Archive | September, 2014

Domain Adds ‘Majestic Collection’ to Affinity Solid Surface Line

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Domain Adds ‘Majestic Collection’ to Affinity Solid Surface Line

Posted on 26 September 2014 by cradmin

Affinity Majestic Collection AscendDomain Industries, Inc.announced the introduction of the Majestic Collection to its lineup of Affinity Surfaces solid surface material. These 10 color additions focus on unique natural textures and marble effects. The collection offers veined patterns with elegant, subtle direction. The line also features 100 percent acrylic composition, a newly welcomed trait to the lineup of Affinity solid surface material. With the addition of these 10 colors, Affinity solid surface now boasts 79 colors in total, including 23 top-selling “Essentials” colors, as well as 46 “Surreal” colors, a selection of dramatically bold particulates and patterns that are often found in quartz surfacing products.

The 10 Majestic colors include the following: Carrara; Antiquity; Arctic; Bianco; Imperial; Giallo; Harmony; Ascend (pictured here); Fiorito; and Capella. They are in stock and available to fabricators and designers now, and offer a 10-year product warranty.

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Federal Brace Launches ‘Corbel Converter’ Product Line

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Federal Brace Launches ‘Corbel Converter’ Product Line

Posted on 25 September 2014 by cradmin

federal brace corbel converterFederal Brace introduced the new Corbel Converter, which takes the average, static wooden corbel and makes it a convertible design element. The patented technology incorporated into the Corbel Converter gives the home owner, designer and contractor flexibility in design and ease in installation. It ends the need for climbing under cabinets or using fasteners to mount your corbels.

The Corbel converter allows you to easily mount your corbels from outside your cabinets, even with the countertops in place. It also gives you the ability to swap out corbels when desired and provides the support the countertop overhang needs but will not get from a standard decorative wooden corbel. They are usable with any solid wood corbel.

 

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Fabricator Profile: USA Stone

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Fabricator Profile: USA Stone

Posted on 24 September 2014 by cradmin

usa3-300x243USA Stone is a retail-driven fabricator located in Nashville, Tenn., that is centered on customer service. The owner of the business is careful about maintaining its size because he doesn’t want it to get too big too quickly, and general manager Darryl Miller agrees.

In what seems to be counter-intuitive to most businesses, Miller understands that he could pull in additional customers by increasing his advertising efforts through traditional media and the Web, but he states that he is pretty happy with his current workload.

Miller believes that by getting too big without allowing enough time to make internal adjustments, the business will lose its attention to detail and will not be able to focus on the needs of the customers.

USA Stone is successful primarily because the company makes every effort to satisfy its clients. Because the company meticulously tracks all of its sales, Miller knows that most new customers are referrals from current and past customers. To keep the business running at a healthy profit level, Miller and his team do everything necessary to make customers happy except provide sub-standard products at discounted prices.

Management at USA Stone knows that it is impossible to provide perfect service 100 percent of the time, but they do not hesitate to fix their mistakes. When something goes wrong, customers may ask for a discount, but the company doesn’t want to look bad, so they would rather fix their work or totally replace the materials.

As a testament to USA Stone’s tactics, the company was not affected by the recession at all. Rather than trying to offer discounts, this Nashville fabricator offers top-notch service and ensures the customer is always in charge.

Read more of this Fabricator Profile here: USA Stone

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ISFA Names Chris Pappenfort as Project Manager

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ISFA Names Chris Pappenfort as Project Manager

Posted on 23 September 2014 by cradmin

chris pappenfortThe International Surface Fabricators Association (ISFA) announced that Chris Pappenfort has volunteered to step in and assume the role of project manager for the association. Pappenfort is a 27-year veteran of the decorative surfacing industry and is currently president of Surface Menders, a company that focuses on the repair and maintenance of decorative surfacing. Pappenfort previously worked as a fabrication manager for a Midwest distributor for more than 24 years. He was accredited as a Certified Instructor for Soterra Natural Granite Systems as well as DuPont Corian and Zodiaq surfaces. He participated on many project teams for DuPont, launching numerous initiatives that helped fabricators’ businesses flourish. “I am very excited to have Chris on our team,” said Keith Haight, executive director of ISFA. “I have worked with him many times in the past and have always admired his knowledge, skill level, passion and willingness to step up and take initiatives head-on.”

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MIA Releases ‘Stones of North America’ Version 3 App

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MIA Releases ‘Stones of North America’ Version 3 App

Posted on 22 September 2014 by cradmin

MIA SoNA AppThe Marble Institute of America has released Stones of North America Version 3, an iPad® app that gives design and construction professionals quick, easy access to detailed information about natural stones quarried in North America. Version 3 of the app includes 31 new natural stones, various programming updates to ensure proper functionality with iOS7, and a new companion website that makes this information available to everyone with internet access.

The app features natural stones from more than 100 quarries in North America. Stones of North America gives architects, builders, designers, homeowners and others shopping for natural stone an easy way to view and select locally sourced natural stone. Users can search natural stones by type, color, intended use, location and distance from a project. Stones are displayed in vivid color and are showcased through stunning photos of their use in commercial and/or residential applications.

Technical specifications, physical properties and details on recommended use make it easy to investigate natural stone for any project. Sophisticated mapping technology enables users to measure the distance from the stone’s quarry and processing centers to a job site for sustainable projects. And a care and maintenance tab includes a comprehensive guide for how to care for and maintain all varieties of natural stone.

“Stones of North America is quickly becoming a go-to reference for information about the North American stone market,” said James A. Hieb, MIA executive vice president and CEO. “The new companion website, however, is what we are most excited about. For the first time, the information previously available only to Apple users is available to anyone.”

The Stones of North America iPad app is available for free download on iTunes. The companion website can be found at www.stonesofnorthamerica.com.

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TheSize Introduces New Collection of Exotic, Natural Granites

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TheSize Introduces New Collection of Exotic, Natural Granites

Posted on 19 September 2014 by cradmin

GranITH TramontoTheSize, Spain-based parent company of sintered compact surfacing product Neolith, is launching GranITH: a collection of 11 exotic and exclusive natural granites for commercial and residential countertop, flooring and wall cladding use. Each model of GranITH is composed of granites carefully selected from controlled quarries located in Angola, Brazil and Zimbabwe. From extraction to distribution, it is produced within a carefully managed value chain process that maintains strict sustainability and resource protection controls in an effort to ensure minimal impact on the environment. The collection’s 11 colors are: Nero Kariba, Nero Infinito, Habana, Mare, Tramonto (shown here), Torroncino, Dark Pearl, Brown Amber, Verde Floresta, Sahara Winds and Bianco Macchiato. All are available in a polished finish. Brown Amber is also available in a satin finish. GranITH products will be available in December 2014.

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Adapted: An Insider’s Perspective on Backlighting Translucent Surfaces

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Adapted: An Insider’s Perspective on Backlighting Translucent Surfaces

Posted on 18 September 2014 by cradmin

backlit surface 1By Richard Ashoff

Editor’s Note: In this blog entry, Richard Ashoff, CEO of Tylerco, Inc. sheds some light on how his SLABlite product for backlighting translucent surfaces works.

With the growing interest in backlighting translucent materials, such as onyx, glass and certain types of quartz surfacing and solid surface, a lot of questions have been coming up. In an effort to help you understand the ins and outs of the process better, specifically as it relates to our SLABlite product, I have put together this blog post.

Lumens
What are lumens and have you ever been concerned about them before? Lumens per sq. ft. would refer to lights that are used to illuminate commercial areas. There are requirements that lights have to meet for building codes. However, talking about lumens really just confuses the issue and really has nothing to do with backlighting surfaces.

There are many ways lighting translucent material can be achieved. You can use light bulbs, fluorescent lamps, LED strips or LED tape, and many companies have tried them all. However, more goes into lighting translucent surfaces than the actual lights. When backlighting surfaces, the first objective is to enhance the translucence of the material being illuminated. The SLABlite is designed to throw light 1 inch. We don’t care about the rest of the environment. That is why lumens are really beside the point.

Translucent material has to be backlit as if the sun were shining through it. There can be no hot spots or shadowing. The SLABlite’s foundation is based on a light guide. A light guide is the same technology that is used to light cellphones, computer monitors, TVs and signs. You would think that this would be easy enough to do. Unfortunately, you can’t just take the light guide technology and throw it under a slab and think it will work or last for any amount of time.

backlit surface 2An average LED bulb is stated to last 50,000 hours. That is the equivalent to 5 to 7 years of continuous burn. This would be acceptable if you could easily replace the bulb, but having to replace a bulb that is under an installed heavy slab is definitely NOT easy. So, we engineered the SLABlite for an increased lifespan – a minimum lifespan of 20 years. Because we are only trying to light 1 inch away from our light (the translucent slab material), we drive our LEDs at a lesser rate, which gives us a longer life. It also reduces the heat output from the LEDs. Heat is the enemy when dealing with LEDs.

What If?
Another issue is potential failure of an LED. The SLABlite’s LEDs are wired in parallel and in series on the same panel. If an LED were to fail, the whole panel will not fail, and the other LEDs will fill the gap. The SLABlite also has a surge protector on board. You never know when there might be a surge on the electrical line. We design protection and backup so you don’t have to get a jackhammer to remove the light.

Ease of use is also an important factor. SLABlite can be custom cut on the jobsite to fit any configuration. That means you never have to send out your template to have a pre-made configuration made for a particular application. The SLABlite is modular. You can build as big or as small as you want. When you have covered the area, you simply cut the panels to fit. You can drill holes for faucets and cut around sinks as easily as cutting plastic.

Additionally, the SLABlite is waterproof. It has been installed in pools, fountains, baths, boats and cement. Rather than using a potting method to seal the LEDs in a panel, SLABlite includes patented waterproofing that allows for heat contraction and expansion. SLABlite waterproofing avoids problems that occur from natural heat expansion and contraction, which can cause LEDs to separate from the panel and expose them to the elements.

SLABlites have been in the field for more than seven years, passing the 1 million hours of burn rate in 2010. We are proud to say that we have never lost a panel. Not one.

So, when you are looking for a product, make sure you are looking at a product that was made to do what it is being used for and not a product made for another type of lighting that has been adapted for your surfaces. You may think you have a less expensive product you can adapt, but an adapted product is usually a poor substitute that will cost you aggravation and a lot of money in the end. The one made for a specific use has taken into consideration things that could happen during its lifetime and has built-in solutions for potential problems that could arise. Sometimes “cheap” isn’t.

For further information on SLABlite and the lighting of translucent surfaces, visit the Tylerco, Inc. website or contact Richard Ashoff at (949) 723-2906.

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Polishing Solid Surface to a Gloss Finish

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Polishing Solid Surface to a Gloss Finish

Posted on 17 September 2014 by cradmin

Here is a video produced by Samsung Staron showing their process for polishing solid surface from a satin to a gloss finish. The video, which is a about 10-1/2 minutes long, walks through the process from start to finish, explaining the equipment and materials needed. While the video starts with material at a satin finish, Samsung Staron has produced two other videos that show how to reach the satin finish – one covering polishing to a matte finish and the other covering polishing from a matte to a satin finish.

While the dark color of material shown polished in the video will certainly show every fingerprint and any abuse (such as failures to use cutting boards) of the finished solid surface countertop, the demonstration is a good one and a gloss finish is delivered in the end.

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Your Team Is Your Most Important Asset

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Your Team Is Your Most Important Asset

Posted on 16 September 2014 by cradmin

by Ellen O. Brownell

“You can dream, create, design and build the most wonderful place in the world … but it requires people to make the dream a reality.”

–Walt Disney

A friend recently required a half-million-dollar liability insurance policy before he could execute a contract for an important kitchen renovation job, and time was of the essence. Based on a recommendation, I contacted Joni Ginno of State Farm, and she instantly moved into overdrive.

Within an hour, she had located a policy that would fulfill his specific needs. Within what seemed like only moments, her staff had completed all the necessary paperwork and by days end, he had verification of the required coverage. Impressive? Yes! The staff was friendly, eager to respond to questions and genuinely concerned with his needs and issues. It was also apparent they worked well as a unified team. After the dust cleared, he had a long talk with Ginno over the phone about how she had developed her business and staff in order to provide such exceptional service.

Through the years, Ginno found that in order to succeed, she would need to create a positive team and customer service approach to business. She realized early that the quality of her organization’s customer service must match exactly her vision for the business. Ginno would only succeed at accomplishing her business vision and mission if all of her staff members were in the loop and working well together. To accomplish that, her staff became her number one priority.

When she discussed the various steps and techniques she used to develop her cohesive team, she shared the following:

Create an action plan together. Every business must have a mission, a vision for the future and an action plan to make it happen. It is important that everyone be involved in the development process. People want to know their opinion matters. When staff is involved in the decision making process, they buy-in to making it happen.

Modify your plan regularly. Action plans will not do a business any good unless they are constantly reviewed and updated. What may be applicable today, very well could be outdated six months from now. Be willing to make your action plan an ever-changing working draft that is reviewed by everyone each week.

Create a positive work environment. Let the staff provide input and make choices that directly affect them. It can be as simple as letting them select the radio station or music you listen to. Request their input when selecting office furniture, equipment for a job or a software system. They will probably be using it more often than you will, and it is important they feel comfortable in the environment they spend more waking time in than their home. Creativity and positive customer focus are all by products of a positive work environment.

Hold staff meetings off-site. Take a break. Meet for breakfast at a local coffee house. Go out to lunch together. Don’t allow staff meetings to become mundane. New surroundings stimulate creativity and out of the box thinking.

Communicate regularly. More often than not, organizations fail to complete their vision because communication between the owner or administration and the frontline staff is poor. As issues or items come up, address them. Don’t wait for staff meetings. Keep your door open and always be ready to listen.

Remind the staff how important they are and express your appreciation. A verbal pat on the back is always welcome and much appreciated. Reinforce your appreciation with a few extras now and then, such as pocket flashlights, donuts or pizza for lunch.

Create mutual trust and respect. If you expect the staff to have respect for your customers, then you must provide an environment that will help them develop this skill. Respect is created and developed when you are supportive, honest and accountable for your actions, decisions and mistakes.

Provide incentives. Establish monthly goals as a team. If team members complete and accomplish their goals, then give them something special. It can be a gift certificate, a round of golf or concert tickets. Make it something they want so they become excited about completing their monthly goals.

Support their professional growth and development. Staff development is just as important for the frontline as it is for management. An investment in your staff’s professional growth is an investment in your organization. Establish training needs with the staff on a regular basis. Make completion of training programs an important part of their annual evaluation.

Honor individual strengths. One staff member may be particularly skilled at dealing with irate customers while another has exceptional telephone skills or skills performing a difficult fabrication task. Realize that each employee has special natural abilities and strengths they bring to the job. Capitalize on those strengths by shifting leadership for projects or to handle specific client needs.

Solve problems together. For the most part, people want to be challenged. Employees want to be part of the solution process. By involving staff in the problem-solving process, you indicate you trust their judgment and respect their opinion.

Develop shared accountability. High-performance teams establish high standards and goals and hold themselves accountable. People are willing to set those standards if they feel everyone is working together and toward the same vision in a supportive environment. People are more willing to help each other when goals are shared and the environment is supportive.

Ask questions often. As a manager or business owner, it should be your objective to constantly ask questions in order to improve the working conditions and the chances of your team to accomplish your vision.  Some of the questions you need to ask include the following:

  • What can I do to make your work life better?
  • What if…?
  • Have we considered…?
  • What are your suggestions regarding…?
  • How can we change to better serve the customer?

Set an example. A team is only as good as its leader. An owner, executive or manager must constantly set the example of how business is to be conducted. How you treat your staff is how the staff will treat the customer. Be positive, upbeat and care about your staff. After all, they are your most valuable assets.

Have fun every day. People want to work in an environment that is not only challenging but fun as well. Add humor to situations when it is appropriate. Encourage the circulation of comic strips that emphasize a point. Be willing to laugh at yourself. It indicates to the staff you also make mistakes and establishes an environment that encourages staff to risk without fear.

Often, businesses and organizations fail to develop and invest in their most important asset, their employees. If you hire well and spend time developing your staff and creating an environment that encourages creativity, risk taking, trust and respect, then your customers will ultimately benefit. Your employees are your most valuable assets. Remember to respond to their needs just like you would a client in order to develop a climate that resonates with customer care.

 

About the Author

Eileen O. Brownell is president of Training Solutions, a Chico, Calif.-based firm. For more than 25 years, Brownell continues to be noted as the ‘high-energy’ speaker and trainer who captivates her audiences and makes learning a lasting experience. Her expertise is in the areas of customer service, conflict resolution, communication and team development. She is licensed to use the Carlson Learning Products that enhance the learning process. Cable television stations have shown Brownell’s educational programs. She can be found in Who’s Who in California, American Women, Professional Speaking and Outstanding Young American Women. “We cannot choose the challenges that confront us. Nevertheless, we can pick our attitude and how we react,” is her philosophy.

Copyright© 2002, Eileen O. Brownell. All right reserved. For information, contact FrogPond at email susie@FrogPond.com.

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Integra Adhesives Launches Stone Swatch Deck Match Guide

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Integra Adhesives Launches Stone Swatch Deck Match Guide

Posted on 12 September 2014 by cradmin

Integra Stone Swatch Deck wbIntegra Adhesives, makers of pre-colored cartridge-based adhesives for laminating, mitering and seaming quartz, natural stone and solid surface, launched a unique companion tool for color matching natural stone. The Integra Stone Swatch Deck allows fabricators to visually reference 58 slabs of the most popular natural stones, matched with one of the 15 adhesive colors that are part of Integra Natural Stone collection. Even if the exact stone the fabricator is working with isn’t in the deck, he or she will be able to compare it with similar stone colors to make the right choice when seaming.

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