The Nominating Committee for Stone World magazine has named Eric Tryon of Premier Surfaces in Atlanta, GA, as Fabricator of the Year. The award was presented at StonExpo/Marmomacc Americas 2016 — part of The International Surface Event — which was held at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center in Las Vegas, NV, from January 20 to 22. Criteria for the award includes:

• Cooperation in sharing technology with the industry.

• Willingness to pioneer in the use of new technology.

• Fostering educational programs for the training of stoneworkers in industry methods.

• Promoting technological progress through association work.

The nomination for Eric Tryon reads as follows:

In 2002, Eric Tryon started Premier Surfaces in Atlanta, GA. This venture was completely different than his previous life in a coat and tie “white collar” world. However, his business philosophy remains the same as day one of his career. Relationships, relationships, relationships. Frequently he tells his 155 employees over four locations (Atlanta, Birmingham, Huntsville and Chattanooga) that “we are a relationship company.” Stone fabrication is just the product they represent. Eric feels confident knowing his results speak volumes about the strength of his team and company. The company has profitably grown each year in business since inception. This includes growing through arguably the most challenging economic times. The recent downturn in the economy absolutely decimated the construction industry, and he grew right through it. That doesn’t happen by chance. Eric’s team is very proud of this accomplishment.

The company has established 29 Fundamental behaviors. The 29 “Fundies” are the backbone of the organization. They genuinely care a great deal about their internal and external customers and show it each day. Happy customers / employees tell everyone about their experience. That is why the employee turnover rate is minimal and the biggest source of new customers is referrals. The team is pumped about the culture they have built and the future they are creating.

Eric and his team at Premier Surfaces have always treated customers the way we want to be treated and provide a 100% warranty on their craftsmanship, which has led to numerous accolades and distinctions, including:

• Accreditation by the Marble Institute of America.

• “Consumers Choice Award” in Atlanta each consecutive year from 2007 to 2015.

• “Top 20 Best Places To Work” in Atlanta in 2009 and 2015.

• Eric was named Top 20 Entrepreneurs in Atlanta in 2012 and number one by TiE in 2015.

• Chosen as exclusive strategic partner with Craft Art Wood countertops and Frigo Metal.

• Nominated in Wall Street Journal’s Top Small Workforces

Cooperativeness in sharing technology with the industry

Eric found the value in integrating the state-of-the-art technology early in his stone fabrication career. In 2006, Eric integrated digital technology into his fabrication process as well as SlabSmith. They were also one of the early adopters to embrace Moraware and managing their inventory with bar coding and scanning technology. Today, all of Premier Surface’s facilities have digital technology, including CNC Saw/Waterjets and CNC Routers.

Fostering educational programs for the training of stoneworkers in industry methods

Eric has always volunteered and been engaged in industry events (The International Surface Event (TISE), Coverings, Marble Institute of America (MIA) workshops). In 2014 and 2015, Eric was a guest speaker at each tradeshow event. Along with the speaking engagements, Eric has hosted over 20 fellow stone fabrication companies to come into their locations and review their processes and best practices. In September alone, Eric has hosted three fabricators who spent two-plus days inside their company.

Another achievement Eric recently developed was an internal installer apprentice program to train non-experienced installation helpers to become fully educated and qualified lead installers. This program has served Premier Surfaces well and has allowed them to experience explosive growth. At any given time, Eric has two to three quality lead installers in “waiting” to lead a crew with their own truck.

Promoting technological progress through association work

Eric is one of the founder fathers of the RockHeads group. The RockHeads has grown to include up to 23 members who pay annual dues to become part of the group. Most of the demand to become a part of the group is based on transparency of sharing best practices and bench marking data to help educate and run fabrication companies more efficiently.

Eric is a staunch supporter of the MIA. As a result, it is mandatory that all RockHead members become Accredited MIA members within two years. Just this initiative alone will grow the MIA accreditation program by 25%. Eric is working closely with MIA to get this to initiative happen.

Eric is also partnering with a software development company by providing fabricator feedback to help them evolve their software platform to better service their fabrication customers. Premier Surfaces has dedicated a highly compensated, full-time associate to help them advance the platform to make their customers more efficient.

The current roster of winners of the Stone World Fabricator of the Year Award is as follows:

2015 —- Eric Tryon, Premier Surfaces

2014 —- Marco Duran, Atlas Marble and Granite

2013 —- Jon Lancto, Surface Products

2012 — Mike Yates, Counter Solutions

2011 — Stuart Young, The Granite Shop

2010 — Matt Lansing, Stone Innovations

2009 — Scott McGourley, Kasco Stone

2008 — Paul Menninger, Capitol Granite & Marble

2007 — Ron Hannah, Cadenza Granite & Marble

2006 — Dick Laliberte, Ripano Stoneworks

2005 — G.K. Naquin, Stone Interiors

2004 — Tim and Scott Buechel, Buechel Stone Corp.

2003 — Kip Cameron, Granite-Tops

2002 — George Fox, Luck Stone Corp.

2001 — Fred Becker, Becker & Becker Stone Co.

2000 — Connie and Brenda Edwards, TexaStone Quarries

1999 — Walter Dusenbery, Johnson-Atelier School, Sculpture

1998 — Harold Stobbe, Owen Sound Ledgerock

1996 — Willard Vetter, Vetter Stone Co.

1995 — Chuck Monson, Dakota Granite Co.

1994 — Linus Dingman, Cold Spring Granite Co.

1993 — David Teitelbaum, Cathedral Stoneworks

1991 — Wilbur Bybee, Bybee Stone Co.

1989 — Tony Ramos, New England Stone Industries

1988 — Jim Stengel, Dakota Granite Co.