Every year since, Stone World honors a Fabricator of the Year. The award has been a time-honored tradition since 1988. The professional is nominated by industry members and goes to someone who has shown dedication to growing their own business, as well as a willingness to pioneer the use and sharing of new technology with the industry and developing educational programs for the training of stoneworkers in industry methods. The following candidates each possess these qualifications.
Please take a moment to learn more about the finalists by clicking on "Open Profile" and learn about why they were nominated. Next, Vote Below ↓ for the person you would like to see receive the 2023 Stone World Fabricator of the Year Award. Voting closes on December 20th, 2023. The winner will be presented January 2024 during StoneExpo in Las Vegas, NV.
True Blue Surfaces
It is with great pleasure that we recommend Tom & Susan Callahan of True Blue Surfaces for the Fabricator of the Year. It is an honor to nominate Tom & Susan for their focus on company values, industry participation and advancement, community support, and environmental stewardship.
Tom and Susan Callahan purchased True Blue Surfaces in 2016 and have expanded their operations by nearly 400% by acquiring several fabrication shops throughout the country, primarily servicing Texas and the Southwest United States. True Blue has become the leader in the regions it serves by combining its extensive experience in process flow and manufacturing, innovative technology, and artisan craftsmanship. They are 100% committed and dedicated to doing the right thing for their customers by delivering the best products and services in the industry, ensuring an unforgettable customer experience!
Tom & Susan have developed five core values that everyone in their locations strives to live by each day, including:
Build Trust – Do what you say you are going to do.
Team First – Row the boat.
Communicate Clearly – Speak with candor.
Be Positive – Optimism is a force multiplier.
Continuous Improvement – Sharpen the “saw.”
With over 120 employees throughout the country, nearly 25% of the associates have a tenure of 5 – 13 years, which is a testament to the culture and pristine working environment that they have instilled and maintained within the company. Trusting and building relationships are the pillars of who Tom & Susan are.
Company cookouts and hand-written anniversary and birthday cards are additional steps that Tom & Susan take to show their care and appreciation for their teams.
Helping advance the industry is important to the True Blue team, which is why they continue to sponsor memberships in The International Surfaces Association (ISFA), Natural Stone Institute (NSI), and Artisan Group, as well as being active members of the Park Industries Business Group, including holding a leadership role as Chair of the group.
True Blue has participated in many product development discussions with vendors throughout the industry, including machinery, tooling, software, material, and templating. True Blue has also engineered and developed a variety of material handling carts with fabricators and vendors to ensure the ease and safety of transporting material as well as metrics tracking software to ensure their facilities are running optimally and efficiently. In addition, they have been a beta site for testing and validating new technology entering the market.
Five times a year, True Blue hosts “Lunch & Learn” sessions with key builders and vendors in the regions where they serve to help educate how countertops are fabricated and the guidelines for countertop care. They also provide new hire training for their customer base when new associates are brought on board. By providing these educational sessions, Tom & Susan have built confidence in their builder communities, which trickles down to educating the end user. Key builders have consulted with True Blue regarding the design of their kitchens to ensure their design supports efficient countertop manufacturing, which is a testament to the strong relationships they have built with their builder communities.
True Blue Surfaces are active members of many local associations including Greater San Antonio Builder’s Association, Greater New Braunfels Builders Association, Hill Country Builders Association, Home Builders Association of Austin, and the Amercian Society of Interior Designers.
True Blue Surfaces production facilities display state-of-the-art digital automation including (9) TITAN CNC Routers, (1) JAVELIN CNC SawJet, (4) FUSION CNC SawJets, (3) FASTBACKs, and (3) VELOCITYs, and are proud supporters of USA made machinery.
With a focus on children and veterans, True Blue has assisted with the building of two St. Jude homes and 11 Wounded Warrior homes. They are long-standing sponsors of the Gary SINISE Foundation, which focuses on building adapted homes for our nation’s most severely wounded heroes.
With a focus on being environmental stewards, Tom & Susan have been recycling 100% of their remnants by investing in a crusher and donating the crushed materials to landscapers and builders. In addition, they recycle 98% of their water usage by installing closed-loop recycling systems in each of their facilities.
We are pleased to nominate the Callahan’s and True Blue Surfaces as one-of-a-kind fabricator. They have quickly grown their business to a large, multi-facility operation and a leader in the industry utilizing the latest technology, processes, and more. They foster a wonderful company culture, provide amazing community support/donations, strive to be a leader in an environmentally friendly business, and help push our industry forward with their educational efforts.
We are delighted to nominate Omar Chahin, AIA, for his remarkable dedication and contributions to the manufacturing and industrial engineering sectors. As president of GMD Surfaces, located in Mokena, Illinois, Omar has exemplified outstanding leadership and a strong commitment to advancing the industry.
Omar and his exceptional team at GMD Surfaces have been actively engaged in various industry associations and business events, including ISFA, Rockheads, BACA Systems Fabrication Seminars, and more. Through their participation, they have consistently sought opportunities to educate, train, and drive innovation, especially in the realm of technology. This active involvement has not only enhanced their own knowledge but has also been instrumental in pushing the entire industry forward.
One of their most notable initiatives is the recent launch of a pilot program in partnership with the University of Illinois, School of Engineering, College of Industrial Engineering. This program provides senior industrial engineering students with invaluable real-world experience by allowing them to visit their facility to gain insights, learn, and contribute to finding solutions that can increase efficiency and improve productivity in the industry.
Furthermore, Chahin and his team have demonstrated exceptional innovation by developing the "Swyft Shop" tracking system. This software is specifically designed to enhance machine utilization and shop efficiency, ultimately leading to improved productivity. By commercializing this system, they aim to assist other businesses in measuring, tracking, and improving their efficiency, with over 40 machines already benefiting from this technology.
The commitment that Mr. Chahin and GMD Surfaces have shown towards education and innovation is rooted in their recognition of the challenges within the industry. Omar Chahin emphasizes that the industry is often fragmented, and many shops remain at an elementary stage. As an engineer, he understands that investing time and effort into innovation and education doesn't just benefit his own business but has a ripple effect on the entire industry. This dedication fosters growth, drives progress, and allows early adopters and collaborators to stay ahead in this ever-evolving field.
Omar Chahin's commitment to education, innovation, and industry advancement makes him a highly deserving nominee. His contributions transcend the boundaries of his own business, and he stands as a beacon of progress within the manufacturing and industrial engineering community.
Cutting Edge Countertops
Jeff Erickson started Cutting Edge Countertops in 2006 with his partners Brian and Brad Burns. The company expanded organically from its kitchen and bath dealer base, branching out from its original 24,000 sf strategically located facility in Perrysburg, Ohio. After multiple acquisitions and hyper-growth, the owners moved to a hub-and-spoke model and expanded the Perrysburg facility. In September 2017, the company broke ground on an expansion, increasing its headquarters to nearly 100,000 sf, adding needed capacity, and consolidating all manufacturing and distribution operations into one location, supporting an impressive five showrooms in four markets throughout Ohio, Michigan, and Indiana, making Cutting Edge the largest fabricator in the Midwest and an accredited fabricator of the Natural Stone Institute. They currently service approximately 60 homes daily, employing a workforce of over 200. Even so, they retain a small business feel within their company culture and contribute regularly and significantly to charitable causes.
The company has streamlined its systems and processes, pioneering a heightened sense of business sophistication seldom seen in the modern fabrication shop. It is truly a model of efficiency and certainly needs to be considering the volumes they produce.
Jeff currently serves on the board of the Natural Stone Institute. Within the organization, he is part of the David Fell Spirit of Service Award committee, honoring our nation's veterans through the Gary Sinise Foundation, and has participated as a mentor for its Women in Stone program for the last three years. He is a regular panelist at industry trade shows, attends study tours and international events, and belongs to other industry groups such as the Rockheads. Cutting Edge Countertops and Jeff Erickson are household names to anyone with their finger on the pulse of the industry.
Aside from his career in stone, Jeff is an avid cyclist and devoted family man.
For some, to single out Jeff Erickson for Stone World's Fabricator of the Year might prove to be a difficult task, being that there are three owners of Cutting Edge Countertops (one who was previously nominated) and a powerhouse board of directors, all of which formidable and deserving in their own right. Mr. Erickson humbly struggled with the proposal when I asked whether I could nominate him for this award, as he sees the team first and foremost, not the individual.
Aside from his accomplishments as a businessman and fabricator, which many will agree are more than enough to earn him the award, Jeff is a force of positivity severely lacking among fabricators today. I don't believe I've ever seen him not smiling or heard anything but kindness from him.
He is what the benchmark should be: successful, inspirational, plays well with others, humble, kind to a fault, and above all, a total class act. He represents the best parts of all of us.
If Jeff Erickson is the benchmark, then it only stands to reason he should also be Stone World’s Fabricator of the Year for 2023. I can think of no one else more deserving, which is why I am nominating him for this prestigious award above all others.
NFM Custom Countertop
Josh and the team at NFM are a prime example of a superior stone shop. Not only does every job have an incredible amount of detail applied to it, but the experience of their personnel and the organization of the shop, are second to none. It is very refreshing to visit a shop like NFM.
Coastal Stone Group
I am nominating Glenn Kross and the Coastal team because of the accomplishment of their new fab shop. Glenn has setup a state of art shop, producing a vanity top production line that is unlike any shop in the US. He has this shop running as efficient as any shop you will find.
The presentation for the 2023 Fabricator of the Year will be presented during StoneExpo, which will be held at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center in Las Vegas, NV, from January 31 to February 2, 2023. The winner must be present the day of the ceremony to receive the award in person.