A little less than three years ago, I remember sitting down with an long-time fabricator friend of mine from Boston, and he was one of the first to tell me that his business was being seriously affected by the recession.
When talking to a long-time fabricator friend of mine recently, I noted that a lot of homeowners out there seem slow to emerge from their "Cocoon of Fear" -- a term which seemed to both amuse and concern him.
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:
In this issue of Stone World Magazine, read about the The Natural Stone Institute's 2019 Study tour, hear about the Stone Industry Education event, see November's Stone of the Month, Machine of the Month, Technology Update, and much more!