If You’re All Thumbs, Let Michael Noble Lend You a Hand

January 10, 2010
Share this story:
Michael Noble at work doing a home installation.

Michael Noble at work doing a home installation.

Michael Noble, owner of Assembly Solutions in La Verne, belongs in the Guinness Book of Records. Once for J.C. Penney, he methodically and masterfully assembled more than 300 chairs in a single day, loving every minute of his work. It seems one man’s monotony is another’s motivation.

“At $1.50 a chair, personally, that was pretty good money,” said Noble, who wasn’t born with a silver spoon in his hand but more likely a screwdriver and a small socket wrench in his nimble hands.

Although today Noble puts everything together from furniture and fitness equipment to swing sets and office cubicles, he started his professional career putting together loans working for a small bank before going into retail management for 15 years for such companies as Vans, Office Depot and Big Lots. After parting ways with Big Lots, he knew he had to point his career in a new direction. In plainer terms, he needed a job.

“My wife (Cindy) said the only time I was really happy was when I was working with my hands or in my garage tinkering with my tools,” said Noble, who had also worked for Hallmark helping the company set up its gold crown store franchises.

Seeing his savings dwindle, Noble answered a blind newspaper ad, with the catch phrase, “Make decent money.”Impact Resources Group needed furniture assemblers for work outsourced by companies like Office Depot and Office Max.

Noble applied and wasn’t required to as much as show his new employer how to hold a hammer or pinch a pair of pliers.

“They were starving for people,” Noble said of his hiring. “They had a project going on for J.C. Penney, and they needed people to assemble chairs. When a customer came in and bought a dinette set, we would build the chairs and deliver them fully assembled.”

Noble was so fast and thorough, he was asked if he wanted to work in the field after the J.C. Penney contract ended.

Noble found working in the field more engaging. “I had a knack for it,” he said simply.

Every night, he found emails from the company with a list of installations for the next day.

“I’d call the customer, set up the appointment, build it, put away the trash and be on to my next job,” Noble said. “I met a lot of cool people and got to be the company’s No. 1 problem-solver. If somebody walked off the job because he didn’t know how to put stuff together, the next thing I knew, they were calling me to clean things up.”

For a while, Noble was also cleaning up financially. His territory included more than 100 accounts. Finally, Noble said, the company hired another seven or eight installers to lighten his work load. The move, however, also lightened his wallet.

That’s when he decided to put his pair of golden hands to work for himself, starting his flatpack and ready-to-assemble company, Michael’s Assembly Service, in 2006. Although he was admittedly a one-man show, he found the company name limiting, so he changed it to Assembly Solutions and developed a tagline, “We make assembly easy.” Sales increased 30%.

mike-noble11Since then, Michael has added three installers to his team, based in Moreno Valley, Bellflower, and Granada Hills, giving him the ability and the mobility to provide assembly solutions anywhere in Southern California, from setting up a dorm room for a USC coed to building out two dozen cubicles for a new mortgage company in Irvine, Calif. Normally, Noble is able to quote an exact installation price over the phone or via email. Over the years, he not only has assembled a vast database of the products manufactured by furniture, fitness and recreation companies, but also has assembled many of these same products. (Arriving at my home, he quickly identified an office desk I had purchased from Target, which he said he had assembled many times. My only thought was that it had been a pain to assemble, and I wish at the time I had known about Michael’s services).

If Noble quotes you a priced based on a six-hour estimate and it takes six days, his price isn’t going to change. “We quote per piece; you’re going to know how much you’re charged before I ever walk in the door,” he said. Yet, if overbids the job, say two days, and it takes two hours, he’ll adjust the price downward. Minimum service calls are $40 for homes and $50 for corporate offices.

Not surprisingly in today’s litigious world, Noble’s biggest overhead cost is insurance. He is licensed through the City of La Verne and insured and bonded through the Hartford Insurance against breakage, damage to customers’ homes, theft and other specific losses.

“These days anybody with a screwdriver, especially in this economy, is advertising on Craigslist,” Noble said, adding that consumers need to be cautious when inviting strangers into their home or office. “You can’t be too careful.”

Noble has carefully built his business via word of mouth, owing to his reliability, dependability and fair prices. Currently, he’s assembling lots of swing sets for families wanting to entice their children outdoors for spring. In spring, his business will turn to assembling fitness equipment for customers who want to get in shape for summer. In late summer, he installs more desk and bedroom sets for students returning to college. In fall, he will begin reconfiguring and refurbishing office cubicles for business owners and managers who need an end-of-the-year tax write-off.

“It’s a lot like construction,” Noble added. “Nobody needs a roofer until it rains.”

Noble also will disassemble furniture and fitness equipment and just about anything else that can be taken apart. He keeps track of all the loose parts, nuts and bolts, and even provides a 60-day warranty after reassembling the item.

“If anything goes haywire or starts rocking and rolling, and doing things that it shouldn’t, we come out and make the adjustments, including ordering any extra parts,” he said.

LaVerneOnline.com had just one last question for Assembly Solutions as Noble was leaving our office on Friday.

“Why didn’t we know about you earlier, when we were struggling over three days to assemble the Bowflex Home Gym that had arrived for Christmas?”

To contact, Assembly Solutions, call (800) 330-6395 or visit www.assembly-solutions.net

Leave a Reply