Stone Talk Episode 13 – Dave Paxton

In episode 13 of StoneTalk, Patrick speaks with Dave Paxton of Paxton Countertops and Showers – a growing fabricator in Grand Ledge, Michigan.

StoneTalk Episode 13 - Dave Paxton

Listen to this episode to learn:

  • Dave’s highest-ROI piece of equipment in the shop.
  • The pros and cons of outsourcing some fabrication.
  • Dave’s unforgettable experience as the president of ISFA.
  • Why relationships are as important as price.
  • The reasons David enjoys working with showers and solid surface.
  • The importance of truly listening to your customers.
  • How to break a solid surface seam using irons.

Be sure to subscribe to the podcast in iTunes… and please let us know what you think! You can leave comments for this show on the StoneTalk Facebook page or on this site.

If you have stories or insights that you’d like to share with other fabricators, please reach out to Patrick.

Transcript

Welcome to StoneTalk, the podcast for countertop fabricators. Brought to you by Moraware, makers of JobTracker scheduling software and CounterGo estimating software for countertop fabricators. I’m your host, Patrick Foley.

Patrick: Today I’m chatting with Dave Paxton, owner of Paxton Countertops and formerly the President of ISFA. Let’s give him a call.

Dave: Hello.

Patrick: Hey Dave, Patrick.

Dave: Hey Patrick.

Patrick: How you doing man?

Dave: Good.

Patrick: For starters, I still remember you’re moving or actually combining shops. What prompted that? Why are you moving or combining your shops?

Dave: Well, we started out our shop as a cabinet custom by my Dad, that’s Steve Paxton 35 years ago and from that merged into laminate, laminate into solid surface, solid surface into stone but we didn’t have enough room and didn’t really want to have surface stone shop there so we started the stone shop in another location.

Then from there, we started an office and now we have these 3 locations and we find ourselves running around the lot like crazy. Just running around and back and forth. There’s a laminate laundry and a solid surface bathroom but a stone kitchen so at a certain point it started to make sense not to have it under one location even though it’s extremely stressful to do move, it’s … we know that in the long term it’s for the best.

Plus I can’t also think even if you’re on the right track, you’re going to get run over if you just sit there so we’re trying to do the best for the long term for our company.

Patrick: That makes sense. Are you also moving your customer showroom so that customers are going to have a new experience of where Paxton Countertops is?

Dave: We’re going to keep the one that’s downtown Grand Ledge but we’re going to … it’s going to be … it’s not going to do any job processing. You’ll still have granite, quartz, solid surface, laminate and solid surface showers on display there but just somebody that help taking more, take orders and help them with what is it that they want exactly, working with the customer to figure out what their needs are.

We don’t have all the operations part of folder making and stuff like that where it will be, that part will be at the new location. We also still have selections at that location.

Patrick: Okay, you still will have to deal with a couple of locations in a certain way, just fewer.

Dave: We will not just, but just not logistics of moving product. Everything from there can be dealt with using Moraware so you get the first.

Patrick: Always. How is the move itself been going? Have your customers been inconvenienced at all? Have you had to push back how long a job would take or has it just been … people have just had to work harder and get more grouchy?

Dave: The move has been going actually very slow. I would be on the townships and it’s a preexisting building with several overhead cranes running back and forth so we’ve been just taking a piece at a time and actually review something that I got from John Hansen of Kohler and it’s a rail and this rail has what it is that needs to be done for the action item and then it has who’s in charge of that action item ultimately and then by what date you’re going to have that thing taken care of or the action completed and after that is a comment for any details you’d like to add. We’ve been using that to break down every little piece of the move and it’s going very slowly. It’s not causing too many problems for us at this point. We’re going to shut everything down at the stone shop first on a weekend and move everything.

Everything will be pre-wired. The drains are in right now. It really hasn’t been that bad yet but we’ll knock on …

Patrick: Very nice. You said a rail. Is that a physical rail? We see a rail, I don’t know what you mean.

Dave: You can’t hide from it. It’s an Excel spreadsheet. It’s a very basic Excel spreadsheet. The first column has what the action item is and that’s all it is. Then we just share that. We actually keep it Moraware where everyone can look at it and we just keep updating it. It’s just a spreadsheet that has very basic items. Very basic but it’s very … you can’t run from it. You can’t hide from it. You just will have this done by this day and then there is actually a column that says completed, requires more action, running behind, or not completed that kind of describes where we’re sitting in the particular item.

Patrick: Cool.

Dave: It helps.

Patrick: Let’s talk about the stuff you’re putting in your stone shop. When I visited you recently, you mentioned, I think it was the edge polisher that you said this was the highest ROI piece of equipment that you’ve purchased. Explain that to me again. Why was the edge polisher, why did you see that as such a useful thing?

Dave: We’ve been doing a lot of commercial, condo, multi-family and everything … like no other. It has one function. Actually Michael Langenderfer from the Countertop Shop in Ohio suggested it. He purchased it a year before me and the thing just puts outside each edge is done. It’s like 6 days with the perfect amount of pressure with the perfect water and speed every time and it just puts out a heck of an edge. You don’t even need somebody to seat it. My 9-year-old could probably seat it. Not taking away from any of the guys in the shop. It’s great because … they love it because they could sit there and just sweat the ass off but this thing is pushing it out without sweat at all. They can continuously put it out so they can focus on other things.

Patrick: Right, you said it literally does the work that would take 6 people to do that work in the same amount of time. Is that right?

Dave: Absolutely.

Patrick: Yeah, that sounds like quite a no-brainer as you said. Is that a piece of park equipment?

Dave: No that is Marmo. It’s the Marmo. 611M is the model number that we purchased and it’s been a great piece of equipment. Although I would have to, I don’t want to sugarcoat anything. It works great on certain stones like natural stone, granite…sometimes you get a chipped edge. Sometimes. In quartz it’s almost perfect about every time.

Patrick: Interesting.

Dave: I get feedback from my guys, I barely ran it actually. I have but I’m seeing edges that are coming out nice and very level.

Patrick: Very cool. Again when I visited you were then stroking your chin and trying to decide what you’re going to invest in next and I remember you were wrestling with do I go with the water side, do I get the C and C or should I just invest in more employees. Can you talk about where you are on that decision? Where you are on that path currently?

Dave: We had a job recently where the whole job was running extremely far behind and we outsourced a portion of them but they couldn’t push it out quite to the degree that we needed. I said I’ll just water jet them all out instead and you guys can polish the edges. Right now we have a programable saw. You can do a lot of things on it but it’s not a digital saw and once they are heated, water jetted everything out and started using a saw jet from part and sent them to us where he was able to do that quickly as we said but he couldn’t do C and C because it would have taken an extra week and a half because that was his bottleneck in a shop.

They kicked him over to us. I think there were 6 kitchens actually, 6 or 10, I cannot remember but either way, we ended up polishing everything up and installing it the next day. We had a day or roughly 10 hours of fabrication but 4 days polishing we were able to take out a huge amount of work just by cutting out that digital cut. It made me think is that the most important tool? Is the actual digital cut the most important tool. Everybody I talked to says that the C and C tends to be the bottom edge and you have this huge investment instead of incremental investments in people to polish.

It just makes me think and I bounced back and forth quite a bit and did Steve, my dad, and Rachel. We have beat into the ground of what our next investment is and I’m not exactly sure if it’s. Right now our investment is getting up. I’m running with everything in one location but that’s our investment right now.

Patrick: Then you mentioned another alternative as well. Outsourcing. You have to balance that against is it better to do all the work yourself or to send something to somebody else who already has that particular piece of equipment and then you’re not making that capital investment.

Dave: Right yep, and then we do that. We like to outsource a good percentage actually because it takes those peaks and valleys out of your business and we do a fair amount of commercial too. Really when it comes in, they want it yesterday. They do, in commercial and if they’re running behind the countertops, it’s just one of those last things that …

Patrick: Right.

Dave: There’s just too many people dependent, the plumber gets your staff hooked up so that they can get their permit and just able to have other resources in order to take out capacity is great especially if you have people you trust and used to dealing with and you can deal on a handshake. You don’t need 45 contracts and stuff. You know that he’s going to do what he says he’s going to do and that you’re going to do what you say you’re going to do. That’s the best relationship to have.

Patrick: Do you have a collection of companies that you would go to? As you said, if a commercial project needed to be done yesterday, do you have a handful of people that call to see who has the capacity to get it done as fast as possible or just 1 or 2 that you really trust that you decide whether to do a job based on whether they’re available?

Dave: Mainly 1 person that we send stuff to, when it’s granite quartz. It’s not a bad idea to have others but we just have a good relationship and we’re fair with each other. We can have a good system set up to … it makes sense and I don’t like to change but right now it’s working great and I just think … fix it. I’m looking for long-term relationships with people.

Patrick: That’s cool.

Dave: Not always 50 cents cheaper or 50 cents more expensive. We say we’re going to do is the quality what you want it to be and can I live with all these conditions. Yeah.

Patrick: Speaking of long-term relationships, it sounds like you have a bit of a family business too. You said your dad started the business and then is that you and your sister who are running it currently?

Dave: No, my dad is still involved with business and actually what our makeup is my dad, Steve, that started the business 35 years ago mainly in cabinets and then bled over into laminate countertops. That’s what I grew up doing was laminate color tops. My sister, Rachel, that is involved in the business and was in retail prior to that, but is very good at the business. My mom, Jane, is actually retiring this year. She is a CPA by trade. They all have their strong points.

I would have to say that I’m surrounded by very good people that are very smart and work extremely hard. I’m very lucky in that aspect and my friends. Since my dad, Steve, he goes and goes and goes, very talented. He will have my back at all costs, I know this, and I know that he knows this, and he knows that I know that he knows this. My sister, Rachel, she will work till 4 a.m. without complaint.

Patrick: Wow!

Dave: She knows the countertop business and never quits. She is a, I would say … To put her nutshell, she is a seeker of truth. I know that she is going to get to the bottom of it. We all have very different skill sets which is kind of … Maybe I don’t think it’s normal enough in a family to have all different skill sets. My mom, Jane, CPA by trade, I would describe her as a very analytical, good decision maker, very balanced. Sometimes takes a while to make decisions because of that, but tends to make a very wise decision and she is the big picture, which leads to me. I’m a little bit different. I tend to fly by the seat of my pants a little more, leave disarray around me. I’m more of a problem solver, I would say is probably my biggest role in the business. I put out fires with bitchy customers, I deal with them.

I sell Paxton to others. I sell is the big point of my business, but it’s easy for me to sell our business to others because I believe in it. I believe in what I’m selling, my business. I know that we are the best option for people. If I don’t believe that we are the best option for somebody else, I’m not afraid to tell them.

“You know what, maybe we’re not a good fit for each other.” I like to sit on the same side of the bench as someone. Let’s sit next to each other, not across from each other. I want to be an ally with my customers. I don’t want to be pitted against them and as we see more and more work coming our way that’s good work, that’s in line with our core competencies are, I have an option. In 2009, we didn’t have an option to have a choice of a customer that we want to work for. We have more choices daily about who it is we want to work for or what work we want to do and I’m thankful for that.

Patrick: Yeah, I think a lot of people forget that in all businesses that you get choose who your customers are. One of the key ways you do that is pricing that if you are competing on price, you’re choosing a certain kind of customer. If you’re competing on a luxury experience, you’re choosing a different kind of customer obviously and there’s a lot of different things you can do in between. You start attracting different kinds of customers based on different ways you behave.

Dave: Well, in our business too we do laminate countertops, solid surface. We do granite, quartz. I feel like that’s why a lot of times we are a good fit for people is because not everybody can afford granite, not everybody can afford quartz, not everybody wants solid surface or can afford solid surfaces unlike laminate. Honestly, laminate is a great option for people and I have to … If I’m going to be 100% honest with myself, laminate I would have at my house if I didn’t do it. I would and because countertops are a very, very emotional decision.

It doesn’t make sense to have a $50,000 set of countertops in your kitchen and people do that. People do that. Does it make sense to have $1200 worth of countertops in your kitchen that has the same design, that has color, that’s easy to clean, that’s very sanitary? Does that make sense? It serves the purpose. I definitely say if I’m going to be a 100% honest with myself, I would say that laminate is the best option for most people in reality if you are talking functional. Of course, I would live in my deer blind also and according to Marianne I do, laugh out loud.

Patrick: You probably need to put more weather resistant countertops in your deer blind though.

Dave: Oh, you haven’t seen my deer blind yet.

Patrick: Not yet. Wow! We have laminate in our house and part of the reason is we have a relatively modest house. I think granite might look a little silly. It might seem out of place, so definitely laminate still has a place. How does that fit into your business? You say you sell all these different kinds of materials. Is one of them more profitable than other or I mean does laminate still bring you a nice profit? Does it have a good margin?

Dave: It does have a good margin. You know what? It’s steady. Laminate is steady. You break a slab. All of a sudden you’re like, “Oh Jeez.” That bills cost add up real fast and there are these liabilities with more expensive products that are just not involved with laminate. Of course, you can break the 5 x 12 sheet, but little things with laminate … We’re just been doing it a long time. We’re very good at it. We consider it as something that we’re extremely good at. Little things we do too that other people don’t do, we cover the bottoms of the laminate countertops so your dishwasher doesn’t feel fuzzy over time. Your overhangs are consistent. It’s what you do to a shelf. A shelf, you cover both sides. It’s called balancing. Over time you don’t get that weird expansion and contraction. We also put a two part adhesive under the seams, so the seams don’t come apart over time.

We use moving grate or slush, so that if water would get behind them anyway, they don’t swell up. These little precautionary measures we do because we’ve done it a long time. We’ve have run across about everything possible that can possibly go wrong. I’m not saying that we won’t run across something else. I’m sure we will, but we’ve pretty much done everything right, so we sell a great product in laminate. I try to get that across to people. If you are to see the … granite that you’re purchasing, maybe you can do much better with laminate and spent a lot less money, I don’t know.

Patrick: Wow! That’s kind of neat and I get a hint from you talking about laminate that you enjoy the craftsmanship of your business as much as the business part. You said you do sales, but you like figuring out those tricks, those little things over time, don’t you, about how to deliver a better result for customers?

Dave: I do like fabricating. I find myself able to do it less and less, which I’m actually a little bit intrigued. Once I move into this new place and I’m always at where everything is going on in front of me and I can see which area needs more attention that I can have my work close right there until I’m on and jump in. I’m looking forward to that.

Patrick: That’s cool.

Dave: Plus you know what? When you’re dealing with people like when we have to get a job done and I throw on my work clothes and go out there and work with them, I feel like it’s much easier to say come with me, do it with me, instead of go do that. I’m more likely to want to do anything for somebody when they’re there with me doing it instead of telling me to go do it. It’s really easy to yell and say, “Oh go do that while I’m sitting over here,” but to actually jump in and go do with them and say, “Let’s keep going, let’s keep going” you can such better results in my opinion. Plus you know what they’re going through.

Patrick: Yeah, that’s leadership and I think people forget one of the basic definitions of lead is to go first, not to push from behind but to trail a blaze and show how something is done. That makes perfect sense to me. Speaking of leadership, you took a turn as President of ISFA. What motivated you to do that and what did you get out of it?

Dave: Well, let’s back up. The people that I met through ISFA, I’ve learned more than I can ever give back by far. It was 2001-2002, I met this guy. His name is Danny Hammerich from Sterling Heights, Michigan. I kind of viewed him as the mad scientist of solid surface. He had this crazy hair and he is stomping around and doing things. If you know Danny, this is …

Patrick: I don’t know him.

Dave: It’s describing him in a nutshell, but he was like from Back to the Future, the mad … “Marty,” but he taught me a lot about solid surface, a lot. I bought everything he owned and then he introduced me to ISFA. At that point, it was the International Solid Surface Fabricators Association and all these people that I met were just unbelievable. Little things I … Actually I did an article in a magazine recently, Architectural Surfaces Magazine which is ISFA’s magazine, but talking about that … I said, “I don’t have much to give. I just don’t have a lot that I can offer you like phenomenal business advice or anything like that. I know the countertop industry.”
The reason I do is I was born in it and then also I met all these people from across the United States and World, from Martin Fong when I roomed with him in Orlando 10 years ago, just listening to him … He doesn’t say much, but when he tells you something you better listen. Ted Sherritt, Mike Langandar shares with me things daily. I talk to Mike all the time.

Patrick: That’s cool.

Dave: Russ Berry that you had on as a podcast, I listen to these people and we wouldn’t have the advantage in our business that we have without all these people and that’s what this is with all these people. This will mean nothing. What does it mean? It’s all these people that are in it. You know what? I should explain. Have you ever walked into a room and everybody is there to give? Everybody is there to give and they have checked their egos at the door and they’re just adding to the conversation, you feel this energy like a force. You help the competitor by giving him a 2 liter adhesive or helping them solve a problem. It feels good to give. What is that? It’s like a dog treat, good behavior. When you feel really good, like I want to do this more.

If it’s out of like forced to give and help, it doesn’t feel the same. I’m forced to do this and at that point I feel like you should walk away if you’re forced to go, but when in you’re in a room of fabricators and you’re talking about ways to solve problems in your business, it’s pretty powerful and I would challenge everybody to … If you have an open even going on, I know we have the CEO Roundtables, all these different events going, it’s worth your time to go to these. That’s how I met all these people. It’s like you’re in a roomful of giving hearts.

Anyway as far as ISFA, why I chose to be President or when I was nominated to be the President, I had to accept because I can’t give back all that I’ve taken. Not taken, but really had it given to me, advice and stuff like that, I don’t think I would have the drive or the ambition in this business. I think I’m always going to have drive and ambition, but I don’t know. I feel like I have all these people that I can call at any given point, all these resources at my fingertips that I can say, “Hey, have you ever run across this with three form?” I called Russ Berry with an issue with three form. He said, “Oh! Okay, send me a diagram” and you walk through it of exactly what to do.

John … up in Michigan always helps. I’m a competitor of his, but we’re direct competition. We talk to each other. He’s a dear friend of mine, very funny guy too. I roomed with him. He actually likes Ricky Lake when he was been up till morning.

Patrick: Wow!

Dave: I’m sure he won’t appreciate that.

Patrick: Yeah, giving away secrets here.

Dave: No, I can’t explain what these events are like. Those who have been there understand, but it helps to have more people. I would push people to be more involved in this rather than the ISFA mentoring program. Three years ago, Ted Sherritt was my mentor. He was one of your guests on the show. Great guy. Never try to keep up with him in vodka consumption though, which I had to go neck to neck with him. Not a good idea.

Patrick: Going to lose.

Dave: I told Ted. I said, “I’m going to use the same toothpaste you use. I’m going to use the same shampoo.” He’s like, “Wait a minute, you don’t have any hair. Where you’re going to use the same shampoo at?” “Okay, well I won’t use, but what brand of soap do you use,” but tell me everything you do, I’m going to do everything that you do to a T, and something that he did actually, you need to focus on materials. Actually something we did with our business plan is every year we make a decision of what material in each category are we going to focus on, so for instance solid surface, I’m going to focus on coir.

Patrick: Okay, and do you mean focus on a specific vendor for a material, is that what you mean?

Dave: Yes, I do. Also I’m going to … So that I know all these colors inside and out. In my opinion, this is where I differ from some people, but I’ve taken Ted’s suggestion on this and I’m sticking with it, but you’re going to get to know those colors to a T, so I know exactly every little issue that you could possibly have so that I can sell a better product to my customer. They’re going to give me better pricing because I buy more from these people and so that I can give my customer a better price. I’m going to know how that finish is better because I use it all the time. I’m going to have the perfect adhesive matches. I’m going to know that Glue Warehouse works better than Integra in this case or vice versa because they’re always back and forth, but either way even like Formica, we’re going to focus on Formica over other laminates.

They’re the leader in the industry in my opinion. I’m going to take them and with all these colors, I know those colors inside and out. I know the issues with the colors so do all my guys. With quartz, we focus on Silestone Cosentino, that’s who we’re going to focus on and every year we make a business decision based on everything. Everything about the distributor, about the colors that are coming out, and everything, and make an overall decision. That’s it. We’re sticking with that for the year and it’s helped us immensely. A lot of people tell me that I’m wrong for doing this, but that’s what we’re doing.

Patrick: That makes sense to me. As you’ve suggested, I’ve seen other fabricators do it the opposite way and have many different providers of kinds of materials, sell both Cambria and Silestone, all kinds of different laminate manufacturers, et cetera, and I can only say from my perspective as I’m more of a customer when I walk into a shop than a peer. When I walk into a fabrication shop, I walk in as a homeowner would, right, because I’m not a fabricator. It’s just intimidating to me.

When I see … I know enough of the industry now that I definitely notice when there are three brands of quartz and multiple solid surface types, and I can’t help but think what it would be like trying to talk with my wife about first deciding which of these categories to choose from, which type of material, and then having to choose between multiple books and brochures of Cambria versus Silestone versus some Chinese brand or whatever, that would just intimidate me. Again, other people I’m sure can give counter arguments and say, “Yeah, why that’s wrong,” but from the customer’s perspective having too many choices is just intimidating and frustrating in my opinion.

Dave: Well, and the customer that is where our focus should be, but there is a lot of layers to do that. Okay, I’m going to have remnants of seven different brands of quartz that I’m never going to use, so that’s now considered a waste instead of usable product. Now I can’t give the customers as good of price because of that or I don’t know the colors as well, there’s definitely a lot of angles to that type of logic or strategy.

Patrick: That’s an interesting point, yeah. Otherwise you’re going to get … What do you want to get good at? If you want to get good at sourcing materials, then you’re not getting good at showing customers how to buy the right kitchen for them. You know what I mean? You can do only so much and if you spend too much energy all these different relationships with fabricators that I have to think, my personal opinion is that’s going to take away from your relationships with customers.

Dave: Yes.

Patrick: I saw you speak at ISFA event and specifically mention that you’re high on solid surface. What do you like about solid surface and what have you been doing …? I saw what I thought were some innovative things that you’ve done with solid surface. Talk about your solid surface work.

Dave: Well, solid surface is definitely one of those things that’s a little more dear to my heart because of what you can do with it and it’s sometimes difficult to get across to people, the possibilities of the material and that we’re at the tip of the iceberg and what we can do with this stuff and the shower is by far the coolest and the best … In my opinion, the best place for the material. There’s zero absorption. You can take a piece 2 inches x 2 inches, soak it in the water for 24 hours, take it out, and then it will weigh the same as before.

Patrick: Right, nice.

Dave: It’s not taking on moisture. That’s important because what do you do in a shower, you shower. You spray water all over the walls and the best option right now for people is tile. I’m going to have 400 grout lines to clean and regrout and recaulk and seal, and all these crap. You have this material where you can radius the inside corners. What we have been doing is challenging ourselves a little more and saying let’s throw out what everything else does. Everything else is a pan with a valve that are set on and let’s throw out those culture marble strong points and other material strong points, and let’s cater it to what solid surface strong points are. That’s what I’s really like to have is a group of people that really want to get into the shower business and solid surface that are setup for solid surface.

Patrick: Nice.

Dave: Thermal forming and let’s talk about this. Let’s work out some ideas that other people have and bounce ideas of from each other. I’ve done with these people, but I’d like to have a group of people that that’s what we do is focus on the shower industry of solid surface. It’s just such a great material for that product You can do anything with it …

Patrick: If someone’s saying, I want to be a part of that, E-mail me at Patrick@moraware.com and I’ll forward you along to Dave.

Dave: That would be great. Yeah, because there’s a future in it. Like when we were first starting to make solid surface countertops, it took forever. Same with showers, it took forever. Once you have the process hammered out, I would have to believe that the healthcare industry would love to have it. Something outside of the box that there are no square points anywhere in the shower. They’re easy to clean. They’re very durable. They’re repairable if you do damage them. ADA accessible, just outside of what the norm is.

Patrick: Yeah, and again, I’m not a fabricator, but you showed some simple things you’ve done with solid surface. One of the ones that grabbed my attention was listening to customers and building the little foot notches in for the ladies to shave their legs. I thought that was just a cool example of listening.

Dave: That’s a very common one and all of this is on a 4 inch x 6 inch caddie. We make them and then we fuse them to back of the panel, so they fall between the studs like a molded thing, but we use them because of bar soap. It was up high. Well, one lady said, “Hey, can you set that about here” and she was holding her leg up off the ground 18 inches or so, and sure, and that’s where most of this stuff comes from is listening to your customers. What do they want? What does the customer want? They want things that are practical. They want things that are cool. You’re able to do that with solid surface in the shower, there is … I would like to hear more feedback. More feedback from these customers of what do you value. What makes sense? What’s easy to clean? What saves your time so you can do other stuff?

Patrick: It’s one of those things that I would imagine a lot of customers would love that, but didn’t know to ask for it, so being able to offer them … I mean it’s like the cliché of cars with cup holders that at some point in history when people didn’t know they wanted a cup holder and then when they saw it in the car, that caused them to buy the car and now everybody is cramming cup holders and everything, but the point is people don’t just think about the thing they’re buying. What really lights them is when it improves their lives, so if you think of new ways to improve someone’s life, they’re going to want to buy from you or they’re going to be happier when they do.

Let’s finish with a couple of craft things as I said because I know, you know about a lot of things that you seem to get excited talking about them, but I don’t understand that, but you get all these people out there listening to this who will understand that. I remember you talking, I believe it was with Mel, at a dinner we were at about how to break a solid surface seam using irons. What was that approach?

Dave: Well, what we do is we just use two irons and you turn them on low, and hit them with a little laser. We use a laser thermometer with solid surface … You check that until it gets to 190 degrees. It depends on the adhesive, but like Glue Warehouse adhesive is about 190 degrees for a break and that’s what we found. We run a bar over the front edge, just a steel pipe, and then clamp it to it with a Jorgensen or a bar clamp and on the other side we put a shim so that it’s put in a little bit of pressure on the other side.

We set both of those irons on a piece of a paper towel at the seam, front and back, and just set them there and you just go ahead and do what else you’re doing there and all of a sudden, you hear a pop and it comes apart, and that’s the gist of it. It works well. That’s how you … Quartz adhesive is like no other when it’s quartz.

Patrick: Very cool.

Dave: You need something to get them apart rather than cut it, and then you can just clean the seam off and do what you got to do. Re-attach it back together, you’re not damaging the material, but it works well. Very nice.

Patrick: Well, I hope somebody said, “Hey, I never thought of that.” We’ll see. Well again, thank you for spending some time with me today and I always love talking to you. I always love hearing your ideas and your enthusiasm, and your generosity and gratitude for the industry. I think it’s really refreshing and enjoyable, so thank you.

Dave: I’d leave with just a quick word of advice.

Patrick: Please.

Dave: I don’t know who said this, some philosopher, but luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity. I feel like that’s where we are at with our stage in life right now in business.

Patrick: That’s nice.

Dave: It’s … I want to say real quick to you and Harry and Moraware people that how much I appreciate what you guys do with this thing. To hear my peers and just people that I really look up to on this program. I don’t see myself any near with a light of what I see them in and I listen to them all, and actually you kind of listen to …, you can turn them down and put it in your ear. You got to check out … Because deer have very good ears, so … But yeah, interesting show. I think that you guys are definitely answering the call of your customers by doing something like this to where this is a voice and that’s great. I really appreciate it and I want to say thank you to you, Harry, and all the Moraware people.

Patrick: You bet. I suspect this isn’t going to be the last time you’re going to get on.

Dave: Well, thanks for your product as well because we use it. We don’t just use it, but we use it.

Patrick: Yeah, well thank you. Likewise, we have a sense of gratitude and sense of we’re only scratching the surface and have a long way to go to solve the problems of our customers, but this is part of it is just thinking, “Well, we’re not our customers. We don’t do the same thing, so we just want to get you guys talking and everybody seems to have something interesting to say and just got to get it out there, so people can share with each other. Thank you.

Dave: I do want to see the Moraware wish list by the way. What’s on the wish list? I got to see this list. Is it at Moraware?

Patrick: It’s actually pretty much in E-mail and One Note frankly, or Evernote in my case. We literally get hundreds of requests a month and …

Dave: I bet you do.

Patrick: Even addressing that is something we step back and talk about. If we’re getting all these small feature requests, at one point might that suggest we’re missing the mark in some bigger way or that … Just like people don’t always know to ask about that little foot ledge to shave their legs, but until one person asks the right question that says,

“Oh yeah, we could do that,” and then you realize everybody does. There is a lot of that in our business as well and we’re constantly trying to figure out what’s the real problem that people have that they’re asking for this particular solution. People don’t care about our software, they care about making their businesses better and we’re trying to figure that out every day.

Dave: Good point.

Patrick: All right, man. Thank you so much again and I look forward to having you on the show again and I’m going to contact you about that deer when I get the stones for it.

Dave: Yes. All right. Thanks Patrick. Take care, man.

Patrick: All right. Talk to you soon.
Dave: See you.

Patrick: Bye. If you’re wondering what that last comment about that deer comment was all about, then listen to the next five minutes or so. It’s the recording of Dave first answering the phone when we talked about hunting for a few minutes. It has nothing to do with countertop fabrication, so hit stop now unless you want to hear Dave and me shoot the breeze.

Patrick: Hey, Dave. Patrick.

Dave: Hey Patrick.

Patrick: How you doing man?

Dave: Good.

Patrick: Good. Did you have a nice Thanksgiving?

Dave: Oh, I had a great Thanksgiving.

Patrick: Good, good, good. Me too.

Dave: Yeah, shot some deer and ate some turkey.

Patrick: Oh you did … You got to hunting on Thanksgiving?

Dave: Yeah, Thanksgiving morning. It’s a tradition to … a big doe for me.

Patrick: Do you eat the deer that you catch that day or does it take longer to process than that?

Dave: No, sometimes we will cut out the inside loins and have fajitas, because that’s the fillet mignon with a deer. Take it all that away and they’re accessible. Besides that, taking in and getting them cut up. I used to cut them up myself, but I kind of quit doing that because I have four kids and a business. Let someone else do it.

Patrick: Yeah, enough said there. Cool. Do your kids go hunting with you?

Dave: Yeah, unless I’m really like going to sit dark to dark and they can’t sit that long. Like my 9-year-old, he shot his first duck this year.

Patrick: Very nice.

Dave: He shot a seven point with a muzzle loader. He has been practicing all summer though at 40 years. Of course, with a muzzle loader, if you ever shot one, you stick three pellets in usually, which is iron.

Patrick: I don’t know.

Dave: With him, when he’s practicing, I put one in and shoot close range, but then where he’s sitting I know that deer is going to be about that range, and then when the day of reckoning comes, I throw an extra pellet in. He doesn’t notice the kick because he’s shooting a deer, but also its kicking a lot more than normally than what he’s been practicing with.

Patrick: Well, that’s a neat teaching trick. That’s pretty cool.

Dave: Yeah because you don’t want them to be afraid of that flinch, right.

Patrick: Yeah, yeah. That’s really cool. Well, I’ve never shot a deer. I don’t have anything against hunting. It’s just not something my family did and I haven’t gotten around to it yet.

Dave: You want to come over here and shoot a deer?

Patrick: Sure, some day if it works.

Dave: Come over tonight. We’ll go shoot one. I’ve got a blind that’s heated, raised, like a bench, there are seats out of our templating brands. You get the bands and you take the … I made this thing. I mean, it’s insulated, heat, the whole 9 yards. Put up windows. You can oversee like the whole road, the swamp, the escape routes, a pond. The come in and then … Like when I shot this one yesterday, there was 19 does and 2 bucks, and I just picked the biggest doe out of all of them.

Patrick: That’s cool. Wow! Thank you. I won’t be able to this weekend, but I may take you up on that at some point.

Dave: Hey, yeah, late muzzle loading season is fun too. That’s like December 12th to the 20th. That’s a good time. There’s snow on the ground. It’s usually just me plus what else you’re going to do, right, outside?

Patrick: Cool. Well thanks, we will work that out. I have to think about that.

Dave: It’s just funny that people are all into like things being, no hormones, free range and all those stuff, but then they don’t eat wild game. Well, the wild game is practically like the ultimate free range and actually has a slice of where it goes, what it eats, what it does …

Patrick: I was going to say, it is the … That sounds like a T-shirt, the ultimate free range food.

Dave: There you go.

Patrick: New business for you.

Dave: I wish we did that and feel like QDMA, they would buy that shirt. You could sell that shirt. You really could.

Patrick: Oh, I’m sure you could. All about finding that market too, the cross-section of people who don’t mind hunting and want to eat more natural foods as you said.

Dave: My kids barely know what beef tastes like. Beef is expensive right now, yeah.

Patrick: Yeah, it is.

Dave: We’ve shot three deer this year, I’ll shoot two more, and we won’t buy beef this year because what you do is you do add a little bit of pork with the burger. It makes the burger … Like a doe, not a big nasty buck, but a big doe, it is like the best. They’re not all fatty and nasty. It’s just meat. It’s excellent. Bear is not all that bad either.

Patrick: Yeah, I remember you said you hunt bear and you said it’s not bad.

Dave: Oh, it’s like sweet. I think we … I remember this from nature study class in college. I had this class. It was called nature study and genus phylum, what is it … But anyway, the bear is actually in the pig family.

Patrick: I did not know that.

Dave: They’re like a distant cousin if that makes sense, but then you look at them, what they eat, what their habits are and they’re very similar, but they’re like a cross between a raccoon and a pig.

Patrick: Yeah, I saw a picture on Facebook this morning, a picture of a pig that said, “I turn vegetables into bacon, what can you do?” Kind of a moot point, but anyway. Cool. All right, man, are you ready to do this?

Dave: Yeah.

Thanks for listening to StoneTalk, the podcast for countertop fabricators. If you liked this episode, be sure to visit stonetalk.org or subscribe to StoneTalk on iTunes for more. Visit the StoneTalk show Facebook to join in the conversation and follow @stonetalkshow on twitter.

StoneTalk is brought to you by Moraware, makers of JobTracker scheduling software and CounterGo estimating software for countertop fabricators.
I’m your host Patrick Foley and I look forward to spending time with you again on the next episode of StoneTalk.

2 thoughts on “Stone Talk Episode 13 – Dave Paxton

  1. lisa

    Hey, i enjoy listening to your podcast – just wondering if you could get it on doggcatcher – an app thats excellent for downloading and listening to podcasts.
    cheers

    1. Patrick Foley

      Hi Lisa!

      Thanks for listening … I haven’t used doggcatcher specifically, but every podcast listener should have the ability to add an “RSS Feed” directly – if you can find where to do that, give it this feed address: http://www.stonetalk.org/rss

      I hope that helps – if not, let me know.

      Cheers,

      -Patrick

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