Archive | October, 2014

Fabricating Thin Porcelain Panel Countertops

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Fabricating Thin Porcelain Panel Countertops

Posted on 30 October 2014 by cradmin

This video depicts countertop fabrication of thin porcelain panels (the “PLANE” product by StonePeak Ceramic.) The tile-thin panel is mitered to form drop edges, and glued up manually using hand clamps and tape. The video does not show any substrate being used under the material, but because it is so thin, it stands to reason some sort of backing material or underlay will be used when it is installed. However, the video only shows the fabrication and does not touch on the installation process.

If you have worked with this material, we would love to hear about your experiences, so please post a reply here.

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Crystallyne Enterprises Offers QuickQuote Software

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Crystallyne Enterprises Offers QuickQuote Software

Posted on 29 October 2014 by cradmin

crystallyne QickQuoteQuickQuote, from Crystallyne Enterprises, is software designed to make countertop quoting and drawing faster and easier. It features a unique interface that generates a fully labeled scale drawing side by side with every quote. Its pricing system allows working with virtually any countertop material, and backsplashes, edging and other services are automatically tabulated along with the countertop pricing. Quotes can be printed together with the drawing on a single page, exported to a number of different formats and transferred to QuickBooks. In addition, users can get slab layouts, keep track of slab inventory and schedule everything from fabrication to installation. And, withthe QuickQuote Lite web portal customers can get quotes online and submit their layouts via the Web.

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Abrasive Resource Carries Starke Abrasives Sanding Belts

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Abrasive Resource Carries Starke Abrasives Sanding Belts

Posted on 28 October 2014 by cradmin

Abrasive Resource Starcke belts photo with logoAbrasive Resource now carries high-quality Starcke sanding belts in Aluminum Oxide, Alumina Zirconia and Silicon Carbide for surface fabrication and woodworking applications. Genuine Starcke sanding belts are being made “to order” with just a 24-hour lead time. ISFA members receive a 30 percent discount through their partner supplier Abrasive Resource. Order Starcke sanding belts and put more than 100 years of German abrasives expertise to work for you.

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Vicostone Offers Translucent Onixaa Quartz Surfacing

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Vicostone Offers Translucent Onixaa Quartz Surfacing

Posted on 27 October 2014 by cradmin

Vicostone BQ8550-OnixaaVicostone announced the release of its new translucent “Onixaa” quartz surfacing, now available in both the company’s Dallas and newly opened Chicago warehouses. The describes the product as a combination of traditional Carrara with the translucency of Onyx. Onixaa possesses the essential characteristics that belong to quartz engineered stone such as high scratch-, heat- and chemical-resistance and color durability. Manufactured using the Breton technology, the material is non-porous for easy maintenance.

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Fabricator Profile: De Lorenzo Marble & Tile

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Fabricator Profile: De Lorenzo Marble & Tile

Posted on 24 October 2014 by cradmin

kitchens09De Lorenzo Marble & Tile was founded in 1980 by Frank and Antoinette DeLorenzo shortly after immigrating to the United States from Italy. Frank brought years of experience in the marble tile industry when he made Southern California his home, but after only a few years in business, granite began to rise in popularity, which prompted him to shift the company’s focus.

Even though De Lorenzo Marble & Tile was one of the first granite and marble fabricators in the Los Angeles area, it took the company 24 years to achieve what Joe DeLorenzo, son of Frank and the owner of the business, is calling his greatest achievement: breaking ground on a new state-of-the-art fabrication facility.

De Lorenzo Marble & Tile is now located in Torrance, Calif., on a giant lot that includes a 6,000-sq.-ft. office and showroom, a 10,000-sq.-ft. fabrication facility and a slab yard that is 25,000 sq. ft. in area. The company employs 10 people and now fabricates countertops from a full range of materials, including granite, marble, quartz, onyx, soapstone, limestone, slate and travertine.

Joe explains that De Lorenzo Marble & Tile caters to the luxury countertop market by offering a unique choice of natural and engineered stone slabs. The company has always been based on providing quality services and products, and it is known for getting the job done right, which he believes is more important than price.

Read more of this Fabricator Profile here: De Lorenzo Marble & Tile

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GlueBoss Launches 2 New Acrylic Adhesives

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GlueBoss Launches 2 New Acrylic Adhesives

Posted on 22 October 2014 by cradmin

Glueboss photo GlueBoss launched professional grade acrylic adhesives in the form of 10:1 SeamPro and 1:1 fast setting ClipBoss. These new products are in addition to SeamBoss, the company’s 1:1 structural surfacing adhesive. SeamPro is available in 490, 250 and 50ml sizes. With the whitest whites, the ability to build green strength fast, SeamPro is suitable for use on acrylics, glass, ceramic, quartz and stone products. ClipBoss is a structural acrylic adhesive for bonding clips, rods or anything else where color does not matter. Fast setting with a thixotropic index that allows for upside down dispensing, ClipBoss is suitable for under counter clip mounting as well as bonding in the shop to solid surface, moist stone or quartz.

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Water Treatment Solutions Offers EnviroSystem Water Treatment Equipment

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Water Treatment Solutions Offers EnviroSystem Water Treatment Equipment

Posted on 21 October 2014 by cradmin

water treatment solutionsWater Treatment Solutions offers the EnviroSystem water treatment Equipment, a chemical-free closed-loop water recycling system. EnviroSystem creates crystal clear water filtered to less than 1.2 microns, recycling 100 percent of shop water. The system allows for remote monitoring while improving the quality of your countertop products. It is designed to expand with your business and satisfies industrial discharge permitting requirements. The system turns waste into manageable dry cakes and eliminates the need to clear pits. It also easily integrates with automated production facilities.

 

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An Early Look at 2015 Kitchen Trends

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An Early Look at 2015 Kitchen Trends

Posted on 17 October 2014 by cradmin

Somrak-KitchensAlthough we are still in the autumn of 2014, most of us are already looking at what 2015 has in store for us. Much of our business depends on being able to accurately predict the latest trends, and many people are already taking a shot at what will be popular for new and redesigned homes next year. When it comes to kitchens, several opinions are floating around news outlets and blogs, and countertops are not going unnoticed. According to HGTV’s 9 Hot Trends for Today’s Kitchens , homeowners are moving away from continuous counters that fit around the perimeter and instead prefer freestanding pieces and island countertops. This is because the kitchen is being seen less as a utilitarian room for cooking but more as another type of living space. In addition, many people are now in the market for artistic upgrades to make their kitchens unique, and recycled materials, such as those containing depression-era glass, are becoming popular.

HGTV goes on to name the Top Countertop Materials for the Kitchen. Granite makes the list for being timeless, durable and easy to clean while some modern kitchens now have stainless steel countertops because they are nonporous, do not have to be sealed and resist bacterial growth. Another countertop material that is gaining popularity, according to HGTV, is butcher block, which is said to add warmth and rustic elegance.

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Although marble is often considered too soft for kitchens, it is beloved by bakers and adds an element of glamour. Another material that is gaining widespread popularity is concrete. These countertops are versatile and can be designed and dyed to complement any décor. Finally, quartz is the countertop material of choice for many because of its stain and scratch resistance and its uniform look.

An article published by LowesEmployees.com, Kitchen Trends or Kitchen Nightmares? Remodeling for 2015 covers remodeling trends for the coming year. Most kitchen remodels now include a change in countertops, and to corroborate HGTV, granite and quartz are the most popular choices. However, marble and tile countertops are close behind. In addition, countertops are increasingly being seen as an important element of the “kitchen triangle,” which is the busy space between the sink, range and refrigerator.

Another source of early kitchen trends for 2015 is Sharon’s Style Portfolio, the official blog of Sharon McCormick Design, LLC, in Durham, Conn. According to McCormick, the ultra-minimalist kitchen is starting to make waves. These so-called “invisible kitchens” were popularized by the Dutch Architectural firm known as i29 and show only a low profile countertop that is only a few centimeters thick, a faucet and a sink. All other fixtures and appliances are hidden behind sliding wall panels.

i29-Invisible-Kitchen

When it comes to countertops, McCormick proclaims that textured surfaces, such as leathered granite are gaining a foothold. She also asserts, like many of the others, that metal countertops, including stainless steel and copper are extremely popular. Last December, we ran a story about EOS Surfaces, distributed by Wilsonart, which is a copper-enhanced surfacing material that kills 99.9 percent of bacteria within two hours of exposure. This material is so popular that production is estimated to take more than a year to catch up with orders, and it has yet to be released for residential use.

Another trend recently reported by Realty Today, is the use of black and other dark colors in the kitchen. While this is not new for 2015, it seems to be catching on in the mainstream, especially with younger homeowners who are moving away from the old, sterile white of the parents and grandparents. In an interview with the Wall Street Journal on the subject, Maria Stapperfenne, president of the National Kitchen & Bath Association (NKBA), said, “People aren’t afraid of the dark.”

New York architect Richard Sammons of Fairfax & Sammons stated, “Dark materials create atmosphere. They are a corrective antidote to the antiseptic quality of the 20th-century white-enameled kitchen or the professional stainless steel kitchen so recently in vogue.”

While we here at CountertopResource.com do not profess to have the ability to see the future, we do take into consideration the attempts of all others. What do you believe 2015 has in store for the kitchen and countertop industry? Let us know in the comments below or by sending an email to info@countertopresource.com.

You may also be interested in this updated version of this article on 2015 kitchen trends that also focuses on 2015 countertop trends we have been observing or this 2015 forecast for the countertop and surfacing industry.

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Gemstone Upgrades VO Sink Line

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Gemstone Upgrades VO Sink Line

Posted on 16 October 2014 by cradmin

Gemstone photoGemstone unveiled its latest Universal Design, its newly upgraded 1613-VO; the company’s most popular sink model. With a consistent 10-degree draft all of the way around the top of the bowl routing will be much easier and faster, providing more efficient production, minimizing sanding and saving labor and money. With a depth of 5 in., the sink allows for easy ADA application and conformity. The new sink not only has clean, smooth curves, it features integral overflow, but can be specified with no overflow, and is 27 percent lighter because of a reduction in material in the overflow chamber and flange, making it easier to handle to save install time.

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Are Your Communication Strategies Really Engaging Employees?

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Are Your Communication Strategies Really Engaging Employees?

Posted on 15 October 2014 by cradmin

by Marcia Xenitelis

The frequency at which the word “engagement” appears in any discussion about employee communication has begun to make me wonder whether we clearly understand what the term means. More importantly, do we understand what it means to our clients and customers when they talk about engagement? We have engagement tools, but can we really say that these tools actually engage employees in the process of change? Or are employees merely engaged with the tool itself?

There is only one question that you need to ask yourself to find out whether your employee communication strategies are going to engage employees rather than simply inform:

Can you establish whether the tools and methods you are using to communicate with employees are changing attitudes and behavior or merely providing information?

Employee engagement is a shared understanding of the issues that affect the business, and that understanding leads to changes in employees’ attitudes and behaviors. Unless employees truly understand the issues and make a meaningful connection between their jobs and those issues, their attitudes and behaviors will not change. To achieve engagement, three things have to happen:

  1. The business issue has to mean something to the employee personally.
  2. The employee has to understand the issue (and I mean truly understand it, not just read about why it is an issue).
  3. Most importantly, each employee must be made to feel a part of the change process.

As communicators, we have the opportunity to become creative in how we communicate and engage employees. The ultimate aim in employee communication has to be to create the “Aha!” moment. This is the moment when employees have the necessary information and can say, “Now it makes sense,” “Now I understand, ” “Now I can do something about it.”

Tools are important in this process, but generally, they just communicate information. What we need to strive for are creative communication methods to engage employees in the process of change.

There are five steps for identifying what the “Aha” moment is:

1.  Focus group research – Ask employees about their thoughts on the organization and its competitors.

2.  Identify the largest gap between what customers think and what employees think customers think.

3.  What would create a paradigm shift in employee’s thinking?

4.  Can you measure the impact of the change in thinking?

5.  How significant is it to achieving the business objectives?

So, let’s look at an example that would be familiar to communicators: an annual sales report. Typically, an annual sales report would be made available to employees via the intranet or through email. Some employees read it, but most tend to scroll down to the last pages to check the bottom line and then close the document.

Let’s imagine that the results in this annual report are very poor, and you are determined that employees understand the issues surrounding the poor results and become fully engaged to help turn the company around. Here’s how one organization accomplished this:

The company held four brown-bag lunch meetings over four weeks where employees could attend for free for one hour and hear from an outside professional about how to invest in the stock market. Importantly, there was no obvious link between the meeting topic and the organization the employees worked for.

At week three, they were analyzing annual reports and generally deciding whether they would invest in a particular company based on the information contained in the report. By the fourth week, they were given another annual report and asked the same question: Would you invest in this company?” The answer was overwhelmingly no. And of course this last company was the one they all worked for, which brought them to the “Aha!” moment.

Now the organization’s employees understood and were engaged and ready to become involved in turning the company around through teamwork and new initiatives.

Here are some steps you can follow to ensure that you can come up with creative ways to communicate with employees and engage them in the process of change.

To challenge beliefs that your employees have about your organization, you need to have facts. The marketing department is an excellent source of facts about the business, with research on brand image, customer satisfaction, customer and non-customer views on competitors and information about market segments. Each of these areas provide valuable information on opportunities to link employees with business issues that can be measured.

For example, the organization should have facts about how customers feel about the service provided by the organization’s customer service representatives. Employees will also have an opinion about how they believe customers perceive their service. By taking the results of the customer feedback and presenting it to staff, this often creates an “Aha moment” because customer feedback is typically better than what employees anticipate. Once you have shared this information, the objective is to then explore ways that employees can become engaged in further improving that customer feedback.

Focus groups are another excellent way to find out what employees think about different aspects of these areas and how their beliefs can be challenged as you need to help them better understand the issues that affect the business.

Key sources of business data are customer experience data, business results by product or service stream, competitor customer feedback, and measures of the attributes of your brand. These are sources of data that you can use as a measure of improvement as a result of your employee engagement strategy.

When selecting business outcomes as a measure for your employee communication strategy, you need to be quite certain that the strategy you implement can actually affect the business outcomes you have decided to focus on.

Finally, when it comes to any employee engagement strategy, whether it be total transformation of a business or improvement in one aspect, you can rarely go at it alone. Partnering with other areas of your organization including marketing and human resources will ensure that the optimum outcome is achieved.

 

About the Author

Marcia Xenitelis is a recognized authority on the subject on employee communication and has spoken at conferences around the world.  http://www.employeecommunicationtips.com

Copyright© 2011, Marcia Xenitelis. All right reserved. For information, contact FrogPond at email susie@FrogPond.com.

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