Archive | January, 2016

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StoneTalk Episode 18: Steven Blakely

Posted on 27 January 2016 by cradmin

Listen here to Episode 18 of Moraware’s StoneTalk podcast where host Patrick Foley interviews homeowner Steven Blakely about his experience buying new countertops as part of an overall kitchen remodel.

In this episode, you will learn all of the following:

  • How the language used by customers differs from that of fabricators
  • What a customer needs to hear to believe the countertop installation is successful alone and as part of a larger remodel
  • Why communication is so important
  • How customers may think about the process of selecting slabs

A full transcript of this episode of StoneTalk can be read at the Moraware website.

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Outwater Plastics Introduces Brite-Lite Backlighting System for Translucent Surfaces

Posted on 26 January 2016 by cradmin

Outwater Brite LiteOutwater Plastics’ introduced the self-adheringvBrite-Lite Sheet, a  backing sheet that affixes to translucent countertop surfaces. When used with the company’s L-Task-149 Aluminum Channel and LED Ribbon Strip Lighting it diffuses light for consistent backlighting without any installation space required in between the system and the piece to be backlit. It can also be cut to any size or shape; removed and re-positioned as needed; and is available in 4- by 100-ft. rolls or in 4-ft.-sq. sections.

You may also be interested in this article on Tylerco’s countertop backlighting products.

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MIA+BSI Announces 2016 Safety Initiative

Posted on 25 January 2016 by cradmin

Funding for these projects was provided by the MIA+BSI 2016 Safety Committee.

Funding for these projects was provided by the MIA+BSI 2016 Safety Committee.

Although we had originally planned to bring you Part 5 of our six-part series on Effective Safety Planning for this month’s Health & Safety Watch, we thought it would be prudent to share the January announcement from the newly partnered Marble Institute of America and Building Stone Institute (MIA+BSI), together known as the Natural Stone Institute.

As part of its commitment to renew a focus on safety in 2016, MIA+BSI has prepared the first phase of its 2016 Safety Initiative, which includes all of the following:

  1. Release of a new safety poster set – In the first week of 2016, a set of seven safety posters was mailed to all MIA+BSI member fabricators, installers, quarriers and stone distributors in North America. Additional sets are available for purchase here:
  1. Free OSHA On-Site Consultation Program webinar – A free webinar is scheduled for Tuesday, January 26 from 12:00 p.m. – 12:30 p.m. EST, featuring Scott McNulty, Industrial Safety Consultant for the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation and OSHA. This webinar will help participants understand OSHA’s On-Site Consultation Program, which offers free and confidential safety and occupational health advice to small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) across the United States. Go here to register:
  1. Release of new safety video – Production is underway for a new safety video: Natural Stone Installation: Best Practices for Safety and Success. This video will build on the vast library of available training videos and will focus on eight key areas of commercial and residential installation safety, including PPE requirements, best practices for material loading and unloading and large-scale commercial installations. Natural Stone Installation: Best Practices for Safety and Success will be available at no charge to members as part of MIA+BSI’s Online University. Hard copy DVDs will be made available for purchase from the bookstore.
  1. Increased emphasis on quarrier and producer safety – MIA+BSI, along with the National Building Granite Quarries Association, is assembling information to expand safety resources for quarry-worker safety. Resources are being developed that will be helpful for both new and existing employees.

“One way to demonstrate the strength of MIA+BSI is through an increased emphasis on safety,” said David Castellucci, 2016 MIA Board President. “By creating a library of educational resources and adhering to the highest standards across the board, we not only protect all of our members, but we keep our reputation high.”

Aaron Hicken, 2016 BSI Board President Elect, agreed, stating, “It is time to put safety and compliance at the forefront of the entire natural stone industry to ensure the success of our operations and, above all, the welfare of our workforce.”

Stay tuned for next month’s Health & Safety Watch when we get back to Effective Safety Planning with Part 5: Training for Employees, Supervisors and Managers.

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BLANCO Wins PIA Award for ONE Collection

Posted on 22 January 2016 by cradmin

Blanco ONE sinkGerman sink and faucet manufacturer BLANCO has won the Architectural Products 2015 Product Innovation Award (PIA) for its ONE sink collection. The collection consists of three sinks and five accessory kits, all featuring the brand’s satin polished finish. Three sizes of bowls and a range of accessories allow the user to customize the sink for their individual needs.
PIA Awards are given to manufacturers of architectural related products that have displayed innovation and leadership. A group of 35 independent industry professionals judge the awards.

You may also be interested in this article on Gemstone’s sink additions.

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Four New Stone Sealers Announced from Wood & Stone Company

Posted on 21 January 2016 by cradmin

wood and stone sealerWood & Stone Company has developed four new stone sealers. Stone Lock Penetrating Stone Sealer and Ultra Premium Sealer were designed as an economical solution for marble and granite stones, and will not change the color of the stone, reports the company. StonEdge Stone Sealer will give a permanent “wet” appearance to the stone and increase luster. Premium Color Enhancing Sealer will enhance colors of stones and provide stain protection. The sealers are designed for natural stones such as granite, marble and limestone, as well as concrete and quartz.


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Livingstone Hires Commercial Sales Representative, Opens Distribution Hub

Posted on 20 January 2016 by cradmin

U.S. Surface Warehouse appointed Abigail Landman as the company’s Commercial Sales Representative for Southern California. In her role Landman will be responsible for all commercial sales activities and commercial specifications in the area, working with fabricators, millworks and design professionals, as well as other interested parties. She brings more than 10 years of experience in the surfacing industry. In addition, the company opened a new distribution hub for Livingstone Solid Surface in Cerritos, Calif. that services from Fresno to San Diego, as well as Las Vegas and the entire state of Arizona. In addition to stocking all 46 “SmartPalette” colors, this 30,000-sq.-ft. facility houses solid surface and stainless steel sinks and all matching Seam-It adhesives.

You may also be interested in this article on Formica’s four new distributors.

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NBMDA Announces 2016 Board of Directors

Posted on 19 January 2016 by cradmin

The North American Building Material Distribution Association (NBMDA) announced its board of directors for 2016. It includes:

Officers: 2016 NBMDA President Bill Sauter, OHARCO, Omaha, Neb.; President-Elect Ray Prozzillo, A&M Supply, Pinellas Park, Fla.; Vice President Michael Donnelly, Metro Hardwoods, Sioux Falls, S.D.; Treasurer Wayne Moriarty, Atlantic Plywood, Woburn, Mass.; Immediate Past President Rick Turk, Metro Hardwoods, Maple Grove, Minn.

Distributor directors: Missy O’Daniel, Web-Don Inc., Charlotte, N.C.; Don Lorey E.B. Bradley, Los Angeles, Calif.; Jamie Barnes, McKillican International, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada; Jon Minnaert, Aetna Plywood, Rockford, Ill.; Bill Stokke, Holdahl Co., Plymouth, Minn.

Manufacturer / Service Provider directors: Mike Purtell, M.L. Campbell; Jim Houser, Majure Data; Tim Atkinson, Wilsonart LLC; Matthias Bulla, Grass America; Jim Jacquemard, C.A. Technologies; and Todd Vogelsinger, Columbia Forest Products.

You may also be interested in this article on The National Tile Contractors Association.

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Updates From Design & Construction Week

Posted on 18 January 2016 by cradmin

dcw-logo (1)Design & Construction Week is only one day away, and 2016 marks the second year we will be attending the Kitchen & Bath Industry Show (KBIS), the International Builders Show (IBS) and The International Surface Event (TISE).

We will start the event early Tuesday at the Las Vegas Convention Center, leaving the day primarily for KBIS while Wednesday will be back and forth between KBIS, IBS and TISE. Then, on Thursday, we spend the entire day at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center to meet with some of our favorite suppliers and equipment manufacturers at TISE.

This year, I will personally be keeping you updated on each day’s events, giving all of you who can’t be there a sneak peek at some of the latest products in countertops and countertop fabrication. I will also be attending several presentations, such as Green Homebuyers, Green Home Trends and Water Conservation on Tuesday, Best of KBIS Awards on Wednesday and Affordable Sustainability hosted by Ed Begley, Jr. on Thursday.

Stay tuned at the end of each day for a new update on all the latest from KBIS, IBS and TISE.

DSC_1989Tuesday, January 19 – KBIS

Although we didn’t make the opening ceremony fetauring Jay Leno, the day started early enough with a visit to Wilsonart, checking out all of the new and exciting products they have to offer this year. Wilsonart’s theme, Explore New Surfaces, is not entirely about new surfaces, but new combinations, such as mixing their new quartz countertops with wood or stone-inspired laminate backsplashes and vertical surfacing, as can be seen in the photo below.

From there we explored the always-lavish Kohler booth, and the introduction of their new kitchen sinks and faucests, which included a single-basin sink made of ultrapolished steel designed by Kelly Wearstler under the DSC_1991Ann Sacks brand.

Directly afterward, we set out to speak with Tim Blair, president of Native Trails, who gave me a personal tour of their new sustainably manufactured sinks that incorporate jute fibers into a concrete base.

Next, we said hello to Cathy Morgan and the folks at Federal Brace, who have developed some of the most innovative countertop supports and brackets on the market today.

After Federal Brace, it was time to visit the presentation on Green Home Trends, where we learned some important information for our sister website Be on the lookout over there for further details on what the future has in store for sustainable homes.

DSC_2018One of the most impressive new designs at the show this year came from Silestone by Cosentino. Their new Silestone Plus quartz surfacing repels liquids and provides “enhanced color” and “increased luster,” and I was personally impressed and intrigued by the process witnessed in the demonstration.


Wednesday, January 20 – IBS

Wednesday was not as fast-paced as Tuesday was, but we still managed to meet up with DSC_2081several of our favorite suppliers, mostly at IBS, but as scheduling would have it, there was a enough back and forth between the North and South Halls to put in another 15-mile day.

Our first stop was a visit to our friends at IceStone to say hi and check out the latest additions to the company’s line of recycled glass surfacing, and from there, we went straight to the eye-catching displays offered by Italian stone dealer Antolini. Antolini displayed several unique pieces, including a few filled with amazing fossils, the most impressive of which was Jurassic Brown “Extra” Polished Finish. The company’s floor-to-ceiling natural stone design was equally as impressive.

DSC_2062After Antolini, it was time to catch the first and only presentation of the day back at the KBISNEXT Stage. This presentation was about indoor air quality and provided some interesting material for our readers at

Despite the company’s recent troubles and our detailed reporting of its stock collapse, we had a fantastic meeting with Caesarstone, and it looks like things are finally picking up. It was great to see everyone in such a positive light, ready to put the past behind them. This year, Caesarstone has been focusing on lights and whites. Among the notable new colors we saw were Statuario Nuvo, Calacatta Nuvo, Vivid White and Statuario Maximus Honed.

DSC_2075Our last stop on the show floor for the day was one of the best we had at the show this year. Neolith/TheSize had several new designs of its sintered compact surfacing, many of which were based on solid earth tones, natural wood and marble. These slabs are available in several formats, sizes and thicknesses for use as DSC_2078countertops and vertical surfaces. We watched a quick display of how these surfaces can be used as stovetops and how they resist heat and open flames.

After Neolith, we took the shuttle over for our first look at TISE where we met with a few dealers of eco-friendly flooring products and fellow media personnel. We also had a talk with our friends at the Marble Institute of America who were celebrating their partnership with the Building Stone Institue (BSI).

Shortly after our meeting, we all headed down to the banquet hall for the MIA+BSI happy hour with stoneworkers, stonebuilders and stone dealers from around the country. At the happy hour, I had a few great conversations with Kevin Cole and Paul Wisnefski of ISFA,  and then I met Ted Pitts and Harry Hollander, founders of one of our closest supporters: Morware. This year, Harry and Ted brought their entire crew, including Patrick Foley, host of the StoneTalk podcast, Jason Pliml in marketing and Kathleen Teodoro in support.

Thursday, January 21 – TISE

Thursday was our last day in Las Vegas, and we were more than happy to spend it at TISE with some of our favorite equipment dealers from years past and a couple of new ones. We were thrilled from the get go because we ran across a new safety product called CarryMate, a device that provides handles for lifting and carrying slabs with a reduced risk of back injury.

After discussing CarryMate, we had a talk with Laser Products Industries about its templating system and then the vacuum-lifting equipment from Wood’s Powr-Grip. At that point, the presentation from CMS Brembana caught my eye. This international company DSC_2085was one of the first to manufacture a CNC machining center for stone working in the 1980s.

From there, we strolled across the aisle to see the good people at Lackmond, and I had a very enlightening discussion with Ted Skaff, Vice-President of Marketing. Lackmond has been manufacturing diamond stone-cutting tools for more than two decades, and its products have evolved over time to meet the needs of the industry.

After talking with Lackmond, we met with Chemical Concepts, who was primarily promoting its CounterBalance countertop support brackets and Chem-Set line of adhesives and fasteners.

We had a busy morning on the floor, so we took advantage of the Press Room Luncheon before heading back out to meet with our friend Stephanie Kadlec of Park Industries. Park Industries had several of their state-of-the-art machines on display, including the Fusion CNC Saw/Waterjet DSC_2082and the Saber 5-Axis CNC Saw.

Next on our schedule was BACA Systems, an old friend and sponser. Marketing Manager Debbie Gettings said the company has had an extremely busy year, but as always, everyone was happy to take time out of their regular workdays for the show, promoting its Robo SawJet. The Robo SawJet is an impressive piece of machinery, and the company says it can save fabricators 20 percent on material and 70 percent on labor.

After meeting with BACA, we headed over to one of the most hyped presentations of the week: Affordable Sustainability hosted by Ed Begley, Jr. and sponsored by Bostik, who has an eco-friendly adhesive that is said to be one of the best in the industry.

DSC_2087Finally, our last meeting was with Craid Horsley at Daltile, who has a wide range of countertop options available for fabricators, including granite, One Quartz Surfaces, natural quartzite, marble, limestone and travertine.

Of course, we met with a lot of other companies – far too many to name – and learned more than we could ever share. Thanks to everyone who took time to speak with us and share industry knowledge. We wish we could mention you all (and we will try to get all of the great info up on the site eventually). Even though the show consisted of long days with 10 to 15 miles of walking on each, all-in-all, we had a great time being there and presenting you with a lot that is new for 2016. Stay tuned in the coming months for further product news gathered from Design & Construction Week.

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Tags: , , , Introduces Line of ‘Sand-it’ Sanding Discs

Posted on 15 January 2016 by cradmin

Gluewarehouse sanding now offers its line of Sand-it Sanding Discs. According to the company, the discs are made with high-quality, resin-bonded aluminum oxide backed by a strong latex coated paper suitable for dry sanding applications. The discs are precision cut for a uniform finish, and utilize a special clog-resistant and flex technology to improve the discs life and consistency and make them suitable for contoured surfaces, reports the supplier. They come in 5-in. sticky back or 6-in. hook and loop back in various grits, ranging from 80 to 800. According to the manufacturer, they go through rigorous quality control procedures to ensure optimal performance.

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15 Rules for Effective Teams

Posted on 14 January 2016 by cradmin

By Eileen O. Brownell

“If you think it doesn’t pay to stick together, consider the banana.  As soon as it leaves the bunch it gets skinned!” – Savage: Life Lessons

The first railroad in America was created in 1829. It served as the number-one mode of mass transportation of people and goods for well over 100 years. Trains were efficient. They could move large quantities of materials and products faster and cheaper than wagons, horses or, ultimately, trucks. Many pioneers moved west via the train rather than chancing the hazardous wagons. Trains provided excitement for travelers with the ever-changing scenery and the possibility of bandits.

Railroads created jobs. Not only was there staff on the train, there were also switchmen, freight loaders, maintenance workers, stationmasters and clerical staff. All helped keep the trains running. Even though their jobs did not require them to ride on the trains, they supported the main function of the railroad.

Back in the 1800s, they never heard of teamwork. Staff came to work, did what they were ordered to do and worked long hours, usually six days a week. Decisions were made by supervisors, and nobody ever questioned the choices they made. To do so might mean instant dismissal.

Our work life will continue to speed forward into the future at a fast, never-ending pace. The creation of new technology has made some jobs easier by providing us with quicker ways to perform tasks, computerizing some jobs and providing us with more information than we ever conceived possible.

It is important that we take the time to examine effective teams and their characteristics. It will be through teams that we will continue to accomplish our major work tasks as people become more specialized and technology increases at a steady pace. We can no longer operate like the railroad companies once did, where everything was done manually.

The commonsense railroad rules that were solid and sound in the 1800s and early 1900s are worth reexamining in the context of how they affect teams today.

  1. Know your destination. There are numerous places for a train to head. Where the train will ultimately end its trip is established before the engine even revs up. Every successful team must establish its goals and objectives before they can begin to provide valuable services to the internal or external customer. An effective team has a clear purpose that includes a vision, a mission, goals and objectives. Everyone on the team is clear about where he or she is going.
  1. Turn a moving train slowly. Once a train has established its destination, it gathers momentum. To change directions abruptly without discussion and consensus can be disastrous. If it becomes necessary to alter your course after your team has already begun to create its vision, it is important that everyone be a part of the discussion process. Not everyone may agree with the final outcome. The turn, however, will be easier if everyone has the opportunity to be a part of the decision process.
  1. Successful trains stay on track. If the train jumps the track, a disaster will surely occur. Teams stay together by moving in the same direction. Once the goals and objectives are established, everyone goes about doing their individual tasks to help the train get to its ultimate destination. If it leaves the track, however, it will never arrive. If the train needs to make a detour, there are clear signs that indicate the changes that need to be made so no abrupt turns can force the train from its ultimate focus.
  1. When catching a moving train, get up to speed quickly. When you join a team already in existence, don’t stop, don’t slow down. You have a lot of catching up to do. You did not begin the trip with the team. They formed, established a destination, decided the best route to take, made assignments and established the time schedule. Your task is to get up to speed as quickly as you can without creating havoc and delaying the trip. The team can assist you in that process by providing you with a complete overview of the projects they are working on. Establish if you have the necessary experience to complete the task of the individual you are replacing. If not, then it must be determined how best to train you for the tasks ahead. Finally, they must make sure you are also involved in all future discussions.
  1. Stop when the wheels lock up. Everyone on the team must be encouraged to participate in the team process. When one or more people withhold information, refuse to be part of the discussion or fail to complete their assignments, it is a sure sign of trouble. Just as the locked wheel will hold the train back – if no one on the team is participating in the process, the team will be slow to complete its vision.
  1. Listen for a change in the rhythm. If you have ever ridden a train, you know the sound of the wheels riding the rails. There is a certain rhythm that occurs. You know instinctively when there is a change in the speed of the train or a problem. Members of a team use effective techniques to listen for the changes in the attitude of team members. To clarify someone’s input, it is important that members paraphrase, question and summarize to make sure they have received the message as intended.
  1. Keep everyone on board when the train is moving. Team members must feel free to express their opinions and feelings. They must not feel that if they provide input or make suggestions, they will be thrown from a moving train, a painful experience indeed. The effective team has no hidden agendas. Members feel comfortable communicating during and outside of meetings. Team members must not be afraid to voice their opinion for fear of retaliation.
  1. Work assignments and roles are clear. The conductor would not think of driving the train nor would the engineer come back to the passenger cars and take tickets. Work is distributed among team members fairly and according to job skills. There are specific expectations for each job assignment and team member. Everyone is willing to accept his or her part of the total team responsibility and complete the assignments on time.
  1. Everyone is a leader. There is a formal leader for every effective team. Leadership functions can shift, however, depending upon the circumstances, group needs and individuals skills of the team members. For example, I have watched the conductor jump in to help the dining car cashier when the crowds were backing up on a long-distance train ride. This was certainly not his normal task, but at the moment, his skills were needed to help keep the customers happy. Team members are not afraid to shift focus when assistance is needed.
  1. Be flexible. Trains don’t always arrive on schedule. The staff of the train kept us informed of the reason for the delays, however, and gave us regular updates of the anticipated arrival time. When tasks are not completed on the determined time schedule, the rest of the team must be informed and adjustments made. Frequently, the next step in a process cannot be started until another task is completed. An effective team member is flexible and continues to move forward on other responsibilities regardless of possible delays.
  1. Stop to refuel. Conduct regular maintenance. An effective team stops periodically to examine how well it is doing. Self-assessments are conducted regularly to establish what is interfering with progress of the team. If additional training is needed for individual members or the entire team, arrangements are made. A train cannot run without gas, and a team cannot run without nurturing, training and regular input.
  1. It takes more than the staff on the train to make it go. The engineer, conductor, brakeman and dining car staff are not the only individuals involved in making the train run. There are station managers, baggage handlers, track maintenance staff, ticket sellers, bulk freight loaders and others. The staff running the train is dependent on other individuals to help them complete their tasks. They must develop positive relationships and build credibility with important players in other parts of the railroad system.
  1. Nobody wins when there is an accident. If you have ever seen pictures of a train hitting a car or truck, you know even though the train may still be standing, nobody wins. Team members must be prepared to have disagreements, confront conflict and feel comfortable enough to resolve issues as they arise. Failure to resolve issues and compromise on challenges as they arise is a surefire way to create an accident further down the track.
  1. Celebrate when you arrive at your destination. Whenever a train arrives at its destination, there are always people waiting for the passengers. It is fun to watch people greet each other. Usually, there is much excitement and happiness. Effective teams take the time to celebrate the completion of their goals. They pause to recognize individual as well as team accomplishments before moving on to the next task.
  2. The tracks don’t end at your destination. A team extends its vision beyond the current task. An effective team knows it has an obligation to future passengers to provide a safe, well-maintained and clean train. Members realize their attention is not just on the tasks immediately at hand but also on the future success of the total railroad.

Although the railroad may not be as popular as it once was for rapid mass transit and the transportation of goods and products, it still provides us with a clear picture of how important teams are in the workplace.

About the Author

Eileen O. Brownell is president of Training Solutions, a firm based in Chico, Calif. For over 25 years, Eileen has been noted as a ‘high-energy’ speaker and trainer who captivates her audiences and makes learning a lasting experience. Her expertise is in the areas of customer service, conflict resolution, communication and team development. She is licensed to use the Carlson Learning Products that enhance the learning process. Cable television stations have shown Eileen’s educational programs. She can be found in Who’s Who in California, American Women, Professional Speaking and Outstanding Young American Women. “We cannot choose the challenges that confront us. Nevertheless, we can pick our attitude and how we react,” is her philosophy.

Copyright© 2015, Eileen O. Brownell. All rights reserved. For information, contact FrogPond at [email protected].

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