Back in the days when microwaves were just science-fiction jargon, our grandparents were content simply if the oven didn’t burn the roast. Technology extinguished the glitches in yesterday’s kitchen appliances, and today’s homeowner looks for a tasteful mix of cutting-edge functionality and aesthetics in this, the most used room in the house.
No longer the place where mom disappears to make supper, today’s kitchen is the “war-room” of the modern home, and no one is more aware of this than Russ Alexander, president of AyA Kitchens of Illinois, the state’s exclusive distributor for this Toronto-based producer of fine kitchen cabinetry.
With a solid background in the homebuilding industry, Alexander created AyA of Illinois in 2002 after observing several trends in the kitchen industry.
“Function has always been important in our industry, but today’s homebuyers are equally interested in looks, and the trend has been toward the sleek, contemporary, clean Italian design,” Alexander says.
He explains that builders and buyers alike continue to be frustrated by the long delays in shipping and the regulations involved in obtaining the foreign product.
“AyA, on the other hand, being based in Toronto, is just 10 hours away,” he says. “So it makes sense to produce a product that is competitive, even superior, to what can be obtained overseas because the shipping delays don’t exist, and the orders can be filled overnight.”
The result was a rush to his door, particularly by builders who were enjoying the benefits of a housing boom and needed the product in a hurry.
“We began by doing a landslide business with contractors,” says Alexander. “But we quickly realized the fast turnaround was equally beneficial to the homeowner who wanted to install a new kitchen as opposed to buying a new home.”
As a result, Alexander has opened his first showroom at 6400 W. Touhy Ave. in Niles, where a broad spectrum of the AyA products and a knowledgeable sales team literally allow customers to redesign their kitchens on the spot.
“Let’s face it,” says Alexander. “These are tough times in the housing market. More and more people are opting to stay put and upgrade their present homes. We’re ready to accommodate that growing market.”
Founded in 2000 with the vision of being a game-changer, Alexander’s parent company, AyA Kitchens and Baths, has become Canada’s foremost manufacturer of high-quality frameless cabinetry. By combining old world craftsmanship and attention to detail with high tech manufacturing processes, AyA offers innovative, quality cabinets at competitive, manufacturer-direct prices to clients across North America.
Good design starts from the ground up. AyA has created and continues to refine one of the most efficient and environmentally friendly cabinet-manufacturing facilities in North America.
And in this age of eco-friendly construction, AyA has surpassed environmental and health standards, creating healthier environments for its customers, whether through renovating a home or building a LEED-certified development.
The company recently introduced EVO, the latest line of affordable, environmentally safe cabinetry with no added urea-formaldehyde, Alexander says.
And here’s a little-known tidbit: AyA is Woodmark certified, which means the company’s manufacturing process has completed the only quality management program specifically designed for the wood-product manufacturing industry. What does this mean? To the consumer, it is significant because it virtually guarantees that the product will be shipped in a timely manner, will meet exact specifications, and will be free of any defects that might otherwise require modification or replacement.
Back orders and re-orders are virtually non-existent at AyA, Alexander says.
AyA of Illinois