Digital technology proves formula for success
After converting to digital technology almost five years ago, YK Stone Center Inc. in Denver, CO, has seen a considerable increase in production as well as efficiency and quality control
Located in the heart of Colorado is a family owned and operated business, YK Stone Center Inc., which specializes in the design, fabrication and installation of natural materials, such as granite, marble, travertine, quartz, stone tile and glass mosaic tile. Originally created as a tile company in 1998 by Yelisey Khrestsov, who emigrated to the U.S. from Russia in 1995 with his seven children, YK Stone Center Inc. has transformed into a direct importer of natural stone from South America and Europe as well as one of Denver’s highly recommended stone shops.
One of Khrestsov’s oldest sons, Ilya, is now the current owner of the company, who along with his brothers Val and Konstantin, are in charge of overseeing the daily operations. In addition to the roster of 10 employees, most of the Khrestsov siblings are employed within the company to help continue the family tradition. In 2000, they rented their first 3,000-square-foot facility in a local industrial park, where they had a pretty basic shop with limited machinery, including a bridge saw and some other manual tools. Less than 10 years later in 2008, they purchased an old auto body shop only a couple of blocks away on a much busier street, and transformed it into their current, state-of-the-art facility, which is more than double the size of their original space.
“[Now], we have a 4,000-square-foot showroom and a 4,000-square-foot production facility,” said Ilya Khrestsov. “We also have a yard where we store remnants and stone slabs that we import from Italy, Brazil and Spain, as well as slabs purchased locally in the U.S. We specialize in granite, marble and all types of quartz surfacing — Cambria, Caesarstone, Silestone and Neolith — which are our biggest hits. With the emerging trend of larger sized tiles, such as Neolith, YK Stone Center Inc. takes pride in providing a higher quality fabrication and installation with these materials.”
YK Stone Center Inc.
Type of Work: customized residential and commercial
Machinery: a Fusion 4045 CNC Water Jet Saw, Titan CNC Router and Slabsmith software — all from Park Industries of St. Cloud, MN; Proliner from Prodim USA of Fort Pierce, FL; Manzelli vacuum lifters and Makita angle grinder — both from GranQuartz of Tucker, GA
Number of Employees: 10, plus four installers
Production Rate: Two kitchens a day, ranging from 70 to 100 square feet in size
YK Stone Center Inc. typically employs two crews, which produce about 350 square feet of high-end, custom fabricated surface tops daily. The shop is equipped with machinery from Park Industries of St. Cloud, MN, including a Yukon® II bridge saw. The company also recently purchased a Titan® CNC Router, which will be installed in September. “We are replacing the Pro-Edge and Wizard machines with the latest Titan CNC router, which will give us a higher level of production quality and speed,” said Konstantin Khrestsov.
One of the newest pieces of machinery the company has been utilizing quite frequently is Park Industries’ Fusion 4045 CNC Water Jet Saw, which was purchased in 2011, shortly after the company made the decision to go completely digital in 2010. “It was revolutionary for us; we went from doing things manually to [doing things] digitally, and it presented a totally new approach,” said Ilya Khrestsov. “Going digital also allows us to increase production while substantially minimizing waste. Waste factor went from 20% mistakes/comebacks to virtually nothing. We streamlined the process to eliminate any possible mistakes during the production cycle. Computer data and measurements verification, as well as feedback and input provided by our clients are just a few things we do to make sure that the goal is accomplished.”
Slabs are maneuvered around the shop with a Gorbel crane and Manzelli vacuum lifters, and a Makita angle grinder and multiple air/water polishers are used for handwork — all supplied by GranQuartz of Tucker, GA. To produce highly accurate digital slabs from the actual, physical stone slabs, the company utilizes Slabsmith software. Slabsmith digital slabs are true to life in both color and dimension and contain all relevant properties of the original slab. Slabsmith uses these digital slabs to provide benefits and advantages that include inventory management, 3D visual layout, sales and marketing tools, streamlined manufacturing, and targeted business decisions.
On top of YK Stone Center Inc.’s 10 employees, the company also has its own installation team consisting of four installers. Templators from the install crews use two Proliners from Prodim USA of Fort Pierce, FL, for templating kitchen counters, vanity tops, tub decks, shower walls, fireplaces and furniture pieces. “The Proliners have eliminated the wooden strips, staples, noise and cleanup,” said Val Khrestsov. “Digital templating is about 75% faster and much more accurate than the old-fashioned way. That is the only templating system we use.”
YK Stone Center Inc. generally services residential clients, but with its digital makeover, another door of clientele has gradually been opening up. · "Residential homes are our primary jobs, but with the latest technologies that we currently have and use, we've been getting some large commercial projects," said Ilya Khrestsov. “Having those tools gives us a competitive advantage. Our clients, architects and designers appreciate the fact that instead of waiting for several weeks to see the end result, the project can be visualized right away before the countertops are installed."
Ilya said the company completes approximately two kitchens on average each day."We’ve expanded our services up in the mountain areas as well, where the jobs range in the 300- to 400-square-foot range, but in the Denver area we're mostly doing [kitchens] between 70 and 100 square feet in size," he said.
Some recent projects include One Union Station, a commercial project in downtown Denver, which incorporates a variety of stone throughout the floors, walls and countertops; as well as some residences in the local area.
For the short-term, Khrestsov’s goal is to complete the company’s transition to the digital world and continue to maintain the quality customer satisfaction the company prides itself on. “Setting up the Titan® CNC Router would complete our goal to go fully digital,” he said. “We didn’t really need it up until now because our guys could keep up, but now, we need so much overtime to keep up with our production that it’s necessary.”