Maintaining a well-rounded stone operation
March 1, 2010
As the owner of Marble Tech Inc. in Crystal Lake, IL, Tom Gust has overseen many transformations for his company. Initially, the business was based out of Barrington, IL, and operated as a flooring contractor. But due to the growing demand for stone countertops in the early 1990s, Gust made the decision to advance his company to the next level by purchasing a bridge saw and offering stone fabrication and installation services. Through the years, Marble Tech Inc. continually evolved, and today it functions out of a 105,000-square-foot facility equipped with state-of-the-art machinery. Additionally, it runs 11 retail showrooms strategically placed throughout the Chicagoland area.
With a staff of 50, Marble Tech has come a long way from when it first started with a five-person team. Of the 50 employees, 35 are involved in the fabrication, measurement and installation processes, including four installation crews. According to Gust, the company processes residential and commercial slab applications from natural stone and man-made material as well as installing tile and hardwood. “At full capacity, we can finish as many as 25 kitchens per day,” he said.
To complete this volume of work, the shop, which encompasses 60,000 square feet of the entire 105,000-square-foot space, houses a full line-up of fabrication equipment, including three CNC stoneworking centers, three in-line edge polishing machines, two bridge saws, a RoboCut waterjet/saw from Marble Tech’s sister company, USG Robotics of Barrington, IL, and a waterjet from Flow International Corp. of Kent, WA. The company purchases its hand tools and accessories from Braxton-Bragg of Knoxville, TN, and also utilizes a JobTracker system from Moraware of Reno, NV.
Most recently, Marble Tech added new software - Virtual Inventory Management and VeinMatch - from USG Robotics. “Virtual Inventory Management is an online database of calibrated slab photos that allows the sales staff from our 11 showrooms and our customers to browse our current inventory,” explained Gust, adding that the company stocks about 3,000 slabs that have all been photographed. “It also gives our sales staff the ability to assign material via the Internet. It has helped us by giving our sales staff the ability to see what material we have in stock and allowing them to close the sale in the showroom. We have set up a 50-inch LCD flatscreen television in every showroom. It has eliminated the necessity for customers to visit the warehouse, and the calibrated photographs give production and our customers the ability to do full digital layouts using VeinMatch - showing exact placement of pieces and seam-alignment before cutting.”
With VeinMatch, production and the company’s customers are given a preview of how all the pieces will look, and how they will come together to form the final job, according to Gust. “As an integral part of USG Robotics, it also ties into our RoboCut waterjet/saw and allows us to guarantee that we cut the pieces in the exact same position as on the layout,” he said. “The layouts are completed and saved before the slab ever gets to the saw table, thus saving the operator valuable time.”
For templating, the company’s measurers use an LT-55 Laser Templator from Laser Products of Romeoville, IL, and a Prodim Proliner from Blick Industries of Laguna Beach, CA. “Our shop would not be the same without these products, which give us the ability to make clean and accurate files for use with all of our machinery,” said Gust. “The LT-55 is especially helpful when it comes to finishing files on the jobsite - allowing for a good double-check of final piece measurements.”
Presently, Marble Tech runs one shift from 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. It recycles approximately 300,000 gallons of water daily using a water recycling system that it constructed itself. Moreover, the company recycles about 50,000 pounds of scrap material a week, which is crushed and sold as gravel.
Marble Tech’s market spans all of Illinois, southern Wisconsin and northern Indiana. According to Gust, approximately 99% of the company’s sales come from installed countertop applications and the other 1% accounts for tile and fabrication-only jobs. “Most of our recent projects come from home remodels, but we also just remodeled the local Kyoto Sushi Restaurant, the bar at Chicago Prime Steakhouse, and we are currently finishing up 50 new local condos,” he said. “Due to a solid customer base and referral system, we remain stable in an obviously adverse economy. In recent times, we have taken an inward look at our company, trying to find ways to adjust to our customers’ needs, keep the end quality of our products high and keep unnecessary costs to a minimum. We hope to see a gradual increase in home remodeling and commercial development, but for now, we are simply attempting to maintain our connections with the community and our commercial and home developers. As for the future, and as it has been the case in the past, we will always strive to continue expanding and building upon our previous success through the expansion of our sales force, showroom locations and fabrication throughout.”
Sidebar: Marble Tech Inc.Crystal Lake, IL
Type of work: residential and commercial
Machinery: three CNC stoneworking centers, three in-line edge polishing machines, two bridge saws, a RoboCut waterjet/saw from USG Robotics of Barrington, IL, a waterjet from Flow International Corp. of Kent, WA, hand tools and accessories from Braxton-Bragg of Knoxville, TN, Virtual Inventory Management and VeinMatch software from USG Robotics, a JobTracker system from Moraware of Reno, NV, an LT-55 Laser Templator from Laser Products of Romeoville, IL, a Prodim Proliner from Blick Industries of Laguna Beach, CA, and a water recycling system
Number of Employees: 50 (35 involved in fabrication, measurement and installation)
Production Rate: as many as 25 kitchens a day when running at full capacity