Building a fabrication business on strong fundamentals
An interesting partnership combined with five key management philosophies has enabled one-year-old company, Palomar Stoneworks Inc., to really get off to a fast start. Headquartered in Murrieta, CA, Palomar Stoneworks Inc. is owned by Chief Executive Officer, Ed Vasko, who is experienced in high-efficiency fabrication and business development; Vice President of Operations, Mike Crosby, who brings more than 10 years of knowledge from the stone industry; and Duke Hong, who has a background in the financial and IT worlds. The different skills of each individual have been brought to bear on the business, according to Vasko. “A strong team requires diversity,” he said.
Prior to starting Palomar Stoneworks Inc., however, the three partners had a vision of building a company founded on strong fundamentals. When launched in late 2006, the partners knew they needed a building that would meet all their needs today and still be able to accommodate growth periods. They also knew the hiring process would need to be vigorous. Seeking only the best, they wanted people who were looking to work for a good company for a lifetime, explained Vasko. That is why Palomar Stoneworks Inc. offers its employees many benefits, including paid holidays and vacations, and spends a lot of time on training.
Additionally, the owners knew that they wanted to be working with Matrix Stone Products machinery because of the equipment’s responsiveness as well as the company’s great customer service skills, according to Vasko. Finally, they knew they wanted to go forward with a highly assertive, professional and energetic sales team. Vasko attributes the daily application of these ideas to be key in its early success.
Palomar Stoneworks Inc. already averages three installations per day for commercial and residential customers, including granite, marble and solid engineered surfaces, and it has a goal to do eight installs a day by the end of its first year in production. Using a Sebring gantry saw and a Daytona XL Edge Profiling System -- both from Matrix Stone Products -- for these applications, the company is already content with the results Matrix Stone Products have given. “They’ve been integral in helping us get up and running,” said Vasko. “If we need tech assistance, they help us the same day. We haven’t lost any production time because their customer service and tech support is very good. With a new company, you learn new things daily, so you need that kind of help.”
As for templating, the company uses hard templates and is currently looking into digitized templating equipment. Before any decisions are made, though, the company wants to do more research.
The 5,000-square-foot facility, with a yard for staging trucks and install crews, is centrally located, giving Palomar Stoneworks Inc. easy access to its primary markets of San Diego, Riverside and Orange County, where business is equally split amongst the three. “The location is good,” said Vasko. “It’s right in the middle of our geographical market, giving us freeway access to our north and south markets. The size and footprint of the building also give us the ability to add additional machinery and capacity as we grow. That kind of easy flexibility is really important.”
With two shifts running a day, the factory, consisting of 14 workers and installers split into five installation crews, completes residential and commercial projects daily, including remodels, new construction and Tenant Improvements (TI’s). But with a forward thinking, energetic sales team, the company worries about making sure production and installation crews are able to keep up with the sales. Despite the growth of its market, though, Palomar Stoneworks Inc. already has reason to believe it will be able to continue its quality production by applying what Vasko calls the company’s “five management philosophies” that include:
1. Being a “continuous improvement” company -- “Work relentlessly to find ways to get better at everything we do from sales to fabrication to inventory/business management etc.”
2. Problem-solving training for every employee -- “To get better, you must be able to identify root causes and implement long-term solutions.”
3. Having self-managed employees and crews -- “People can do amazing high-quality work when trained and trusted to take charge. Management’s job is to remove obstacles.”
4. Applying risk management techniques -- “Identify and plan for or resolve obstacles in advance.”
5. Effective sales and marketing must get as much attention as production -- “Too often companies in the ‘trades’ neglect business development -- that’s not good.”
“When these five philosophies are put together, you can do some powerful business,” said Vasko. “People want a great place to work, and when you execute these philosophies, employees and customers get really jazzed. That’s a good recipe for business development. A customer called two weeks ago because they were very happy with the demolition of their countertops and how clean the house was after the demolition was finished. If we can get customers excited about demolition, think how ‘jazzed’ they’ll be after the countertops are installed.”