Fabricator Profile: GMD Surfaces

Nov 14, 2023 | Business, Customer Profile

Omar Chahin and his team at GMD Surfaces have built something really impressive over the last 16 years. Since 2007, they’ve focused on using technology to grow their business into a high-quality, efficient, and customer-centric machine. And I can’t lie, that’s exactly what software nerds like us love to hear!

After getting the chance to tour GMD during ISFA‘s Fabricator Crawl this summer, we knew we had to sit down and ask Omar a million questions about his success. So, we did…

It all starts with knowing who you are

From the very start, Omar knew he wanted GMD to be a big shop. That impacted his business decisions and set up their path moving toward that goal. Having this mindset (and a great team) is how they were able to sell $1M in their first year. And within a year and a half, they were investing in a CNC machine which caused a huge uptick in their business with high-end builders. Now, they have 42 employees and produce about 750sf per day.

Omar’s key advice for fabricators just starting out is always to “know who you are.” Understanding what type of fabrication you want to do, what customers you want to work with, and what your shop’s values are will help in goal-setting and knowing where to invest. There are tight margins in this industry so it’s vital to have a clear direction for you and your team or you’ll put yourself out of business.

Technology will take you there

A background in engineering and architecture means that Omar was always going to be using technology in his business. He says for anyone who wants to stay in manufacturing long-term, investing in technology and machinery is a must.

GMD began by using Outlook for everything from emails to notes to scheduling and began to outgrow it. They moved over to Moraware for their quoting and scheduling when a new employee recommended it to solve their scheduling struggles. Alongside their machinery investments, Omar notes how essential the different software he uses are to his workflow. His stack also includes Job Well Done, Slabsmith, SPEEDlabel, Laser Products, and CAD.

Expert tips on getting the most out of Moraware

In Omar’s wise words, Moraware is “a powerful engine and you need to take advantage of everything that comes with it.” Part of this is creating processes in the system that allows you to pull the useful data out so you can make those important business decisions. Below are just a few of Omar’s favorite tips for making your reporting more successful:

No typing, please

Everything is a click and select option for GMD. This helps avoid inaccurate reporting through misspellings, human errors, slow responses, etc. For example, want to know what colors to keep in stock? You can pull up a report showing which colors are selling the most. But, if your sales team is typing those colors in – they might be all spelling one color multiple ways and then you won’t get an accurate representation of exactly what’s moving and what isn’t. If everyone is required to select from a dropdown….well, problem solved! You’ve just made your material usage more efficient.

The pink additional job form

Omar and I quickly bonded over a love for color coding. It became clear that at the extremely organized GMD factory, pink equals pay attention. And, nothing makes more sense than their additional job form which is, as you’ve probably figured out, pink.

Whenever there is any extra work related to a job, this form is required. The required drop down fields ask why this additional work is needed and requires Omar or the Operation Manager’s approval before it can move forward. This is a phenomenal way to report on reworks!

You can categorize the reasons for additional work (measurement error, cutting error, customer service issue, etc) and put a value to each. This report allows you to see how much money has been lost and what sort of things can be addressed to reduce the number of additional work.

💡Check out these downloadable form templates

CounterGo on iPads

One of the easiest ways to improve your use of CounterGo is to really take the time to set it up. GMD has everything in there – 93 colors in their price list, all the cut-outs, etc. This makes it easy to quote right there on the spot on an iPad. The customer is handed the iPad and fills out the lead form right there and can sign with Job Well Done, preventing any hold up on getting the job started. By having the customer put in their information, you’re also preventing any mistakes on contact information or other things that could hold up a job (and your profit). Omar says that they have improved their follow-up and close rates greatly but that there is always room for improvement.

💡 Want to use CounterGo better? We’re happy to help!

Keep moving towards being the business you want to be

The one thing that all successful countertop shops have in common is that they are always looking to improve. You make a change that shaves off some time from one process and you use that time to look at another bottleneck to improve.

Omar is absolutely no exception. Besides looking to be ISO certified soon, GMD just had a partnership with the University of Illinois Champaign’s Industrial Engineering Department. Four seniors came in and helped with efficiency and bottlenecks. They found that the team was spending a total of 55 minutes walking from saw to dumpster. If the dumpster was just brought closer and buckets were used, GMD would save about 30 minutes from that process. And, that’s just ONE example. Imagine if you looked at each of your processes regularly and found small ways to save consistently.

💡Read more: Lean Manufacturing for Fabricators

It all starts with knowing who you are and working towards that goal everyday. We’re just glad we get to be a part of the GMD Surfaces team’s journey there.

Lastly, thank you to Omar for sharing his experience and wealth of knowledge!