Archive | Countertop Blog

May 2021 Business Sense

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Business Sense: How to Better Manage Countertop Shop Scheduling

Posted on 12 May 2021 by cradmin

By Katherine Gifford of Moraware

What words come to mind when you think about your scheduling process? For a lot of fabricators – especially those with smaller operations – it’s chaos. 

Striking the right balance of supply and demand is what scheduling is all about, but when everyone at your shop is adding jobs, removing them, and making changes, that delicate balance gets thrown off.

Overbooking, underbooking, last-minute additions, and forgetting about holidays are incredibly common, especially when there’s no defined process in place for scheduling.

When your shop has too much on its plate, more mistakes are likely to be made. Not to mention some of your best staff members can get burnt out and leave, and replacing talent in this industry is incredibly difficult.

All of this boils down to a lower margin in an already low-margin industry. But don’t worry – there is a better way, and you can take small strides towards a more efficient scheduling process.

Why Focus On Scheduling?

We talk to fabricators every day, and scheduling is typically one of many bottlenecks they’re facing. What makes the scheduling problem so important?

If you think about it, the schedule is the pulse of your business. It’s what keeps everything else alive. Providing amazing service, having stress-free days, and keeping up with demand all rely on good scheduling.

If you overbook, then you have to call the customer and reschedule, but they just took off work to meet you, and now they want to be compensated for their time. It’s a world of hurt just waiting for you at the end of an already stressful day.

Aside from quoting, nailing down scheduling is often the first place shops start when they want to improve their processes.

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OSHA Whistleblower Protection Program

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OSHA Solicits Public Input on Whistleblower Program

Posted on 22 April 2021 by cradmin

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) will hold a teleconference meeting May 19, 2021, to solicit public comments and suggestions on key issues facing OSHA’s Whistleblower Protection Program.

This is the seventh in a series of meetings on how the agency can improve the whistleblower program.

Open to the public, the meeting will be held from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. EDT via telephone. Those interested in joining or participating in the meeting must register by May 12, 2021. Call-in information will be provided to all registrants. There is no fee to register.

The agency is seeking comments on:

  • How can OSHA better deliver its whistleblower services?
  • What kind of assistance can OSHA provide to help explain the agency’s whistleblower laws to employees and employers?
  • What can OSHA do to ensure that workers are protected from retaliation for raising concerns related to the pandemic?

Materials may be submitted electronically at http://www.regulations.gov, which is the Federal eRulemaking Portal, or by mail. Written or electronic comments must be submitted by May 12, 2021. See the Federal Register notice for submission details. Comments must be identified with Docket No. OSHA-2018-0005.

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Polycor

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Polycor Makes Plan to be Carbon Neutral by 2025

Posted on 21 April 2021 by cradmin

Polycor Inc., a quarrier of natural stone, announced in honor of Earth Day, it plans to be carbon neutral by the end of 2025. Polycor is the first natural stone quarrier to make a firm commitment to carbon neutrality, and among the first in the manufacturing industry to take a leadership role on the essential work of decarbonization.

Polycor has a history of embracing environmental challenges, from its use of closed-system rainwater to owning 30 percent of all “Natural Stone Sustainability Standard” certified sites. Polycor recently announced an internal network of 15 Sustainability Champions to identify innovative solutions, from waste reduction to increasing processing efficiencies. While natural stone is already inherently sustainable and a zero-VOC material, Polycor remains committed to flattening the curve on carbon emissions.

This carbon neutral 2025 commitment demonstrates Polycor’s committed to science-based protection of the environment. The IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) identifies the year 2030 as a tipping point that will require significant reduction in emissions. The building industry, which accounts for 39 percent of annual global GHG (greenhouse gas) emissions, bears a tremendous responsibility to mitigate global environmental risk.

Patrick Perus, CEO of Polycor Inc. commented, “This decision is also in line with the will of customers and partners in the industry, who are increasingly demanding environmentally friendly products and suppliers, showing a generalized awareness throughout the industry.”

According to the National Retail Federation, nearly 80 percent of consumers say sustainability is important to them, and more than 70 percent are even willing to pay more if it means their products are sustainable.

To help support its goal of being carbon neutral by 2025, Polycor will focus its efforts and improvements on the following areas:

  • Electrification: By the end of 2025, Polycor will increase its use of renewable energy so that 75 percent of its energy comes from renewable sources.
  • Fuel use: Polycor will significantly reduce its traditional carbon-based fuel use. Through installing electrical charging stations at plants, and prioritizing new vehicles with alternative fuel sources, the company will significantly increase the miles per gallon across its fleet.
  • Waste reduction: Polycor will meaningfully increase production efficiencies; these efficiencies will increase product yield, emphasize sustainable packaging, reduce chemical use, and will prioritize recycling and reuse.
  • Offsetting and rehabilitation: Carbon offsetting activities, such as upcoming tree planting campaigns, will create essential carbon sinks, decreasing the net total of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. From the beautification to the repurposing of former production sites, rehabilitation and reclamation will be an important sustainability activity for Polycor and will provide immediate benefits to local communities.

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Business Sense April 2021

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Business Sense: Grow Your Countertop Shop With These First Steps

Posted on 15 April 2021 by cradmin

by Katherine Gifford of Moraware

Business is booming in the stone industry! Either you are flooded with new business or you are wanting to be flooded with all that new business. Am I right? Hint: say yes so we can stay friends.

Working with fabricators for decades has shown us that growth can be a huge blessing, but also a huge pain. A growing shop is suddenly faced with strains on their current processes and more stress than ever.

But, growth is something to celebrate! And you deserve to be excited about it. So, we’ve compiled some practical tips that you can start thinking about now. That way you can put your feet up and enjoy the rewards sooner rather than later.

Update Your Processes

I know what you’re thinking – “You always say that!” And you’re right. Because it’s tried and true. The most successful countertop fabricators will tell you how streamlining their processes from quote to install have changed their business for the better.

This quote from the All Slab Fabbers facebook group was so perfect, I had to save it. “If you save 30 seconds on a step you do hundreds of times a day…”

If you could save time by increasing your efficiency in every step of your process, what could you spend that time doing? Being able to focus on the next part of your business that needs attention like marketing, customer experience, and metrics is vital to your growth. So is being able to take a vacation! With a streamlined process established, your shop can scale and grow without being dependent on one or two key people. That’s why we’re in the software-for-countertop-fabricators-business, after all.

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US Customs logo_cBP sm

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Cambria Announces Investigation of Antidumping/Countervailing Duties Evasion

Posted on 01 April 2021 by cradmin

Cambria announced in a press release that the and Border Protection agency (Customs) has preliminarily determined that fifteen U.S. importers have evaded the antidumping and countervailing duties (AD/CVD) on quartz surface products from China.

As part of its recent determination regarding evasion, Customs found that fifteen importers evaded the AD/CVD duties on Chinese imports by importing quartz surface products that were made in China and then transshipped through Malaysia before entering the United States without payment of the duties.

Customs is conducting its investigation pursuant to the Enforce and Protect Act (“EAPA”). Many U.S. importers know when they are purchasing transshipped Chinese merchandise and, as a result, that they are engaging in illegal evasion. However, EAPA does not have a knowledge requirement for Customs to find that evasion is taking place. In fact, one of the importers identified as participating in the evasion scheme has claimed to Customs that it never had any contact with the Malaysian transshipment company and purchased the quartz surface products through a U.S. company that claimed to be a partner in the Malaysian company. To avoid getting caught up in evasion schemes, U.S. companies need to be aware that any low-priced quartz surface products imported from Malaysia or other third countries may be Chinese merchandise. The purchase of this low-priced merchandise may ultimately subject U.S. companies to liability for payment of the AD/CVD duties.

Customs will issue a more detailed memorandum explaining its initial determination of evasion. Following this initial determination, Customs has seven months to continue its investigation and determine appropriate penalties.

Read the full press release here.

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Business Sense March 2021_kpis-400x250

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Business Sense: A Quick Guide to Setting Goals For Your Countertop Business

Posted on 24 March 2021 by cradmin

By Katherine Gifford of Moraware

Goals are critical for any business, including the fabrication industry. Without them, it’s like playing a game of darts in a pitch-black room. You keep aiming and throwing, but you have no idea if you’re ever going to hit the bullseye.

That’s where KPIs come in. 

Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) are indicators that track your progress toward a specific goal. KPIs give your business focus – something to work towards. According to Peter Drucker, “What gets measured gets done.”

In this quick guide, we’ll go over how to set and track KPIs that matter for your countertop shop.

What are KPIs?

KPIs help you track the health of your company. For example, here at Moraware, we track new customer activity as a measure of success. Why? Because we’ve found that if our new customers aren’t active within the first few weeks, they aren’t likely to be active at any point and will cancel. 

That’s one KPI we measure and report on that directly affects the way we do business. What metrics are important for your business?

First and foremost, you want to make sure it can check a few boxes. Here are a few features of a great KPI:

  • You should be able to tell if you’re making progress toward your goal
  • Your measurements along the way should help you make better business decisions
  • You should be able to compare performance change over time – for example, sales this month versus sales this month last year

A KPI can track efficiency, effectiveness, quality, timeliness, governance, compliance, behaviors, economics, project performance, personnel performance, or resource utilization.

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OSHA

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Health & Safety Watch: OSHA Launches National Emphasis Program

Posted on 16 March 2021 by cradmin

 In response to President Biden’s executive order on protecting worker health and safety, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has launched a National Emphasis Program (NEP) focusing enforcement efforts on companies that put the largest number of workers at serious risk of contracting the coronavirus. The program also prioritizes employers that retaliate against workers for complaints about unsafe or unhealthy conditions, or for exercising other rights protected by federal law.

NEP inspections will enhance the agency’s previous coronavirus enforcement efforts, and will include some follow-up inspections of worksites inspected in 2020. The program’s focused strategy ensures abatement and includes monitoring the effectiveness of OSHA’s enforcement and guidance efforts. The program will remain in effect for up to one year from its issuance date, though OSHA has the flexibility to amend or cancel the program as the pandemic subsides.

OSHA state plans have adopted varying requirements to protect employees from coronavirus, and OSHA knows many of them have implemented enforcement programs similar to this NEP. While it does not require it, OSHA strongly encourages the rest to adopt this NEP. State plans must notify federal OSHA of their intention to adopt the NEP within 60 days after its issuance.

In a related action, OSHA has also updated its Interim Enforcement Response Plan to prioritize the use of on-site workplace inspections where practical, or a combination of on-site and remote methods. OSHA will only use remote-only inspections if the agency determines that on-site inspections cannot be performed safely. On March 18, 2021, OSHA will rescind the May 26, 2020, memorandum on this topic and this new guidance will go into and remain in effect until further notice.

OSHA will ensure that its Compliance Safety and Health Officers have every protection necessary for onsite inspections. When conducting on-site inspections, OSHA will evaluate all risk and utilize appropriate protective measures, including appropriate respiratory protection and other necessary personal protective equipment.

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LEED Safety First Pilot Credits Feb. blog

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New LEED Safety First Pilot Credits to Support Success

Posted on 22 February 2021 by cradmin

To keep pace with the evolving health challenges around the world, the US Green Building Council (USGBC) designed several LEED Safety First pilot credits, which address COVID-19. Four new Education @USGBC courses offer a combination of videos, podcasts and resources to support success with implementing these credits.

The pilot credits outline sustainable best practices related to cleaning and disinfecting, workplace reoccupancy, HVAC and plumbing operations, and may be used by LEED projects that are certified or are undergoing certification.

Learn more through these education resources:

  1. Safety First: Managing Indoor Air Quality During COVID-19 Credit
    The objective of this credit is to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 through the air in a building and to define best practices. The credit builds on the current standards for indoor air quality and LEED credits.

The resources available for this credit include a video presentation by Nicole Isle, Vice President and Chief Sustainability Strategist, Glumac, which was recorded during the USGBC Healthy Economy Forum on Aug. 4, 2020.

  1. Safety First: Re-enter Your Workspace Credit
    The goal of this credit is to establish conditions and best practices for reentry assessment, as well as planning and evaluation of progress once a space is occupied.

The resources available for this credit include video clips from a July 2020 LEED v4.1 Ask the Experts webinar, where insights are shared by Corey Enck, Vice President, LEED Technical Development, USGBC, and Ken Filarski, Founder and Principal, FILARSKI/ ARCHITECTURE + PLANNING + RESEARCH; a video clip from the USGBC Healthy Economy Forum, and the AIA Re-occupancy Assessment Tool.

  1. Safety First: Cleaning and Disinfecting Your Space Credit
    With this credit, the aim is to identify standards and best practices for cleaning that encourage a healthy indoor setting and worker safety. While vaccines and medical therapies for the treatment of COVID-19 are still in progress, there are already successful disinfectant products and processes.

The resources available for this credit include video clips from a July 2020 Ask the Experts webinar, where insights are shared by Larissa Oaks, Indoor Environmental Quality Specialist, USGBC, and Steve Ashkin, Founder and President, The Ashkin Group LLC, as well as a video presentation from the USGBC Healthy Economy Forum and podcasts interviews with Ashkin discussing the pilot credit further.

  1. Safety First: Building Water System Recommissioning Credit
    The principal objective of this credit is to define standards and best practices for cleaning that foster a healthy indoor environment and worker safety and to help building teams reduce the risk of occupant exposure to impaired water quality.

The resources available for this credit include a video presentation from the USGBC Healthy Economy Forum and a podcast interview with Daryn Cline, Director, Environmental Technologies at EVAPCO.

All four pilot credits listed in this article are available for LEED 2009, LEED v4 and LEED v4.1 and can be found here.

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Moraware CounterGo Feb. 21

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Level Up Your Countertop Quoting with Slab Layouts

Posted on 16 February 2021 by cradmin

By Katherine Gifford of Moraware

Slab layouts are critical in making sure your estimate is accurate. Some fabricators rely on guesswork, some do complex math based on square footage, and others spend hours in CAD for a prospect who may never even spend a dime! 

None of these are great solutions for quickly and easily doing a slab layout. Lucky for you, CounterGo has a handy slab layout estimating feature. Here’s everything you need to know about solving your slab layout headaches.

An Inaccurate Slab Layout Can Cost You Thousands

Picture this: you meet a new prospect, and they need new kitchen countertops. You calculate the square footage and figure you only need one slab. You give them your quote, and they send back a deposit.

All is good, right?

Once you start on the fabrication, you realize the veining isn’t going to match up – no matter how you lay it out. 

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Health & Safety Feb. 21

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Health & Safety: OSHA Issues Stronger Coronavirus Workplace Guidance

Posted on 01 February 2021 by cradmin

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has issued stronger worker safety guidance to help employers and workers implement a coronavirus prevention program and better identify risks which could lead to exposure and contraction. Last week, President Biden directed OSHA to release clear guidance for employers to help keep workers safe from COVID-19 exposure.

Protecting Workers: Guidance on Mitigating and Preventing the Spread of COVID-19 in the Workplace” provides updated guidance and recommendations, and outlines existing safety and health standards. OSHA is providing the recommendations to assist employers in providing a safe and healthful workplace.

Implementing a coronavirus prevention program is the most effective way to reduce the spread of the virus. The guidance recommends several essential elements in a prevention program:

  • Conduct a hazard assessment.
  • Identify control measures to limit the spread of the virus.
  • Adopt policies for employee absences that don’t punish workers as a way to encourage potentially infected workers to remain home.
  • Ensure that coronavirus policies and procedures are communicated to both English and non-English speaking workers.
  • Implement protections from retaliation for workers who raise coronavirus-related concerns.

The guidance details key measures for limiting coronavirus’s spread, including ensuring infected or potentially infected people are not in the workplace, implementing and following physical distancing protocols and using surgical masks or cloth face coverings. It also provides guidance on use of personal protective equipment, improving ventilation, good hygiene and routine cleaning.

OSHA will update this new guidance as developments in science, best practices and standards warrant.

This guidance is not a standard or regulation, and it creates no new legal obligations. It contains recommendations as well as descriptions of existing mandatory safety and health standards. The recommendations are advisory in nature, informational in content and are intended to assist employers in recognizing and abating hazards likely to cause death or serious physical harm as part of their obligation to provide a safe and healthful workplace.

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