Imagination Furniture building upon customer creativity
She had been to all of the high-end furniture design centers. She had flipped through all of the catalogs. She had toured all of the showrooms. But Judy Wickes couldn’t find anyone who could offer her the home media center she envisioned.
Until she discovered Imagination Furniture.
“They listened to all my ideas and design concepts and turned our wall into a reality,” said Wickes. “We could not be happier with the results.”
For founder George Meringolo, it’s a story that embodies the mission of a company that he literally built with his own two hands.
“She went to all these custom-made-cabinet shops,” Meringolo said. “She called me up. I went to her house. I did some drawings. I said, ‘No problem.’”
When Wickes wanted to make a few changes to Meringolo’s designs, he again said, “No problem,” until she had the custom design that she wanted. It’s a process that Meringolo has come to expect since Imagination’s inception in 2010.
“We’re looking for that person that can’t find what they’re looking for,” he explained. “It’s a customer that’s got a very discerning taste and wants a specific item in a specific spot and can’t find it anywhere. If it’s made out of wood, we can make it.”
While their innovative designs and commitment to customer satisfaction is certainly a point of pride for the Dagsboro-based company, Imagination also focuses on using only materials made in the United States — touting “Made on the shore, not offshore,” as another strong business belief.
“It’s all coming from China, and it’s not even real wood — it’s pressed wood,” Meringolo said of imported wood products that he refuses to use. “We don’t buy any boxes from China. We make our cabinets right here.”
In fact, the only thing that the company has imported is master cabinetmaker Robbie Kenyon, who hails from across the pond, in England — although he’s lived and worked all across the United States for the past 30 years.
“He worked for another cabinet shop in the area — they laid him off. Their mistake — I hired him,” said Meringolo. “Robbie is the key to my success, [he’s] one of the main reasons we’ve grown so much.”
Since hiring Kenyon, Imagination has grown to cater to more than 200 satisfied customers, consistently needing to move to bigger spaces over the past four years.
“In 2012, I rented the space next door. I thought I’d be there forever,” Meringolo recalled. “By January, I ran out of room.”
In September 2014, Meringolo moved the operation next door, in the Country Gardens business park in Dagsboro — into a space more than double the size, to be able to keep up with the growing demand for his designs, even going as far as implementing a second shift to work on projects around the clock.
“We’re growing dramatically,” Meringolo explained after noting plans to hire three more employees. “You talk about a home-grown business — this is truly one of those businesses that started out in somebody’s garage.”
While Meringolo has been working seven days a week over the last year, he said the mission of Imagination is so fulfilling that going into work every day is a joy.
“I had a much larger business — not in this field — when we moved to Delaware,” he explained. “At that point, I had to make a decision. I’ve always been a woodworker. My dad was a builder, my brother-in-law was a master carpenter, and as a kid I’d hang around their shop and watch them make stuff. I’d always make furniture for relatives, friends.
“I am not making the money I made in my other business, but I am so much happier coming to work,” he went on. “Here, it’s a great level of satisfaction and serenity. We’re not branding a product, we’re branding a company. It’s not the piece, it’s the name.”
Imagination caters to all kinds of custom woodwork, from cabinets and custom furniture for homes and businesses to crown molding and anything else their creative customer base can think up.
“People say, ‘Is it a difficult sale?’” said Meringolo. “It’s not a sale at all. People want something, I give it to them. What am I selling?”
The shop is located in the Country Gardens business park just before the intersection of Route 20 and Route 113. Imagination can be reached by phone at (302) 541-4599, or visit their website at www.g-c-w.com, or check out their Facebook page, at www.facebook.com/