HWTR Pollution Prevention

My Watershed

Canyon Creek Cabinet Company—Virtual Paint Training Saves $100,000 Yearly

Michael Reed with virtual cabinet door and face frame
Michael Reed, Finish Manager, demonstrates the
virtual paint system.

Virtual paint training at Canyon Creek

A giant LCD screen shows a realistic image of a wooden cabinet door. Michael, who’s offered to show us the ropes, holds a real paint gun—empty and engineered to track movement. He aims the gun at the screen and “sprays”—it actually makes a spraying sound! The cabinet door goes from wood-grain to white as he makes a few passes with the gun. The screen then changes colors to show his spray pattern: red indicating where it’s too thick, blue where it’s too thin, and green where it’s just right.

Canyon Creek Cabinet Company has used this virtual spray paint training system for about a year now. Everything, from the weight of the gun to the chest-height placement of the cabinet image, looks and feels just like the real thing to their 28 sprayer employees. The virtual paint software tracks pitch and yaw (the angle of the gun), distance, fluid pressure, and transfer efficiency (the percentage of the coating that actually hits the product, as opposed to the air around it).

Benefits of an onsite system

Having a virtual training system on site allows Canyon Creek to adjust the viscosity of the virtual paint as they try out new product blends. An onsite system also allows them to train and retrain employees as turnover occurs. The system saves the test results of individual employees, so they can track improvement over time—they offer incentives to workers based on their scores.


Ecology's Toxics Reduction Specialists provide technical assistance to industries and facilities to find cost savings, process improvements, toxicity reductions, reduced waste and resource use, and increased energy efficiency. We helped Canyon Creek calculate the cost of a virtual training system for their facility—around $33,000 in equipment and setup. The system now saves around $100,000 per year in purchasing and disposal. By using the virtual system in place of actual wood pieces and coatings, Canyon Creek saves 9,000 pounds of product per year, including 1,000 pounds of hazardous substances.

Leadership in the business community

Canyon Creek Cabinet Company has a long history of innovation and leadership. They continue to find ways to reduce waste, increase efficiency, and improve worker safety. Safety is priority #1 for the 220 people employed in their Monroe plant.

John Earl and Lynn Coleman talking
John Earl confers with Lynn
Coleman, from Ecology.

“We’re always looking [to] the future,” says John Earl, Canyon Creek’s Environmental Manager. Their ongoing efforts earned them numerous awards, including:

  • The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Evergreen Award
  • Seattle Business Magazine’s Community Impact Award and Manufacturer of the Year
  • Association of Washington Business award for Leading Environmental Practices
  • Washington State Governor’s Award for Sustainable Practices

Earl urges other businesses to “use the resources that are out there.” That includes the local Clean Air Agency, Pollution Prevention Resource Center, University of Washington and contacting Ecology to find safer alternatives and ways to reduce waste at your facility. “Working with Ecology has been very beneficial for us and Ecology. We have built a good working partnership and have used their expertise to help guide us to better production, save materials and labor, and reduce the impact on the environment.” Earl has let other businesses try out Canyon Creek’s virtual training system when considering a purchase of their own system.

Reduce the use of toxic chemicals at your facility through virtual paint training. You can protect your workers, the public, and the environment, and reduce your hazardous waste disposal costs. Contact the Pollution Prevention Resource Center (PPRC) about the virtual paint trainings they host.