Massachusetts fabricator seizes an opportunity

The roots of TWD Surfaces of Bridgewater, MA, can be traced to 1985, when the company’s president, Ray St. Gelais, began operating as a cabinet maker. Today, TWD Surfaces processes both quartz surfacing and natural stone, and it has capitalized on market changes in the local region to enjoy significant growth despite a down economy.

When the company started as a cabinet maker, it was working on residential kitchens and other furnishings. This evolved into commercial cabinet work, and the company began processing DuPont Corian in the mid-1990s. Ultimately, TWD Surfaces moved into quartz surfacing and stone.

“We saw the market go to hard surfaces, and when DuPont Zodiaq approached us, we knew we had to diversify,” said St. Gelais. “We were doing templating and installation of stone and quartz anyhow, but we were giving up control by not doing the processing.”

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Embracing change to sustain a viable business

With a history that dates back more than 60 years, Hoffman Fixtures Co. (HFC) in Tulsa, OK, has experienced many transitions through its years in business. The company began its operation in June of 1949 when founder Cecil Hoffman set up shop in his garage. He started by making custom restaurant, soda fountain, bar and store fixtures after World War II. With a successful business plan intact, HFC continued to evolve through the decades — expanding to larger facilities and adding laminate, solid surfacing and, eventually natural stone, to its product offerings. Today, the company operates out of a 30,000-square-foot state-of-the-art facility, which processes 500 square feet of natural stone per day as well as 200 square feet of solid surfacing.

“By the mid-1950s, Cecil was so busy he called upon his son, Elden Hoffman, who was working as an oil field accountant in southern Oklahoma, to join him in the business because he was making the move to expand from his garage to HFC’s first official fabrication shop in Tulsa, OK,” said Joe Hoffman, Sr., Chief Executive Officer. “Upon Elden’s arrival, he immediately began exploring new products and ‘new’ surface material of that time. Plastic laminate was his choice to pursue.

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Staying Ahead with New Technology

Working out of a 40,000- square-foot facility in San Carlos, CA, D & J Tile Co., Inc. markets to the greater San Francisco Bay area. And with the majority of its work being large-scale commercial projects, technology plays an integral role in the company’s stone fabrication process. To stay ahead of the curve, D & J Tile, which was started in 1989, has made significant investments in state-of-the-art equipment through the years, including a waterjet that is utilized for customized stonework.

“We do a lot of custom inlays,” said Michael Brady, CAD Manager of D & J Tile Co., Inc. “A total of 90% of our work is commercial, and the other 10% is residential. We do a lot of cut-to-size tile that we can ship anywhere.”

An Omax 80160 Jet Machine is in place at the company’s shop to cut inlays as well as to custom cut metal brackets. It also plays a large role in producing customized stone pieces.

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Most Fabricator of the Year Awards

Looking over the past winners of Stone World’s Fabricator of the Year Award, we began to see a trend. See if you can figure it out by looking at the list of winners below.

2010 – Matt Lansing, Stone Innovations (LT-55)
2009 – Scorr McGourley, Kasco Stone
2008 – Paul Menninger, Capitol Granite & Marble (LT-55 XL)
2007 – Ron Hannah, Cadenza Granite & Marble (LT-55 XL)
2006 – Dick Laliberte, Ripano Stoneworks (LT-55 XL)
2005 – G.K. Naquin, Stone Interiors (LT-55)
The LT-55 originally came out in 2005 and then in 2008 we released the LT-55 XL.  Both Ripano Stoneworks and Cadenza Granite & Marble upgraded their lasers to the XL version. We think it says something that in the 6 years the LT-55 (and subsequently the LT-55 XL) has been on the market, 5 out of the last 6 Stone World Fabricator or the Year Award winners were using LT-55 or LT-55 XL’s to do their digital templating.

Going digital is how every company that is thriving right now templates. Not only does it cut down on time on the job site but digital templating produces more accurate templates and higher quality fabricated counter tops but it leads to happier customers.

Top 3 Sourcing Failures of Kitchen & Bath Shops

1. Most kitchen & bath shops only outsource couture tops to fabricators and after a while these prices tend to creep upwards. When Digital Templating is put into place, it allows you the ability to obtain multiple quotes for the same job. Savings of 10-30% are not uncommon. A simple email to multiple vendors will display this obvious profit stream increase.

2. A good percentage of the fabricators cost is involved in going to the job site to template the jobs. Because you probably are there, this allows you to template and reduce even more of the costs of the total job.

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