Countertop fabricators who offer quartz, solid surface or laminate have a wide variety of brands from which to choose for their product offerings. Some business owners argue that, since the fabricator adds most of the value to the final product, the choice of brand is less important than the aesthetic, i.e., color and/or texture. Others choose to align themselves primarily with a single supplier in each material category, citing the advantages of improved communication, more favorable pricing, and higher levels of competency resulting from a more intimate knowledge of the product. Both scenarios can be highly customer-driven. In the end analysis, it basically comes down to a business decision.
“Every year when we do our business plan we make a decision of what material in each category are we going to focus on,” says Dave Paxton of Paxton Countertops and Showers in Lansing, MI. “So, for instance, if it’s solid surface, I’m going to focus on Corian. If it’s laminate, we go with Formica. Quartz would be Silestone.”
Increased Product Knowledge
Paxton says that single-sourcing material brands creates a type of focus which allows his staff to become true experts for each product. “We get to know all these colors inside and out,” he explains. “In my opinion, this is where we differ from some people. We get to know those colors to a T, so we know exactly every little issue that you could possibly have. We’re going to have the perfect adhesive matches. I’m going to know how that finish is better because I use it all the time. That way I can sell a better product to my customer.”
A partnership relationship with his suppliers is valuable to Paxton because it helps create an environment of trust, information sharing and mutual financial benefits. “They’re going to give me better pricing because I buy more from them,” he says, “which means I, in turn, can give my customer a better price.”
Less Waste, More Profit
By sticking to a single brand in each category, Paxton is able to become more efficient in his use of material as well. “If I have seven different suppliers of quartz, for example, I end up with off-fall from seven different products that I am never going to use,” he says. “At that point the extra is considered waste, instead of a usable product. That means I can’t give the customer as good of a price plus I don’t have the same kind of product knowledge.”
As you might imagine, the choice of who to partner with is not taken lightly by the folks at Paxton Countertops. It involves an annual detailed analysis of all aspects of the supplier relationship. “Every year we review our previous dealings with the distributor, evaluate the new colors that are coming out, and everything we know about the supplier to make an overall decision,” Paxton explains. “Once the decision is made, that’s it. We’re sticking with that for the year. A lot of people tell me I’m wrong for doing this, but that’s what we’re doing – and it’s helped us immensely.”