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Fabricators Learn from Each Other at Alabama Stone Summit

Triton Stone Group brought stone industry members together to learn, network and share ideas at its facility in Birmingham, AL

Blake Christensen of Valley View Granite, based in Tremonton, UT, as well as a member of the Natural Stone Institute’s (NSI) executive board, led an educational and interactive discussion with fabricators from the region at the Stone Industry Education event organized by Stone World and NSI, and hosted by Triton Stone Group, at its facility in Birmingham, AL, on Thursday, April 4, 2024. The event, which is one of nine scheduled throughout the U.S. in 2024, drew a crowd of 26 fabricators and 34 total attendees.

To warm up the audience and have them get to know each other better, Christensen began by having each person introduce themselves and share their personal and business best. While some were initially shy, most soon became comfortable, and the exercise sparked a conversation among the group. Christensen explained how the exercise is an effective tool to use in staff meetings to open communication among a team and bring it to a more personable level.

The discussion was diverse throughout the all-day session – ranging from technical to management issues. Among the topics that ignited group discussion was working with quartzite, including related issues such as making sure it is suited for a customer’s lifestyle, as well as the importance it is for it to dry out and how to treat it. Christensen also brought up sales tax. He explained there are three “buckets”:  the square footage that is installed as real property, the square footage that goes back into inventory with the potential to convert to a sale later and the square footage that goes in the garbage. “If I bring a 50-square-foot slab in, I need to know exactly what percentage or amount goes into all three of those categories,” he said. Christensen explained to the group of fabricators that his company crushes all of their waste and sells it to landscapers. “It’s beautiful because granite, quartzite, quartz or mesh backing can all be crushed together,” he said. “There is no need to separate it, and it comes out beautifully. Landscapers love it.”

A best business practice Christensen feels strongly about and touched on with the group is EOS (Entrepreneurial Operating Systems). “It’s really why I’m able to be here today and can let my team run the shop,” he said. “It’s really the most impactful thing we did.”

The concept of EOS is outlined in the book Traction by Gino Wickman. “Get a grip on your business,” is the tagline on the cover. 

“[Wickman] has taken all different philosophies and brought them together in a simple way,” said Christensen. “It gives everyone a voice. In building a business this way, it helps to define roles and give people accountability. It’s more of a managerial tool to get your team on track.  It’s a way to organize your management team and get them on the same page of music.”

According to Christensen, the book outlines six components of your business:

  • People
  • Vision
  • Data
  • Process
  • Traction
  • Issues

Each component is essential to the overall success of your business. Wickman outlines each component and explains ways to improve upon each one. 

Christensen briefly went through the premise of EOS and encouraged those in the audience who haven’t read Traction to do so. 

Overall, participants of the Alabama Stone Summit were very engaged and were interactive with Christensen. Many shared their experiences and openly discussed them with others in the group.

Moreover, silicosis and shop safety were other important topics addressed by Mark Meriaux, NSI technical manager. He encouraged fabricators to do a voluntary OSHA inspection if they haven’t already. 

Also included in the workshop was a tour of Triton Stone Group’s slab gallery and time for refreshments and networking at the end of the day.

The Stone Industry Education series moves on to New Jersey next month. The session, hosted by Architectural Surfaces at its facility in Jamesburg, will be led by industry veteran Buddy Ontra of Ontra Stone Concepts in Bridgeport, CT. To learn more details about the event and to register, as well as to view the schedule for the rest of the year, visit

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