As one of the charter members of the Stone Fabricators Alliance (SFA) and a frequent user of the StoneAdvice.com Forum, I have had ample opportunity to see what the end users biggest complaints are. Customers are continually complaining about the seams in their new countertops.
For some time now, the “Fabricator Forums” held at trade shows around the country are among the best-attended events in the stone industry. One of the most recent large-scale Fabricator Forums was held at the last StonExpo trade show in Las Vegas, NV, and attendees discussed a wide variety of topics.
In the late 1990s, I was asked by a high school friend to help install some kitchens for a granite shop that he managed. I owned a small home remodeling business that was slow at the time, and I was looking for some “busy work.” We spent the next month installing a few kitchens a day. The more I worked with granite, the more I was drawn to the allure of natural stone. I closed my home remodeling business and went to work for that granite shop full time. Over the next several years, I worked my way from installer to measure tech. I spent a few more years measuring and developing a templating system that we still use today. Meanwhile, my friend Matt, who had gotten me into the business, moved off to another company. This opened a position for me in the office doing bookkeeping and scheduling. Over the next few years, I worked my way to operations manager. The shop grew considerably, and at one point, we were producing 10 to 15 kitchens per day. With that type of volume, efficiency became an issue. Customers became numbers instead of names. We lost the ability to spend the quality time needed to produce a custom product.
I have received numerous calls lately concerning the fading of dark granite countertops. The most common complaints seem to be on Absolute Black, Black Galaxy, Zimbabwe Black and a few others. I have heard many fabricators try to blame the fading on the misuse of cleaning chemicals, acids, etc. While one should not use inappropriate chemicals on granite surfaces, this is often not the reason for the increase in black granite fading.
Q: What is the REAL situation out there for stone fabricators? I visit some shops that tell me they’re as busy as can be, and yet there seems to be very little work going on. Others tell me they’re “dead,” and the shop seems to be bustling. I guess this is a two-part question:
There are many choices that face the owner of a stone fabrication shop, and water filtration can seem to be the most complicated, as there are so many options to choose from. Especially with OSHA, EPA and state regulations, you want to be sure that your choice is the best one for you and your specific fabrication process.
A young student has problems breathing when he is in school. He experiences itchy eyes, a runny nose and a constant headache. When he is not in school, he does not experience any of these symptoms. A young mother goes to work everyday and comes home feeling lethargic; she gets plenty of rest but she is always tired, but just during the week when she is at the office. When she travels, she cannot understand why she is not as tired as when she is not traveling. She reasons to herself that she should be more tired when traveling. These types of stories are becoming more commonplace. In many cases, these types of symptoms point back to â€œsick building syndrome.â€
Creative, colorful and eye-catching, mosaic patterns are showing up everywhere - from backsplashes to borders and from showers to swimming pools. Mosaics are intricate designs or patterns made up of small tiles (2 x 2 inches or less) or pieces of material that are thinner than conventional tiles. They are comprised of a variety of materials, including natural stone, which is becoming more and more prevalent in today's designs.
The first consideration for any countertop fabricator that wants to grow is usually deciding what type of saw to purchase. Whether manual or automatic, the heart of a shop's production is the saw. If you are not cutting enough slabs, your saw is the bottleneck to increased throughput. The different configurations cut by the saw determine what can be fed to the edging machine, CNC and other operations. By carefully choosing a saw, a facility can often pay for its purchase within a year and reap years of profits many times the original investment.