Stone fabricators constantly have to balance the demands of their shop and finding business. There may be issues with trying to search for new employees that produce work up to the standards of your company, dealing with machines breaking down, or with the shop getting backed up and not able to produce as much as it wants. Rob and Julie Foley have been able to find a nice balance for their shop, but it’s a delicate one that has taken years to cultivate.
The Foley’s started as tile contractors and through that opened a retail store where they sold natural stone and tiles. It eventually evolved into selling slabs and wanting to go into fabrication. That was 20 years ago, and the company has continued to grow to the point where they fabricate roughly 25 slabs a week, becoming what is now known as Sierra Stone Fabrication, Inc. in Sparks, NV. “We do so much custom work that has intricate details,” said Julie Foley. “We will manufacture everything and anything. We work with natural stone, quartz, sintered material — anything the customer wants.”
Sierra Stone Fabrication has invested in a Saberjet CNC sawjet, a Wizard radial arm polisher, a Pro Edge II edge polisher, a Sierra bridge saw and a Titan CNC stoneworking center and a HydroClear water system — all from Park Industries. They also have Slabsmith digital slab layout and a Flow WaterJet. “Our newest machine is the Saberjet and we primarily got it because of its capability of doing miters,” said Foley. “It’s just a very quick machine and with the combination of the waterjet, it’s very quick, efficient and accurate, which we need because we do a lot of miter work.” The company also has a Proliner from Prodim and a LT-55 from Laser Products, which are both used for templating. They purchase tooling and accessories from Alpha Professional Tools, Braxton-Bragg, Regent, Diamut and use Terminator blades for cutting.
In the company’s 9,000-square-foot facility, there is one shift with 20 people. “Most of my guys have been here five years or more,” said Foley. “One guy is going to be here for 20 years next year, another two or three have been here for 15. We try as hard as we can to take care of the people that we have. We have had success with cross training employees. That is one way we have strategized with dealing with the lack of potential new employees.”
The company does custom new residential work, remodel work and some commercial work. “Residential work is something we really enjoy doing here,” said Rob Foley. “We are also very lucky and fortunate that we don’t have to go out and search for work. We obviously had a very hard time during the recession, just like any other fabricator, but we worked through it and built our business via word of mouth.” While the amount of kitchens a week is usually eight, though they are highly customized kitchens, the amount can change on a weekly basis. Sierra Stone Fabrication does several areas in the house that is being remodeled or for new construction, including vanities, showers, fireplaces and outdoor kitchens. “We have built a reputation for our quality, workmanship and service,” said Rob Foley. “People will book a year in advance because of it. That’s why we are successful, but at the same time, very busy. We have the talent and ability to make all different custom edges, such as a carved rope edge. Whatever the customer wants, we will make it for them.” Sierra Stone stays pretty close to its local market in the Reno/Sparks area along with work in the Truckee/Lake Tahoe region.
In the short term, Rob Foley said the company plans on continuing to be as efficient as possible, keeping quality and service at 110%, and hone in on the things that could use improvement. “We have a lot of work coming in, but not enough people to do the work,” he said. “We try our best on keeping a handle on the day-to-day craziness that can consume a company, as well as trying to keep our customers and contractors as happy as possible. Looking toward the future, we are excited with the new technology that’s helping to make our industry able to get more done in less time with accuracy, and allow us to grow and service our clientele at the speed in which the world is moving.”
Type of Work: Residential, remodel and commercial
Machinery: a Sierra bridge saw, a SaberJet CNC sawjet, a Wizard radial arm polisher, a Pro Edge II edge polisher, a Titan CNC stoneworking center and a HyrdoClear water system — all from Park Industries located in St. Cloud, MN; a Flow Waterjet from Flow International Corp. located in Kent, WA; a Proliner digital templator from Prodim located in Fort Pierce, FL; a LT-55 from Laser Products Industries located in Romeoville, IL; tooling from Alpha Professional Tools located in Oakland, NJ; Braxton-Bragg located in Knoxville, TN; saw blades from Terminator Diamond Products located in San Carlos, CA
Production: About 10 kitchens a week, each averaging 50-60 square feet in size