California fabricator moves into the "digital age”

August 1, 2008
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De Lorenzo Marble & Tile’s facility in Torrance, CA, includes 6,000 square feet of office space, a 10,000-square-foot fabricating facility and a 25,000-square-foot slab yard. The company currently produces an average of 750 square feet a week using the latest in digital technology.

De Lorenzo Marble of Torrance, CA, founded in 1980 by Frank and Antoinette De Lorenzo, is now a second-generation family business, which Joe De Lorenzo and his brother-in-law Mario Di Vincenzo have transformed into a fully digital operation. The company’s current facility, which includes 6,000 square feet of office space, a 10,000-square-foot fabricating facility and a 25,000-square-foot slab yard, fabricates an average of 750 square feet of slab material a week using the latest in digital technology.

According to Joe De Lorenzo, his father Frank brought his stone experience to the states from Milan, Italy. “My brother-in-law Mario and I have taken [the company] into the digital age,” he said in regard to the company’s current use of computer-controlled machinery.

Included in De Lorenzo Marble & Tile’s operation are two Prodim Proliner digital templating systems supplied through Blick Industries of Laguna Beach, CA - one of which was purchased in 2004 and the other in 2008. “It is a true digital templating solution that allows us to template sinks, tubs, fireplaces, kitchens, full splashes, shower panels and stairs,” said De Lorenzo. “We thoroughly evaluated all of the templating technologies and found that the Prodim Proliner was the easiest, most feature-rich machine available. It is phenomenal at thoroughly and precisely measuring and creating a usable drawing, which then goes to the next level of fabrication.”

According to De Lorenzo, the Prodim Proliner has streamlined the company’s business by bridging the gap between manually measuring and the shop’s computer-controlled cutting and finishing. “It has improved overall quality, accuracy and speed on all three levels: measuring, fabricating and installing,” he said. “We now have a more precise finished piece, which has created little, if any, adjusting or trimming on site. This yields a much faster and more precise install.”

In terms of machinery, the shop houses a Northwood SawJET™ from Northwood Machine Manufacturing Co. of Louisville, KY, which De Lorenzo explains as a “fully digital cutting solution with laser projection and photo-to-part capability using Slabsmith™ software,” which is manufactured by Northwood Designs, Inc. of Antwerp, NY.

Workers at De Lorenzo Marble & Tile also rely on a CMS/Brembana Maxima CNC stoneworking center for edge profiling, sink cutouts and milling. “We were making parts within the first week we had it,” said the fabricator. “It took about three to five months to become truly proficient on the programming and tool set-up. Holding onto the workpiece was one of the biggest obstacles in the beginning. We were able to work with Blick Industries to create some solutions such as vacuum pods to help us secure and position the pieces on the CNC.

“It has taken a few years to really dial in the complete digital package - from templating to shop drawings to the Slabsmith layout to the SawJET™ programming to the CNC programming to the installation drawings,” he continued.

A model 541 C bridge saw from Sawing Systems of Knoxville, TN, is also in place at the company’s facility to handle rodding, mitering and basic cutting, according to De Lorenzo. Additionally, a Patch-Wegner radial arm polisher, which was installed in 1980 when the company first began, is still in use at the shop for top polishing slabs.

Production at De Lorenzo Marble & Tile, which is mostly for high-end custom homes and remodels with some light commercial work, includes kitchen countertops, bath vanity tops and tub decks, fireplace fascias, slab showers, barbecue countertops, stair treads, furniture and slab floor layouts. “We manufacture anything slab related,” said De Lorenzo. “We build products using granite, marble, soapstone, travertine, onyx, limestone, slate and quartz.”

Currently, De Lorenzo purchases its slabs from local distributors, but they are looking into importing directly in the near future. De Lorenzo went on to say that the company has a close relationship with suppliers, who keep them up to date on all of the latest materials and trends.

Each of De Lorenzo Marble & Tile’s 10 employees are cross-trained, and a select few handle the extreme detailed work, according to De Lorenzo. “We do not have a formal training program, but we use an apprenticeship program.”

According to the fabricator, exceeding customer expectations is the company’s number one priority. “In today’s market, consumers are much more knowledgeable and have higher standards for finish work,” he explained. “Stone countertops have become standard protocol, so clients expect precise finished work. Mother nature has a way of forging her own path sometimes, so we educate the consumer and properly set the expectation before we fabricate. We then use the finest technology and premuim materials coupled with seasoned manpower to create a high-quality finished product.”

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