Archive | April, 2018

Health & Safety Watch: NSC Lists 7 Common Workplace Hazards

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Health & Safety Watch: NSC Lists 7 Common Workplace Hazards

Posted on 26 April 2018 by cradmin

The National Safety Council (NSC) employs a team of consultants who visit worksites to run safety audits. They have seen a great many different types of hazards, but a few are spotted over and over again. In the agency’s magazine, Safety + Health, three NSC consultants relate the top seven workplace hazards in hopes that you can correct as many as possible before an accident occurs or you are visited by OSHA enforcement.

  1. Heights – Falling hazards are the most frequently cited by OSHA. This includes not wearing fall prevention PPE, not having proper railings, improper ladder use and non-compliant scaffolding. It is also important to have a written fall protection program.
  2. Housekeeping – Many worksites have unnecessary clutter blocking emergency exits, electrical panels and fire extinguishers. Trash, clutter and spilled liquids can also create slip-and-fall hazards. Time could be set aside at the beginning or end of shifts for cleaning.
  3. Electrical – Although blocked circuit-breakers and electrical panels are common, another electrical hazard often seen are related to the overuse or improper use of extension cords. Extension cords can create both trip hazards and shock hazards, especial when daisy chained together.
  4. Forklifts – Just like standard trucks and automobiles, one of the leading causes of forklift accidents is distracted driving. When forklift operators try to work too fast, they start taking shortcuts, such driving with too large a load. It is critical for employers and supervisors to react with authority when such instances are noticed.
  5. Lockout/Tagout – Lockout/tagout looks great in a written safety program, but often, operating procedures are ignored. This usually occurs for three reasons: complacency, rushing and being unfamiliar with the equipment. Even if all procedures are followed, injuries can still occur because of faulty equipment.
  6. Chemicals – A control system must be in place for all chemicals purchased and used. In addition, each employee must know how and when to use these chemicals. Sometimes chemicals are over ordered, which leads to expired, unstable substances. Injuries can also occur when chemicals are transferred between containers.
  7. Confined Spaces – Confined spaces are extremely hazardous. Employees can get stuck, or they may be exposed to a dangerous atmosphere. In most cases, a permit is required to access confined spaces. This is where planning really pays off.

While the above list is not comprehensive, checking your worksites for these hazards can prevent injuries, illnesses and even fatalities. For further information and for a free safety consultation, contact federal OSHA, your state’s OSHA or another state safety authority.

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Neolith Expands Range of 20mm Sintered Stone Surfacing

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Neolith Expands Range of 20mm Sintered Stone Surfacing

Posted on 25 April 2018 by cradmin

Neolith, manufactured by TheSize, expanded its 20mm (3/4 inch) range of premium sintered stone surfacing solutions with new formats and finishes to open design possibilities for high-end commercial and residential applications. Inspired by a growing demand among designers and specifiers for thicker kitchen worktops, bathroom counters, and flooring, Neolith has added 13 popular patterns to its 20mm catalogue, including: Iron Grey, Iron Moss, Cement, Barro, Pulpis, Aspen Grey and Arctic White NanoTech. With these new introductions, the Neolith 20mm range is now available on 18 different models, offering a greater degree of creative possibilities within kitchen and bathroom environments.

“The 20mm format represents yet another step forward in the commitment undertaken by TheSize to ensure product development remains innovative and continues to meet market demands,” said Mar Esteve, director of marketing, TheSize Surfaces. “Particularly in the U.S. market, clients want a thicker edge to align with design trends. In listening to customers’ preferences and surveying the industry, we now provide even more choices and a broader scope of design possibilities, with all of the advantages offered by sintered stone.”

All of Neolith’s colors, finishes and sizes are hygienic, impervious to chemicals, and resistant to staining, scratching, direct heat, UV-ray fading and general wear. The all-natural material is also lightweight and easy to install, making Neolith a sustainable solution suitable for virtually every indoor and outdoor surface.

Neolith now offers more than 56 different designs across its seven collections—in multiple finishes and thicknesses—providing specifiers with a broader range of design possibilities.

You may also be interested in this article about Dekton from Cosentino.

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Cambria Files Petition Against Chinese Quartz Imports

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Cambria Files Petition Against Chinese Quartz Imports

Posted on 24 April 2018 by cradmin

Cambria has announced that the company has filed a petition with the U.S. Department of Commerce and the U.S. International Trade Commission (USITC) claiming imported quartz from China violates antidumping laws. The full petition and supporting documentation are 3,526 pages in length and state that “certain quartz surface products imported from China are being or likely to be sold at less than normal value.”

The most notable allegations in Cambria’s Petition for the Imposition of Antidumping and Countervailing Duties are as follows:

  • Quartz surfaces imported from China are likely to be sold at less than normal value in violation of U.S. law. The margin between value and export price is listed at 455.65 percent.
  • Chinese quartz imports have negatively impacted domestic quartz manufacturers for several years.
  • The material harm caused to U.S. quartz manufacturers is likely to continue if there is no remedial action.
  • Chinese quartz producers have at least 20 government subsidy programs available to them, including land provisions, electricity, raw materials, tax breaks, grants and loans.

Marty Davis, president and CEO of Cambria released the following statement to the press:

“Cambria is taking this action to ensure the long-term best interests of our industry, American manufacturing, American workers and American business. Unfair trade practices have gone on for far too long. Fair trade and free trade are inseparable paradigms; you simply cannot have one without the other. We believe strongly in free trade – to protect it, we must demand fair trade.

“Cambria is pursuing existing trade laws to stop the unfair trading from China that is damaging our industry and to restore a level playing field. These fundamental virtues of fair trade and free trade are critical to the success of American capitalism, to our industry, its workers and to the communities and the customers we serve.

“We encourage other American companies to support fair trade, if only to protect the virtues of free trade, and in doing so, our country’s best interests. This is not an effort in protectionism, quite the opposite. Our efforts are to allow for open markets with free and open trade, based squarely on a market economy.”

The petition and its supporting documentation go on to list more than 300 Chinese exporters of quartz surfacing and more than 500 U.S. importers, all of which could be affected should the petition be approved. However, a great number of details have been redacted from the public version because the law allows petitioners the right to leave proprietary information unpublished.

According to the USITC, a preliminary conference will be held on the matter May 8, and action could be taken by September.

What This Means for the Industry

If both the USITC and Department of Commerce approve the petition, “preliminary relief from Chinese imports could be imposed in September 2018 with final duties imposed in June 2019.” Currently, quartz can be imported from non-embargoed countries duty free.

The imports from China alone have gone from only $6 million per year in 2010 to $460 million per year in 2017. If high tariffs are imposed on Chinese quartz, imports could drastically decline because of a slimmer profit margin, which would be on par with that of U.S. quartz producers. But this could also dramatically affect U.S. businesses that rely on Chinese quartz slabs, which includes both suppliers and fabricators.

Possible Quartz-Gate?

At the same time, history has shown us that Chinese exporters and some U.S. importers cannot be counted on to simply pay their duties and carry on business as usual. We could be headed directly from “Honey-Gate” to a new “Quartz-Gate” scandal.

In 2001, U.S. honey manufacturers introduced a very similar Petition for the Imposition of Antidumping and Countervailing Duties against Chinese honey exporters after it was found that they were dumping honey into the U.S. market at up 221 percent less than its value.

After duties were imposed on Chinese honey, exporters began falsifying records and pre-shipping honey to surrounding countries before re-shipping them to the U.S. Honey imports from these surrounding countries soared, and cheap, black-market honey containing fillers and banned antibiotics flourished.

Even though Congress tried to prevent this circumnavigation of import duties with the passing of the Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act of 2015, scandals continued to rock the industry, which was saved by enlightening the public on cheap honey and advertising the virtues of small-batch, family-farm products.

What Are Your Thoughts?

We always have an ear open for your thoughts on all matters concerning countertops, but this situation could impact the market than any other single event this decade. Is Cambria, with more than 50 percent of the U.S. market in its pocket, the only clear winner here, or will U.S. importers, fabricators and end users also benefit?

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East Coast Builders Conference Opens Registration

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East Coast Builders Conference Opens Registration

Posted on 23 April 2018 by cradmin

The East Coast Builders Conference (ECBC), slated to take place at the Music City Center in Nashville June 14-15, 2018, is open for registration.

The 3rd annual ECBC Show will feature:

  • Largest conference program on the East Coast
  • National Accredited Courses
  • 200 Manufacturers & Services
  • 300 Booths
  • Keynote Speaker Edsel Charles, Founder & Chairman-MetroGraphics Research, Inc.
  • Free Land & Capital Forum; How To Do Business With Private Capital
  • VIP Meet The Builder Program

The building industry is seeing exponential growth in residential construction. Just in the past two years, the industry has seen more than a 20 percent increase in the residential housing market. ECBC gives builders the ideal opportunity stay educated on the latest product innovations and education.

The show is also offering attendees a free expo-only pass. Use promo code ECBC2018 at to register and receive the free pass.

You may also be interested in this article about a complimentary show floor pass to IWF.

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Laser Products Forms New Company: Precision Measuring & Training

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Laser Products Forms New Company: Precision Measuring & Training

Posted on 20 April 2018 by cradmin

Laser Products Industries (LPI) announced that it has finalized the acquisition of Precision Templates of Colorado and has formed a new separate company, Precision Measuring and Training (PMT), headquartered in Denver, Colo.

PMT will initially serve the Denver market and will offer digital laser templating, CAD work, training, and tool measuring to fabricators primarily in the stone, millwork, and glass industries. The new company has offered positions to all former Precision Templates of Colorado employees to take advantage their 60 years of combined templating experience.

“PMT was formed to provide a unique set of services for the issues that today’s fabricators are facing.” said Rich Katzmann, president, Laser Products.  “We measure, do layouts, translate files to CAD drawings, schedule jobs, and handle customer paperwork. We only hire highly skilled professionals and put them through rigorous certification to guarantee error-free, on-time, cost-saving work.”

“When Rich and I first talked, I saw the immediate benefit of the PMT business model for fabricators,” said Marc Sleight, vice president, PMT. “The Laser Products system is the only solution we trust that allows us to achieve our promise of accuracy and process customization.  There’s no more down time, no expensive investments, and no more impossible scheduling problems.  PMT is fully flexible and can customize our services to the fabricator’s specific needs regardless of type of job, material, location, or process.  PMT employees are better trained, better with customers, and go where you want, when you want, based on your schedule. It’s a perfect solution.”

Currently only in the Denver market, PMT will be expanding to other cities this year, aggressively growing to national status in just a few years.

You may also be interested in this article about Architectural Surfaces Group’s acquisition of Bedrock International.

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IWF Offers Complimentary Show Floor Pass

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IWF Offers Complimentary Show Floor Pass

Posted on 19 April 2018 by cradmin

The International Woodworking Fair (IWF) will be held August 22-25, 2018 at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta. With the continued growth of the show, organizers project this years’ fair will be one of the top woodworking trade shows in the world for the furniture manufacturing, architectural woodwork, custom and general woodworking industries.

More than 900 exhibitors from the woodworking industry will be at IWF to present their products and services. Suppliers and manufacturers specializing in wood veneers, woodworking machinery, material processing tools, laminates, adhesives, decorative hardware, flooring and more will be in attendance to display their product and service offerings.

And IWF is offering a free show floor pass! Use promo code IWF18OR when registering.

IWF also offers professionals education opportunities on a broad spectrum of industry related topics throughout the duration of the show.

In addition, the International Surface Fabricators Association (ISFA) will be holding its full-day Countertops Symposium on Aug. 21, the day before the show opens.

You may also be interested in this article about Coverings ’18.

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Wilsonart Releases New Quartz and Solid Surface Designs

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Wilsonart Releases New Quartz and Solid Surface Designs

Posted on 18 April 2018 by cradmin

Wilsonart, a manufacturer of engineered surfaces, introduced new Quartz and Solid Surface designs that blend nature’s beauty and look stunning in both home and commercial settings.

The new hard surface designs tap into the color trends of warm and cool whites, greys and neutrals but also takes advantage of the resurgence of classic black stone. Several of the new Quartz “inspired-by-nature” veining patterns were created through robotic technology. The 2018 Quartz and Solid Surface designs celebrate natural materials through the following 10 new Quartz and seven new Solid Surface introductions:


Marble Falls – a warm white and grey mottled background with soft, linear veining down the length of the slab.

Rain Shadow – incorporates a cool grey mottled background with soft white veining throughout the slab.

North Cascades – a warm grey, natural branching vein structure that travels through a mottled grey and white background.

Coastal – features a mix of warm and cool greys creating a complex canvas backdrop for the dark grey branching veins.

SoHo – a medium soft grey concrete look.

Salar – features a bright white background with small clusters of charcoal and deep warm grey veining that naturally fades in and out across the slab. This pattern has both a classic and modern feel.

Ascent – a large-scale, chunky marble look that mixes white, charcoal and deep warm greys to encapsulate the elegance of warm white and grey veining.

Dinant – a complex black and grey background with white veining throughout the slab.

Desert Wind – a neutral, warm color palette with deep veins and subtle, pale taupe resin pools to create a subtle movement in the design.

Haldi – a semi-translucent deep grey pattern with warm gold veining.

Wilsonart Quartz meets industry standards including UL GREENGUARD Gold for indoor air quality, NSF International and Kosher compliances for safe surfaces for food preparation.

Solid Surface

Titanium Grey – a mid-value solid grey.

Angel Falls – a linear movement design that uses warm and cool neutral tones and clear chips to create a soft structure that looks similar to travertine.

Grey Lace – uses light and dark shades of grey in a linear design woven with small, clear particulate to give it a natural stone feel.

Saharan Night – a warm, dark brown and black design set in a linear structure resembling that of a modern woodgrain.

Silver Smoke – a soft, flowing large-scale linear movement design with a misty background full of flecks of white.

Hidden Space – a small scale particulate design in a deep, inky blue with bright specks and warm grey mists that replicate the deep cosmos.

Chilled Earth – a small-scale quartz look that combines warm and cool translucent particulates on a neutral white background.

Seamless, non-porous, Wilsonart® Solid Surface is renewable, repairable and versatile. The material is resistant to fade, heat, mold, mildew and most stains making it ideal for many settings. Backed by a 10-year manufacturer’s warranty, Wilsonart Solid Surface holds UL GREENGUARD Gold Certification for low-chemical emissions into indoor air during product usage and is NSF compliance for food preparation.

You may also be interested in this article about new colors of Radianz Quartz.

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clé Introduces New Belgian Reproduction Tile Shapes

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clé Introduces New Belgian Reproduction Tile Shapes

Posted on 16 April 2018 by cradmin

clé introduced Belgian Reproduction tile in three new shapes: rectangle, losange diamond, and circle. The Flemish black tiles now consist of seven shapes in square, hex, rectangle, losange diamond, circle, star and cross.

The Belgian Reproduction tiles are hand crafted by artisans who are working in the traditional method of wood-fired terracotta production. The blackened clay lends the chalky surfaces the elegant patina of age. By combining the unglazed tiles with contrasting shapes and grout, a dramatically patterned surface is created. The versatile tiles can be installed indoors and out, on floors and walls. The tiles are sized from 2 in. by 8 in. rectangles to 8 in. squares, hex, and circles. The Belgian Reproduction collection is available exclusively on clé.

“We’ve long admired the grand courtyards of northern Europe, the gray patina and refined rusticity of Belgian design and have been on a quest to find a tile that would echo these elements. We discovered this exquisite blackened clay, and took a restored form of terracotta to create these Belgian Reproduction tiles, which are perfect for grounding projects with an austerity as striking as an antique Belgian surface.” said Sarah Lonsdale, Creative Director of clé

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Business Sense: Firing a Customer

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Business Sense: Firing a Customer

Posted on 12 April 2018 by CRadmin2

By Harry Hollander of Moraware

After more than a decade in business, and after working with over a thousand countertop fabricators, we did something new. We fired a customer.

I’m writing about it because it wasn’t easy, and I didn’t really see this one coming.

Dealing With Frustrated Customers

As a team, we’ve had conversations about firing a tiny handful of other customers. In each one of those cases, it was because they were rude or abusive. But, so far, we haven’t done it. There was always a root-cause to the problem that went far beyond us.

As customer-service folks, we need to keep reminding ourselves that each one of our customers is a human, and they’ve got lives outside of their calls and emails with us. We don’t know what’s happening in their day… it might be that they’re really sick, a bunch of slabs got broken in their granite shop or that they’re getting married tomorrow.

Most of the time when customers are rude to us, it’s because they’re frustrated. Nobody wants to fail at using software; they certainly don’t want to call a software company and admit it. So… that’s the situation I feel like we’re pretty prepared for. Our solution is to be helpful, optimistic, and empathetic.

As the owner of a company, or anyone who interacts with customers, I’d suggest reading Sarah Hatter’s book, The Customer Support Handbook – there are some great tips about both your mindset and language when you’re dealing with your customers.

I also really like a trick I learned from Derek Sivers: “Imagine every one of your customers is Mick Jagger“. How would you treat your customers differently if they were all rock-stars?

Hire Slow, Fire Fast

You might have heard the maxim “hire slow, fire fast” with respect to your own employees – you need to evaluate them carefully, but if they’re not working out as part of the team, you need to let them go. If you have folks who’re not performing their jobs to the level that’s necessary, they can create a toxic work environment.

But the same thing is true with your customers.

This is especially a big deal for us. Most of our customers think they’re buying software, but as a  “software as a service” (SaaS) business, they’re actually getting a really long relationship.

So, when it’s clear that a company is trying to use our software far outside of our core, that puts a strain on the relationship. Sometimes, that strain is okay, and it ends up making our business better – every feature request that we implement is a reaction to that strain.

But, occasionally, that mismatch between what the customer is trying to do is really far from what we do well. We always try to be upfront about that kind of thing, before the sale when we see it coming: “No, JobTracker won’t help you schedule your custom boat-building projects.” and “No, CounterGo can’t become your CAD system.

That’s a big part of the reason we schedule a demo with every new prospect. We’re experts at using our software, and we want to make sure we can add value.

Sometimes, we miss the hints that we’re in left-field. Most of the time, our customers realize it before we do. And, they cancel. It sucks, but that’s the reason we have a generous money-back policy. 90 days is enough time for anyone who’s digging in to figure out if our software is a good fit.

When Communication Breaks Down

But this time was different. We were clearly not adding value, but we couldn’t communicate it effectively to them.

Multiple times, everyone on our support team tried to convey the problem. There were fundamental mismatches between our software and this countertop shop. “If you don’t use the jobs in JobTracker, you can’t use any other feature“, and “CounterGo is primarily a sales tool, and you’re not using it for sales.

A big part of this communication problem is our own fault. We saw many of these warning signs before they bought. But, we’re an optimistic bunch, and we ignored the potential problems.

In most cases in the past, that’s been okay. We end up pouring an outsize amount of support effort toward that customer. And, after a month or two, they get it. Or they cancel. We’re willing to take the risk, because most of the time we can get them over the hump.

But this customer wasn’t getting it. I think there are a couple of reasons for this, but I’m largely speculating.

  1. They were experiencing major growth, which was altering their business.
  2. Nobody there had uninterrupted time to implement software.
  3. Because they were already at capacity, communicating with us was on the back-burner.
  4. They hadn’t used (free!) software like excel or outlook to try to solve their problems.

Again, we knew all of that going into the relationship, and we should have been more careful.

So Why Am I Telling You This?

Although some other software companies have an explicit mission to be “open” or “transparent“, that’s never been a guiding principal for Moraware. In general, it’s a decent idea, but it’s not really central to our personality as people, or as a company.

But, this was a really hard decision – hard in the sense of unpleasant and emotionally complicated. I need to get some of it out in the open.

First, I want to apologize again to this customer. We should have never taken your money originally. Plus, we can never give you back the time you spent trying to use our software. We’ll try to be more diligent with other prospects.

I also want to apologize to the Moraware team. Even though I had misgivings from the beginning, I should have pushed on this harder. I can’t give you back the countless hours you spent, either.

One thing I’m going to do differently as a leader is help our team practice for this kind of situation better. We’ve always talked about our philosophy of Always BLeaving during our sales process. But, when folks wave their credit cards at us, it is easy to forget that it’s our job to say “No” when it’s appropriate.

This was a tricky situation, but I still feel like we did the right thing. Hopefully, by writing it down some of our thinking on this helps you in your own business, too.

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David Unger Named 2017 Natural Stone Craftsman of the Year

Posted on 10 April 2018 by cradmin

David Unger, plant manager at Dee Brown, Inc. in Garland, Texas has been named 2017 Natural Stone Craftsman of the Year by the Natural Stone Institute.

David Unger (center) with 2017 BSI President Daniel Wood and 2018 MIA President Jon Lancto.

Unger’s first experience with stone occurred more than fifty years ago, when he helped his father face a fireplace. A successful apprenticeship as a bricklayer led to restoration work and fireplaces made from fieldstones. In 1999, Unger joined Dee Brown, Inc. as a foreman. He was quickly recruited for the fabrication plant, where he was at times the only person in the plant. As the company grew, he became the person who trained new hires. Unger and his team have produced stone for some of the finest residences in Dallas and provided backup support for such notable projects as Cowboy Stadium and the American Airlines Arena. Unger attributes his own success to the good crew in the plant.

You may also be interested in this article Amy Miller Named Executive Director of ISFA.


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