Good stock: A commitment to quality leads to longevity for the Cottongim family business
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Good stock: A commitment to quality leads to longevity for the Cottongim family business

Nov 06, 2023

Clark Cottongim is the owner and vice president of Woodstock Cabinets, a Tulsa-based and family-owned cabinet-making business at 4129 S. 72nd E. Ave.

Woodstock Cabinets, family owned and operated since 1967, was founded at a time when cabinetry was built custom and quality work was the industry standard. Three generations later, Owner and Vice President Clark Cottongim says many things have changed in the cabinet-making business, but the company’s standards for custom building have remained.

“Back in the ’60s, cabinetry was built on the job site, so the carpenters would have material delivered to the site, and they would set up their tools and build the cabinets right there inside the home,” he says. This method is known as “stick building,” and Cottongim says it is a tougher environment to craft in because you are constructing within the confines of a new build, so lighting is typically inadequate, and the space is limited. Builders also are limited to the tools they can carry to and from the job site.

Cottongim’s great uncle, original owner and founder Manley Cottongim, was influential in Oklahoma and surrounding regions in pushing the woodworking industry toward shop-built cabinets, a method that saves time and money. But that does not mean Woodstock’s cabinets are any less custom. “Today, we are still building them custom,” Cottongim says. “We are bringing in raw materials and we are building them for your home, specific to your dimensions. But we’re going to build them in the shop because it’s more efficient and less labor intensive.”

Cottongim says the success of Woodstock Cabinets did not come without a fight. Over the decades, nine family members have contributed to the longevity of the business. At its peak in the late ’70s, the company employed nearly 150 people. In the 1980s, Cottongim’s father, Scott Cottongim, took over when the company experienced a significant halt in growth due to numerous economic factors. The company could no longer afford the overhead costs of maintaining the shop and let go of all its staff.

“My dad rented a storage unit by the Ford Glass Plant because it was cheaper and brought his brother Kevin Cottongim into the company to help,” he says. “At that point, my dad is selling the cabinets, and my uncle Kevin is building the cabinets. It was just the two of them.”

Cottongim says without the tenacity and fortitude of his father and uncle, Woodstock Cabinets probably would not be here. “It’s the ultimate scrapper story,” he says. “It’s been a lot of grit and dedication and hard work.”

Today, Woodstock Cabinets has approximately 25 employees and focuses primarily on custom cabinetry in northeastern Oklahoma. Cottongim says they dabble in light commercial work, such as the custom library build at the Ambassador Hotel and a one-of-a-kind table built to hold a truck axle for the CEO of Peterbilt.

But for the most part, Cottongim prefers to stick with what he knows. “We really are a cabinet shop,” he says. “It’s hard to say no because I’m an amicable guy, but I’ve learned over the years to let the thing be the thing. We do cabinets, and we do them well.”

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