Archive | January, 2015

Pittsburgh Area Countertop Shop – Blume’s Solid Surface Products – Destroyed in Blaze

Posted on 28 January 2015 by cradmin

Blumes fireIn unfortunate news, on January 14, just two weeks ago Pittsburgh area countertop shop Blume’s Solid Surface Products was destroyed in a fire.  Blume’s, incorporated in 1988, and was a full service fabricator of solid surface, quartz and granite countertops. Whole-sale only, the company fabricated and installed through independent kitchen and bath dealers in Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia. Since its inception, the company has been a recognized leader in the countertop industry, as a founding member of the International Surface Fabricators Association and an ISFA Certified Professional, member of the Artisan Group, MIA Accredited Fabricator member of the Marble Institute of America, member of the National Kitchen & Bath Association (NKBA) and member of the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID). The company was also a winner of numerous industry awards and recognitions.

Several hours and more than 100 firefighters from at least 12 fire departments were needed to get the four-alarm blaze under control. Nobody was hurt in the fire, although around two dozen employees of the business lost their jobs because of the catastrophe.

South Buffalo Township Fire Chief Randy Brozenick says the fire appears to have started when an engine block heater caught fire in a truck that was parked behind the building in a loading area.

A state police fire marshal was investigating the fire because of the manner in which it spread so rapidly.

A statement on their official Facebook page read: With great sadness and heavy hearts Blume’s is announcing that we do not intend to reopen. It has been an amazing 27 years of business, and we want to thank all of our employees, customers and vendors.
Thank you for your support.

Gus, Dot, Michelle and Gus jr.

A variety of condolences and warm regards from past customers and friends of the business on Facebook and other media outlets served as testimony to the positive image the business held in both its immediate community and the professional countertop industry. We wish to add our own condolences to that list.

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Omni Cubed Offers 2 Carry Clamp Models

Posted on 27 January 2015 by cradmin

omni cubed clampsOmni Cubed, Inc. offers two carry clamp models, both designed for easier and safer carrying of countertops. The Mega-Jaw™ Carry Clamp is a “grab and go” clamp with durable rubber gripping tubes that won’t mark or stain surfaces, according to the company. The high-strength aluminum arms allow a pair the clamps to support a 500-lb. load, and adjustable tension settings help them hold onto countertops when not in use.

The Aqua-Jaw™ Carry Vise™ is an “all-weather” carrying clamp designed to not slip off wet countertops. It has tight vise grip action that does not depend on gravity to secure solidly to stone, while rubber lined rails protect countertops from scratches. The clamp opens to 4-1/2 in. to accommodate thicker edges and miters. It also distributes weight to both arms, which reportedly reduces worker strain and makes lifting heavy pieces safer and easier. A pair of thevises can hold up to 800 lbs., and the optional Accessory Handle Kit adds two more handles to each clamp, allowing four workers to share the load of heavy countertops.

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Groves Offers New Heavy-Duty Bundle Rack with 9,000-lb. Capacity

Posted on 26 January 2015 by cradmin

Groves heavy duty bundle rackGroves Incorporated is now offering a new Heavy Duty Bundle Rack that was designed to safely store jumbo sized stone bundles weighing up to 9,000 lbs. between two posts, with a maximum weight of 4,500 lbs. per post. It is the largest and strongest bundle rack the company has ever sold. The outside rails are designed with slots to hold 2 x 4s, which protect the slab edges and the finish on the rails. Heavy-duty powder-coated rails 11-in. wide by 5-1/2-in. high by 90-in. long butt together for desired length. Outside rails have 2.5-in. square holes spaced 5 in. apart on the top. A steel plate with identical holes is welded and boxed inside the rails, 1 in. up from the bottom. 2-1/2-in. square tube posts are coated with a heavy-duty powder-coat finish. Rails shipped with 11-in. connector tube for butting rails together in a straight line. For safety, the bottom rails must be bolted to the floor and the 9,000-lb. capacity (4,500 lbs. per post) should not be exceeded.

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Native Trails Launches Line of Concrete Sinks

Posted on 23 January 2015 by cradmin

native trails concrete nativestone farmhouse sinkNative Trails has new concrete sinks made of a unique cement and jute fiber mixture called NativeStone™. The NativeStone line includes kitchen, bar/prep and lavatory sinks. According to the company, the sinks made impervious to staining by use of a cutting-edge nano sealer. Jute fiber, a renewable vegetable fiber, is integrated throughout the concrete, resulting in a material that is highly resistant to cracking. The sinks are most affordable kitchen and bath product line launched to date. The concrete sinks are reportedly 40 percent lighter than those made with more traditional cement mixtures, improving the ease of installation and expense to ship. “Concrete is an emerging home design trend that we see used far more often for countertops, floors, furniture and even home exteriors,” said Native Trails CEO and Founder Naomi Neilson Howard. “NativeStonemakes great use of concrete’s natural beauty and its natural color—gray—which is also a hot design trend right now.”

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Fabricator Profile: Stone Spirit, Inc.

Posted on 22 January 2015 by cradmin

shutterstock_49406986aThe business strategy developed by Val Raskin and Natella Jolia, owners of Stone Spirit, Inc. in Orlando, Fla., is nothing short of becoming the largest and best stone fabricator in their market. They weathered the recent recession, albeit with some difficulty, while many other big businesses and competitors in the area were forced to close shop. Once the economy began its upturn, Stone Spirit was one of the only fabricators around who could handle large jobs with limited timeframes, which worked to help the company improve its bottom line.

Stone Spirit was founded in 2003 on the principal that you do not have to sacrifice quality in order to increase volume. To help in this process, the company has heavily invested in the latest technology and worked closely with big box stores in and around Orlando. As part of this push, Stone Spirit now uses CNC machinery to process stone, a laser templating system, waterjet machines and digital data processing.

As a full-service business, the company prides itself on sticking with its customers from the start of a job to its finish, acting as a contractor, fabricator and installer. It also offers a range of products, including solid surface, quartz surfacing and natural stone.

Several years ago, Stone Spirit began the two-year process of earning accreditation from the Marble Institute of America (MIA). To qualify, the company had to invest in specialized equipment and contact OSHA to ensure they were in compliance with all safety and health standards. Among the equipment that was purchased was Proliner digital templating, the Slab Smith digital layout system, a GMM CNC saw, an Intermac CNC finisher and a Mechanica TE Experience polisher. When all of the prerequisites were met, Stone Spirit was the only company in Florida to be MIA accredited, and today, it remains among only a handful of others in the state.

Read more of this Fabricator here: Stone Spirit, Inc.

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LOTTARE Launches New Line of Granite Composite Sinks

Posted on 21 January 2015 by cradmin

Lottare Granite Composite SinkLOTTARE is bringing out a new ‘Granitali Collection’ line of granite composite Sinks in 2015. The kitchen sinks will, at first, feature three composite sink models: A classic single-basin sink, an equal-double sink and an offset sink. They will be offered in three colors, Black, Graphite and Chocolate. They are made from a “green material” that recycles granite and then uses it in a forming process to create the sinks. The choice of composite material makes them more durable, reports the company.

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How Cultured Marble Sinks and Vanities Are Made

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How Cultured Marble Sinks and Vanities Are Made

Posted on 20 January 2015 by cradmin

There is little doubt that we have all seen hundreds, if not thousands of cultured marble vanities in numerous settings. But, just how is this common and inexpensive product made? Well, this video, apparently an episode of “How It’s Made” from the Discovery Channel, is offered by ‘worldnews33‘ and shows the process of how cultured marble sinks and vanities are developed.

While I doubt most fabricators have any enthusiasm for pushing these lower-end products when tackling a bathroom project, it is worth knowing the process for their creation, if for no other reason than to be able to sell intelligently against them.

This video seems relatively straight-forward, but I know where are some more complex versions in which a variety of more colorful and intricate patterns are created and more eye-catching gel coats are used to take the look of these to the next level, but this will certainly paint you a basic picture.


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Karran Now Carries Overflows for Edge Vanity Bowls

Posted on 19 January 2015 by cradmin

karranAccording to Karran, because of customer demand, the company now offering overflows for its E-505, E-305 and E-303 Edge Series vanity bowls. The company has sourced a drain system that has an integrated overflow and that is available with a pop-up drain style and a grid style.

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TorZo Launches Surfacing Material Made from Recycled Denim

Posted on 16 January 2015 by cradmin

Torzo DenimTorZo Sustainable Surfaces launched a surfacing material – Denim – made from recycled denim fabric scraps. The denim board is infused with an acrylic resin and mounted to baltic birch plywood, resulting in a panel that is extremely hard and durable, reports the company. As with all TorZo products, Denim is NAUF, made in Oregon and can contribute to LEED certification in several categories. It can be used for vertical, horizontal and specialty applications in any market segment. And, it’s easily fabricated using standard woodworking tools and practices. Suitable performance and durability is achieved through the exclusive TorZo Surfaces infusion process, which provides resistance to abrasion and scratching. Standard lamination to a Baltic Birch plywood backer board gives the panel added dimensional strength. It is offered in two surface treatments: one is finished without filling surface voids, providing a more rustic, textured appearance, and the other is filled and sanded, which eliminates the majority of the surface voids (perfect for horizontal applications). It comes in 2-ft. x 4-ft. sizes and in 1/2-in. thickness (including the plywood backer board). One sheet weighs 37 lbs.

You might be interested in this related article on KRION Ecocycle solid surface.

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Solid Leadership Advice: 10 Ideas For Building Your Leadership Bench Strength & Improving Company Performance

Posted on 15 January 2015 by cradmin

by Gayle Lantz

Some companies have depended on the same leaders for years without developing new leaders. Other companies have attempted to develop leaders, but there is no strategic or integrated approach. Still other companies have unexpectedly lost leaders they were counting on.

Each year, about 25 percent of managers in typical Fortune 500 companies change jobs. Most spend an average of four years in a given position. High potential leaders in mid-senior ranks move more frequently: every two to three years.  While you probably aren’t involved in a Fortune 500 company, these statistics demonstrate why all companies must build solid leadership. Leaders must concentrate on developing their teams, getting the right people in the right jobs and producing results.

Job dissatisfaction is up. Some research indicates that one out of six people expects to quit a job in the next year. There are becoming more opportunities for people to seek “greener pastures.”  Good leadership can influence a person’s decision to remain with a company.

10 Ideas for Building Your Leadership Bench Strength

If your company wants to build leadership strength, here are my top 10 suggestions:

1. Transfer knowledge and experience from the top.
Companies can capture the wisdom from experienced leaders to aid in educating and developing future leaders.

2. Build relationships across generations.
Leadership skills, talents and values differ across generations. Dealing with these differences constructively strengthens the overall leadership of your organization.

3. Strengthen leadership peer relationships.
Often, organizations operate like a conglomeration of silos. It’s easy for leaders to feel isolated in their roles. Helping leaders learn from each other and strengthening interpersonal relationships build needed peer support and camaraderie.

4. Develop succession plans.

Companies shouldn’t wait until the need for a leader is obvious. Careful thought and planning in advance eases the transition.

5. Identify and nurture high-potential leaders.
Pay special attention to those employees possessing strong capabilities operating below the radar. They can be the most likely to leave.

6. Provide needed cross departmental learning and exposure.
With better knowledge of other departments and the organizational system as a whole, leaders can help your departments function more effectively.

7. Include more leaders in strategic planning
In my work with leaders across a broad based range of industries, I find one of their most common challenges is the need to think and act more strategically. Busy managers struggle to find the time to think about the issues they most want or care about.  Their focus is diffused. Fostering strategic thinking early in a leader’s career will serve him or her well in the future.

8. Provide mentoring or coaching support for new managers.
Along with a new title and pay raise, new managers should benefit by having stronger initial support through mentoring or coaching programs to help them get acclimated in their new roles.

9. Assess leadership talent.

There are a variety of assessments in the marketplace to help companies assess leadership skills, behaviors and values. These tools give leaders insights to help them increase their effectiveness.

10. Open Dialogue
One of the greatest benefits to any organization is the opportunity to invite conversation about leadership across all levels. Start by asking questions like these:

• What does your company value most about its leadership?
• What improvement would you like to see?
• What is your company’s philosophy about leadership?
• What would outstanding leadership enable your company to do better?
• What leadership skills are critical for success?
• What is the impact of your company’s leadership on your employees? Your organization? Your market? The community?

As you address these kinds of questions, make a commitment to raise the bar on the level of leadership that exists in your organization. Build your bench strength, but do not let leaders sit too long. They are anxious to lead.

About the Author
Gayle Lantz is an organizational development consultant, executive coach and Founder of WorkMatters®. Clients include organizations such as NASA, Southern Company and Compass Bank. Reprinted from “WorkMatters Tips,” a free ezine produced by Gayle Lantz featuring tips for leaders and executives who want to grow themselves, their team and their business. Subscribe at

Copyright© 2015, Gayle Lantz. All right reserved. For information contact FrogPond at email [email protected]

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