RE-EMERGING U.S. STONE INDUSTRY: Converting a Small Business into a Grand Fabricating Operation

March 13, 2006
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Since Jose Rodriguez first started his fabricating shop in 1993, the business has expanded from four workers to more than 100.

Jose Rodriguez has come a long way since first opening the doors to Total Design on Marble & Granite in Carrollton, TX, in 1991. The business, which did not include a fabricating facility until two years later, has grown significantly since its early days. Initially, there were only four workers, and Rodriguez relied on machinery that he built by hand. Today, the company has expanded to include over 100 employees and a shop filled with state-of-the-art equipment.

The 45,000-square-foot facility in Carrollton, TX, is equipped with a range of state-of-the-art machinery.
“I started working as a general employee in a small shop in California for about three months,” said Rodriguez, president of Total Design on Marble & Granite. “I then moved to Dallas, and a year later opened up my own business doing tile work -- everything was done on site.”

Among the equipment in the shop are Pro Edge II and Tru Edge III edging machines from Park Industries.
Rodriguez went on to explain that after establishing his tile business, an opportunity was presented to open his own shop. “I leased a place and made my own equipment from older parts,” he said. “I think the only thing that was new was the motor and switches.”

A year after starting fabrication, the business began to prosper, according to the fabricator. “We started growing after the first year as a shop,” he said. “We now have 100 employees, of which 40 are in the shop. Others include 12 installation crews [comprised of two workers each], administration and sales.”

Additional machinery includes a Park Industries Yukon bridge saw. While strips of wood and corrugated plastic are still utilized for templating, the company also invested in a Stealth digitizer from BVH Gregg about one year ago.

The fabricating shop

Total Design on Marble & Granite's fabricating facility, which currently runs one shift, encompasses approximately 45,000 square feet. “We have three areas within the same building -- one for storage of slabs; one is the main fabricating facility; and one is for quality control,” said Rodriguez. Material flow is carefully planned out for maximum efficiency in the shop.

Among the machinery used for fabrication are three bridge saws -- two Cougars and one Yukon, all from Park Industries; Pro Edge II and Tru Edge III edging machines, also from Park Industries; an Intermac CNC machine from AGM; and two Stinger routers from Hard Rock Tool. Additionally, tools and accessories are purchased from local suppliers as well as Vic International, Braxton-Bragg Corp. and GranQuartz.

A specific path for workflow is mapped out in the shop to ensure efficiency and quality control.
While the installation crews still utilize strips of wood and corrugated plastic for templating, the company also invested in a Stealth digitizer from BVH Gregg about one year ago. “Right now we are not using it as much as we could,” said Rodriguez. “We are still learning. I like the fact that I can import directly to a CNC machine, and also eliminate time in making a template. And of course, you don't have to carry tools.”

Total Design on Marble & Granite also enforces a system for “filing” in-progress jobs, which maintains organization in the work area.
The company maintains between 300 to 400 slabs in its storage area. Materials are purchased from suppliers such as IMC, Stone Collection and Stone Quarry as well as other local distributors and a broker in Brazil.

Total Design on Marble & Granite primarily markets to the Dallas/Fort Worth area of Texas. Approximately 90% of its work is residential, of which 70% is new construction, said Rodriguez, adding that 95% of the work is countertop fabrication. Additionally, 60% of its residential work is dealing directly with homeowners. The company also works with local builders.

Looking to the future, Rodriguez intends to continue to expand and maintain a level of high-quality production. “We want to keep the best of what we do in the industry -- growing technology wise,” he said. “We also always want to be on the cutting edge as well as delivering customer service of our jobs.

Total Design on Marble & Granite

Carrollton, TX

Type of work: Primarily new construction and remodels of residential kitchens

Machinery: a Yukon and two Cougar bridge saws from Park Industries of St. Cloud, MN; Pro Edge II and Tru Edge III edging machines from Park Industries; an Intermac CNC machine from AGM of Pineville, NC; two Stinger routers from Hard Rock Tool of Anaheim, CA; and tools and accessories from Vic International of Knoxville, TN; Braxton-Bragg Corp. of Knoxville, TN; and GranQuartz of Tucker, GA

Number of Employees: more than 100

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