A Model of Efficiency
One of the pioneer stone fabrication shops in the Charlotte area, Cadenza Granite & Marble, Inc. of Concord, NC, operates under a formal set of policies, protocols and procedures, which has allowed the company to steadily expand without sacrificing quality and efficiency.
Ron’s wife, Melissa, joined the company in 2000, and “that’s when things started to happen,” according to Ron Hannah. “Melissa brought the structure and discipline that was required for us to grow the company. We started cutting on our own shortly thereafter.” The company moved into its current facility during the later part of 2006.
Company philosophyRon and Melissa Hannah operate Cadenza as an equal partnership. “Melissa is in charge of the administration and project management, and I handle sales and production,” Ron Hannah said. “But she can be and will be hands-on when required. She will jump on the forklift to load a slab when needed and knows how to run all the machines.”
EquipmentA CNC stoneworking center from Northwood Machine of Louisville, KY, was added in December of 2006. “We made our decision to purchase, and then visited eight different shops to watch it run,” Hannah said. “We were looking to see how the various shops had incorporated the automation into their process, how the machine was embraced, or rejected, by the workers and what sort of productivity was actually being achieved. No two shops were the same, but we came away knowing exactly how we would implement the CNC into our process.” Three people are trained to program the Northwood at Cadenza. “We initially sent our shop foreman to learn the programming, but Northwood allows you to send extra trainees anytime you wish. A huge selling point for us was Northwood’s Barcode Technology, which makes it possible for any of our employees to operate the machine with little instruction. They simply scan the barcode generated by the programmer, and the machine tells them what to do,” he said. Cadenza uses Tyrolit Vincent’s high-speed tooling - purchased through Granite City Tool of Waite Park, MN - to maximize the Northwood’s efficiency.
Cadenza also focuses on water recycling, with 100% of the shop’s water being reclaimed except for that used on the CNC spindle. Dedicated, independent pumps are in place for each piece of equipment, with two spares on hand, ready to go should the need arise.
In terms of templating, the company currently uses digital technology. “We went digital two years ago with our purchase of the LT-55 Digital Laser measuring devices by Laser Products,” Hannah said. “The learning curve was steep but short, and the results are phenomenal.” After templating, the company uses an Allen DataGraph plotter to cut translucent vinyl templates. “They offer a tangible shape for the fabricators to follow and also help our customers become involved in the layout process. We encourage our customers to become involved,” he said. “This is particularly important with exotic stones, which we are seeing more and more of. The customers really embrace the experience, and ultimately feel an attachment to our shop.”
ProductionCadenza’s market is a “healthy blend” of homeowners, remodelers and builders. With a mix of residential and commercial production, the company processes around 375 square feet of material per day. “A typical residential kitchen in our market comprises about 75 square feet of stone, but with the type of work we do, we can’t say, we do ‘x’ number of kitchens per week because most of it is so detail-oriented and complicated,” Hannah said. “We have regularly scheduled production meetings and daily briefings to keep the team informed of the upcoming work schedule and any impending safety issues.”
Hannah explained that Cadenza’s processes all center around “systems” - with set procedures for everything. Finished pieces are gathered on color-coded shop carts and, once inspected, are rolled to a special staging area. According to Hannah, Cadenza’s installation crews generally complete two kitchens per day each. “Our installers are responsible to check the job before it goes out into the field. The templates are placed over the respective pieces several times during fabrication and again during the final quality-control inspection. Any and all quality concerns need to be rectified in the shop,” he said. “If the template guys do their job and the fabricators do their job, everything should fit precisely, and the installers can then do their job efficiently - concentrating on the attention to detail that sets us apart.”
Cadenza’s participation in the stone industry goes well beyond the walls of its shop, as the company is very active in industry education. Cadenza’s fabrication facility has been the site of several hands-on workshops for the Stone Fabricators Alliance (SFA). Ron Hannah, the SFA’s Executive Director, has also served as a speaker and Education Committee member for StonExpo. Additionally, Cadenza was the recipient of the 2007 “Fabricator of the Year” Award from Stone World.
Sidebar: Cadenza Granite & Marble, Inc.Concord, NC
Type of work: residential and commercial fabrication
Machinery: CNC stoneworking center from Northwood Machine of Louisville, KY; high-speed CNC Tooling from Tyrolit Vincent purchased through Granite City Tool of Waite Park, MN; RCM Sasso multi-head line polisher from U.S. Granite Machinery of Carpentersville, IL; a Yukon bridge saw from Park Industries of St. Cloud, MN; Gorbel overhead cranes from JMR Industries of Bethlehem, PA; Manzelli vacuum lifters from GranQuartz of Tucker, GA; a LT-55 laser templating system from Laser Products of Romeoville, IL; JobTracker scheduling and tracking software from Moraware of Reno, NV; Sink Hole Saver rails from Omni-Cubed, Inc. purchased through GranQuartz; Gorilla Grip seam setters from Monument Toolworks of Assonet, MA; materials from Integra Adhesives of Abbotsford, BC, Canada; Epoxies and acrylics from Bonstone Materials of Mukwonago,WI; Vacuum pods from Blick Industries of Laguna Beach, CA
Number of Employees: 21
Production Rate: 375 square feet of material per day