We were lucky enough to participate in another Park Industries Digital Stoneworking Expo on October 26-27.
As usual, the event was incredibly packed with great information about the industry and a super forum for fabricators to learn and share business advice. If you haven’t attended one before, you should.
Park has been doing these expos since 2007, and they keep improving the agenda. This time there was another new addition – more shop tours. Instead of a one-day event, we came a day early and got to visit 3 shops on Wednesday, and another on Thursday.
Thanks very much to Valley View Granite, Bedrock Quartz, Chris & Dick’s, and Out of the Woods for hosting two busloads of visitors during their production hours.
Another innovation during this DSE was electronically polling the audience during the presentation. Each of the 70+ countertop fabricators got a device that looked similar to a calendar, and their votes were connected live to the PowerPoint presentation. Some of the stats I thought were most interesting:
42% considered themselves “Digital” shops.
53% did more that 750 square feet of production per week.
65% thought their top business problem was scarcity of shop labor.
48% used Moraware as software in their business.
Out of the Woods
My favorite part of the Thursday event was presentations by countertop fabricators. First, Tige & Matt from Out of the Woods spoke.
Out of the Woods started as a cabinet manufacturer in 1998, in a 40’x50′ building behind Tige’s house. In 2005, they started selling granite although the outsourced the fabrication. In 2010, they worked more closely with a fabrication partner before switching to in-house fabrication in 2013.
Tige gave great insight into their process for making the switch to digitizing their stone operation. Relentless research, including visiting lots of other shops seems to have made their transition easier than I’ve heard from other fabricators.
In 2015, they built a new building for their granite fabrication, and coordinated adding a waterjet saw, CNC router, slab-photo station, backsplash polisher, and water clarification system. Oh, and they started using digital templating and CounterGo estimating software shortly before that, too.
Once they had the new building and machines installed, they completely switched over to their new workflow within a week. After adding the new capacity, they also added on use of JobTracker job management software.
In the afternoon, Scott from Majestic Marble gave a presentation where he was extremely open about his business. He opened up a few spreadsheets and explained to the whole audience about his financials.
What surprised me the most was his candor, considering that one of his direct competitors was at the event. It’s proof that he practices what he preaches. Scott said that he has a shop that’s open to any visitor because one of his business goals is to improve the overall level of business in the granite industry.
His approach seems to be working. In addition to his location in Orlando, he opened another location near Tampa and plans on adding another location in the near future.
Thanks! again to Park Industries and all of the granite fabricators who attended the digital expo. As usual, it was a learning experience for us, too.
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. We also sponsor StoneTalk, the podcast for countertop fabricators.