When Hollman, Inc. decided to expand into high-end kitchen cabinetry, the company also made a commitment to dramatically reduce its volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions and make other modifications to the manufacturing process. As a result, the company has carved out a niche as a producer of a luxury line of eco-friendly kitchen cabinetry.

Hollman’s Luxury Cabinetry line is constructed of formaldehyde-free plywood and features waterborne finishes.

Hollman, Inc., of Irving, TX, is a leading manufacturer of lockers in the U.S. It is believed that more than 60% of all wood lockers here are modeled after the company’s designs.

Well aware that his company’s dominance in the high-end locker market was the result of doing some important things the right way, company President Joe Hollman made the strategic decision to expand the business into new markets.

Hollman had his eye on leveraging the company’s wood products manufacturing experience into the market for high-end kitchen cabinetry. At the same time, he was quick to grasp the importance of green manufacturing processes, even before the recent surge of interest in green building. When Hollman made the decision to launch a kitchen cabinetry line, he also made a commitment to dramatically reduce his company’s volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions and make other modifications to the manufacturing process so that he could carve out a niche as a producer of a luxury line of eco-friendly kitchen cabinetry.

Hollman sells its custom-built, furniture-grade lockers to top country clubs, fitness centers, spas, athletic facilities, ski lodges, and government and public facilities throughout the country.

From Locker Rooms to Kitchens

Boasting more than 300,000 ft 2of manufacturing space, Hollman sells its custom-built, furniture-grade lockers to top country clubs, fitness centers, spas, athletic facilities, ski lodges, and government and public facilities throughout the country. The company also makes panelized racquetball and squash courts and athletic wall systems.

Hollman’s furniture-grade lockers are studies in high-end, and many are built from exotic woods. From this base of experience, the company drew on German engineering and Italian design to launch its Luxury Cabinetry by Hollman line of kitchen cabinetry. The cabinetry is not only beautifully designed, but it is also sturdily built to resist cracking, warping, fading and contraction.

In addition to featuring low-VOC, waterborne finishes, Hollman’s Luxury Cabinetry line is constructed using PureBond™ formaldehyde-free plywood from Columbia Forest Products of Portland, OR, rather than composite wood. The purpose is to eliminate formaldehyde off-gassing, which occurs even after finished, manufactured-wood products containing formaldehyde leave the plant and arrive at their end-use destinations. By pairing a formaldehyde-free plywood and low-VOC finishing system, Hollman successfully introduced a luxurious green product into a market where there are limited options for eco-friendly cabinetry.

The Sher-Wood waterborne stains are designed for application with various types of automatic spray equipment.

Finishing Green

To help Hollman implement a green finishing system, the company sought a finishing partner with experience working with waterborne finishes. According to Kim Leng, vice president of manufacturing, after a review process, The Sherwin-Williams Co. was chosen both for the quality and durability of its finishes and because of the value-added technical support services the finishing supplier provides. The company offers custom finishes that are low in both hazardous air pollutants (HAPs) and VOCs, and it supports these products with the technical expertise needed for a smooth transition to a waterborne coatings line.

Ultimately, the $5 million investment made by Hollman in its finishing operations has paid off by helping the company multiply its output by more than 10 times that of the previously used method and limiting Hollman’s emissions to less than 1,000 lb annually.

The finishing process begins on the first of three dedicated Cefla finishing lines. Sher-Wood® water-reducible stain is applied to door parts using a 20-gun rotating carousel for a complete and even coat. The doors are then sealed with Sherwin-Williams UltraCure® 100% solids ultraviolet (UV) spray sealer. After proper flash-off and cure, they are sanded and topcoated with Sherwin-Williams UltraCure waterborne UV coating. The panels continue on the conveyor belt to the laminar flow oven, where they are warm-air flashed prior to entering the UV oven. UV lamps use significantly less energy than traditional drying ovens - a money-saving advantage and another green plus for Hollman.

UV-Curable Coatings

The waterborne UV coating system used by Hollman is actually a collection of waterborne stains and UV curable sealers and topcoats, all designed for application with various modes of automatic spray equipment. The coatings offer outstanding physical properties along with an ultra-low VOC content. They also have exceptional durability and resistance to abrasion, chemicals and impact. Sherwin-Williams worked closely with Hollman to fine-tune the custom formulation of the coatings to enable higher throughput and increased productivity.

“It’s not essential that the finisher understand the ins and outs of UV chemistry,” says Jeff Bennett, Sherwin-Williams UV technical director. “But it is essential that the finishing supplier have the knowledge, capability and willingness to customize the chemistry to ensure optimal performance on the finishing line.”

One of the most significant advantages for Hollman of working with this particular waterborne UV topcoat rather than other UV topcoats is the ease of reclaimability of this product. Hollman reuses all the overspray. Only minor adjustments with water are required before re-spraying. Using water as the reducer instead of solvent means less solvent waste for the finisher. Other UV coatings on the market require more complicated adjustment processes before the material can be reused. Sherwin-Williams also ships materials to Hollman in fiber drums that are recyclable, which further boosts the company’s commitment to the three Rs of green: reduce, reuse, recycle.

Advanced Door Manufacturing Processes

Another innovative aspect of Hollman’s cabinetry involves the use of a patented bent veneer process to manufacture raised panel doors. Unlike many other cabinetmakers, instead of outsourcing cabinet doors, Hollman produces them at its own door plant to allow for greater quality control, considerable design flexibility and reduced lead times.

Previously, the raised panel doors were made using solid wood materials. They were costly and didn’t consistently yield uniform color and grain patterns. In addition, good-quality wood without blemishes or wormholes has become harder to find. When veneers were introduced for the center panel, they exacerbated the color uniformity problem due to the various types of wood and wood patterns.

Today, Hollman’s veneer raised panel doors are constructed using CNC equipment to cut, profile and edgeband the different door parts. The patented veneer bending process involves two vertical framing components and two horizontal framing components, all of which are combined with a center panel to create a doorframe. Each exposed edge of the door is layered with an edge banding, which is made of either wood or plastic veneer that covers any joints between the vertical and horizontal framing components. Because the process uses only veneer and engineered board, it reduces the use of solid wood - and trees - significantly.

LEEDing by Example

As a result of its environmentally responsible manufacturing practices, Hollman’s products have been selected for use in Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED)-certified buildings such as Elliot Hospital in Manchester, NH, Genzyme Research in Cambridge, MA, and the Cascade Ridge residential community at Big Sky, MT. Hollman is a member of the U.S. Green Building Council, and key employees are currently working on their LEED AP certification in “new construction” and “major renovations.”

With a solid commitment to green manufacturing and some help from its friends, Hollman is setting an example of how an operation can go green without sacrificing quality or beauty.

For more information about waterborne coatings, visit www.sherwin-williams.com/oem. More information about Hollman, Inc., can be found at www.hollman.com.