Archive | August, 2013

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A Busy Year for the Countertop Industry

Posted on 29 August 2013 by cradmin

Chuck Sawyer photoGuest Blog by Chuck Sawyer of ISFA

This year has not only been busy and full of exciting changes for the International Surface Fabricators Association (ISFA) but also for the entire countertop industry. Partnerships and alliances are expanding within the industry and among closely associated industries, such as woodworking. Opportunities for general business education and countertop fabrication education have also never been greater or more successful than they are now and will be in the near future.

One of the ways that ISFA is helping countertop professionals to expand their knowledge and network with peers is by putting together Grass Roots Gatherings, hosted by industry supporters like Cosentino, Dixie Plywood and Oldcastle Surfaces. In addition, ISFA established a series of CEO Roundtable discussions in Cincinnati and Chicago, with upcoming events in Boston and Seattle. And with the popularity of the Roundtable events, we are planning a new version aimed at the new generation of business leaders in the countertop industry. This new event will be a conclave where the next generation of CEOs can learn about and share experiences on the topics necessary for leading successful businesses.

Organizations and businesses in the countertop industry are also expanding training opportunities. ISFA is hosting several training seminars, including hands-on training on stone and quartz fabrication and another on solid surface fabrication. A partnership between the Marble Institute of America (MIA) and Stone World is also providing a complete educational series that focuses on running a successful fabrication company. Additionally, ISFA will be providing some opportunities for learning at the 2014 StonExpo in Las Vegas by putting together several educational sessions that are being held at the show.

Another exciting event that will expand the reach of the countertop industry is a new partnership between ISFA and the International Woodworking Fair (IWF). In 2014, IWF will provide an expanded platform for the surfacing industry, which will include a full countertop educational track designed to reach the cabinet, woodworking and countertop industries. Additionally, a full-day Countertop Symposium will be held at IWF.

The big news, however, is that the 2014 IWF will include a new concept – the Countertop Pavilion, a dedicated section of the show floor designed specifically for members of the countertop industry. It will be a high-visibility opportunity for suppliers of machinery, materials, tooling and other products and services in our industry. For fabricators of decorative surfacing products it will be a great way to meet with suppliers, see machinery in action and be part of one of the nation’s largest trade shows.

IWF 2014 will be held at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta on August 20-23, 2014. You can check out the web site at:

With all of these opportunities, it makes good sense to take advantage of them. As our fabrication shops are emerging from the “Great Recession” and we become busier and busier, it is all too easy to lose sight of the educational opportunities that can help to make a fabrication shop more profitable. Like the person who didn’t have the time to take a class on time management, don’t neglect the opportunities to participate and grow with the wealth of training offered by our industry!

Chuck Sawyer is the Executive Director of the International Surface Fabricators Association (ISFA) and can be reached at [email protected].

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It May be Time to Link Up your Countertop Company with LinkedIn

Posted on 28 August 2013 by CRadmin2

By Jean Kelley

Mention the phrase social media and most people automatically think of Facebook and Twitter. However, if you have any dealings in the corporate world – whether you’re an owner, CEO, salesperson, manager  or anything in between – you’ll want to take a closer look at LinkedIn. You may find it a useful tool to make your business relationships more meaningful and profitable.

Before you dismiss the idea of using LinkedIn because you only know it as that bland social media site where people go when looking for a job, realize that there are currently 90 million LinkedIn users worldwide. One new user joins every second, and unlike social media sites like Facebook, which many people use for entertainment, all LinkedIn users are business minded. That means the connections you develop on LinkedIn are more likely to positively impact you and your company in some way. Therefore, if you want better or more professional business relationships, LinkedIn is the place to be. Even if you have a business profile on Facebook and Twitter, LinkedIn makes a perfect addition to your personal and business branding tools.

A Business Resource

The key to making LinkedIn work for you and your company is to use the site regularly. That means posting something, such as an update, a question or an answer, every seven days at a minimum. The more you use any social media site, the more likely Google’s algorithm will notice your account and assign it a higher ranking on searches than it would otherwise receive. Additionally, the more you interact and post on LinkedIn, the more prominent you’ll become within your network. Your name recognition will grow.

Fortunately, staying active in LinkedIn is simple when you understand how it can benefit you professionally. Use the following ideas and suggestions to make the most of your account:

  • Show off your skills. It’s as easy to set up your profile in LinkedIn as it is in Facebook. Make sure your profile is written well and that it highlights what you currently do, what you have done, your strengths, your talents, your key attributes and your education. Remember that people will access your profile for many different reasons, not just for recruitment, but also for background information and professional contacts, so be thorough and always make your profile public. Because your profile is essentially a dynamic resume, keep it updated, tasteful and accurate at all times.

  • Say something meaningful. By posting status updates that contain valuable content, you show your network that you are a team player and that you care about other people’s success. Remember that status updates are not the place to advertise your company’s products or services. A better idea is to share a best practice, announce a seminar or event or give a quick tip. If you can’t think of anything to post, it’s perfectly acceptable to post a meaningful or motivational quote. The key is to post something interesting and relevant to your network, and always remember that what you post stays on the Internet forever.

  • Uncover conversation starters. LinkedIn is a great place to get an inside glimpse of people. For example, you can look up potential clients or vendors on LinkedIn to see what kind of books they read, where they went to school, what their main interests are and much more. Now, you’ll have more to talk about when you meet the potential client, vendor, or networking friend. Think of it as a way to have a professional relationship with someone much quicker than with traditional methods of communication. In fact, some estimates show that by using LinkedIn to research the people you plan to interact with, you can have a six-month head start on the relationship.
  • Spot trends and hot topics. An amazing amount of real-time information is available on LinkedIn. By being a member of various groups that interest you, you can see what people are thinking on a certain topic by the questions they’re posting and the responses they’re getting. So, if you want to know what the current trends or best practices are in lean manufacturing, you could join several lean manufacturing groups and track each group’s activity. You can then use the information you discover for your own company.
  • Get an “in” with top companies. Whether you’re looking for new clients or new vendors, with LinkedIn you can search the companies you want to work with and see who in your network has connections there. You can then ask your connection for an introduction to a decision maker who can help. Even if you find that no one in your network has connections with a particular company, perhaps someone in one of your groups works there. That’s why it’s important to belong to every group that interests you. Continually build your LinkedIn relationships and make those key connections before you actually need them. As Harvey Mackay says, “Dig your well before you’re thirsty.”

The Missing Link to Your Success

Even though 82 percent of people use some kind of social media regularly, social media itself is much like the Wild West. It’s not tame yet, and best practices are still being formed. The key to making LinkedIn work is to work it regularly. Commit to spending time posting your ideas in updates, asking and answering questions, participating in groups and reaching out to potential connections. Yes, it’s one more thing to schedule in your calendar, but by building relationships and gaining new information on people and topics, your job can become easier and your company can attain a better position.


About the Author

Jean Kelley is the founder of the Jean Kelley Leadership Alliance. Her faculty and trainers have helped more than 750,000 leaders and high potentials up their game at work in the U.S. and Canada. Coupled with her books, Dear Jean: What They Don’t Teach You at the Water Cooler, and The Get a Job Keep a Job Handbook, Jean has earned the name North America’s workplace coach. For information on leadership programs and availability email [email protected] or go to

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Granite Countertops Gone Bad - Very Bad

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Granite Countertops Gone Bad – Very Bad

Posted on 27 August 2013 by cradmin

We have all seen the cheap granite countertop signs along the roadside and have heard about poor workmanship, but this video shows granite at its worst. After seeing this video, it is very hard to believe that a customer would find this acceptable, and even more difficult to believe that a fabricator would do this kind of work. Hopefully, consumers understand this is not typical of the crafstmanship of most granite fabricators!

Everyone who is making a new countertop purchase should be made to watch this before they decided on going with the cheapest crap out there, because this will make them think twice. What a travesty. When you watch this video, supplied by Fireplace Carolina, which shows a previous install the company ran across, you absolutely won’t believe it.

I’d like to think this was staged, but unfortunately it seems all too real. I had to watch it twice to digest it; and then I thought of it in terms of when you pass a wreck on the side of the road and you can’t help but look.

Beyond that, all I can say is, you have to see it to believe it:

If you have a video you think it worth sharing, please let us know at [email protected].

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Coverings 2014 Seeks Conference Speakers, Presenters

Posted on 26 August 2013 by cradmin

Coverings 2014, the international tile and stone exposition, has issued a “Call for Speakers and Presentations” in search of conference speakers and professional development seminar leaders. Approaching its 25th year, Coverings will be held April 29 to May 2, 2014 at the Las Vegas Convention Center.

Known for its comprehensive speaking and education programs, Coverings seeks authorities in the categories of architecture and interior design, fabrication and installation, green building, retail sales and distribution to submit proposals for one or more topics. Proposals from individuals as well as teams are accepted.

“As we prepare for the show’s 25th Anniversary, we’re planning on bringing together the most knowledgeable and distinguished industry experts to Coverings,” said Karin Fendrich, Coverings show director. “This is an aspect of the show that’s a significant draw — about half of show attendees attend at least one session. We’re excited to continue the success of this program with best-in-class speakers providing education on key, timely topics.”

Presentation and speaking proposals should be submitted at The deadline for proposals has been extended to September 9, 2013.

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Balaji Marbles Offers Indian Marble and Granite

Posted on 23 August 2013 by cradmin

Balaji MarbleBalaji Marbles, in India, offers a variety of marbles and granites and specializes in exotic Serpentine and Forest Green marble. The company also offers slate and sandstone in a variety colors and patterns. The company also assists with developing customized new products using natural stones, developing customized packing and providing marketing tools, promotional samples and continued technical support to its clients.Materials are available in a range of thicknesses, and discount pricing is available for large-scale projects. Among the granite colors offered are Black Galaxy, Ivory Fantasy, Lavender Blue, Raw Silk, Imperial Red, Jhansi Red, Lakha Red, Multicolor Red, Kashmir White, Kashmir Gold, Sivakasi Yellow, Colombo Juparana, Madura Gold, Ivory Brown, Sapphire Brown, Green Galaxy, Vyara Gold, Colonial Dream, Colombo Gold, Tan Brown, Himalayan Blue, Black Pearl, Tiger Skin, Hasan Green, White Galaxy, Paradiso, Baltic Brow,n Chima Pink and Blue Pearl.

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Blanco Celebrates 25 Years in United States

Posted on 22 August 2013 by cradmin

blanco 25th anniversary celebrationBLANCO, German producer of kitchen sinks and faucets, celebrates its 25-year anniversary in the United States. It was founded in Germany in 1925, and for three generations has quietly and passionately elevated the standards for luxury sinks, faucets and decorative accessories. When the company opened its doors in the United States, it had a 4,000-sq.-ft. warehouse. Today, it has grown to be a leader in kitchen sinks and faucets in the U.S. While the growth of the company has been impressive – equally impressive is the fact that more than 50 percent of the employees have remained with the company for 10 years or more. The company has a long tradition of environmental stewardship and their production facilities operate to strict DIN EN ISO 14001 environmental performance standards. Since 1994, BLANCO has been a member of the Caux Round Table (CRT), an international network of principled business leaders and companies working to promote a moral capitalism.

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Elkay Develops Slim Rim Sink Line

Posted on 21 August 2013 by cradmin

elkayElkay has developed a line of stainless steel Slim Rim sinks that are made to eliminate places where bacteria and grime build-up . Featuring an ultra-thin, flat counter rim, the new sinks nearly eliminate the barrier between the sink and the countertop. The sinks come in a  variety of models with a several sizes, finishes, bowl option and thicknesses.

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Silestone by Cosentino Introduces New Nebula Code Quartz Surfacing Colors

Posted on 20 August 2013 by cradmin

Nebula Code silestone by cosentino Stacked ImageCosentino introduces  a new collection of colors for its Silestone quartz surfacing called Nebula Code, an evolution of the popular Silestone Nebula series. The new collection is composed of five colors inspired by the appearance of natural stone. The neutral hues are subtle yet distinctive, featuring an original pattern of veining throughout the surface that never repeats. The new colors are: Hélix, Pulsar, Daria, Istmo and Dreis, all available in the polished and suede finishes. Hélix balances its off-white base color with shades of gray veining. Pulsar combines gray, beige and mustard veining on a white base. Daria depicts a subtle  mixture of beige and rose-colored veining with a light brown base. Istmo showcases a multi-tonal grey. Dreis incorporates warm brown tones over a black foundation.

Nebula Code was developed using a new product initiative, where Silestone actively engages designers in the color selection process and requests feedback during trade shows before determining the final offering. This year, Nebula Code was previewed at the Kitchen and Bath Industry Show (KBIS) in April, where designers, fabricators and distributors commented on the preliminary color offering. The Nebula Code series is available in 55 by 120 in. slabs in 1, 2 and 3 cm thickness.

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Fabricator Profile: Solid Surfaces, Inc.

Posted on 19 August 2013 by CRadmin2

Mitch Makowski, owner of Solid Surfaces, Inc. in Rochester, N.Y., understands the value of knowing exactly what his company does and the market niche it serves. Solid Surfaces, Inc. is one of the top five fabricators in Upstate New York by sales volume, and Makowski claims that this success is because of his strict code of ethics and having systems established for every aspect of the business.

Instead of targeting the retail market, Markowski strictly serves kitchen and bath dealers. This has created a level of trust between his company and dealers that cannot be found among fabricators who primarily serve retailers.

Makowski started Solid Surface, Inc., 30 years ago after being one of 10,000 employees laid off from Kodak’s headquarters in Rochester. Working for a framing company, he learned to cut Corian, and the rest is history.

Read More of this Fabricator Profile Here



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MIA Dimension Stone Design Manual Posted to Australian Stonemasonry School’s Library

Posted on 19 August 2013 by cradmin

The Marble Institute of America’s (MIA) Dimension Stone Design Manual has been posted to South Western Sydney Institute’s online intranet library. It will serve students in the Stonemasonry course at MillerCollege. This course offers a range of stonemasonry experiences that seek to meet the needs of the industry.  At the same time it provides traditional core craft skills .

MIA’s Industry Research & Information Manager Mike Loflin said, “We’re happy to make the Design Manual available to the future stonemasons of South Western Sydney Institute at MillerCollege. This is beneficial for the trade and the industry as a whole.”

This posting is the most recent in the MIA’s history of outreach towards architectural, design and masonry students. In 2011, the MIA donated a copy of the Dimension Stone Design Manual v 7.2 to every architectural college library in the United States, an effort they plan to replicate in 2014, with the launch of version 8.0.

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