Whether or not you are a fan of natural stone countertops, you can’t help but gain a keener appreciation of their beauty and usefulness after talking with Jeff Shaw. For that matter, anyone you talk to at Stone Trends in Sidney, British Columbia will wax poetic about the virtues of a granite or marble countertop. That is because Shaw makes sure his people have a good understanding of the products they make and sell.
“Our salespeople know everything about stone from the quarry to the kitchen,” says Shaw, who founded Stone Trends seven years ago.
“The customers don’t know anything about our industry so we take the responsibility very seriously to educate them about materials and workmanship. As part of the process we are careful to explain the different attributes of natural stone vs. quartz surfacing (we install a lot of quartz surfacing as well) to dispel any misconceptions they might have. It is important to us that our customers get full functionality from their kitchen counters and not be constrained by the fear of damaging their new, expensive work tops.”
One of the real aesthetic pleasures of owning a granite countertop is the feeling that a flowing piece of Mother Nature has grown up right inside your kitchen. In a way, it almost seems like magic. The spell is broken, however, if the joint at the deck seam is anything other than a book match.
“Some of our competitors don’t have an inventory of slabs and are selling jobs from samples,” Shaw explains. “That is where we offer a premium to our customers, because we have slabs in inventory, which makes it possible to do a book match by cutting into another half a slab. It’s all about doing the job right as opposed to just getting to the lowest price.”
A native of British Columbia, Shaw spent most of his life in Bermuda, enjoying the life of sun and sand. When he returned to Sidney it was to establish a top-notch stone fabrication business. “My partner in Bermuda was in the stone business and was interested in setting up shop with me here in BC,” Shaw says.
The first thing they did was survey the local competition, identifying their strengths and weaknesses. The business plan was to go toe-to-toe with the main players and deliver a better countertop experience. “When we came in, people were waiting 6-8 weeks for their countertops,” he says. “Even at our busiest time we deliver in 10-15 business days from customer approval.”
They were able to achieve the quicker turnaround by investing in the right equipment from the beginning. The company owns a CNC bridge saw and two CNC routers. Templates are made digitally using the Proliner 8 system. Investing in technology has enabled the company to keep manpower at a minimum, which makes for a very lean and efficient operation.
“We are a fine-tuned, custom shop,” Shaw explains. “Our strong points are our high level of customer service and an almost fanatic attention to detail. We listen to our customers and help them make the right choice for their countertops. Whether they are doing a small vanity or a large kitchen they all get the same level of service and attention to detail.”
Want to know more? At Moraware, we make software for countertop fabricators. CounterGo is countertop drawing and estimating software. 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.