Stone Column

Re-emerging: CNC investment increases production

By taking advantage of the stone industries latest technology for fabricating natural stone, Custom Stone Creations has been able to continue expanding its business at a rapid rate. As a fabricator of granite, marble, quartz surfacing and other materials, the company's modern facility in Orlando, FL, fabricates an average of seven kitchens per day, and it is equipped with enough state-of-the-art machinery to manufacture up to 30 complete kitchens a day.

Maurice Huertas and his partner, Emerson Tourne, founded the company in 1998 when they couldn't find a satisfying fabricator to refurbish Maurice's kitchen.

The men, having family backgrounds in glass fabrication and stone mining, chose to remodel the kitchen themselves, and later made the decision to establish a business together. A few months later, Huertas and Tourne acquired space in a 4,400-square-foot facility where they worked alone, typically producing about one to two jobs a week. All of the edge production was initially processed by hand using a Marmoelettromeccanica Master 3500 edging machine from Regent Stone Products.

A few years later, as operation demands increased, the men relocated to a 25,000-square-foot facility with 3.5 acres of land, which is used for stone storage. Custom Stone Creations currently employs 60 people, who fabricate and install an average of 400 square feet of granite and marble a day.

The company utilizes CNC technology, as its shop is equipped with two Intermac Masterstone 4000 stoneworking centers from AGM. The facility also contains four saws, including two Matrix GSC 2000/2001 bridge saws, one Tecnomac Jolly 30 bridge saw from Italy, and one Metafill SP450 bridge saw from Brazil. The shop also has three edge polishers: a CMPI Mini 60, a Piranha from U.S. Granite Machinery, and a Monlevi Multiprofil Mod. 1T.

“CNC technology allows us to do applications, like custom shapes and edge detail, that would not be possible to do by hand,” said Huertas. “Our in-house labor was reduced by 50% as a result of this new technology.”

According to General Manager Roy Thompson, Custom Stone Creations is the only company with this type of facility set up in Central Florida. “This equipment gives us a tremendous advantage in the market place,” he added.

By taking advantage of the advanced fabrication technology, and limiting the human resource recruiting required for fabrication, Custom Stone Creations has more than doubled its production and revenue in the past year. The company expects to at least double again over the next year as it expands its services to North Florida.

Another advantage of using automated machinery for fabrication is the ability to obtain consistent quality. “We are confident enough with the production quality of the CNC's and the edge polishers, that we offer an unprecedented five-year warranty with our granite countertops,” said Thompson.

Custom Stone Creations utilizes diamond tooling from various companies, including Regent Products, Inc., Hard Rock Tool, Diamant Boart, Vic International Corp. and Stone Tool Supply, Inc. For sealing and waxing, the company uses Bellinzoni products.

Although approximately 75% of Custom Stone Creations' production is residential, it is focused on increasing its commercial operations. Besides direct retail residential sales, it is the exclusive granite countertop provider for 22 Home Depots in Central Florida, and the primary provider for the Expo Design Center in Orlando (a Home Depot Company). The company is currently involved in a number of bids for large commercial work, including condominiums and apartments.

According to Huertas, the most stressful part of the job is trying to get workers to focus on high-quality finished products on a daily basis. “In every step we take in the fabrication process, our team must work together,” he said. “I always tell my workers, that despite their experience level, or how long they have been on the job, if something doesn't look right, fix it. No matter what their position is, everyone has the power and authority to stop the process and say 'this is not being done correctly.'”

He added, “It is impossible for one person to manage all production taking place in our shop, and we don't want any surprises when we arrive at a house.”

With the technology, machinery and production capacity, they are enabled to offer custom and cut-to-size commercial solutions nationwide. “To say the least, we've come a long way in just six years,” said Thompson.

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