Archive | May, 2015

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Federal Brace Partners with Lowe’s

Posted on 27 May 2015 by cradmin

federal braceFederal Brace has partnered with Lowe’s Companies, Inc. home improvement stores to offer its selection of countertop supports on Lowe’s online database. Lowe’s currently provides on its website a number of brackets from the Federal Brace ‘Designer Countertop Bracket’ line, ‘Hidden Countertop Support’ line, ‘Floating Countertop Support’ line and ‘Countertop Posts Support’ line. Each bracket comes in a variety of sizes and finishes.

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Fabricator Profile: Sticks and Stones Fabricating Delivers Quality First

Posted on 26 May 2015 by cradmin

slide1Sticks and Stones Fabricating, located in St. Stephen, New Brunswick, is respected among areas residents and peers for its expertise in countertop fabrication and installation and for its quality work. Andrew Ludwig, general manager of the company, understands that he and his employees know how to deal with deck seams better than anyone else, but part of their expertise is understanding the need to minimize seams as much as possible.

Sticks and Stones Fabricating was established in 2007 on the principle of creating and installing products of the highest quality, and Ludwig acknowledges that this principle is responsible for the company’s success and rapid growth. Another contributing factor was the vast amount of knowledge, skill and experience held by Tom McFarlane, the founder of the business.

McFarlane worked in the family monument business growing up, and he used that experience to found Sticks and Stones in Bermuda, which provides natural and engineered stone products for the high-end market there. After several years of success, McFarlane returned to St. Stephen to open this new company, targeting dealers in the residential market.

Ludwig explains that Sticks and Stones sells its customers on three primary factors: quality, service and value. He is able to provide outstanding customer service with a fully automated shop, and while they are not the cheapest game in town, he feels the company delivers “the most value per dollar spent.”

Read more of this Fabricator Profile here: Sticks and Stones Fabricating

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MS International Launches 7 New Quartz Surfacing Colors

Posted on 22 May 2015 by cradmin

MSI Carrara Grigio Marble Looks Quartz SurfacingMS International (MSI) added seven new colors to its ‘Q’ line of quartz surfacing. The new colors are reminiscent of natural stone, such as marble and limestone. Carrara Grigio (pictured here) was added to the company’s new Marble Looks Collection and resembles Carrara marble. Montclair White, Pearl Gray and Romano White were added to the Natural Looks Collection and feature large amounts of movement and veining. Lastly, Fossil Brown, Fossil Gray and Fossil Taupe are three colors that were added to the Limestone Looks Collection. All three of these colors have subtle variations in a mid-tone color range.

You may also be interested in this article on Caesarstone’s new quartz surfacing colors.

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WEHA Offers Redesigned Achilli Track Rail Saw System

Posted on 21 May 2015 by cradmin

WEHA Achilli Track Rail Saw SystemWEHA now offers the redesigned Achilli TSA 3 HP Portable Track Rail Saw System for granite, marble, quartz surfacing/engineered stone, quartzite and all other natural stones. Designed for cutting one or two granite or stone countertops per day, the saw is made using the same heavy duty 3 HP motor as the large Achilli ANR Saws. These motors offer a strong torque output, allowing cutting up to 4cm granite. The Track Rail Beam System isn’t a tw0-beam track, but rather uses the same 1/8-in.-thick galvanized steel beam and bearing system that Achilli uses on its full bridge saws. The saw will not deflect, twist, cut out of line during the full length of cut, reports the company. The blade housing that accepts a full 14-in. blade with up to an 18mm height segment. It also offers dual water ports for continuous water on the blade. The saw is suitable for hard surface countertop laminations, and has a full depth adjustment knob that allows plug cuts anywhere needed. If cutting extremely hard material and step cutting is required, it is easy to control the depth of cut during each pass, according to the company. With full rubber lining the length of the rails, once the rail has been placed in the exact spot you want, the rail and saw will not slip or slide out of place during the cut.

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Caesarstone To Open First U.S. Quartz Surfacing Plant in May

Posted on 20 May 2015 by cradmin

Caesarstone is opening its new manufacturing plant in Richmond Hill, Ga., at a ceremony on May 27, 2015. This new state-of-the-art factory is the third production facility for the company, and the first site located in the United States.The location in Richmond Hill was selected for numerous reasons, including the proximity to the Savannah, Ga., port and the support that Caesarstone received from the state, the county and the city. This plant is expected to create approximately 200 new jobs. “We are thrilled to open our first factory in the United States,” said CEO Yos Shiran. “This is an important milestone for us and we look forward to working with the local community to better serve our customers in the United States and offer products also made in the United States.”

In Fall 2015, Caesarstone will unveil the new Experience Center that will be open to the public, next to its plant at Richmond Hill, designed by renowned interior designer Stephanie Goto from New York.

You may also be interested in this article on the opening of a Cosentino Center in Toronto.

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Ten Principles of Motivation

Posted on 19 May 2015 by cradmin

by Nido R. Qubein

One of the questions I hear most often from executives and managers is the following: How do I motivate my employees to do the things I want them to do?

The answer is – You don’t!

We can’t motivate people. They are already motivated. But we can determine what motivates them and use this knowledge to channel their energies toward our company goals.

From my 20 years of helping executives solve their people challenges, I’ve learned a few basic principles about motivation. Let me share them with you:

All People Are Motivated

Some people are like water in a faucet. They have the motivation; all you have to provide is the opportunity. The water is already motivated to flow. But it doesn’t have the opportunity until you open the tap.

Others are like mountain streams, which flow swiftly but follow their own channels. People, too, may move energetically but toward their own goals. We in management should make it worth their while to channel their motivations toward the results we are seeking.

People Do Things for Their Reasons Not for Yours or Mine

We in management have to show employees what’s in it for them when they follow behaviors that benefit the company. We can show them by using rewards and recognition, appealing to their sense of pride and achievement.

People Change Because of Pain

When the pain of staying the same becomes greater than the pain of changing, people will change. For example, Americans didn’t start buying smaller, fuel-efficient automobiles until the pain of high gasoline prices became greater than the pain of switching to less roomy and less powerful cars.

The Key to Effective Communication Is Identification

When something becomes personal, it becomes important. When our clients or our employees begin to identify with who we are and what we are, good things begin to happen. Large corporations have discovered that.

Prudential, for example, knows that its customers want to buy security. So it doesn’t just sell insurance, it markets peace of mind by inviting all of us to buy “a piece of the rock.”

Kodak didn’t sell cameras, it invited its customers to “trust your memories to Kodak.”

AT&T doesn’t tell us to make long-distance calls. It asks us to “reach out and touch someone.”

In dealing with employees, it isn’t enough to appeal to them on the basis of loyalty to the company. They need personal reasons for showing this loyalty.

Whether we’re instituting a new educational program or undergoing a total restructuring, we can get our employees on board more readily if we show them how the change will affect them for the better.

When my company sets out to lead businesses in developing their human-relations skills, we don’t tell them what we’re going to do for the company. We talk about what we’re going to do for the individual. For example, in the introduction to one of our manuals, we tell supervisors the following:

“We’ve designed this complete educational system to help YOU master the skills of supervisory management and enjoy the rewards of leadership and career enhancement.

From management’s standpoint, the training was designed to increase the effectiveness of the organization. That’s what sold the company on the program. But from the employee’s standpoint, it was to upgrade the skills of the individual. That’s what sold the employees on the program.

The Best Way to Get People to Pay Attention to You Is to Pay Attention to Them

That means listening to others and not just hearing them. Listening is active; hearing is passive. If you listen to individuals long enough, they’ll tell you what their concerns and problems are.

It’s very important that executives listen to their staff and associates. We need to take the time to get to know them, not just by name but also by their interests and aspirations.

We should try not to come across as interrogators but ask them friendly questions about how they are, what they did over the weekend and what they’re doing on vacation. Then listen. It’s amazing what you’ll learn.

Pride Is a Powerful Motivator

Everybody is proud of something. If we find out what makes our people proud, we can use that insight to channel their motivation. Pride is tied closely to self-esteem. My friend, Robert W. Darvin, has founded several successful companies, including Scandinavian Design, Inc., and has often used our consulting services and invited me to speak to his people. His observations on self-esteem are worth repeating:

“There’s only one thing that counts in a business: building the self-esteem of your employees. Nothing else matters because what they feel about themselves is what they give to your customers. If an employee comes to work not liking his job, not feeling good about himself, you can be sure that your customers will go away not liking or feeling good about your company.

You Can’t Change People; You Can Only Change Their Behaviors

To change behavior, you must change feelings and beliefs. This requires more than training. It requires education. When you train people, you just try to teach them a task; when you educate people, you deal with them at a deeper level relative to behavior, feelings and beliefs.

The Employee’s Perception Becomes the Executive’s Reality

This is a very important point. When we speak to employees, they don’t respond to what we say, they respond to what they understand us to say. When employees observe our behavior, they respond to what they perceive us doing and will try to emulate us.

Suppose you send an employee to a developmental workshop or seminar and she comes back brimming with new ideas and information. But you haven’t been exposed to all this stimulating stuff, so your behavior doesn’t change. The employee realizes this and concludes that the behavior she observes in you is the behavior you want. This may not be the case at all. You may want the employee to implement all these new ideas, but your employee’s perception is the reality you get.

You Consistently Get the Behaviors You Consistently Expect and Reinforce

We should look for ways to reward employees for doing the things we want them to do. The reward may take the form of financial incentives, prizes or simply public recognition of a job well done. Reinforcement can be positive or negative, as my roundtable partner, Ken Blanchard, has taught us all. If employees learn that a certain type of behavior results in lower earnings, less favorable hours or less desirable territories, they’ll adjust their behavioral patterns.

We All Judge Ourselves by Our Motives, but We Judge Others by Their Actions

Put another way, we’re inclined to excuse in ourselves behavior that we find unacceptable in others. When our employees are late for work, it’s because they’re irresponsible and have no interest in their jobs. When we’re late for work, it’s because we were attending to necessary details that had to be taken care of.

When employees engage in undesirable behavior, we shouldn’t try to assess motives or change them. Just deal with the behavior. We can’t change the motives of our employees, but through positive or negative reinforcement, you can affect their actions.

Follow these principles and you’ll find yourself surrounded by motivated employees who are channeling their energies toward your goals – goals in which they have personal stakes.

About the Author

Nido Qubein is chairman of an international management consulting firm that serves clients across the United States and in a dozen other countries. He is a partner in several companies and serves on the boards of 17 universities, companies and community organizations, including a Fortune 500 company with $56 billion in assets and the Bryan School of Business. He has written many books and recorded scores of audio and video programs, which are translated in several languages.

Copyright ©2015, Nido R. Qubein. All rights reserved. For information, contact FrogPond at email [email protected].

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Understanding Glass Fiber Reinforced Concrete (GFRC) for Countertops

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Understanding Glass Fiber Reinforced Concrete (GFRC) for Countertops

Posted on 18 May 2015 by cradmin

This video is really a sort of online seminar presented by the Concrete Countertop Institute(CCI), designed t0 teach how polymer really works, what fibers actually do and the meaning and importance of flexural strength in glass fiber reinforced concrete (GFRC) countertops. The video is basically a PowerPoint Presentation, narrated by CCI founder Jeff Gerard, which covers quite a bit of information.

Of course it is a bit self-promotional at the end where it discusses training programs offered by the CCI, but overall there is a lot of interesting and useful information for those working in the concrete countertop segment of the industry.

You might also be interested in this Trinic video on post tensioned GFRC for longer concrete countertop spans by Mark Celebuski.

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Freedonia Group Research Firm Puts Out ‘World Countertops’ Report

Posted on 15 May 2015 by cradmin

The Freedonia Group, a research firm, has released a new report titled “World Countertops.” The 430-page research compilation predicts global countertop demand will rise 4.2 percent per year to more than 5.4 billion sq. ft. in 2018. According to the release, the increase is attributed to improved building construction activity throughout the world and modernization of developing areas that are constructing numerous structures, both housing units and nonresidential, to accommodate the needs of growing populations. The report also states that in 2013 solid surface accounted for more than 40 percent of countertop demand in China, and the Asia/Pacific region accounted for 47 percent of world demand, the largest market for countertops that same year. This trend is expected through 2018. It also lays claim that while laminate made up almost half of all countertop surfaces in the United States in 2013, only 2 percent of countertops were laminate in China.

Regarding North America, the report states that it was the second largest countertop market and that gains will continue because of continued recovery in U.S. building construction and growth in single-family housing completions.

Western Europe is also expected to benefit from rebounds in new housing construction turning around the declines experienced from 2008 to 2013.

You may also be interested in this countertops industry forecast put out by ISFA.

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Tags: , , , Introduces Health and Safety Watch

Posted on 14 May 2015 by cradmin

a-frame slabsAs many of you know, last March we created and opened a new Countertop Industry Survey, and it has quickly grown to be one of the largest surveys of its kind for the countertop fabrication industry. We hope to learn a number of important facts about our audience and the information you need to make your business the best it can be. The survey doesn’t officially close until tomorrow, but we are already listening to what you have to say and implementing your ideas as they roll in. If you haven’t taken the survey yet, you can do so by clicking here: 2015 Countertop Industry Survey.

One common recommendation that we have received thus far is to bring you more information about health and safety in the workplace. To this end, I have personally been hard at work making new contacts interested in writing professional pieces on the topic, and I have been in contact with the media representatives of Oregon OSHA for further information on accidents and compliance requirements.

While researching health and safety topics, I was alerted about an accident that occurred here in Portland at a large fabrication shop, which will remain nameless in order to protect the company and those involved. According to my sources, several slabs fell on a warehouse worker during transport, causing serious injuries to the employee’s leg and ankle. While this particular accident was minor, it could’ve been much more serious.

From 1984 to 2006, a total of 46 fatalities have occurred in the United States associated with the handling and storage of stone slabs. Three of them, which were associated with slab racking systems, occurred in New England states during an 18-month period.

shib081208_fig2Following are just a few examples:

During the course of business, it can be easy to get caught up in production and demanding schedules, and we may forget about the safety of our employees and others who may be in our warehouses or fabrication shops. It only takes a split second and one overlooked safety procedure for an accident to occur, resulting in serious injuries or even death.

Looking at this issue from a humanitarian point of view, it is impossible to replace a human life, and looking at it from a business standpoint, some companies never recover from the monetary losses, insurance expenses, lawsuits and the social stigma that result from such incidents.

In order to provide a starting point for stone and countertop fabricators, federal OSHA released an official Safety and Health Information Bulletin (SHIB) shib081208_fig6regarding the Hazards of Transporting, Unloading, Storing and Handling Granite, Marble and Stone Slabs in 2008. The information in the bulletin is neither a standard nor a regulation but simply a piece of advice “intended to assist employers in providing a safe and healthful workplace.”

According to this SHIB, safety issues occur at four key points for fabricators:

  • Unloading slabs from containers – Employees have been killed when removing wooden supports provided by suppliers to keep slabs from shifting within a container.
  • Storing slabs in a warehouse – Improperly designed or improperly used storage racks, particularly A-frame racks, present a serious danger.
  • Handling and moving slabs – Slabs are often moved using dangerous equipment, including hooks, chains, cranes and industrial trucks.
  • Loading slabs onto trucks – Employees loading slabs onto trucks are exposed to several hazards, such as being caught, struck or crushed.

The SHIB also goes on to provide several general recommendations plus specific recommendations for the storage and in-house transport of stone slabs. A few of the important general recommendations are as follows:

  • Create a safety plan, identifying all potential hazards, hazardous equipment and safe work practices.
  • Develop and implement safety procedures for loading, unloading, storing and handling slabs.
  • Ensure that workers are using the proper equipment for each job.
  • Inspect all material-handling equipment on a regular basis, and repair or replace defective equipment.
  • Train all employees on the proper safety procedures.
  • Observe employees to ensure they are following your safety procedures.

For further recommendations on safe slab handling and creating a safe workplace, you have several options available. Oregon OSHA and many other state OSHA offices offer free, confidential consultation services for small and mid-sized businesses. I have been personally assured by my state’s OSHA representatives that the consultation department is in no way tied to enforcement, and no citations or penalties will be imposed for violations discovered during the course of a consultation.

In addition, you may take advantage of the resources provided by trade associations, such as the Marble Institute of America. Finally, numerous private consulting firms are available near you that will provide consultation and training focused on OSHA compliance and insurance management for a fee. Be on the lookout for a new Health and Safety Watch article right here at next month in addition to all of our regular monthly information on the latest news in the world of countertop fabrication.

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Chemical Concepts Launches Line of Self-Anchoring Threaded Inserts

Posted on 13 May 2015 by cradmin

Chemical Concepts Keep Nut FastenerChemical Concepts launched a new line of self-anchoring threaded inserts in the form of the Keep-Nut fastening system. According to the company, it is designed to reduce the time and effort put into ensuring a strong and reliable bond and has the capacity to withstand up to 300 KG of pressure. The fastener features quick assembly without the need for adhesives, as well as ease of use with CNC machines and standard tools. Assembly requires no external pieces, or any tensile force on the receiving material when the insert isn’t being pulled out. The application process involves three basic steps: preparing the hole in the material, insuring the correct dimensions with a gauge and installing the Keep-Nut with simple pressure. It is suitable for use on a variety of applications, such as undermount sinks and countertops, stone surfaces and glass, ventilated facades, wall-coverings, etc. It is made of stainless steel and comes with a set of elastic crowns and a plastic ring for housing the complete assembly. Free samples are available from the company for a limited time.

You may also be interested in this article on the Cinclips undermount support system.

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