In 1997, Steve Kobliska founded K.G. Stevens, Inc., based on his desire to build a company that offered the resilience of solid surface. Just a few years later, the business had grown considerably, and additional staff was needed to meet the needs of the company’s increasingly expanding customer base. Additionally, a commercial division, started in 2006, has enabled K.G. Stevens to form key relationships with some of the area’s most important industry leaders.
This past March, after numerous location moves over the years, the company’s approximately 70 employees (including four two-man installation crews) finally settled into its current 130,000-square-foot facility in Milwaukee, WI.
K.G. Stevens, Inc., which primarily manufactures all solid surfaces, quartz, marble and granite, considers its client base to be mostly kitchen and bath dealers, builders, remodelers and general contractors in Wisconsin and Northern Illinois. Some recent projects include Rogers Memorial Hospital in Oconomowoc, WI, Lomira K-12 school in Lomira, WI, and Lake Country Racquet & Athletic Club in Hartland, WI.
The company runs a fabrication shop with machines from a variety of sources. Among its lineup is a Yukon II bridge saw and a Wizard radial arm workstation — both from Park Industries of St. Cloud, MN; a Marmo LTN in-line radius profile processor and a Marmo Meccanica LCV 711 in-line flat edge profile processor from Marmo Meccanica in Rochester Hills, MI; a 60K PSI waterjet from Flow International of Kent, WA; and a Loeffler automated storage rack for work piece storage, a Loeffler KSL100MG in-line flat edge profile processor, several Loeffler LBZ CNC routers and a WF-1200 water filtration system — all purchased from Fabricator’s Choice of St. Paul, MN. The shop also includes a Loeffler TB600 automated sawing line and a recently added Loeffler CSA598 automated sawing line.
“The TB600 is the original sawing line and the CSA598 was added in to double the capacity,” said Kobliska. “The saws are positioned next to each other and work together as part of the same line. They discharge final cut work pieces to a conveyor belt that moves them down and stores them in the automated storage rack until the pieces are needed for final production.”
For tooling and accessories, K.G. Stevens relies on Diamut CNC tooling and core bits, Rival CNC finger bits, Zenesis bridge saw blades, Toro in-line polishing bricks and Rival and Alpha polishing pads. “Everything comes from Granite City Tool and Fabricator’s Choice,” said Kobliska. “All the CNC tooling and polishing pads come from Granite City Tool. They have worked extensively with our programmers and operators to identify best practices on all their tooling. We’ve been using Diamut tooling and their Rival brand of polishing pads. Nick Bertram at Granite City has become a very good partner with us and brings us all the latest technology in tooling. David Otten from Fabricator’s Choice works very closely with us and helped us with the layout of the new shop. Israel Johnston from Fabricator’s Choice was integral in the set-up and installation of our shop and continues helping us with the operation of all the Loeffler equipment. Fabricator’s Choice also developed and built the water filtration system that we’re currently using.”
For digital templating, which, along with Slabsmith software, Kobliska considers to be the biggest recent advancement in fabrication, K.G. Stevens uses PhotoTop from ETemplate Systems of Raleigh, NC.
As far as hiring new staff goes, Kobliska advertises, relies on word-of-mouth and uses temp-to-hire agencies to fill open positions. This does, however, present difficulties. “Finding people who have a good work ethic and want to do the job, as well as can pass a drug test and have a valid driver’s license is surprisingly difficult,” he explained. In addition to his own employees, K.G. Stevens, Inc. is a member of the Artisan Group, a 35-member, North American network of independent countertop professionals, and Kobliska sits on their Board of Directors. “The Artisan Group provides a great networking opportunity to get to know the owners of other shops around the U.S. and Canada,” he explained. “I’ve met some good friends through the years. We share best practices and collaborate on many ideas to grow our businesses and avoid mistakes.”
As for where he sees his company headed in the future, Kobliska’s ultimate vision is continued advancement. “We want to provide quality granite, quartz, and solid surface products for a fair and profitable cost so that we can continue to grow every year,” he said.
KG Stevens, Inc.
Type of Work: mostly kitchen and bath dealers, builders, remodelers and general contractors
Machinery: a Park Yukon II bridge saw and a Wizard radial arm workstation from Park Industries in St. Cloud, MN; a Loeffler TB600 automated sawing line, a Loeffler CSA598 automated sawing line, a Loeffler automated storage rack, a Loeffler KSL100MG in-line flat edge profile processor, Loeffler LBZ CNC routers and a WF-1200 water filtration system – all from Fabricator’s Choice in St. Paul, MN; a Marmo LTN in-line radius profile processor and a Marmo LCV 711 in-line flat edge profile processor — both from Marmo Meccanica in Rochester Hills, MI; a 60K PSI waterjet from Flow International in Kent, WA; Diamut CNC tooling and core bits, Rival CNC finger bits, Zenesis bridge saw blades, Toro in-line polishing bricks, Rival and Alpha polishing pads — all from Granite City Tool of Saint Cloud, MN; Slabsmith software from Northwood Design, Inc. of Antwerp, NY; PhotoTop from ETemplate Systems of Raleigh, NC
Number of Employees: approximately 70