Helping to rebuild New Orleans
Committed to rebuilding New Orleans, IMC Stone - a division of Industrial & Mechanical Contractors Inc., a commercial HVAC and plumbing company - was established in 2006 and continues to flourish, as demands in the area remain strong. Todd Heidingsfelder, Vice President of the family-owned company, heads the new division, which fabricates an average of 10 to 15 kitchens per week.
“After hurricane Katrina, the demand for stone countertops significantly increased, and a few people in the business thought that opening up a stone shop would be a good idea,” he said, adding that his family had been involved in the building and construction industry in and around New Orleans long before the devastation created by hurricane Katrina. “Around 80% of New Orleans was flooded, and about 70% of homeowners were, and still are, replacing their countertops, mostly with natural stone considering the fact that granite and marble are so popular and in such high demand today.”
The company’s facility houses a range of state-of-the-art equipment, including a Daytona XL Automatic Edge Profile System and a Sebring gantry saw from Matrix Stone Products of Rancho Cucamonga, CA. Additionally, the shop houses a Marmo Meccanica LCV Magnum vertical edge polisher for flat edges ranging from 1 to 6 cm, which is available from Marmo Machinery USA of Southfield, MI.
“Besides maximizing the production and reducing labor costs, these machines give uniformity to the cuts, edges and polishing,” Heidingsfelder stated. “These investments enabled us to cut down on labor, and to put out the most consistent and cleanest product in the industry.”
The company currently employs a staff of nine, most of which are diversified in their shop abilities, according to Heidingsfelder. IMC Stone usually hires through word of mouth, and has a new employee-training program in effect at the shop. “We have different policies and procedures that we go through for each job description whether it be a fabricator, installer, salesman or maintenance employee,” Heidingsfelder explained. “If someone is coming in to be a fabricator in the shop, we will go through each step of each machine - from how to set it up to how to turn it down. The shop foreman will typically spend about a week going over the functions of the individual devices, and after that we sign off on it and the new employee is then responsible for carrying out our polices and procedures.”
According to the Heidingsfelder, the biggest challenge as a fabricator today is hiring qualified workers. “To alleviate this, we offer attractive wages and put [employees] in a friendly and positive work environment,” he said. If the experience is not there, we will put them through our training program.
IMC recently aided in the rebuilding and restoration of areas in New Orleans by completing stonework for the Sheraton Hotel, The International House and other hotels in New Orleans, as well as numerous residences in the area. Today, the company’s production stands at 80% residential and 20% commercial work, but IMC Stone is looking to do more commercial work in the near future. “Doing some quality work in this sector will open the door for other opportunities,” said the fabricator. “With commercial contractors, you really need a resume and that is what we are trying to build up right now.”
“Since the start of our new division, we have set in place a complete stone facility, including scores of slabs of all kinds, a new showroom and a complete fabrication facility on our premises,” said Heidingsfelder. “The entire process also included the hiring of new and experienced personnel from virtually all over the county. It’s amazing what can be accomplished under circumstances like the need to rebuild a city and to get back to ‘normal’ as quickly as possible for the good of all.”