In the midst of what seems to be a bit of a renaissance period for Benicia’s Industrial Park, a number of new businesses and industries have cropped up recently. But there are still a few of the old watch thriving, even if under new management. Among them is Affordable Quality Cabinets & Countertops, which celebrates its 30th anniversary this year.
Brothers Trevor Cotarelo and Taylor Kennedy took over AQCC three years ago. At the time, Trevor was working as head carpenter for Laverty construction company, who often worked with AQCC and its previous owner and founder, Allan Lemone. Taylor, who had gone to school for Business and Information Systems, had realized he hated working in an office every day and decided to join his brother at Laverty. Trevor recalls the day Allan told him he was ready to retire; “And I was tired of breaking my back doing my regular work,” Trevor says with a laugh.
So, he and Taylor jumped on the opportunity to buy the business from Allan. They recognized the value that Allan had built into AQCC, so they decided to keep running things as he did; using the same trusted cabinet manufacturers (Columbia Cabinets and DeWils), designing the installation projects themselves, and delivering product and service that remains true to the name: Affordable Quality.
“We carry a couple cabinet lines that build to our specs, so we can measure the homeowner’s house, make a totally customized design, and have them built to that design. The factories our cabinets come out of are still very craftsman-style, with hand-finished features and high-quality wood, not cheap particle board.” says Taylor. While they’ve been approached by other cabinet suppliers, Trevor and Taylor have been hesitant to change from their tried and true manufacturers, whose quality they trust.
The brothers rely heavily on their close relationships with suppliers to cut costs as much as possible and pass along these savings to their customers. “We try to be more affordable than other full-custom lines,” says Trevor. “Being that we’re fairly contractor-based, we try to give the contractor discounts that can then be passed on to the homeowner, or offer those discounts directly to the homeowner.”
Between their work with contractors and now owning AQCC, Trevor and Taylor have gotten to know quite a few Benicia homes, and have also serviced homes in the greater Bay Area. While AQCC initially felt the chilling effects of COVID-19, the brothers are happy to report that business has been slowly picking up again. “People are stuck at home looking at their old, crummy kitchens and are ready to redo them now,” jokes Trevor.
Originally from Riverside, the brothers and their family moved to Northern California in time for Taylor to spend his formative years in Benicia, graduating from Benicia High in 2006. Trevor is married with three kids, ages 10, 7, and 5. When asked if he plans to hand AQCC down to his kids one day, he replies that it’s not even on his radar. At the moment, he simply looks forward to them all attending the same school, Mary Farmar, for one glorious year before having to do the elementary-to-middle school sprint each morning. Trevor and Taylor credit their family for helping to support them in the process of their business acquisition and those first tough years. “It takes a village,” says Trevor, “and I’m lucky to have a wife and family that supports me.”