Beginning with five workers in Saint Sebastian, Quebec, Canada, in 1988, Lucille Paradis and Rock Bernier have developedSummum Granitinto a model stoneworking facility. The company processes material using the latest generation of technology, and maintaining quality production is a key to its overall strategy.

When Summum Granit opened its doors, it had 4,000 square feet of plant and office space. It steadily grew over the years, adding a second shift in 1997 and undergoing several different plant expansions.

Today, the company has grown to an operation with 140 employees, explained Marie-Pierre Bernier of Summum Granit. In Saint Sebastian, it operates a 55,000-square-foot stoneworking facility and a 10,000-square-foot solid surface shop, with 10,000 square feet of office space.

It also has multiple showroom spaces across Canada, with 6,000 square feet in Montreal, 5,000 square feet in Quebec City and a new showroom coming soon in Moncton, New Brunswick.

Advanced stoneworking technology

From templating to sawing and routing, Summum Granit utilizes state-of-the-art digital technology. Projects are templated using LT-55 digital templating systems from Laser Products Industries. According to Pierre Cameron of Summum Granit, the use of this technology has greatly improved the efficiency and speed of the templating process. The company operates four LT-55 digital templaters in the field, and the data is sent to the fabricating facility via e-mail. On average, Cameron said a project is templated in 60 minutes using the laser system.

In terms of cutting material, Summum Granit utilizes CNC sawing equipment. This includes a Flow waterjet and a Sprint CNC bridge saw from CMS/Brembana. The Sprint saw has a built-in vacuum lifter, which allows for automated movement of workpieces.

After being cut to size, material is cut on one of five CNC stoneworking centers, all of which are from CMS/Brembana. They include two of the Speed 3 model, two of the Maxima model and one of the Speed TR model. The CNC stoneworking centers utilize ADI tooling from GranQuartz.

Additional equipment includes a Synthesis straight edge polishing machine from Comandulli and a Simec 625 bridge saw, as well as a range of hand tools.

One of the more recent investments for Summum Granit has been a Thibaut T500 gantry-style surface-polishing machine, which allows the company to offer textured and antiqued finishes. It was also purchased to ensure optimum quality of the company’s polished production. “It allows us to re-polish the surface of slabs if they are not at the quality level we need for our customers,” Cameron said.

A range of production

In its stoneworking facility, Summum Granit works a broad range of granite and marble, in addition to quartz surfacing products such as Cambria, Caesarstone, Zodiaq, Hanstone, etc.

While the company specializes in countertop production — especially intricate work with elements such as bump-outs and drainboards. This includes furniture, fireplace mantles, tub decks, stairs and other cut-to-size decorative elements.

Overall, Summum Granit processes approximately 6,000 square feet of granite per week. Of that total, 60% is templated and installed by the company, and the remaining 40% is contract fabrication work for outside companies that do their own templating and installation.

Approximately 40% of the company’s production is natural stone, with 60% being quartz surfacing and solid surface work.

To maintain the company’s high standards for quality, it trains all workers at its facility — from templaters to fabricators and installers. While some employees are cross trained, they tend to focus on specific activities during the process.

Speaking on challenges, Bernier said that it is critical to meet customer expectations. Communication and customer education are keys to achieving this goal.

Looking toward the future, Summum Granit plans to continue emphasizing quality over growth. “The market will dictate our moves in the next few years,” Bernier said. “Obviously, we want to grow, but it is most important to keep doing what we do the best — quality.”