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Arming design teams with the appropriate 3D tools at ShelfGenie

With a strong background in design, it’s no surprise that Serena Close, corporate manager at ShelfGenie, a Neighborly Company, looks to SketchUp to help her design team win more work. Learn more about her background, ShelfGenie’s challenges, and how they worked with our VDC services team to repair and streamline their existing product models.

Tell me a little bit about ShelfGenie.

We provide custom shelving solutions for existing spaces like kitchens, pantries, bathrooms really anywhere in your home. Our biggest differentiator is that everything we design is custom to a client’s space and needs. We want you to be able to have a 100 percent birds-eye view of everything in your space. We truly believe that one size does not fit all.

The final space is complete with ShelfGenie products.

The final space is complete with ShelfGenie products.

What’s your role?

I’ve been with ShelfGenie for almost nine years now. I started part-time in Chicago as a designer and later worked with ShelfGenie full-time. As a designer, I would go into clients’ homes and help them solve their design frustrations. It was my job to figure out what custom-designed shelving solutions they needed for accessing the items in their existing space. My role has grown and transformed over the years. I’m more focused on getting designers trained and hired, helping onboard new franchise owners, and coaching existing owners along the way. SketchUp consistently remains a training topic, and a favorite, for me on each of those levels.

Serena Close

Serena Close

How did you get started with SketchUp?

Our whole company got started using SketchUp about six years ago. We used to go to clients with a pen and paper drawing of their space and quickly realized we needed something more interactive to help them visualize how our shelving solutions would work in their space. What started out as a hard transition (from paper to 3D), has blossomed into a wonderful process for the design team. Now, we recreate a client’s entire space in SketchUp and drag and drop custom shelving solutions so they can see what the space will look like when it’s complete. We also use touch screens with our clients so they can click on things and move things around. It’s truly a much better experience.

The ShelfGenie team works with clients.

The ShelfGenie team works with clients.

What were some of the challenges you faced and how did you solve them?

After six years of creating 3D models of our products for our design teams to use with clients, the components just broke. These models had been passed down from designer to designer over the years. Each designer had a different skill level with SketchUp some took to it easily while others struggled.  As you can imagine, the mutated 3D objects stopped working correctly and needed help. At first, we tried to fix them in-house but quickly realized we needed dedicated technical support to get them up to par for in-person client consultations. That’s when I reached out to SketchUp to see if there was anyone that could help us. From there I was introduced to the VDC services team who worked with me to scope the project.

What did that process look like with our VDC services team?

It was a very straightforward process. We have around 25 different components that we’ve created ourselves. All 25 components needed attention, but we wanted to focus on the worst offenders first. We ended up picking five components that were in exceptionally bad shape and no longer functioned properly. From there, the VDC services team dug in and started cleaning them up. 


Examples of updated SketchUp models

Examples of updated SketchUp models

Examples of updated SketchUp models

Examples of updated SketchUp models.

What are the results of their work?

The results have been amazing! The VDC services team was able to create one master 3D component out of the five broken ones we sent over. This has been a huge time saver for my colleagues out in the field. Now our designers can be 100% focused on the client, not buried in a computer trying to solve technical issues.

What are some benefits of working with our VDC services team?

The VDC services team has been wonderful to work with. They are incredibly responsive and patient with me and my requests. This process has even helped me become more proficient in SketchUp. I’ve learned a lot about how to streamline our workflow and simplify components.

Looking to take your product models to the next (digital) level? Contact our sales team for more information.


ShelfGenie® has been transforming customers’ lives for more than 20 years by designing and implementing custom home solutions that put everything within a homeowner’s reach. They are the only nationwide franchise that designs, builds and installs custom pull-out shelving solutions into existing cabinets. ShelfGenie® prides itself in having the best quality Glide-Out shelves available to homeowners. Their designers create a custom solution that solves home pain points, eyesores and trouble areas.

ShelfGenie® is a subsidiary of Neighborly®, a service-based franchise company.


About the Author

When Cara's not writing copy or learning about customer workflows, you can find her on top of a 14,000 ft mountain, hitting up those Colorado ski slopes, or binging Netflix shows on her couch.

Profile Photo of Cara Bell