Every year, Stone World honors a Fabricator of the Year. The person is nominated by industry members and goes to someone who has shown dedication to growing their own business, as well as a willingness to share their knowledge to help other industry members. The following candidates each possess these qualifications. Please take a minute to learn more about them and vote for the person you would like to see receive the 2018 Stone World’s Fabricator of the Year Award.
Company: Jaba Pro Stone Corp.
The reason for my nomination:
Fast growing fabricator in Miami/Ft Laud area. Grown by 50% their gross revenues in last 3 years. Serves Lennar homes and GL homes as well as DR horton. Over 100 kitchens per month. Case study featured in July issue of stone world magazine 2018.
Company: The Countertop Factory Midwest
The reason for my nomination:
It is an honor to nominate Geoffrey Gran, owner of The Countertop Factory Midwest, for the “Fabricator of the Year”. Geoffrey Gran promotes sharing knowledge that will help advance the countertop industry. Geoffrey Gran strives to continually improve himself and his peers through educational seminars, technology advances, industry events and keeping The Countertop Factory Midwest’s door open to fellow fabricators to visit.
Geoffrey Gran has developed into a leader of the stone industry over the 13 plus years he has been in the countertop business. Geoffrey is dedicated to providing his customers with the best possible experience. The Countertop Factory (TCF) strives to exceed customer expectations with their world-class customer service, continuous process improvement, and utilization of the newest technologies.
In 2005, Geoffrey and his business partner Bill Heuer opened The Countertop Factory Midwest doors. TCF began in a 6,000 sq. ft. facility with a table saw, a case of Corian samples, and a relationship with a smaller fabricator who produced their quartz and granite. Geoffrey Gran describes his company as a sales and marketing company that happens to fabricate and install countertops.
Within a year and a half of opening, TCF brought all of their operations in-house. They had doubled in size to 12,000 square feet. The Countertop Factory Midwest purchased some manual machinery as they began working on projects for large companies and production builders including Home Depot and Pulte Homes.
TCF is a technology pioneer and utilizes advanced software and machinery in their business. Today, TCF operates a fully-automated, 65,000 sq. ft. facility with 140 employees and fully digital equipment. TCF is the only fabricator in Chicago that produces the four major countertop materials at their fabrication facility: natural stone, solid surface, laminate, and quartz. TCF works hard to reduce lead times, improve quality, and exceed customer expectations through the use of advanced technology.
Through their years of growth, TCF has been at the forefront of technology, techniques, and creating a rewarding environment for their employees. Geoffrey Gran focuses time and energy on hiring and retaining “superhero” employees because he strongly believes that with great employees, your company will reach greatness. TCF has implemented internal training programs for staff members throughout every step of the process. Using industry methods, they focus training their employees on all aspects of the business: field measure, project management, purchasing, machine operations, fabrication, assembly and installation. Gran understands the current and future labor shortage and has battled it by infusing technology into all of their process. As demand for their services has increased, TCF has made a commitment to not sacrifice on quality or customer service.
Geoffrey Gran is passionate about sharing knowledge and has presented at Park Industries® Digital Stoneworking Expos, is an active member of the Rockhead Group, and is involved in the Stone Fabricator’s Alliance (SFA) and the International Surface Fabricators Association (ISFA). Geoffrey Gran is active with material manufacturers such as Cambria, Dupont and Wilsonart and sits on the Home Depot Service Provider Advisory Council. TCF is Natural Stone Institute (NSI/MIA) Accredited. Participating in these activities and groups has shaped the growth of The Countertop Factory Midwest and given them the opportunity to share their knowledge of technology and best practices in the countertop market.
TCF hosts events for fabricators to learn new fabrication techniques, whether it is for new material technologies like Dekton or other materials like solid surface. The Countertop Factory will be the host company for Park Industries’ May 2019 DSE. Geoffrey Gran knows that the stone industry is not an easy business, but he believes when fabricators share knowledge and information, the industry takes leaps forward.
Geoffrey Gran is very open and welcomes fabricators to visit The Countertop Factory and they typically receive 2-3 visits per month. Geoffrey Gran’s philosophy is that if a fabricator can walk away from a visit at TCF with 3-4 things on how to improve their business, that is one step closer to making the industry better. During a recent tour, a fabricator was impressed with the CAD department creating 3 kitchens in 15 minutes instead of taking 1.5 hours per kitchen.
Geoffrey Gran and his partners started a new software company, Fifth Gear Technologies, that is focused on developing software for countertop fabricators. The suites of software address aspects of the manufacturing process including CAD and machine programming (www.speeddraw.net) and labeling every countertop to improve quality control, shop organization and job completeness (www.speedlabel.net).
TCF also works closely with other software companies to integrate with ERP software like Moraware, as well as communication between all departments within a fab shop including purchasing, material handling, field measure and installation. These software programs have allowed TCF to go completely paperless within the company (field, office, shop), understand the status of every countertop in the shop, ensure all pieces are on the install vehicle, and know what pieces belong to each project.
Geoffrey Gran makes sharing information a priority, with a dedication to enhancing the stone fabrication industry as a whole. The Countertop Factory provides a new learning experience for all involved when they incorporate new techniques. TCF uses technology to bring artistry, craftsmanship, and efficiency to each and every project they manufacture.
Thank you for the opportunity to submit this nomination for the 2018 Fabricator of the Year Award. Geoffrey Gran is a fabricator with a strong initiative to instill open communication between fabricators and encourages conversations centered on new technology and innovative business strategies. Geoffrey Gran signs off from his emails with “Forward Progress” to set their company mentality of constant innovation and never keeping stagnant.
Company: Mario & Son
The reason for my nomination:
For your consideration, I would like to nominate my business partner Joey Marcella for the 2018 Stone World Fabricator of the Year Award. Over the course of a thirty year career, he has worked his way up through the ranks to be a true master of fabrication, designer, artist, successful business owner and beacon of the industry. His company, Mario and Son, has dominated the local market since its inception, and has always been on the leading edge of technology. They purchased their first CNC machine in 1997, which was among the first in the western United States at the time. Since then, they have pioneered the use of state of the art material handling systems (a Breton automated warehouse system was one of only three in the world when it was installed for example), and promoted expanded use of multi-axis machinery and software to create complex and challenging stonework.
As an individual craftsman, Joey has contributed his stone working and leadership skills to countless building projects throughout the Pacific Northwest, from small residential countertops to large commercial hotels, and everything in between. In addition to dimensional work, he also promotes craftsmanship in stone through other avenues like fine art sculpture and unique marketing ventures. His eye for detail and technical ability have allowed the company to compete at the highest level in their market, handling the most demanding of projects with professionalism, ease and most importantly, uncompromising quality and integrity. He fully understands and embraces stone working technology, while never losing sight of the traditional, hand-worked craft. He uses this comfortable synergy between the two disciplines very effectively, making it the hallmark of the company. Mario & Son is widely known in the region as the company to call when things get complicated, or when quality is paramount. Being voted the best granite shop for ten straight years in local magazine readership polls is a testament to this, and Joey is certainly a solid reason behind this good fortune and reputation.
Aside from his own accomplishments, Joey has been an engaging leader and mentor, supervising and nurturing the numerous employees that have interacted with him throughout their careers. With his long experience in the business and extensive travels to the stone working regions of the world, Joey possesses a depth of knowledge beyond many in the industry, a knowledge that he openly and freely shares not only with his staff, but with all he encounters nationally and internationally through his leadership position with the Stone Fabricators Alliance. In addition, Joey has participated in many trade show seminars, collaborated on numerous articles in Stone World magazine, currently oversees the SFA’s annual tour of Italy and hosted an SFA workshop at Mario & Son’s facility in 2013.
These days, although still crucial to the ongoing success of Mario & Son, you are more likely to find Joey working in the shop than in the office, as he believes he’s a craftsman first and a business owner second. Well exceeding all the criteria to receive this prestigious award, I believe Joey Marcella is a clear and solid choice for the honor to be Stone World’s Fabricator of the Year for 2018. Sincerely, Michael Marcella, VP/CFO, Mario & Son, Inc.
Company: Dee Brown
The reason for my nomination:
Dee Brown is led by servant leaders David and Rob Barnes ( Past President of MiA) who embrace the desire to assist the industry as a whole. David is working with The Magnolia school system to set up a masonry program to educate high school students in the trade . Dave Unger ( past 2018 craftsman of the year) is most alive educating younger employees, clients and vendors about stone and fabrication. Testing and safety are paramount. I consider it an honor to nominate these clients who set the bar for the industry as a whole and who I call friends.
Dee Brown, Inc. (DBI) is a family owned and operated company founded in 1955 in Dallas, Texas. While their foundation is in the conventional masonry market, through the years we have become a leader in the industry with broad expertise in all types of exterior and interior stone applications. Our renowned craftsmanship makes us the preferred contractor to architects, builders, owners and designers. The addition of the stone finishes division, along with the expansion of a fabrication shop, allows DBI to provide in-house fabrication, installation of cut-to-size floors, countertops and architectural elements
The third generation of leadership at Dee Brown Inc. is focused on broadening the business and leading the marketplace in custom stone fabrication. It is very obvious employees remain dedicated to the values set forth in mission statement and embrace the family business culture that promotes teamwork, development of people and holds true to our commitments. C. Dewitt Brown, Jr. – Founder, Robert V. (Buddie) Barnes, Jr. – Chairman of the Board, and Robert V. (Rob) Barnes, III – President and CEO
In Texas they are leading our industry in innovation, developing strong relationships with our clients and suppliers, working as a team to exceed customers’ expectations, and delivering exceptional craftsmanship.
DBI has always been committed to being an industry leader. In 2008, the Masonry Contractors Association of America (MCAA) introduced their certified mason contractor program. Dee Brown advocates for the program and will be committed to become one of the first in our industry to obtain such a certification. On September 5, 2008, Rob Barnes, on behalf of Dee Brown, Inc., became the 1st Certified Masonry Contractor in Texas, and 4th nationally, fulfilling all CEU credits and passing the certification exam. In 2014 Dee Brown became the first MIA Accredited Commercial A Contractor in Texas and also became a MIA Accredited Natural Stone Fabricator.