Celebrating 20 years with a commitment to excellence
By Hollie Deese
Among Nashville’s growth, and its recent pause for COVID-19, it has become clear just how important small, local businesses are to the fabric of this community. And Barbara French, owner of French’s Cabinets, has quietly been a part of Nashville’s success for decades.
A native Oklahoman, French moved to Nashville in 1987 because of a songwriting contract with Word Music. She began selling real estate to supplement what she made writing, and after she got married, she connected with a builder and began working with him on high-end custom homes.
But one thing always frustrated her about the process – the cabinets. She ended up using a different person each time but was just never satisfied, either upon install or a year down the road after some use.
Naturally, she started her own cabinet business.
“The focus of starting the business was to do things with excellence, every step of the process,” she says. “And managing expectations by sitting with the client and going through the quote process in detail so they know exactly what they are getting.”
French says her business has changed a lot over the past 20 years, but the core has remained the same – striving for an excellence in design and customer service.
“Early on, our goal was to educate people,” French says. “We spend the first amount of time educating them, showing them examples of full overlay, half overlay, cabinet construction, door construction, and the benefits of each one. And then helping them choose based upon their budget.”
In September, their 20th anniversary month, they will be showing off a remodeled office and showroom with displays for RUTT HandCrafted Cabinetry, a premium luxury cabinet line new to French’s.
“The thing I love the most is just seeing a beautiful finished product that a customer’s happy with,” French says. “It’s hard to beat that high, whether it’s a complete transformation from something really old, ugly and outdated or new construction that helps them get their dream kitchen.”
French is always following ever-changing cabinet trends, from the decorative trim from a decade ago to the clean lines of today’s contemporary kitchens.
“My own home is more traditional, but I have to say, some of the kitchens we’ve done are just breathtaking,” she says. “They’re like architectural works of art. It’s the most extreme fluctuation that I’ve seen in cabinetry design in 20 years. We went from a little simpler to a little bit more ornate, but now the pendulum has swung to extreme contemporary with laminate, and shiny finishes and slab doors. And they’re beautiful.”
About 75% of their business is repeat or referral, confirmation they are doing the kind of job people talk about in a good way. And in 2018 they won the Better Business Bureau Torch award for business ethics, which is not awarded lightly and was bolstered by the support of her team.
“They are really the backbone, and I couldn’t do this without them,” she says of her employees. “Each one takes ownership in the company, and that’s hard to find. I’ve been really blessed to find great people like that.”
And now French is excited about where post-pandemic business is headed.
“I’m thrilled to be celebrating 20 years in business and still going strong despite the pandemic. People still need beautiful and functional kitchens and baths. With all the time spent at home, people have had time to think about what they would like to change; remodeling projects are brewing!”
7108 Crossroads Blvd. #304, Brentwood