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Built To Last

Built to Last

The George J. Rothan Millwork Company uses Cabinet Vision to pair old-world craftsmanship with time-saving technology

As the saying goes, the goal is not to live forever, but to create the things that will.

And while it’s safe to say that nothing outlasts time, some creations are around long enough to make an indelible mark.

Such is the case with products manufactured by the George J. Rothan Millwork Company of Peoria, Ill., a 143-year-old fine architectural woodworking business that makes what’s built to last.

Founded in 1873 by George J. Rothan, the son of German immigrants, the company has performed jobs in and around Peoria, and all over the Midwest. It’s also completed work as far East as Boston, as far west as California, and has shipped its products to Hawaii.

“There’s a great sense of pride in working around the region and seeing some of the things we’ve done,” says Vice President Chris Rothan, a member of the family’s fifth generation in the business.

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Rothan has served as the company’s vice president for 12 years and works alongside his brother, J.J. Rothan, who fills the role of president. Together, the brothers manage a workload that is roughly 90 percent commercial and 10 percent residential.

“We attract a lot of business from word-of-mouth,” Rothan says. “I think it’s our experience, along with our ability to work with technology and manage projects effectively, that really sets us apart from our competition.”
“If you’re a mid-sized company that has Cabinet Vision and CNC machinery, you’re seeing at least a 25 percent time savings compared to a company that doesn’t.”

Chris Rothan, vice president

Maintaining craftsmanship inherent to the family’s woodworking legacy while staying competitive by embracing technology is Chris Rothan’s specialty. A self-proclaimed child of the computer age, Rothan is adept at using technology to the company’s benefit while continuing to deliver the old-world workmanship that customers expect.

“We really worked to implement technology in our office,” he explains. “With the amount of information that you have to process, you have to be as efficient as you can be.”

While the company once employed a staff of 30, the team was whittled down to 16 after the economic downturn in roughly 2008. Since then, the reigning plan is to “stay the same size and be more efficient.”

“The more personnel you have, the more there is to keep track of,” says Rothan, who studied computer business management at a university in Peoria. “We knew that we needed to use computers more, so we enhanced the way we used the software we were using and implemented new systems, too.”

One of the systems implemented by Rothan was the Cabnetware computer-aided-manufacturing (CAM) solution, by Vero Software.

In 2012, the company acquired the Cabinet Vision design-to-manufacturing solution, also by Vero Software, when Rothan saw that the more robust solution could better fulfill the company’s needs.

“What I love most about Cabinet Vision are the design capabilities, especially being a computer-oriented person,” Rothan says. “Cabinet Vision is built on 3D modeling theory, so you can see what you’re making. With Cabnetware, it was harder to visualize and get an overall picture.”

To begin programming in Cabinet Vision, programmers start by entering the dimensions of the room in which they plan to build. Once the virtual room has been created, cabinets can be drawn and placed.

“Presentation wise, Cabinet Vision is very helpful,” Rothan says. “We use it to do all of our drawings for commercial work. Before we implemented Cabinet Vision, we were drawing our projects in a two-dimensional CAD (computer-aided design) software, and then we would have to essentially redraw them in Cabnetware. That was costing more time and energy because it was daunting to draw a job knowing you were just going to have to redraw it.”

Rothan also appreciates the quality of the drawings rendered in Cabinet Vision, as well as the ability to view projects in 3D to see if all of the elements are coming together properly.

“Being able to manage a whole job in Cabinet Vision is really an advantage,” says Rothan, who uses the software to design jobs, manage materials and create cutlists. “Being able to see the parts coming together in the software provides a strong overall view of the project.”

The company pairs Cabinet Vision with a nested-based router to make the most of its materials, save time, and eliminate error. Because Cabinet Vision offers flexibility in addition to time savings, Rothan and his team are able to generate nests that can be easily edited as needed.

“Letting the computer put all the parts on a sheet and put the materials together is much more optimal, and a huge, huge benefit for us,” Rothan says. “If you’re a mid-sized company that has Cabinet Vision and CNC machinery, you’re seeing at least a 25 percent time savings compared to a company that doesn’t,” Rothan says. “I don’t know what my life would be like if I had to hand cutlist and hand cut everything. That would be a nightmare.”

Rothan and his team also take advantage of Cabinet Vision’s User Created Standards, or UCSs, functionality, which allow programmers to use basic “if/then” programming statements to implement their best practices time and again.

UCSs deliver greater customization and flexibility for users who want to save time by creating standards that don’t have to be reprogrammed for each job. For instance, a Cabinet Vision user may choose to add an extra inch to a particular cabinet layout under specific conditions, or to use a certain material only under specified conditions.

“I don’t know how any companies do what we do and not have a few UCSs,” says Rothan, who maintains a library of roughly 70 UCSs. “They give you the ability to use the software to the fullest.”

The quality of the Cabinet Vision support forums, Rothan adds, is additional benefit to using the software. Being able to receive online support, as well as to discuss challenges and ideas with other members of the woodworking community, is a significant advantage of implementing the software and remaining current with product updates.

“I’m very happy with the product and with the team of people on the forums,” he says. “The team of people on the forums is one of the biggest assets that Cabinet Vision has. There are a lot of great users and a lot of great employees of Cabinet Vision who have helped us with issues or questions, and have saved us a great deal of time and money. It’s a huge resource and one of the things that make it such a strong product.”

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About the Company
Name: George J. Rothan Millwork Company

Business: Fine architectural woodworking


Benefits Achieved

  • Advanced design capabilities and visualization tools
  • Ability to create high-quality renderings
  • Customization and automation of construction preferences with Cabinet Vision’s User Created Standards


“If you’re a mid-sized company that has Cabinet Vision and CNC machinery, you’re seeing at least a 25 percent time savings compared to a company that doesn’t.”

Chris Rothan, vice president

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