Focusing on quality over quantity

February 1, 2005
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Five years ago, Eric Shewchuk launched a fabricating company that specialized in the production of customized tables built from natural stone. Through determination and hard work, his company, Temecula Stone-works of Sage, CA, has grown to become a well-respected fabricator of kitchen countertops for local high-end residences. And even thought it has grown, it has emphasized quality workmanship through the use of

new technology.

Shewchuk was driven to start his own business due to unpleasant relationships with several previous employers and their untactful ways of handling customers, he explained. Coming to the realization that he would be better off working for himself, Shewchuk purchased a 3,100-square-foot facility in 2000. After obtaining his contracting license, he began fabricating kitchen countertops, and the company took off from there -- leaving little room for smaller projects such as tables.

To this day, the company simply relies on word of mouth and referrals

to expand its high-quality, honest reputation among its clients, according to Shewchuk. “We are already working at our full capacity,” he said. “All I have to do is go to a house and give a customer an estimate. By the time I get there, the job is ours. I don't have to sell anything because people have already heard such wonderful things about us from their friends and family.” Because of this reliable promotional vehicle, Shewchuk feels that there is no need to hire a salesman. Although the company does do a small amount of advertising, it is forced to turn down most of the jobs that do not come from referrals due to such a busy production schedule.

When the company first started, workers produced, by hand, about one kitchen a week. An investment in a Daytona XL Edge Profiling System from Matrix Stone Products of Upland, CA, proved successful for the company. It now averages three kitchens per week. “The Matrix puts out so much more work than a person can,” said Shewchuk. “It has absolutely made a significant difference in the ease and quality to produce perfection.”

Prior to purchasing the edging machine, workers used portable routers along with various air polishers and hand tools. Cutting is done with a Harris Accu-Glide track saw, purchased from Vic International Corp. of Knoxville, TN. The factory is also equipped with a vacuum lifter from Wood's Powr-Grip Co. Inc. of Laurel, MT.

According to Shewchuk, he prefers to keep Temecula Stoneworks on a small scale to maintain a high-quality product level. Rather than maintaining inventory, slabs come from several local distributors. “We send our customers to preferred suppliers,” said Shewchuk.

Additionally, the company employs only four workers. “I don't want to have a dozen or so people in charge of my company,” he said. “Instead, I like to keep the company small to ensure top-quality workers.” Shewchuk believes that the employees that he has hand picked are talented craftsman who he can trust to do the job in a sincere manner. “My ideal work candidate would be a smart kid just out of high school who doesn't want to go to college, but wants to learn a trade,” he said. “This way I can teach him the right way to do things from the beginning, which is what our company's reputation is based on.”

Shewchuk founded his company on the philosophy to do the right thing, to be honest, and to respect customers, especially when it comes to making mistakes and being prompt. “I like to be honest and upfront about mistakes, because everyone makes them,” he said. “We have lost a lot of money on jobs where a slab was broken. Instead of just gluing the piece back together, we replace the whole thing, which is the right thing to do. I got fed up with people who couldn't tell the truth. We do what we say we are going to do when we say we are going to do it. Even if I am going to be 10 minutes late to a jobsite, I call to let the customer know, and they really appreciate that.”

Ninety-five percent of the company's production comes from high-end residential business, leaving only a small portion for the commercial market, which includes projects such as the Alexander Hughes Community and Recreation Center in Claremont, CA. Since the fabrication shop is located in the heart of Temecula's wine country, the company has also produced a few projects for local wineries.

“We will travel up to two hours away,” said Shewchuk. “About 90% of our projects are within a 50-mile radius, and about 85% of our production is kitchen countertops.”

For the past year and a half, Shewchuk has noticed a decline in the use of marble and travertine, and has exclusively used granite for projects.

The fabricator added that he could make more money by increasing his staff size, but he likes that customers consider the small staff as friends and not just people out to make a profit. “It is obvious by all our referrals that our customers really appreciate what we do,” he said.

End box

Temecula Stoneworks
Sage, CA

Type of work: Residential kitchen countertops
Machinery: Daytona XL Edge Profiling System from Matrix Stone Products; Harris Accu-Glide track saw from Vic International Corp.; portable routers; Wood's Powr-Grip vacuum lifter
Number of Employees: 4
Production Rate: 3 kitchens per week

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