Fabricator Case Study: Concentrating on the Countertop Market

February 7, 2006
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Branching off of a pre-existing company, Exquisite Stone now serves as a full fabrication shop, with an emphasis on countertops and vanity tops for both the residential and commercial sectors

Exquisite Stone fabricates granite, marble, soapstone and quartz surfacing out of its 6,000-square-foot facility in Elk River, MN, which includes the fabrication shop, an office and a showroom. According to owner Lance Van Norman, he transitioned the existing concrete and stone business into the granite sector, due to industry growth. Averaging six kitchens a week, the company produces mainly countertops and vanity tops for both residential and commercial applications.

The company's shop houses state-of-the-art equipment, including a Yukon gantry saw, a Pro-Edge III edge polisher and a Wizard radial arm polisher- from Park Industries of St. Cloud, MN. Additionally, the company utilizes a wide variety of water fed pneumatic and electric hand polishers and routers from Granite City Tool. According to Van Norman, all of the machines were purchased at start-up to ensure quality and efficiency, and to help the company remain competitive in the marketplace.

Employees of Exquisite Stone are also trained to operate a Park Industries Wizard radial arm, which allows the user to do almost any processing step in one compact workstation. The Wizard is equipped with a Galeski Oscillating Drum System from Granite City Tool.
“We currently do not have a CNC machine, but are weighing the benefits of obtaining one since we already have a certified CNC programmer/operator on staff,” he said.

Employees also utilize Terminator saw blades, Diarex wet polishing pads and polishing pads purchased through Granite City Tool, and a Galeski sink polishing system. Exquisite Stone's most recent investments include a Galeski Oscillating Drum System and a Gorilla Grip pneumatic seamer, also from Granite City Tool. “They were purchased to increase quality and production and to increase the longevity of our employees ability to do their jobs,” said the owner.

The company currently employs a staff of six who are all cross-trained in various aspects of fabrication and installation.
Exquisite Stone employs a total of six people, including three fabricators, two installers and an office manager. “Employees are cross-trained in all aspects of fabrication and installation, but all hold a specific position which utilizes their expertise,” explained Van Norman, adding that interviewees are tracked down through headhunters and that each candidate must have at least three years prior experience upon being hired.

Exquisite Stone works exclusively with slabs, which are purchased from local distributors. The company's principal markets consist of homebuilders and remodels, as well as retail, cabinet shops, and tile and flooring stores.

Van Norman feels that templating and installing are the two biggest challenges that a fabricator faces today, but by hiring qualified people, one can overcome such obstacles.

In addition to counters, the company fabricates a wide range of miscellaneous items, including waterfalls, signs, paperweights, card holders, oil candles, window sills, Lazy Susans and thresholds.

Exquisite Stone
Elk River, MN

Type of work: countertops and vanity tops for residential and commercial sectors; miscellaneous stone items
Machinery: Yukon gantry saw, a Pro-Edge III edge polisher and a Wizard radial arm, all from Park Industries of St. Cloud, MN; water-fed pneumatic, electric hand polishers and routers, Terminator saw blades and polishing pads, Diarex wet polishing pads and a Gorilla Grip pneumatic seamer from Granite City Tool; Galeski sink polishing system and Galeski Oscillating Drum System from Granite City Tool
Number of employees: 6
Production rate: 6 jobs a week

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