From countertops to waterjet design

October 1, 2004
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Having worked in the Deer Valley area of Phoenix, AZ, for 21 years, Saban Tile, Marble & Granite offers the complete stone and tile package to its clients. Working primarily on high-end homes, it not only does kitchen countertop fabrication, but it also has machinery for custom waterjet work and stocks a broad range of tile products. All of these activities fall in line with a company objective to be a one-stop source for its clients.

The company works out of a 15,000-square-foot building, which it owns. It has been working in stone fabrication for 11 years, doing two or three custom kitchens per day - primarily for high-end homes up to 10,000 square feet in size. As expected, these projects tend to be large-scale, as a typical kitchen project completed by Saban has four slabs or more. Overall, the company estimates that it fabricates 550 slabs per month.

The typical turnaround time for a kitchen project is seven to 10 working days, and Saban also works on other rooms in the home, supplying stone and ceramic tile from suppliers such as Arizona Tile, among other distributors. “In many projects, we move from room to room,” said Angela Saban, vice president of the business, which she owns with her husband, Charley Saban. “Competition in the tile field is tough. We decided to go for the high-end market, and we stress customer service. We have developed a solid reputation in the area with high-end builders. People know we're not the cheapest, but they will be happy.” Builders comprise a large portion of the company's business, and Saban receives a great deal of repeat business and referrals.

The fabricating shop has a broad range of equipment, including bridge saws and automated edging machines from Park Industries. During the process, slabs are cut on two Park Prodigy bridge saws and a new Park Jaguar bridge saw. After being cut to size, the edges are then processed on one of four Park Pro Edge II automated edging machines. A Park Industries Wizard radial arm polisher is also used in the shop as needed.

Most of the material that is processed at Saban is 2 cm thick, and the edges are often laminated to a thickness of 2 1⁄4 inches. “People like the look [of a laminated edge],” said Saban.

Working with high-end luxury homes, Saban looks to work with exotic stones with a high degree of veining, as opposed to more run-of-the-mill stone varieties. “We get a feel for what is popular by being in the field,” Saban said. “Our distributors know the type of work we do, so they are always suggesting exotics.”

When hiring new workers for the shop or installation crews, Saban looks for employees with experience, and Saban said it is not particularly difficult to find experienced stoneworking professionals in the Phoenix area. Additionally, some of Saban's employees have been on staff for 15 years or more. Some of these workers are specialized in certain tasks and others are trained for a variety of operations, depending on the individual skill of the employee. The company has an installation division, Saban Tile Contracting, with 20 to 40 installers, working mostly with stone.

Another activity that appeals to Saban's high-end clients is waterjet design. The company's custom waterjet department has two Flow waterjets, and it creates 40 to 50 medallions per week, along with some deco pieces. Angela Saban designs the waterjet pieces, and the company also has a specialist on staff who has mastered the use of the waterjet machines and also knows how to fix them when they are down. The waterjet machines run on CAD software, and there is an average two-week turnaround time for waterjet work. To meet increased demand, the company is planning to add another large waterjet some time next year.

End box

Saban Tile, Marble & Granite
Phoenix, AZ
Type of work: Countertops; custom backsplashes; waterjet medallions and deco pieces; a full range of tile products
Machinery: two Park Industries Prodigy bridge saws; a Park Industries Jaguar bridge saw; four Park Industries Pro Edge II automated edging machines; a Park Industries Wizard radial arm polisher; various hand tools
Production rate: two to three large-scale kitchens per day/550 slabs per month; 40 to 50 waterjet-cut medallions per week

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