FABRICATOR CASE STUDIES: Doubling Capacity in Under Two Years
March 13, 2006
Although M and M Granite Inc. of Mount Airy, NC, has only been in business since April 2004, the company is already producing an average of 18 to 20 kitchens a week. The early success of the company has lead partners Mike Fulk and Mark Hiatt to the recent purchase of a shop twice the size of its current facility.
Fulk had been building houses for 14 years when, in 2000, his uncle and cousin launched a granite business, and Fulk became the General Manager. After four years in his position, he decided to start his own company, and on April 1, 2004, the partners celebrated the launch of M and M Granite Inc.
The 6,000-square-foot leased space is equipped with a 515C diamond gantry bridge saw from Sawing Systems of Knoxville, TN, as well as an Achilli TFM bridge saw from Braxton-Bragg Corp., also of Knoxville. In addition, equipment includes two Ghines Sector portable routers for grinding profiles - an EV1 and an EV3 model from GranQuartz of Tucker, GA. Employees at the shop also utilize a Flex LW1503 hand grinder from GranQuartz and a PGS 60 Jig saw for sink cutouts, which is manufactured by Galeski and distributed by High-Tech Stone of Elberton, GA. Additionally, a TCM FG 30 forklift from TCM Manufacturing USA, Inc. of West Columbia, SC, is in place at the shop to assist with material handling.
The Achilles TFM is the company's most recent purchase, and it is used for backsplashes and small jobs, according to Fulk. Instead of using the standard 3-cm-thick pieces of material that is often used for countertops, the Achilles machine allows the company to produce 1_-inch-thick pieces for backsplashes. â€œThis way, the backsplash material isn't bulky,â€ said Fulk, adding that the machine has â€œtruly been a blessingâ€ since it arrived at the shop in mid-December of last year.
Furthermore, the company uses diamond tooling in all aspects of fabrication. â€œAll saw blades on the bridge saws are diamond,â€ said Fulk. â€œEvery polishing pad is diamond impregnated, and the bits for Sectors are as well.â€ M and M Granite Inc. purchases its diamond tooling through a variety of distributors. Polishing pads are purchased from Salem Stone of Winston-Salem, NC; core bits are purchased through Diamond Tech International of Tampa, FL; saw blades and router bits are supplied by GranQuartz; and jig saw blades are distributed by High-Tech Stone.
M and M Granite Inc. currently employs a staff of 15, who cut, polish and fabricate granite countertops, bathroom vanities, fireplace surrounds and tile flooring. The company also works with marble, soapstone and Cambria quartz surfacing.
According to Fulk, after employees are hired, they are taught the company's way of polishing the stone, and they learn how to use the machinery by practicing on pieces of material.
Principle markets include cabinet manufacturers, general contractors and everyday homeowners. The company's production comprises 85% residential - including remodels and new construction - and 15% commercial work, including jobs for several McDonald's locations and a government building in Washington, DC, for which the company fabricated 42 vanities. In addition, M and M Granite Inc. recently completed work for country clubs in Charlotte, NC, and Yorktown, VA. Work included the fabrication of granite countertops in the hospitality areas, as well as fireplace surrounds and wet bars.
Other than price competitiveness, Fulk finds slab breakage to be a challenge for the company. In order to install the slabs without cracking them in the process, M and M Granite Inc. now rods its sink cutouts. â€œWe cut a groove in the back side and install stainless steel rods, which makes the slab so much harder to break,â€ explained Fulk. â€œWe also just ordered new tooling - a rod and vacuum system from GranQuartz - to help with this problem. We usually carry slabs up and down, and with this machine you can lay slabs flat to help prevent breaking.â€ Fulk added that he learned about this piece of equipment while attending StonExpo in Las Vegas, NV, this past October. â€œWe do attend every trade show that is available to us, but the quickest way to learn about new material is by distributors themselves who send us faxes and flyers on their new products and stones,â€ he said.
M and M granite Inc. purchases its slabs through a variety of distributors, including OHM International, Dente Stone Trading, G & L, Stone Connection, Marquitec and Marva Marble and Granite.
Fulk and Hiatt recently purchased 11_ acres of land, on which they plan to build a 12,000-square-foot shop. â€œWe are going to build a whole new facility with overhead cranes and the whole nine yards,â€ said Fulk, adding that the partners hope to have the shop in full production by November 1 of this year.
The men are also planning to purchase a CNC machine for the new facility. â€œThere are so many out there, and they all have so much cost difference and production difference,â€ said Fulk. â€œI am talking to other fabricators who own various CNCs and getting their input on the differences before purchasing one for the new shop.â€
M and M Granite Inc.Mount Airy, NC
Type of work: kitchen countertops, bathroom vanities, fireplace surrounds
Machinery: 515C diamond gantry bridge saw from Sawing Systems of Knoxville, TN; Achilli TFM bridge saw from Braxton-Bragg Corp. of Knoxville, TN; EV1 and EV3 Ghines Sector portable routers from GranQuartz of Tucker, GA; a Flex LW1503 hand grinder from GranQuartz; a PGS 60 Jig saw manufactured by Galeski and distributed by High-Tech Stone of Elberton, GA; polishing pads from Salem Stone of Winston-Salem, NC; core bits from Diamond Tech International of Tampa, FL; saw blades and router bits from GranQuartz; jig saw blades from High-Tech Stone; a TCM FG 30 fork lift from TCM Manufacturing USA, Inc. of West Columbia, SC
Number of employees: 15
Production rate: 18 to 20 kitchens a week