On September 14th, we attended the Stone Education seminar hosted at MSI in Jessup, MD.
The speaker was MIA president G.K. Naquin, of Stone Interiors in Loxley, AL, who shared his experiences as a high-end countertop fabricator who’s company produces about 45 kitchens per week.
The workshop included group discussion and sharing over a wide range of topics, which included the following conversations:
The general consensus among the fabricators at the seminar was that survival is the key part of how they’re viewing the industry, tellingly phrased as “There are never enough competitors going out of business”.
There are conflicting forces at work – none of the shops in attendance want to compete on price, but the market seems to be turning granite countertops into a commodity in the eyes of consumers. So, most of the fabricators are turning to more automation to reduce their costs.
G. K. shared some of the metrics that drive his shop. For him, everything is measured in the square foot cost. Although his shop is located in a low-cost labor market, he wants to keep his labor cost at or below 30% of his overall cost per sale. Specifically, he spends:
- $3.95/sq. ft. in production labor.
- $1/sq. ft. for template labor.
- $4.50/sq. ft for installation labor.
The vast majority of the fabricators in attendance were experiencing modest growth, compared to the trend nationwide of a drop over the last few weeks. There were a variety of ways that they’ve been achieving the growth – typically by going to higher-end products or by expanding their product lines.
G.K. has found that the primary driver of his own company’s growth has been their specialization on marble kitchens, which are becoming a trend among high-end customers.
Future of the Industry
G.K’s personal results with adopting technology in his fabrication business were inspirational. Although it took effort, training, and time to overcome the resistance to new ways in his shop, the numbers have made the change worthwhile.
Stone Interiors thinks of their whole production process and capacity in terms of $/sq. ft. By analyzing at the dollars per square foot of labor, material, and overhead they’ve made huge strides toward improving the profitability of the business.
There was also lots of discussion about using resinated granite slabs, safety in the shop, keeping employees happy, and even website marketing. In a meeting like this, all of the participants get a chance to learn from their peers, which is great for the overall stone industry. We’re happy to be sponsoring an event that helps everyone share their best practices.
Want to know more? At Moraware, we make software for countertop fabricators. JobTracker is scheduling software that helps you eliminate the time you waste looking for job folders. RemnantSwap is a free place to buy and sell granite remnants with fabricators near you.