Granite Creations Inc. of Tucson, AZ, operates as a one-stop shop for granite countertops, from slab selection to fabrication to installation. The company first began in California in a related industry on a much smaller scale. Now, Granite Creations has 68 employees who fabricate and install about eight to nine kitchens per day for high-end homes in the area.

In total, the company's two buildings are comprised of 25,000 square feet, and each houses a vast amount of state-of-the-art equipment, allowing Granite Creations to keep production flowing at a steady rate. And to meet customer demand, the company has made significant new investments in its shop to upgrade older machinery. These investment have included Prussiani CNC machinery from IGE Solutions of Jupiter, FL, including an Oceania Elite and a Champion 5. Vice President Robbie Dosty considers the CNC stoneworking centers the company's most valuable investment. “With CNC machines, we no longer need to cut by hand and polish,” he said. “The machines now provide a finished product.”

The internationally patented, Prussiani 5-axis Champion 5 CNC bridge saw is the cornerstone of Granite Creations stone fabrication line, and it can handle the production of three to five traditional bridge saws, IGE reports. It is capable of automatically loading, cutting and unloading an entire kitchen slab in 20 minutes, including programming time and cutting the rodding reinforcement channels through a unique process. The Champion 5 cuts automatically from digitized files. Additionally, a suction lifting system automatically moves cut slabs out of the way to avoid over-cutting and waste. The Champion 5 cuts face up, and the saw blade rotates a full 360 degrees for maximum cutting efficiency.

The Prussiani Oceania Elite CNC workcenter was designed specifically for the stone industry, and it works on the stone “face up” for maximum speed and efficiency.

In addition to the new CNC machinery, the shop has a range of existing equipment, including two Montresor edge polishing machines - one 60sr and one 60; an LCV 721 M Marmo Meccanica edge polishing machine; a self-contained water filtration system from Fraccoli & Balzan; three bridge saws from TE.CO Macchine of Italy, including a model SF-30 and two Mac Model Fresa Zaris; 5 overhead cranes - three 5-ton and two 1-ton; a Gradall excavator for moving granite slab bundles and three forklifts. In addition, Granite Creations has a fleet of 10 installation trucks, and a large slab yard for stocking inventory.

IGE Solutions' goal is to form a long-term partnership with its customers, and they will continue to work with Granite Creations to replace their older equipment, as needed, with other high - quality, heavy-duty equipment like the Prussiani machinery.

Some of these recent investments have helped “to automate production in builder production and compound angles for commercial jobs with radiuses,” according to Dosty. “This provides for less handwork and less seaming at installation.”

The company's production breakdown is 35 to 40% residential and 60 to 65% commercial. In addition to completing work for high-end custom homes, Granite Creations has fabricated jobs for numerous resorts in the Tucson area, and the company typically works with interior decorators, architects, general contractors and homeowners. Aside from countertops, the company also produces vanity tops, steam shower enclosures, bathtub decks, entry doors, sinks, coffee tables and conference tables. The company services primarily the Tucson area, with additional work in Sierra Vista and Green Valley, and an occasional project in Phoenix.

As a fabricator, Dosty finds it challenging to deal with “competition from smaller shops and have the ability to continue to keep prices in line with the predetermined margins.”

Employees and training

Granite Creations' employees are primarily hired through referrals and advertising. Candidates are then put through “lengthy and cumbersome” interviews, according to Dosty. “Employees are specialized and hired based upon previous experience, which lends itself to a number of job-related functions,” he said. “I do all that I can to insure that key personnel have the education, knowledge and training, which Granite Creations needs. This allows us to primarily be in a teaching posture of Granite Creations procedures and process not an attempt to educate or teach skills.

“Our training begins even prior to hiring,” he continued. “I require an individual who is seeking employment to interview a full day and demonstrate their ability. It provides me with knowledge about their skill level, attitude and aptitude. I then focus my efforts on areas of need and expose individuals to the entire process and determine how to best integrate and assimilate individuals.” The company prides itself on timely scheduled installations and customer satisfaction.