Fabricator Case Study: Running a family operation with modern machinery
August 1, 2006
Olive Glass and Marble - a family-run operation - is located on a 3.5-acre commercial site in Fayetteville, NC. In 1985, Mary Erwin and Hunter Olive entered the construction industry by fabricating custom shower doors, mirrors and small storefronts. As a result of market demand, the couple established Olive Glass and Marble in 1996 as a fabricator of stone countertops, fireplaces and cut-to-order pieces. The couple's son, Bert, joined the family business in 2000, and his brother Sed joined in 2003. The brothers supervise and plan for equipment purchases, fabrication and installation of residential and commercial stone products. Additionally, Brennan Binkley joined the managerial team in 2004, as a project manager for both glass and stone, and he also serves as the sales manager in the showroom.
The company's 6,000-square-foot facility houses a variety of state-of-the-art equipment from Matrix Stone Products of Rancho Cucamonga, CA, including two Sebring gantry saws, and the company's most recent investment, a Daytona edge profiling machine. â€œThe Matrix Sebring saws are the core of our production. They cut fast and accurately, and have never been down,â€ said Bert Olive. â€œThe Matrix Daytona edge machine does most of our edgework. It produces perfect edges very quickly, and then the guys finish up anything we can't run on the machine.
â€œWe found a bottleneck in the shop where the polishers were having a hard time keeping up with the saws,â€ he continued. â€œThe saws were sometimes three jobs ahead. When we got the Daytona, that all changed. We got fast, perfect edges, and the quality of hand polishing improved as well because the polishers could concentrate on details without feeling as much pressure. Now there is a balance in terms of production. The Daytona has improved our work and gotten it out faster.â€
The shop is also equipped with a Marmo Meccanica LCV-711 flat edge polishing machine from Marmo Machinery USA of Southfield, MI, which is used for backsplashes, fireplaces and other flat-polish work, and according to Olive, it is fast and dependable.
In 2005, the company purchased a Scandinvent Cn-Cut Model C3-CNC Bowl Hole System from VIC International Corp. of Knoxville, TN. â€œVIC has wonderful training when you purchase a machine,â€ said Olive. â€œOur installer made it very simple, and we were cutting sink holes at the end of the first day of training. The machine is also set up to be very user friendly. After the initial training, almost everyone in the shop learned or had a clear understanding.
â€œOur biggest obstacle was second guessing ourselves,â€ he continued. â€œWe worried about making mistakes or messing up the computer. At the time, it seemed too easy. We thought CNCs were so complex, but this one is run through Windows, and most sink files come on the machine.â€
Additionally, the shop contains two portable routers, a Marmoelettromeccanica Master 3000 from Regent Stone Products of Virginia Beach, VA, and a Ghines Sector purchased through Braxton-Bragg Corp. of Knoxville, TN.
Employees at Olive Glass and Marble also utilize 14-inch Black Magic blades and CNC router bits from GranQuartz of Tucker, GA; 5-inch Turbo blades and router bits from Direct Fabrication; Lightning polishing pads and edge machine tooling from Stone Tool Supply of Suwanee, GA, and core bits, Alpha profilers and other various tooling from Braxton-Bragg Corp.
The company's principle markets include new and remodel residential projects, for which it fabricates projects such as countertops, vanities, fireplaces, tub decks and wall caps. Cut-to-order commercial work includes window sills, cladding, thresholds, baseboards and flooring. Slab fabrication and installation constitutes 86% of stone sales at the company, followed by 11% of cut-to-order jobs and 3% tile sales. Olive Glass and Marble installs an average of 10 kitchens per week as well as bathrooms and fireplaces, plus an additional 400 to 500 square feet of cut-to-order stone for commercial projects.
Among Olive Glass and Marble's 13 employees, the company has five fabricators and four installers. â€œBoth our fabricators and installers are very skilled in all aspects of stone fabrication,â€ Olive explained. â€œThe installers come in and fabricate when we need a hand, and our fabricators often help the installers on the jobsite.â€ Olive added that the company is currently too busy to train new employees, and so they are only hiring experienced workers for the time being.
Olive finds it challenging to motivate and keep employees happy. â€œStonework can be challenging and grueling at times, but if your guys are happy, they realize that their hard work is appreciated and they are making something beautiful,â€ he said. â€œWe have always wanted them to know they are craftsmen, not workers. They have unique abilities to produce beautiful work that will last forever. Their skills are passed down from experienced fabricators and installers, and they also continue to learn from one another. If a shop has this mentality, everything falls into place.â€ To inspire employees, Olive Glass and Marble offers a competitive salary, health insurance, monthly bonuses and year-end bonuses.
The company's facility includes a 3,000-square-foot showroom, and a 3,000-square-foot indoor storage area with an additional two acres of outside storage for slabs. In general, Olive Glass and Marble imports containers of materials that they use in large quantities from Brazil. The rest of their stone is purchased from Bramati Marble & Granite Inc. of Frederick, MD; Universal Marble & Granite of Baltimore, MD; Marva Marble and Granite Inc. of Midlothian, VA; International Granite and Marble Corp.; Colorstone International of Atlanta, GA; Marble Point of Raleigh, NC; and NSI, LLC of Glen Burnie, MD.
The company recently completed granite cladding for the base of a 20-foot statue called â€œIron Mikeâ€ in Ft. Bragg, NC, and is in the process of fabricating stone for a large-scale residence in South Carolina. â€œWe are currently working on a 10,000-square-foot home in Myrtle Beach, SC,â€ said Olive. â€œWe will be installing around 550 square feet of granite and marble slab work, 700 square feet of slate pattern flooring and stair treads, and we are providing 400 square feet of 18- x 18-inch marble tiles for the tile installers.â€
Olive Glass and MarbleType of work: new and remodel residential projects, including countertops, vanities, fireplaces, tub decks and wall caps; cut-to-order commercial work for window sills, cladding, thresholds, baseboards and flooring
Machinery: two Sebring gantry saws and a Daytona edge profiling machine from Matrix Stone Products of Rancho Cucamonga, CA; a Marmo Meccanica LCV-711 flat edge polishing machine from Marmo Machinery USA of Southfield, MI; a Scandinvent Cn-Cut Model C3-CNC Bowl Hole System from VIC International Corp. of Knoxville, TN; a Marmoelettromeccanica Master 3000 portable router from Regent Stone Products of Virginia Beach, VA; a Ghines Sector portable router from Braxton-Bragg of Corp. of Knoxville, TN; 14-inch Black Magic blades and CNC router bits from GranQuartz of Tucker, GA; 5-inch Turbo blades and router bits from Direct Fabrication; Lightning polishing pads and edge machine tooling from Stone Tool Supply of Suwanee, GA; core bits, Alpha profilers and other various tooling from Braxton-Bragg Corp.
Number of Employees: 13
Production Rate: 10 kitchens per week, as well as bathrooms and fireplaces; 400 to 500 square feet of cut to order stone for commercial projects