For Arlie Naeher and Joan Schafer, partners in Quest Cabinetry, the concept of “journey” was an important one as they set out to form their new cabinet company in October of 2020. When they brainstormed company names, Quest rose to the top as it signified their individual journeys that brought them together as well as the journey their clients are on in building or reimagining their own homes. As the world refocused its attention on how homes functioned during the pandemic, Arlie and Joan refocused their professional attention on leveraging their individual strengths to provide a full-service cabinetry design company.
Arlie’s journey started in 2003, when he was in his early twenties, with a job delivering cabinets. Over time, he learned to design, draw, and order cabinet packages and oversee their installation. Arlie estimates that he has worked on upwards of 3,000 cabinet projects over the last 18 years. As Arlie points out, “Most of our clients are only involved in one, maybe two new kitchens or cabinet projects in their lives. Our experience in layout, function, and aesthetics is invaluable in making their one project successful because of the lessons we have learned on hundreds of projects.”
Joan experienced more twists and turns on her way to the world of cabinetry design. Joan graduated from MSU with a degree in accounting, earned her CPA, and spent 10 years in corporate accounting. In 2000, Joan and her husband, Tom, returned to Bozeman, and Joan spent the next 20 years focusing on their family and their business, Schafer Construction. Over the years, as Tom and Joan built and remodeled their own homes, Joan’s passion for design grew.
“Most of our clients are only involved in one, maybe two new kitchens or cabinet projects in their lives. Our experience in layout, function, and aesthetics is invaluable in making their one project successful because of the lessons we have learned on hundreds of projects.”
–Arlie Naeher, Partner, Quest Cabinetry
Arlie and Joan first crossed paths six years ago when Joan was in search of cabinets for their new home. Joan landed with Arlie and his long-time design partner, Becky Townsend, after eliminating four other cabinet suppliers in Bozeman. “It was a frustrating process looking for companies that provided great products and service while also maximizing our budget. When I found Arlie and Becky, it just clicked. I had so much fun with them that I joked that maybe I would actually come work with them someday,” says Joan. Fast-forward four years and Joan did just that. Arlie, Becky, and Joan worked together for about a year before the dream of Quest Cabinetry took shape and became a reality.
When Arlie and Joan formed Quest, they focused the foundation of the company on three principles: 1) quality cabinetry at a range of price points; 2) innovative and detail-oriented cabinetry designs; and 3) high-level service throughout the entire process.
Cabinetry is one of the most critical and complex components of any new construction or remodeling project. Over time, homeowners replace failing appliances, switch out outdated lighting and plumbing fixtures, and change paint color to renew their spaces.
ICabinetry, on the other hand, is much more permanent and often remains in a home four to five times longer than other finishes. It also bears the brunt of daily usage, spills, dings, and the wear and tear of children of all ages. That is why cabinetry quality is a vital element of Quest’s philosophy.
Quest currently sources cabinets through four different national cabinet manufacturers. These lines have been vetted for their quality, consistency, and style. Although Quest provides cabinet solutions to high-end homes in our growing community, Arlie and Joan know that most clients don’t have the luxury of an unlimited budget. “Because of our experience working on high-dollar projects,” says Arlie, “we have worked with amazingly talented construction and design professionals. We can take high-end design details and translate those into lower-budget projects using some of our lower price point cabinet lines.” Quest’s goal is to maximize each client’s budget.
The Quest team invests significant time into each client and project to provide an end result that not only looks great but functions just as well. The ultimate reward is a client who exclaims, “I love my kitchen. It is so much better than I could have imagined!”
Achieving a great end result starts at the beginning. “We ask several questions about functionality. It’s an intimate conversation about how the client lives in the home—how they use the space, do they have children, are they right- or left-handed, their entertaining style, what is most important to them about the space. We are some of the most thorough people in our industry. We do a lot of extra work up front to eliminate as many surprises as possible. And we stick with you until the project is completed and beyond,” says Arlie.
The Quest team approaches design collaboratively. Arlie, Joan, Becky, and Stephen, a recent Gallatin College drafting graduate, often end up working on project details and problem-solving as a team. “We are not possessive of our projects,” says Joan. “We know and appreciate the different talents of each team member, and we strive to take full advantage of everyone’s ideas.”
“Their attention to detail parallels ours, so it is a very symbiotic working relationship. Quest is always sensitive to the budget, caring about every detail throughout the build, and accountable for punch items at the very end. We are selective about who we team with, and Quest has become one of our top go-to partners. We would highly recommend them for any builder, designer, or architect in the valley.”
–Rachael Celinski, Director of Interior Design, Gallatin Valley Design Group
The Gallatin Valley Design Group has been collaborating with Arlie and his team for over three years. “Arlie and Joan do an amazing job with turning our creative visions, ideas, and designs into beautiful and functional cabinetry,” says Rachael Celinski, Director of Interior Design. “Their attention to detail parallels ours, so it is a very symbiotic working relationship. Quest is always sensitive to the budget, caring about every detail throughout the build, and accountable for punch items at the very end. We are selective about who we team with, and Quest has become one of our top go-to partners. We would highly recommend them for any builder, designer, or architect in the Valley.”
Quest’s new design studio is located off Huffine Lane in Bozeman and plays an important role in the design process. “Our focus for the space was the client,” says Arlie. “We wanted a clean, modern, well-lit environment that showcases not only great-looking design but all the functional details as well. Clients like the tactile aspect—touching the doors, pulling out drawers, and seeing different options side by side.” The 3D renderings are displayed on the monitor during client meetings to help them visualize the project. The studio is also open to designers and contractors to bring clients in to look at all the project finish samples together.
Purchasing cabinets from Quest isn’t like ordering flooring, tile or lighting, when you order from the salesperson and don’t communicate past delivery. Quest is involved in the project from start to finish and interacts with clients, contractors, and tradespeople to ensure that each detail of the cabinetry project integrates with all the others. Often, Quest joins the project team in the planning process well over a year before construction. Arlie and Joan like to be included on the front end, so they can bring their expertise and depth of knowledge in before construction begins.
Quest has cultivated relationships with cabinet installers to ensure that the design on paper comes to life. Feedback from their installation team helps them continue to fine-tune the details of cabinetry construction. After installation, if a door warps or something gets damaged, they are there to help.
When a client enters the doors at Quest, they too are on a journey. They are seeking a solution for a space in their home, whether it is new construction or a remodel of a tired space. They might just be getting started, or they might have already visited several cabinet suppliers. They may be eager and excited about the project, or experiencing frustration and disappointment. Arlie and Joan and the Quest team aim to provide them with the expertise and problem-solving their unique project requires to make their dream a reality.
By definition, journeys evolve over time. Arlie and Joan are thankful to be on this journey with Quest together and look forward to the road ahead.