Moving from installation to fabrication

March 3, 2003
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After a year of doing strictly installation work, Genuine Stone Tops of Denver, CO, started fabricating stone in January 2001, and it produced stone for two or three kitchens per week with skillsaws and hand edging tools. Five months later, the company bought a Park Industries Pro-Edge III, which resulted in a fivefold revenue increase for the granite and marble countertop fabrication shop.

"We have been slammed with work," said Neil Steeves, owner of Genuine Stone Tops. "Since purchasing the Pro-Edge, Genuine Stone Tops has steadily expanded. We currently have a second Pro-Edge being delivered, and we also have a Park Cougar bridge saw."

For standard edges, the company uses the Pro-Edge III, but more complex edges require different tools. "For custom edges, we use hand tools, a router, and finish off with Alpha polishing pads," said Steeves.

Though the company will accept custom jobs, standard work is preferred. "We try to push the bullnose finish, because it loads right onto the machine," said Steeves. "We stay away from custom work because we want the two machines working all the time. So we give a better price on bullnose than an Ogee edge. We don't turn the work away, but we give incentive to use the standard edge."

In order to select machines, the company often goes to industry shows to evaluate them. "To pick new equipment, we go to trade shows like StonExpo and Coverings," said Steeves. "There, we see how others like the machine, how easy it is to get parts, and the general word on the street for reliability. We are not looking for the cheapest; we are looking for the best.

"We selected to get another Pro-Edge because they are fast, reliable, don't break down often, and Park is good about getting parts out overnight."

For the machines they do have, Genuine Stone Tops has selected experienced workers to handle the equipment. "Our foreman has 21 years of experience and gets calls from other shops to work for them, because the business has been competitive," said Steeves. "But the key is to have and keep all the right people in the shop."

Because business has been doing so well, the company is also looking to hire two to three more people, in addition to the 14 they have currently. "My feeling is that the business will definitely continue to boom," said Steeves. "People want granite, and because prices have come down on granite -- because there is a lot of competition -- it is more affordable to people."

However, with the boom, some challenges have appeared for Genuine Stone Tops. "Our challenge is getting all accepted jobs out at a reasonable time," said Steeves. "We don't like to go over three weeks from the time of the order. To overcome that, we do a lot of overtime."

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