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The latest Stone Fabricators Alliance (SFA) Workshop was held from March 27 to 29 at Cadenza Granite & Marble of Concord, NC, and it was attended by approximately 100 fabricators from around the country. After a brief greeting and introductions by Ron Hannah and Melissa Hannah, owners of Cadenza, attendees at the event had the option of watching product demonstrations and presentations in the reception area, or they could watch the various stages of projects being fabricated on the shop floor.
Hands-on demonstrationsWithin the fabrication shop, attendees at the workshop were able to get a close look at the actual jobs being processed at Cadenza. This included the practical session, “Dealing with difficult stones,” where attendees were able to watch the various steps necessary when processing a Rainforest Brown countertop - including rodding, handling (including reinforcement), polishing, potential repair and other issues that arise when working with fragile materials. (A full report on this session, including photographs of the various steps in the process, will appear in the July 2008 issue of Stone World.)
There were also several formal staged presentations in the showroom over the course of the event, including ones that dealt with seam setting, top polishing, scratch removal, sink installations, material handling, laminated edge details, slab shower options and sealing/maintenance techniques. (In-depth reports on several of these sessions will also appear in the July 2008 issue of Stone World.)
Also in the fabrication shop, representatives from Granite City Tool demonstrated their line of CNC tooling in action on Cadenza’s CNC stoneworking center. Tabletop displays of products from Bonstone and Integra Adhesives rounded out the activities on the shop floor, and products from both companies were used during the hands-on demonstrations.
Presentations/discussionsIn the reception area, demonstrations on the opening day began with a presentation of two digital templating systems. Representatives from both Laser Products (demonstrating the LT-55) and Blick Industries (demonstrating the Proliner) used their respective systems to digitally measure the area where cabinets had been installed in Cadenza’s showroom.
The digital templating session was followed by presentations by two machinery companies - Intermac America and Breton - who explained some of the advances in their technology.
Following lunch, the presentations continued with an Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) consultative services representative. Given the stone fabrication industry’s increased presence in the public eye, preparing for a potential OSHA inspection has become more and more important to shops, and many shop owners received advice from their fellow fabricators as well as the speakers on hand. One audience member - who had successfully completed an OSHA inspection - said that they have been able to use their OSHA compliance as a promotional aspect for their company. “It adds to the premium aspect,” he said. “Also, it helps with employee retention because the guys know they’re working in a safe environment.”
Ron Hannah, who also addressed the audience during the session, stressed that long-term OSHA compliance goes beyond passing an inspection. “It’s important not to just have a program, but to make sure it is implemented and that everyone knows what it means.”
Following the OSHA presentation, the Moraware fabrication shop management system was demonstrated, followed by presentations by U.S. Granite Robotics and Northwood Machine.
On the workshop’s second day, presentations included:
• The Stone Fabricators Alliance - Mandates and Motives
• Adhesives & Solvents - Different Product Applications
• Diversifying Within your Expertise
• Installation of Showroom Countertops
The second day concluded with a tour of the nearby Hendrick Motorsports NASCAR facility, which is considered to be a model of efficiency and organization that can be applied to any operation.
The third and final day of the SFA Workshop began with an hour-long presentation, “Shop Management: Controlling your Costs.” This was followed by an open Fabricator Forum, where attendees had the opportunity to interact and share ideas and experiences with one another.