A balance of commercial and residential projects

November 1, 2003
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Located in an underground industrial park in Independence, MO, Midland Marble and Granite LLC occupies this unique setting with its 50,000-square-foot headquarters. The former limestone mine where Midland resides measures 5 million square feet in total and embodies a distinctive characteristic -- the atmosphere's temperature never climbs higher than 70 degrees all year long. Bryan Caton established Midland in 1996 with 15 years experience in the industry as a tile setter and stone installer. He has continued to fulfill his long-time dream of heading a fabrication company with help from his wife Cathy and his brother Mike. His two motivations for starting Midland hold true today as the mission statements for the company -- “To provide outstanding customer service from start to finish and offering 'state-of-the-art' cutting edge natural stone fabrication techniques and installation.”

In addition to the main office and plant in Independence -- just outside of Kansas City -- Midland Marble and Granite has a second plant in Omaha, NE. The Independence plant has the new Matrix Sebring gantry saw, a Marmo Meccanica bridge saw, a Denver Quasar edge polisher, two Marmo Meccanica LCV711 edging machines and a multi-purpose CNC stoneworking center from Brembana/CMS North America. The Omaha plant is equipped with similar machines, and it also operates the Ravelli sinkhole polisher and the new Matrix Sebring gantry saw. “The two Matrix saws have decreased production time, which allowed us to produce more countertops,” explained Caton. “The Matrix Sebring gantry saw has quickly become the favorite among our fabricators, who appreciate its dependable speed and power.”

Finding new machinery like the two new Matrix saws involved inquiring about different models from various fabricators at trade shows. “We research our new prospective equipment by going to the Verona Fair and Coverings -- the International Stone and Tile Exposition -- and talking to the fabricators who are operating the equipment we are interested in,” said Caton.

Midland Marble and Granite fabricates all types of stone, including marble, granite, slate, limestone and soapstone. Final products range from small end tables to large commercial projects. Midland's principle markets involve half residential projects and half commercial granite and tile, covering areas of Nebraska and Missouri -- particularly in the area of the Lake of the Ozarks. “To give an idea of activity, we complete 25 homes a week including countertops, bath vanity tops, fireplace hearths, slab and tile flooring, slab shower and tub decks, wet bar counters, patios and walkways,” said Caton. “On the commercial side -- which involves tile and granite work -- we've done all the stonework for Sprint's world headquarters, two of Cabela's Sporting Goods and the remodeling of several major casinos, including Harrah's, Argosy and Ameristar in Kansas City, MO.” Caton reports that slab production is the largest percentage of work in the shop, totaling three-quarters of the company's total production. The other quarter is split between tiles and cut-to-size work.

The maximum amount of production that has been achieved in the past was $700,000 in one month. In August, production was down to 60% of its average capacity due to the opening of the two new showrooms. Despite the decrease in capacity, Midland was able to remodel the three casinos and 15,000 square feet of residential production, according to Caton.

When Caton first began Midland Marble and Granite in 1996, there were only four other fabricators in the Kansas City, MO, area. “Trying to increase market ability in our area has been a challenge as more and more fabricators are establishing themselves in the Kansas City area,” said Caton. “We are now one of 16 stone fabricators, rather than one of five when we started the company. Marketability is not the only goal in mind with our company; we want to provide good customer service as well.” Although these elements can hinder the growth of the company, production is still flourishing. “The biggest challenge as a fabricator is finding and training quality workers,” Caton said.

End box:
Midland Marble and Granite, Independence, MO, Omaha, NE

Type of work done: Residential countertops, bath vanity tops, fireplace hearths and facets, slab and tile flooring, slab shower and tub decks, wet bar counters, patios and walkways and commercial tiles and granite
Machinery: Matrix Sebring gantry saw, Marmo Meccanica bridge saw, Denver Quasar edge polisher, two Marmo Meccanica edging machines and a Brembana/CMS North America multi-purpose CNC stoneworking machine, Ravelli sinkhole polisher Number of employees: 100
Production rate: 25 homes a week; approximately three commercial buildings a month

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