June 2017

N-Hance: Transforming Lowcountry Cabinetry

Author: Lynnie Leavenworth | Photographer: M.Kat Photography

Makeover, facelift, remodel, renovate…called by any name, putting on a new face is transformative, and Andrew Ambler, owner of N-Hance is transforming the look of cabinetry across the Lowcountry. A franchise of the Utah-based wood refinishing company, N-Hance was launched by parent company Chem-Dry Carpet Cleaning in response to their partners finding much more than carpet in need of a facelift in the homes they serviced. With his background doing historic restoration work, and a desire to transition into a new business phase of his life, Ambler found the right opportunity with N-Hance.

The first step was finding a market available for setting up his N-Hance franchise. “My dad was in on it with me at the beginning,” Ambler said. “We did a little research, and when the time came and it was the right move, we started the business in 2012.” Ambler’s parents call Hilton Head Island home, and fortuitously the Lowcountry market was available for his start-up. “I had traveled and lived a carefree life, and I wanted to call somewhere home and settle down.”

N-Hance is all about the before and after: changing the color of a home’s cabinetry without the disruption, chaos, and cost of a full-scale replacement renovation. “We take the existing cabinetry and change the color of it, whether to a darker stain or a lighter paint color,” Ambler said. Along with transforming the look of kitchens, baths, bookcases, built-ins, and more, an N-Hance project is undeniably cost-effective. “In general, refinishing or changing the color is one-third the cost of re-facing, and one-fifth the cost of new cabinetry.”

Working with Ambler and his team at N-Hance typically begins with some fact-finding. “We’ll ask some general questions: What kind of services are they looking for; what kind of issues they’re having,” Ambler said. “Then we set up appointments in their home and go out and do the estimates there.” The customer experience is the backbone of his operation, and begins with placing value on his customer’s time, figuring out if N-Hance is a good fit for the project, and determining how many samples and options will help the client make his or her decisions.

“In general, it’s a five-day process,” Ambler said. “Of course, some are bigger projects and take more time. We spend two to three days in the home, taking the doors off, prepping the cabinetry, and all the framework. Then we tape everything up. We tape the countertops, the appliances, the walls, the ceiling, everything. The only thing left exposed is the wood we’re actually working on.”

It takes about two days to do the doors and drawers in their shop, and then one more day to rehang and reinstall everything. The team will change out hinges as needed along with replacing knobs and pulls that are selected and supplied by the customer. Ambler says many of their projects include soft-close hinges and changing out drawer slides with self-closing drawer-sliders.

Andrew and his team hard at work at the N-Hance workshop on Hilton Head Island.

There are several ways in which N-Hance transforms the look of cabinetry. First, changing the cabinet color. “The real push these days is to go with a solid color, opaque finish,” Ambler said. “The goal is to get a nice factory finish and make them look new, or like new. The paints we use are specific to cabinets. They dry faster; they dry with a more durable, hard, surface, and they’re smoother than normal paints. Then we clear coat everything with polyurethane.”

Other transformations include re-dooring and re-facing, where the look of the cabinetry is completely changed. Examples include completely replacing the doors to create a whole new style, i.e. going from a raised panel door to a shaker-style door. “Currently, one of the biggest trends is, the less people see of the framework, the better,” Ambler said. “We can make the doors much bigger and make them come together, eliminating seeing much of the framework.” N-Hance even beautifully addresses the renovation needs on Thermofoil cabinets—the ones where the surfaces may have started to peel and separate over time.

Annette and Phil Martino, fulltime residents of Hilton Head Plantation are big fans of Ambler and N-Hance, and their newly painted kitchen cabinets, and cleaned and resurfaced pine flooring. They enthusiastically offered, “How does an entrepreneur develop satisfied customers? He is an up-to-date expert in his field. He communicates and performs efficiently in a timely manner. His prices are competitive. He works side-by-side with his employees who respect him. The process is pleasant for the consumer. This is a profile of the owner of N-Hance. Thank you, Andrew Ambler for work well done.”

“I think what separates us is that this is what we do, day-in and day-out,” Ambler said. “Everything is specific to cabinets. We also offer a lifetime warranty on the doors. If anything happens to a door, we go in and pick it up and we respray it. We know stuff happens.” A hands-on craftsman, he said, “I really enjoy doing the work, and I really enjoy the customer experience at the end, so I’m always there at the end of a project. In the end, the best part is a satisfied customer, and being there, I can actually know what they’re thinking and feeling.”

When he’s not working (which is rare), Ambler enjoys kayaking, paddle boarding, spending time with family, and traveling. In his entrepreneurial life, he has found a comfortable balance between restoration and recreation, settling in, but still with a healthy dose of carefree. Truly transformative. 

For more information, please visit nhance.com/lowcountry, or call (843) 715-8420.

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