Expanding from man-made materials to stone
For 42 years, Marvic Corp. of Union, NJ, has been supplying countertops in man-made materials, including laminate products, Formica and DuPont Corian. In 2001, the company expanded this focus to include natural stone by forming AJD Stone Design.
As one of the largest Corian agents in New Jersey, Marvic was encouraged by DuPont to begin fabricating the company's engineered quartz product, Zodiaq. This also led the company to begin working with natural granite, and AJD Stone Design's work today is an even balance of natural stone and engineered material.
To staff the facility, the company relied on workers already in place at Marvic's other divisions. â€œHelp wasn't an issue. The crews had been doing a little stone anyhow,â€ said Marvic President Al D'Alessandro. We always had granite, but we didn't push it.â€ According to D'Alessandro, the biggest challenge with the new facility was â€œgetting acquainted with the machinery,â€ a process that required a great deal of research before purchasing the equipment. â€œWe probably went to 75 shops to see the machinery at work,â€ he said, adding that he visited shops in New York, New Jersey and Florida.
Equipment at the shop includes a GMM Tecna bridge saw, which is used for making the primary cuts in the slabs. The edges are then processed on a Breton Goldenedge CTX, which is used to process straight edges and perform the upper and lower chamfers on the workpiece. The machine features a rigid structure for optimum noise reduction, and pieces to be machined are placed on a rubber worktop, which is aligned using a guide plate and held in place with a series of pneumatic clamps.
The profiling tools for the Goldenedge are stored in a 15-position rotating storage facility. A laser system checks the profile, diameter and length of the tools and presets them, and the machine's software aligns all of the tools of the set based on the specific profile being processed. The same system also monitors the tool consumption.
The Goldenedge CTX can process materials up to 6 cm thick and working lengths up to 11 1/2 feet without having to adjust the machine. A CNC control unit displays a range of data as well as illustrations of the profiles and tools involved in each process.
The sink cutouts are currently being made with a Marmoelettromeccanica Laser 4000 and finished with a Marmoelettromeccanica Master 3500, both from Regent Stone Products of Virginia Beach, VA. This combination is also used for complicated edge designs. In the near future, AJD Stone Design will also be purchasing a larger unit for creating interior sink cutouts and other edges. Another investment for the company will be a multipurpose CNC stoneworking center, although D'Alessandro added, â€œThe Goldenedge is as close to that as you can get.â€
The plant supervisor is Sal Orsillo, and the company has 10 employees working in the shop along with two installation crews of two to three people per crew. New employees are trained by the existing staff, including Orsillo and Alessandro Valle, the main cutter and stone mechanic. Additionally, D'Alessandro and other staff members have attended the stone fabrication seminars offered by Regent Stone Products.
AJD Stone Design has placed importance on having employees that are interchangeable as far as executing their assignments in the shop. â€œWe try not to restrict anyone,â€ D'Alessandro said, adding that the company also occasionally sends the shop workers into the field to see the problems created by mistakes in the shop. â€œOnce a product is in the field, there can be a tendency to think, 'The guys out there will take care of it.' â€œ
The same templating crews that work for the Corian and laminate divisions also do the templating for the stone division, and there are four crews in all. D'Alessandro explained that the techniques for stone templating are no different than templating for other surface materials.
With a total of 100 employees in the group, a substantial benefit program was already in place to retain employees, including profit sharing, a pension plan and hospitalization. â€œWe don't lose too many people,â€ D'Alessandro said, adding that the workers at Marvic have been there an average of 18 years, including a number of families with multiple members among the staff.
The stone division does 18 kitchens per week, and the processing is an even mix of Zodiaq and natural stone. And while this is an impressive figure for only two years in the industry, the shop is still relatively small in comparison to the Corian division, which completes 18 kitchens per day.
The typical turnaround time for a residential project is three to five days. In addition to homes, AJD Stone Design also does commercial projects, such as schools, offices, hospitals and even a New York movie studio. To cater to visiting clients, the company has set up a viewing area within the office, where customers can watch the operations of the shop while still being separated from the distractions of the activity.
To open the stone division, D'Alessandro had to invest in a 14,000-square-foot building near the company's head office in Union, NJ. â€œWe were doing some work in other buildings, but they were spoken for, and we couldn't just steal 14,000 square feet.â€ Unfortunately, the building purchased to house AJD Stone Design also presented a challenge for the company. It was discovered that three oil tanks were located under the macadam. These had to be removed, and the proper environmental measures had to be taken. Although the seller of the building was responsible for the costs, the opening was delayed as a result.
The company has a regular customer base of kitchen and bath dealers and contractors as well as retail outlets such as Home Depot's Expo division, IKEA, Lowes and TGI, which is a division of Sears.
At the head office, all of the orders are tracked by computer. â€œEveryone is versed in every product we have, which is very helpful, and every job in house is reported three times per day. So we know exactly where every job is at 10 a.m., 1 p.m. and 4:30 p.m.,â€ D'Alessandro said, adding that this system helps allow for midstream changes in size, color and even product, including a move from man-made materials to natural stone.â€
End box:Type of work done: Countertops for residential projects and some commercial
AJD Stone Design (division of Marvic Corp.), Union, NJ
Machinery: Breton Goldenedge CTX computerized edging machine; GMM Tecna Bridge Saw; Marmoelettromeccanica Laser 4000; Marmoelettromeccanica Master 3500; various hand tools
Number of Employees: 10 (working in shop)
Production Rate: 18 kitchens per week