out my coordinates, and changed a few parameters to accommodate my requirements. That was it. I hooked up the entire myself, I simple followed some simple steps in their manuals, and watched a few Youtube videos. I had no training on how to use the router. Anyone can do it”.
“Overall, the Atlas Series has been an excellent machine to enter into the CNC world. When purchasing a CNC router, I found Techno to be extremely reliable, as well. Whenever I called Techno for a simple tech support question, a living breathing person answered the phone, and I know I am always going to get the answer immediately. I never feel as though I am getting pushed around, like some of the other reviews claimed with larger CNC companies. That was huge for my purchasing decision. They have free lifetime support, as well, so I never have to worry about paying for technical advice and care”.