Rebuilding a stone business: After a fire destroyed Sharon Re’s fabrication shop, she rebuilt it, sold it and eventually opened a new operation in the same building
Beginning in their early twenties, Sharon and Chuck Re started a tile business out of their apartment. While doing tile work for five years, customers would often ask them if they could do a vanity top for them. “We would have to go to a stone shop and have a vanity made,” said Sharon Re. “At the same time, we were getting sick of doing tile work. We decided to go to Cumar Marble and Granite and told them we knew how to template and install. I don’t know if we really did or not, but he hired us and for the next two years taught us everything we know today. That’s where we learned the value of hard work, learning from the best was the turning point for us and we will be forever grateful to Ivo [Cubi] for that.”
Granite City of Eagle River, AK, was founded 11 years ago by current president, Matt Hickey, and vice president/general manager, Barry Anderson. They remain the owners today, along with treasurer, Melissa Hickey. Matt Hickey and Anderson had been working in the construction field for 40 years. They partnered to start the business because they saw a need for a granite fabrication and installation shop in the area.
Growing Through Diversification, Marjan Stoen of Spring Valley, CA, continually researches, strategizes and invests in new technology, people and market trends.
While living in Bagdad, Iraq, Hikmet Pauls owned a factory that specialized in manufacturing terrazzo tile. When he moved to California, he used his experience and knowledge to start a career in the stone industry. After several years of working for a stone fabricator, Pauls opened his own fabrication shop, Marjan Stone, in San Diego, CA.
When I came to the U.S. in 1998, my family, my wife’s family and a lot of my community were already in San Diego,” said Pauls. “It made sense to be close to them. I applied for work at a stone fabrication company in San Diego, and they hired me the same day because of my previous experience. I worked there as an estimator, sales person and quality controller for about three to four years, and then I started my own business.”
Software that helps run our technology is all around us. It improves our lives in a variety of ways — from the cell phones we carry in our pocket to the navigation systems in our cars. Technology makes our lives easier and more efficient. And relating to stone fabrication, as technology continues to evolve, the software in CNC machines continues to get better and assist fabricators. The stone industry may have started behind the technological curve, but it’s quickly catching up. The days of fabricators having to move every slab in their yard to show customers what that specific slab looks like, may be a thing of the past.
Digital slabs are becoming increasingly popular and the future for them looks promising. Digital slabs shouldn’t be thought of as a simple photo of a slab. It’s an accurate copy of real life. According to Bill Elliott of Northwood Designs, Inc. in Antwerp, NY, developer of Slabsmith, digital slabs allow the entire properties of a slab to be shown to a fabricator. “With the digital version of the slab, I know the exact dimensions; the color is accurate, and the parts that will fit in the slab or remnant are known making it more than just a photo of the slab,” said Elliott. “Then everything flows downhill from that. We can then manage inventories, manage remnants in a new way, do layouts in new ways. We know not only how many square feet are in a slab, but what the largest area we can use in it and what the largest rectangle we can make in that slab is. That also means we know exactly what is in stock if we need to meet certain needs. The possibilities are endless when you have an accurate digital version of a slab.”
Whether your shop is big or small, high volume or custom, if you’re still on the fence about hard templates versus digital templating, this story is for you.
The tried and true stick or paper template has been with us for decades. Some wood, screws and a few simple tools got the job done. So why not stick (pun intended) with doing it this way? The development team at Laser Products Industries (LPI), along with vice president of sales and marketing Rich Katzmann, have other ideas. Katzmann is totally excited about this next generation digitizer, and chances are that by the time you finish reading this you will be, too. You be the judge.