Fabricator Case Study: Expanding capabilities with quality machinery
February 1, 2007
When family-owned-and-operated Qualey Granite & Stone Fabrication, LLC of Maine was initially established in 2003, it solely concentrated on exterior work. Today, production has grown to include interior designs such as countertops and fireplace and shower surrounds. The company operates out of two locations - a 4,000-square-foot fabrication facility in Brewer, ME, and a 2,000-square-foot space that houses its offices, a showroom and inventory in Bangor, ME.
“We started out doing exterior work like walls and patios,” said the company’s owner, Matt Qualey. “We bought a monumental shop, and after a bad experience with a partnership, became an LLC. We bought our first fabricating tools at this time and attended the Regent [Stone Products] training program.” Today, the company specializes in both interior and exterior stonework with a focus on granite and marble fabrication and stonewall construction/restoration.
One of the company’s most recent purchases included a CMS North America/Brembana Maxima CNC stoneworking center. According to Qualey, it took about a week to learn the basics and then another three months to “work all of the bugs out.” “The biggest obstacle to learning to operate the CNC was learning to position parts on the machine, so that it thinks the parts are in the same place that we think they are,” he explained. “To resolve this issue, we have standardized the way parts are cut on the bridge saws.”
The company also recently purchased a Nova Tech digitizer and a Manzelli vacuum lifter. “All recent investments were made to speed up production and standardize finished edge work,” the fabricator said. “They increased production by drastically reducing time spent on handwork. Most of our work entails complex shapes, arcs, bump outs and detailed edgework.”
Other machinery at the shop includes a Yukon Deluxe bridge saw from Park Industries of St. Cloud, MN; a Regent Marmoelettromeccanica Master 3500 router; an Atlas Copco 20 horsepower screw compressor; two Aardwolf slab lifters; two overhead cranes (one 5 ton and one 3 ton); as well as a Caterpillar excavator/loader, a crane truck and two dump trucks.
Furthermore, handwork at the shop is completed with air polishers from Alpha Professional Tools of Oakland, NJ, and all solid surface work is done with Festool routers and sanders from Specialty Tools - which also supplies Qualey Granite & Stone Fabrication with Jost sanding discs. The company also utilizes Alpha polishing pads, Stonetech sealers and Tenax adhesives, as well as Diarex blades, Terminator core bits and blades and ADI CNC tooling from GranQuartz of Tucker, GA, and Diamut CNC tooling from Salem Stone of Winston-Salem, NC.
The company’s production is 90% high-end residential, 8% production and 2% commercial work. Qualey Granite & Stone Fabrication purchases its slabs from Black Bear Granite of Woburn, MA, and Marble & Granite, Inc. of Westwood, MA. “We work with all types of natural stone, as well as engineered stone and solid surface,” Qualey added.
Furthermore, Qualey Granite & Stone Fabrication employs a staff of eight. “Employees are specialized, but we cross-train so that all employees can complete most tasks,” said Qualey, adding that most employees are hired through advertising and word of mouth.
“The biggest challenge is educating customers on the difference between the Big Box product and our product,” the fabricator explained. “We also must find new sources of work as under-the-table shops keep popping up. We also want to be able to offer a work environment to attract and retain qualified employees.”
Qualey Granite & Stone Fabrication has its own installation crew, and it strives for prompt and professional delivery and installation of all the products they sell. “We pride ourselves on our short turn-around time, typically between two to three weeks from template to install,” the company stated.
Qualey Granite & Stone Fabrication, LLCType of work: interior and exterior work, including countertops, fireplaces and shower surrounds, walls, patios, steps, etc.
Machinery: a CMS/Brembana Maxima CNC stoneworking center from CMS North America/Brembana of Caledonia, MI; a Yukon Deluxe bridge saw from Park Industries of St. Cloud, MN; a Regent/Marmoelettromeccanica Master 3500 router; an Atlas Copco 20 horsepower screw compressor; two Aardwolf slab lifters; two overhead cranes (one 5 ton and one 3 ton); a Caterpillar excavator/loader, a crane truck and two dump trucks; Festool routers and sanders and Jost sanding discs from Specialty Tools; polishing pads and an air polisher from Alpha Professional Tools of Oakland, NJ; Stonetech sealers; Tenax adhesives; Diarex blades, Terminator core bits and blades and ADI CNC tooling from GranQuartz of Tucker, GA; Diamut CNC tooling from Salem Stone of Winston-Salem, NC
Number of Employees: 8
Production Rate: 250 to 350 square feet per week