Building a stone shop one step at a time
March 2, 2011
Developing Galaxy Granite Inc. into a success was a labor of love for owner Meng Peng. Starting out as a carpet business in 1985, the San Francisco, CA-based company evolved to include a stone fabrication division in 1999. What initially began as a one-man shop has grown to include 23 employees, including its own installation crew.
According to Peng, when he set out to build the fabrication shop, he did not have much knowledge of the stone industry. He built a partnership with two men who had experience in stone fabrication. While they purchased the equipment and set up the shop, soon after they left him on his own.
“I put up the money for the machinery, and they bought it,” explained Peng. “Our first machinery was a Park [Industries] bridge saw and polisher. One day, no one showed up. We had five jobs in the shop at the time; I was scared.”
Peng went on to explain that one worker came back, and he works at Galaxy Granite Inc. to this day. “For three nights, I stayed in the shop learning the machines,” he said. “I didn’t sleep. I didn’t know how to measure. The first job was terrible. A couple of jobs later, I knew a little more, and then I hired a few more workers.”
Expanding the work areaToday, Galaxy Granite operates out of a 20,000-square-foot shop. The company also has a 15,000-square-foot space for its carpet displays as well as a 60,000-square-foot warehouse where it stocks more than 100 containers of material.
Approximately 70% of the company’s business is custom residential work, while the other 30% is commercial. It runs as a full-service fabrication and installation business, and Peng still performs all of the templating himself. Moreover, the company also completes outside fabrication for contractors. “We do pick-up work,” said Jamie Montes of Galaxy Granite. “We’ll do a kitchen for someone, but not do the measuring or installation.”
To produce custom stone projects, the shop is equipped with two CMS/Brembana Maxima CNC stoneworking centers from CMS/Brembana of Caledonia, MI, which use the manufacturer’s own vacuum pods, and a Montresor Lara straight edge polisher serviced by Salem Stone of Winston-Salem, NC.
“Both machines use the Terminator brand of polishing wheels from Continental DIA Diamond Products of San Carlos, CA. “We like the Terminator polishing wheels because they are consistent,” said Montes. “ Their CNC machinery uses Continental DIA Diamond’s Terminator Zoom CNC tooling, and the Montresor straight edge polisher uses the company’s Terminator Allstar line machine polishers.
Additional machinery in the shop includes two Antea 750 bridge saws, which are equipped with -Terminator Bridge Saw Blades Continental DIA Diamond Products. The smaller hand tools for fabricating are also equipped with products from Continental DIA Diamond Products -- Terminator polishing pads, core bits, cup wheels, and small-diameter blades.
In addition to the bridge saws, cutting in the shop is done using a waterjet from Flow International of Kent, WA.
“The Flow waterjet is a used model, but upgraded,” said John Azaria, the company’s computer programmer. “They fixed the vacuums and upgraded the computer. Flow is great.”
Water utilized during the production process is recycled by a system from Italian manufacturer Fraccaroli & Balzan, which is serviced by Salem Stone. “It is a natural filtration system that catches rain water,” explained Montes. “The pipes are underground. There is an emergency catch system in case it overflows. The drains are 12 feet deep and cleaned every three months.”
An efficient production processGalaxy Granite runs one shift, and on average, it produces three kitchens a day. “We are always complimented on our speed and efficiency,” said Montes. “Bigger projects have a three-day turnaround, but an emergency project can turn around in one day.”
A total of 70% of the company’s work is in natural stone, while the use of engineered stone is on the rise, according to Montes, who explained that the company’s market includes San Diego, Arizona and Nevada as well as the San Francisco Bay area. “We are seeing a lot more engineered stone,” he said. “We are certified by CaesarStone, and we import our own engineered stone, which is trademarked.” Additionally, Galaxy Granite brings in pre-fabricated slabs.
“We are very diversified,” said Montes, adding that the company is currently working on its new showroom. It also carries various lines of sinks, including Blanco, Dawn and Kohler.
Galaxy Granite Inc. - San Francisco, CAType of work: primarily residential
Machinery: a Montresor Lara straight edge polisher serviced by Salem Stone of Winston-Salem, NC, two Maxima CNC stoneworking centers from CMS/Brembana of Caledonia, MI, Terminator polishing wheels from Continental DIA Diamond Products of San Carlos, CA; a waterjet from Flow International of Kent, WA, and a water recycling system from Fraccaroli & Balzan of Italy, serviced by Salem Stone
Number of employees: 23
Production rate: three kitchens per day