The Lifetime Quality of Hanford Cabinet & Woodworking
Family, Passion, and Pride
by RONA MANN
Steve Hanford draws up plans, but he’s not an architect.
Steve Hanford designs cabinets, but he’s not just a cabinet designer.
Steve Hanford builds cabinets, but he’s not just a cabinet maker.
Steve Hanford is, quite simply, a craftsman in the truest sense of the word. He grew up working shoulder to shoulder with his father in a state of the art woodworking shop. His father, a college trained instructor of the medium, taught his son not only the mechanics of custom designed hand finished woodwork, but also instilled in him a love and passion for the medium that empowers and defines Steve Hanford to this day.
Although originally on track to complete his doctorate in botany, when the time came to make a final decision, Hanford’s passion for woodworking won out. It proved to be the right decision, because he has been able to fulfill that passion and create work for which he is proud in a bucolic setting in Old Saybrook. At Hanford Cabinet & Woodworking, Steve and his associates have been listening to, and designing for clientele from New Jersey to the shoreline and beyond for nearly 36 years.
Though the Chamber of Commerce might call the showroom on Ingham Hill Road a “business,” it is really more a labor of love—a gallery of sorts, beckoning the visitor with its glass-encased cupola on the roof, its cathedral ceilings, exposed beams, and a showroom that truly shows what Steve Hanford and his family believe and create each day.
Allie Hanford, one of the company’s managers, puts it simply. “Everything here is built to last a lifetime. You’ll hear that phrase a lot around here because it’s what this business is built on. It starts with our own woodworking shop and showroom and extends to every job we complete.”
While Hanford Cabinet & Woodworking is primarily engaged in both functional and elegant design and build of kitchen cabinets and doors, they also extend their exceptional craftsmanship to custom designed and installed countertops, furniture, custom doors and windows, appliances, and plumbing fixtures.
While many successful small businesses like Hanford Cabinet & Woodworking have big dreams of growth and expansion involving multiple locations, Steve Hanford eschews that notion with a simple, “We thought about it. We discussed it briefly, but we’re happy being here with the clientele we have and the great attention to detail and the work we do. Often when you expand, the quality suffers, and that’s not what we’re about.”
What Hanford is about in addition to their exceptional craftsmanship, is family; which is why at Hanford Cabinet & Woodworking you’ll find an entire family fully committed to the tenent of quality that lasts a lifetime. While Steve is owner as well as a designer, craftsman, and installer, he is complemented by award winning kitchen designer, Beth Veillette, not a blood relative, but family nonetheless. Veillette listens intently to the client, getting to know their personal tastes and ideas. She fleshes out these ideas with her own, giving them choices and further styling options. Beth is a member of the National Kitchen and Bath Association and has published a book of kitchen ideas.
Linda Kent, another member of the Hanford extended family with more than a decade of kitchen and bath experience, specializes in consultation, space planning, and specification of appliances. She works closely with Steve to make sure every detail of design coordinates with all important space planning.
“The guys in the shop aren’t blood relatives either, but they’ve been here so long they’re part of our family.” What Allie is referring to is the more than 35 years of experience amassed by cabinetmakers, Eric Eldridge and Marc Bezanson. Their skills extend far beyond their custom in-house cabinetry, allowing them to handle all on-site installations. This is but one way in which Hanford sets themselves apart from their competition. The men who build your cabinets are the same professionals who install them, so quality control isn’t something to be hoped for, but something that is inherent in every job. The fact that most of the work is designed and built right in the Hanford shop allows customers to come back years later when they want an addition, upgrade, or change to their existing work.
In addition to Allie Hanford, Lane Hanford, Steve’s wife and Allie’s mother, works as both office manager and curator of the Front Room Gallery, featuring fine artistic gifts and highlighted by the oil paintings of local artist, Thomas Torrenti. Torrenti’s work is well known in the area and featured both in historic houses and galleries around the state. Lane herself is an artist, and her handmade dolls, jewelry, fine furniture, and scarves may be found in the gallery, affording customers popular gift choices.
Allie’s sister, Sarah, is Marketing Director for Hanford Cabinet & Woodworking, bringing her considerable talents in both photography and advertising to the table. All in all, this is a family whose talents not only complement one another, but bring a complete and consistent experience to their clientele.
The second floor showroom features five full kitchen displays, door and finish samples, hardware, and countertops in granite, marble, wood, stainless steel, corian, and more. In addition to their own custom cabinetry built on premises, the craftsmen at Hanford work with Kountry Kraft from Pennsylvania and Cabico of Canada, both outstanding in quality and design.
Steve Hanford is a man to whom ethics are most important. That’s why he won’t do cheap work. “We tried lower priced lines at one time, but it just didn’t work. We have all learned to be fussy…to do it one way, the right way. And when you’re trained that way, you just can’t lower your standards.” That explains why so much of Hanford’s business is repeat business and referral business, indeed the very best kind of word of mouth there is; because like Hanford’s work, it isn’t cut-rate either.
However Steve Hanford doesn’t sit back on those laurels for a minute. He is constantly honing his skills, never forgetting what his father taught him so many years ago, always reaching higher to get better and better. The young man who years ago started on a lifelong career in woodworking still gets back down in the shop, hands on; he also participates in customers’ installations from time to time to, as he puts it, “keep it real.”
Steve Hanford, the true craftsman, leans back in his chair and smiles, “This is a fascinating career. I have great fun every day reinventing the wheel.”
For quality built to last a lifetime, contact Hanford Cabinet & Woodworking at (860) 388-5055 Visit their website and view their passion at: www.hanfordcabinet.com Or stop by in person and visit the gallery at 102 Ingham Hill Road, Old Saybrook