Meeting the demand for stone countertops
â€œConstrata actually grew out of what is now Cornerstone Solid Surface, which was started in 1996,â€ said Jeff Coombs, division manager. â€œIt was created to have a fabrication division of multiple products instead of manufacturing and fabrication of the Cornerstone product in one division. We decided to start in the stone business due to market signs that stone was coming to the forefront of countertops, and we wanted to be in a position to offer our customers what they wanted.â€
In the six years that it has been in operation, Constrata has experienced a significant surge of growth. â€œConstrata started with a staff of approximately 15 to 20, which included office, shop and field,â€ said Coombs. â€œWe fabricated and installed two to four kitchens per day. We now have a staff of 80 to 85, and we fabricate and install four to six solid surface kitchens and 12 to 15 granite/quartz kitchens, which is about 750 to 1,000 square feet per day - with one shift."
â€œBacksplashes required approx-imately two to two and a half men to produce what we needed on a daily basis,â€ he said. â€œWith the addition of the Splash machine, it now only requires one man to accomplish the same amount of production with room to increase.â€
According to Coombs, countertop fabrication comprises the majority of Constrata's business, with an occasional order for a table or conference table or some type of specialty item. A total of 65% of fabrication is natural stone, 10% quartz and 25% solid surface.
â€œHiring employees can sometimes be a lot like playing poker; just when you think you have a great hand working, it all falls apart with one card,â€ explained Coombs. â€œWe have had employees from other markets and from other competitors, but it seems to be that the employees that we find with the basics - honesty, integrity, morals and a desire to do a good job no matter what their background - seem to be the best. These 'home-grown' employees have proven to be the best all around employees we have, if we train them properly, and make sure that we place them in the right position. The right tool for the right job very much so applies with the people, if not more so than with tools. The training issues are a lot like growing a bonsai tree; patience is needed to groom each employee separately, yet at the same time, finding a common standard for the whole company to adhere to at the same time.â€
A growing marketConstrata Surface Innovations is for the most part a residential countertop business that mainly services the Raleigh-Durham, Chapel Hill or Triangle area of North Carolina. â€œWe service the state of North Carolina from the Winston Salem/Greensboro area all the way to the coast, including the Wilmington, NC, area along with the Myrtle Beach, SC, area,â€ said Coombs. â€œWherever our customers need us to go, we will try to accommodate them no matter what the distance.â€
Additionally, commercial projects comprise a portion of the company's market. â€œThat seems to be growing, but still a small part of our business,â€ said Coombs. Recently completed commercial projects include various Lone Star Steakhouses throughout the states.
Also, the company has done work on many large residential homes - new as well as remodels. â€œA recent remodel of a bathroom turned into a major renovation with 2-cm shower walls and custom shower/shampoo insets with an undermount tub and windowsills and window trim - all fabricated out of Botticino Semi-Classico marble,â€ explained Coombs. â€œIt was a finished project that even the Romans would be proud to call their own.â€
When looking towards the future, Coombs said that Constrata intends to maintain a steady, manageable growth that is also profitable. â€œ[Also], there are possibilities of opening a new location in another part of the state,â€ he added.
Constrata Surface InnovationsType of work: Primarily residential countertops for new construction and remodels, some commercial work
Machinery: two Marmoelettromeccanica bridge saws, Regent Storm+ bridge saw, Master 3500 routers and Splash edging machine from Regent Stone Products; 5RP sink station, Sawing Systems, Knoxville, TN; Imer Combi 3000 saw; and hand tools from Alpha Professional Tools, Braxton-Bragg and Regent Stone Products
Number of employees: approximately 85
Production rate: 4 to 6 solid surface and 12 to 15 granite/quartz kitchens per day; 750 to 1,000 square feet per day