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Apr 1, 2005

Stone Column: Learning From Others

*Old Article Stone Column: Learning From Others

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April 2005 

For the first time ever, the subject of our “Re-Emerging U.S. Stone Industry” feature is not technically a member of the stone industry. In fact, the company — Counter Intelligence of Silver Spring, MD — is strictly a fabricator of Silestone quartz surfacing, and they produce a staggering 35 kitchens per day (page 36).

Now, before you stone “purists” out there begin writing us the requisite hate mail, I think it’s important to understand why this type of article is important at this day and age, and why we made the trip to their facilities outside of Washington, DC. First of all, quartz surfacing — whether it is Silestone, Zodiaq, CaesarStone or otherwise — has made such inroads in our industry that it would be foolhardy to ignore the fact that it exists. Many fabricators who have been working with natural stone for decades now also fabricate quartz surfacing to fulfill the requests of their customers.

Conversely, many fabricators who had historically specialized in laminates or solid surfaces have eventually moved into quartz surfacing and ultimately into natural stone. One example of this can be found in our feature of East Coast Associates (page 110), which we visited in Virginia. This company made the move into natural stone less than a year ago, and they entered the business with the professionalism they had learned over the years working with homeowners. And many other fabricators that are included in the “Fabricator Case Studies” section of this issue also fabricate both natural stone and quartz surfacing.

The simple fact is that there is significant crossover between natural stone and quartz surfacing, including fabricating techniques, machinery, tooling, templating and so forth. But there are also practical lessons to be learned in terms of simply operating a countertop production facility. This is particularly important for newer fabricators who know the ins and outs of stone fabrication, but have not necessarily had to face some of the customer service issues and follow-up that is part of running your own business.

As I toured Counter Intelligence’s operation, I was quite impressed by the level of sophistication it maintains. From beginning to end, a project is carefully tracked by customer service representatives by computer, and it is cross-checked at each stage — all with an eye on making sure that things are done right, that communication between all parties is clear, and that the customer will ultimately be satisfied. I suppose I shouldn’t have been all that surprised, because you need some system of organization if you’re doing 35 kitchens per day, but it was nevertheless impressive.

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Please note this is an old article that was transferred from our original website countintel.com

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