Fabricator Case Study: Succeeding with a CNC workhorse
What started out as a hobby for Bob Opsal eventually led to his current career as a stone fabricator and owner of Ancient Stone located in Brentwood in Northern California. Utilizing a CNC machine, the company averages eight kitchens a week, and handles all aspects of natural stone fabrication, including flooring, countertops and full shower enclosures.
Ancient Stone utilizes the CNC machine for all aspects of stone fabrication, including sink cutouts, edging and drain boards, among other functions. Opsal knew he wanted a CNC since before opening his shop, as he feels it is key for quality production. â€œIt takes the place of anywhere from five to 10 guys for me, depending on what we are doing with it,â€ he said. â€œIt is a huge advantage for granite shops to have. It opens up every aspect when you have a CNC running. We can push three kitchens out of it a day. We can edge pieces and do sink cut outs at the same time without even taking the pieces out.â€
In addition to the CNC, the shop is also equipped with a Superior bridge saw from Superior Stone Products of Byron Center, MI, which Opsal discovered at a trade show, and a Bremor edge polisher. Workers at the shop also utilize Omega diamond routers and hand polishers, and Terminator bits and Talon grinder blades from Braxton-Bragg of Knoxville, TN.
Ancient Stone's staff includes five workers inside the shop, two office personnel and three installers. Opsal feels that finding quality employees is one of the biggest problems he faces. â€œFor me, a challenge is looking for employees who will do over and above what you expect them to,â€ he said. â€œMy main guy grew up with me, and we have known each other since we were five years old. It has been awesome having him around, and it makes it so much easier to work together and get stuff done how it's supposed to be done.â€
Opsal has come along way since he first began fabricating stone by hand, averaging one kitchen a week. â€œI had slabs delivered to my house and rented a forklift,â€ he said. â€œMy neighbor and I would wheel the slabs into my backyard with a handmade dolly, and I worked off a station that was set up behind my house.â€
Aside from attending StonExpo every year, Opsal does research on the Internet to learn about new machines and new material. â€œI didn't try to make this business happen too fast,â€ he said. â€œI try to run as lean as I can. My main focus is getting equipment that will do the quality that I want to put out.â€
Ancient StoneType of work: countertops, flooring, full shower enclosures, some commercial work, plus other miscellaneous items
Machinery: Haas GR-710 CNC stoneworking center; Superior bridge saw from Superior Stone Products; Bremor edge polishing machine; Omega diamond routers and hand polishers; Terminator bits and Talon grinder blades from Braxton-Bragg
Number of Employees: 10
Production Rate: 8 kitchens per week