Digital templating allows for product expansion
August 1, 2008
Starting out dealing 100% with plastic laminate, Maxwell Counters, Inc. of Farmer City, IL, expanded into solid surface fabrications and, more recently, it began measuring and installing quartz products. The addition of digital templating technology has been an integral part of the company’s flourishing development.
Owner and President, Kevin Maxwell, purchased the business in 1981, a time when Maxwell explained stone was far from his mind. “I had plenty to learn about the industry without taking on a product as challenging as stone,” he said.
The company’s product scope grew to include solid surface products, and after seeing continued growth in quartz surfacing, Maxwell saw the opportunity to expand in 2004. “We are in a rural setting in Central Illinois, so most opportunities were to partner with a large stone manufacturer, where we offered measuring and installation, while they produced tops,” he said. “This [current] model took some work to find the correct partner, but we are successfully working with several quartz products at this point through two fabrication facilities.”
Although the company has two facilities - around 11,000 square feet each - for solid surface and plastic laminate products, Maxwell Counters, Inc. currently subcontracts all quartz fabrication to other fabrication shops using measurements gathered by the company.
For all countertop products, the company relies on not one, but two LT-55 templating laser units from Laser Products Industries of Romeoville, IL. “One of our programmers actually saw the LT-55 system just prior to my attending a trade show,” said Maxwell. “I spent 30 minutes with Jim Hoffman of Laser Products and was convinced this was the way to go.”
Satisfied with its results, Maxwell obtained a second LT-55 six months after the original purchase, as he has found that this switch has enhanced his business. “It’s improved our accuracy and dramatically cut down on programming time,” he said. “We are pleased to be able to verify dimensions in the field with the LT-55 and be certain we have the job captured properly,” said Maxwell, adding that he and his employees picked up on the new templater and gained its confidence in accuracy quickly.
“I believe we were measuring with the LT-55 within a week or so of the delivery,” said the owner. “We ran a lot of double checks before we trusted the LT-55 and slowly started dropping back on the double checks.”
Four programmers handle the LT-55s - in rotations of two each day - where Maxwell explained more employees are trained in case the company grows to the point of needing a third LT-55. Other employees include eight office staff, two outside sales representatives, eight installers, two measurers, and three managers and supervisors, plus 18 workers in the solid surface/laminate production unit.
Maxwell Counters, Inc. mainly relies on residential projects as it sees 75% of its business going toward that sector. “Capacity wise, we do around 27 residential kitchens per week in solid surface and seven in quartz,” said the owner, adding that 25% of its revenue is acquired from quartz.
However, recent projects consist of several commercial developments, including hospitals, universities and large financial institutions in its area, according to Maxwell.