Old World Quality, New World Technology
Diversified Fixture thinks outside the box
For Jerry Vitillo, CEO of Diversified Fixture, the company’s slogan encapsulates its mission and purpose—“Old World Quality, New World Technology.” “The shop and the products we produce all reflect this way of thinking,” Jerry says.
Headquartered in Lakewood, New Jersey, Diversified Fixture designs, manufactures and installs custom cabinetry and solid surface countertops. Serving institutional and commercial customers throughout the tri-state area of New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania, as well as the rest of the United States, the company specializes in providing sustainable casework solutions for the health care industry, including hospitals and nursing homes, as well as retailers and commercial businesses.
Creating the Family Business
Before starting Diversified Fixture, Jerry owned an independent building supply business back in the early 1980s. As he gained knowledge of the industry, Jerry began taking on side cabinetry projects in custom homes. As demand for custom casework grew, Jerry realized he had found his true calling, officially opening Diversified Fixture in 1985. While the majority of his early cabinetry work centered on residential kitchen projects, the company quickly evolved to focus on commercial work.
Representing the second generation of the family-owned business, Jerry’s son, Phil Vitillo, Vice President of Operations, remembers growing up in the shop, working on the floor, sweeping up—and even running edge banding machines at the age of 8. “I probably was doing things that wouldn’t be permitted today, but I am happy I had the chance to catch the vision at an early age,” Phil says. “As I got older, Jerry gave me the opportunity to participate in every step of a project, from fabrication to installation.”
These opportunities motivated Phil to increase his knowledge of the industry through continuing education and training. Phil earned certifications from the International Surface Fabricators Association (ISFA) and the American Wood Finishing Institute (AWFI). Additionally, he took courses in computer-aided design (CAD) and went to classes to be fully trained on all of the machines that Diversified Fixture operates in order to prepare himself to work full time in the family business. “Jerry and I still work closely together every day,” Phil says. “We have over 200 years combined experience in this industry between everyone on our team.”
Developing the Team
Most of Diversified Fixture’s 20 employees have worked in the shop for a very long time—some since the beginning of the business. “We have an employee who has been with us for 32 years and quite a few employees have been here for 20 years or more,” Phil says. “We value our employees and I think it shows in the way we’ve been able to retain them for so long. We all work very closely together as an organized team that supports every member,” Phil says.
Phil and Jerry have also assembled a management team consisting of individuals who bring various specialized skills to the company. These skills encompass design, marketing, product development and manufacturing. “Assembling the right people together, along with the right machinery, enhances the competitiveness of the company and ensures continued growth and success,” Phil says.
Cross-training familiarizes everyone with all aspects of what needs to be done to accomplish a project. Dedicated employees run certain machines, but all employees have an understanding of what the equipment does and how it interrelates with their work. “Our use of sophisticated technology allows us to focus on providing the client with the highest value in customer service, quality of product and value engineering,” Phil says.
Incorporating New Technology
With the use of computer software programs such as AutoCAD, Diversified Fixture produces drawings that are sent to different types of engineering software and then to machinery such as computerized saws, computer numerical control (CNC) machines and both a computerized straight-line edge bander and a contour edge bander for doing radius work. “We operate state-of-the-art Homag machinery from Germany, which in our industry is like the Rolls-Royce of machinery,” Phil says.
“We constantly focus on efficiency and streamlining our processes. To that end, we continuously fine-tune the system of operation. That way, we can make the most of our already large capacity to produce the cabinetry needed to fill multiple floors of hospitals, nursing homes, offices and retail franchises,” he adds.
Specializing in Medical Facilities
One of the areas Diversified Fixture specializes in is custom cabinetry for nurses’ stations and reception area desks. “These are typically involved work stations, requiring a lot of radius work,” Phil says. “With this type of specialized work, we frequently participate heavily during the design process.” Additionally, the firm fabricates and installs cabinets and headwalls in operating rooms, emergency rooms, hospital rooms, veterinary clinics and morgues as well.
When working in hospitals, the team works quickly and quietly. “These projects require efficient installations so that we don’t disturb patients and office staff,” he says.
According to Phil, the company is a leader in the fabrication of products containing phenolic resin panels. “This material is resistant to bacteria and fungus and is chemical, stain and moisture resistant—perfect for the medical setting,” Phil says.
The company designed and installed a unique system for AcuteCare Health System at the Monmouth Medical Center Southern Campus in Lakewood, New Jersey, according to Phil. The project featured two floors of nurses’ stations, patient room millwork and headwalls, which contain outlets behind a patient’s bed for medical gases, power and other medical-care essentials. “A lot of people make headwalls, but we developed our own system to look more like a millwork piece to match the actual furniture in the room,” Phil says.
Diversified Fixture’s custom laminate cabinetry can be found in high-rise buildings, throughout lobbies, break room pantry areas, reception desks, wall panels and cafeteria spaces. “We are all over the place. In addition to hospital work, we do store fixtures for retailers, and lately, we’ve been doing a lot of corporate office spaces,” Phil says. The fixtures and cabinetry are manufactured from materials such as melamine, plastic laminate, phenolic, solid surface and real wood. The firm is a certified fabricator and installer of DuPont Corian and other solid surfaces such as Meganite, Wilsonart, HI-MACS, Staron and Avonite.
Though the company’s desks, counters and cabinetry can be seen throughout the tri-state area, Diversified Fixture serves other regions of the country as well. “We have shipped store fixtures and displays for many national franchises and retail chains to all 50 states,” Phil says. “We’ve even shipped multiple exam rooms to Alaska, and we’re looking into Florida due to the many hospitals and nursing homes in that area.”
New Prospects, Exciting Challenges
While casework remains in high demand, Diversified Fixture is always exploring new service offerings for clients. “We have begun offering architectural millwork, including wall paneling, wall features, custom woodworking and wood panels,” Phil says.
For one recently requested project, the company provided architectural millwork for an elevator lobby. “We installed approximately 700 real cherry wood strips of different lengths and angles an inch apart over a metal laminate surface. As you take a look down the hallway, the strips look like an undulating wave,” he says. “It’s one of the more unique things that we’ve had a client request from us. Architectural millwork is kind of a different world from standard cabinetry and reception walls, and we are excited to get into more of those projects.”
As the industry evolves with new ways of working, new processes and new technologies, Diversified Fixture continually strives to adapt to the new world and to the needs of its devoted client base. “Many of our hospital and nursing home clients have been with us for 15 to 20 years,” Phil says. “As these clients adopt new technologies requiring new furnishings, we can help them make the changes. At the same time, we are expanding our core clientele and continuing to establish unique relationships within the industry.
“We are always willing to broaden our horizons by thinking ‘outside the box’ —pun intended—because we build cabinet boxes,” Phil says. “We thrive on diversity. After all, that’s who we are—Diversified Fixture.”