In 1984, a chance encounter with a long lost friend introduced Patrick McGrath to the world of solid surface, or “man-made stone,” as it was then known. McGrath was interested in learning more because he had just returned to England from a stint in San Francisco and was in need of employment. He was struck with the design possibilities the material offered and immediately accepted a fabrication position with Bingley Son & Follet, which was then one of the largest Corian fabricators in the world.
“In those days everything moved slower,” he recalls. “Fax machines were in their early days and most plans were passed back and forward by post. Projects took weeks to get approved and fabricated. This lackadaisical pace carried over to the production and fitting processes.
There was little if any templating done and the fitting teams (installers) were a law onto themselves. After an unhurried loading in the morning they would drive around the corner to the local cafe for a leisurely ‘Full English’ fried breakfast with copious tea before heading off to start the day’s work, usually not getting to the site until nearly lunchtime.”
A Better Way
Tired of the disorganized management and knowing there was a more professional way to do business, McGrath left the company and went into partnership with David Axworthy, who was then Managing Director of Bingley. The new company, Counter Production, was organized on November 1, 1986.
“The secret of our success” says Patrick, “was that we professionalized the business of fabricating and installing and, most importantly, we kept our word to our clients regarding installation dates. We were the first in the UK to insist that every job be templated in order to minimize time on site and to reduce mess in the client’s home. We also introduced extraction equipment on site, trained our own professional fitting teams, gave them company uniforms and used only directly employed labor.”
Counter Production continued to grow organically and, following his partner’s retirement in 2003, McGrath implemented a capital investment program to bring the company into the digital age. This included the purchase of modern thermoforming equipment, a CNC machine and several ProLiner digital templating machines.
“The CNC machine was our best decision” he explains. “One of the advantages of the CNC is the immense contribution that it makes to better air quality in the workshop. My advice to any fabricator considering taking the CNC route is to go for it, but make sure you get double the extraction and vacuum power that the manufacturer recommends.”
Amid burgeoning growth, Counter Production found it increasingly difficult to cope with scheduling its seven teams of installers by relying on whiteboards. “At one of the ISFA conferences I met Harry Hollander who demonstrated Moraware to me,” McGrath says.
“I was sold on it immediately, and since implementing it within the company we have found it indispensable. Their back-up is incredibly good and when we have a problem, a quick call to Susan gives us the answers we need. There is still a lot in Moraware that we are not yet exploiting but, as resources permit, we will start using it for stock control as well as scheduling and quoting.”
Counter Production now has a workforce of almost 50 employees and generates just over £3 million (approximately $5 million USD) per year in revenue. Focusing on a strictly wholesale clientele, it has never advertised or used Google Adwords.
Rather, the company relies on relationship building, spearheaded by its long-time sales representative, Graham Stacey, and its reputation as a top-notch custom fabricator of solid surface. Counter Production has a newly redesigned website and actively engages in social media on Facebook and Twitter, updating both accounts on a weekly basis.
Want to know more? At Moraware, we make software for countertop fabricators. CounterGo is countertop drawing, layout, 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.