INGOMAR, PA --The International Surface Fabricators Association (ISFA) held a Mineral Surfaces training event September 13th to 14th in Massillon, OH. Hosted by Tower Industries and sponsored by Panoramic Porcelain by Daltile, the course is designed to arm fabricators with the knowledge and skills they need to embrace these materials to meet growing customer demand. 

The comprehensive, two-day training was held at Tower Countertops, a division of Tower Industries. More than 30 fabricators were in attendance, including shop owners, operators and managers. The event started with a welcome to new members, covering ISFA membership benefits, programs and more. 

Raul Amat, the national manager of Panoramic Porcelain Surfaces for Daltile North America, presented a comprehensive overview of mineral surface materials, including porcelain, sintered stone and ultra-compact surfaces. The presentation was sent to attendees after the training so they could share it with staff at their shops. 

“The overview explained how the materials are made and provided a foundation of understanding that I wasn’t aware of,” said Joey Carrabetta, Bluemar Marble. “Learning how these materials differ from others was helpful, and how to handle porcelain slabs was very useful. I gained a lot, including new tools and processes I will need in my shop.” 

Rey Matos, the technical support and fabrication specialist for Daltile North America, conducted the training. In the shop, attendees learned about all facets of the fabrication process, including material handling and inspection, cutting techniques (feed rate, blade recommendations, tension release cuts), sink cutouts, miters, overhangs, seaming, polishing and finishing, installation, and chip and scratch repair techniques. Attendees learned ways to minimize the risk of cracking and chipping. The trainer recommended larger pads, for example, when offloading these materials from the delivery trucks, and they identified ideal locations for A-frame placement and other storage and handling best practices. 

Then fabricators worked in teams to glue up mitered edges, complete sink cutouts, bore holes for faucets and polish edges, including a waterjet demonstration. The training also covered vertical applications, including handling and installation. At the end of day two, the instructors covered chip repair techniques and other troubleshooting topics.

“This was my first training session with ISFA,” said Brian Yi, Zean Century Stone Ltd. “It was a great experience overall. ISFA is a warm and welcoming group, and the training covered most of the areas I expected. The trainers are very knowledgeable professionals.” 

In addition, this training event included a moderated shop safety discussion with safety experts from Sheakley, a family-owned firm dedicated to practical and innovative risk management and safety solutions, and Kerry Klodt, general manager of Tower Industries, gave a presentation about Entrepreneurial Operating System, which has been successfully implemented at Tower for more than five years.