Archive | October, 2016

First Impressions in the Countertop Industry

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First Impressions in the Countertop Industry

Posted on 27 October 2016 by CRadmin3

This video created by Paxton Countertops in Michigan is both amusing and makes a good point about the importance of first impressions, customer service and safety in a countertop business. It shows both the don’ts and do’s for a fabrication business (and many businesses in general) when it comes to customers.

Any employee of any countertop fabrication business could benefit from the reminder issued here (and the humor helps make an impression).

You may also be interested in this article about ensuring customer satisfaction.

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NKBA Introduces Changes to Certification Programs

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NKBA Introduces Changes to Certification Programs

Posted on 26 October 2016 by CRadmin2

Earlier in the year, the National Kitchen & Bath Association (NKBA) announced that major changes had been introduced to its design certification programs. The changes were made to simplify the once-complex certification process and to raise the bar on professionalism within the kitchen & bath industries.

Certified Kitchen and Bath Designers

The changes to the NKBA certification program came about as a response to several member surveys and independent member requests for increased accessibility for candidates. The association quickly moved to research the possibilities by establishing the Certification Task Force, which was chaired by Denise Dick, owner of Signature Kitchens by Design and member of the NKBA national board of directors.

The changes to the certification process were finalized in January of this year and went into effect on July 1. One of the biggest changes is an entirely new certification than encompasses both the kitchen and bath industries: Certified Kitchen and Bath Designer (CKBD). The CKBD is earned by the successful completion of a single, consolidated exam.

The separate Certified Kitchen Designer (CKD) and Certified Bath Designer (CBD) exams have been discontinued as of April 13, 2016. However, individuals who already hold CKD and CBD credentials will only have to take the portion of the exam dedicated to the certification not currently held. For instance, CKDs will only have to take the bath portion of the CKBD exam while CBDs will only have to take the kitchen portion.

Candidates may apply for CKBD certification throughout the year at more than 300 authorized testing centers in the U.S. and Canada. In addition, the drafting portion of the exam can be taken online at home or in the office within 72 hours rather than in six hours as previously required. Test results will also be made available to candidates immediately after completion.

“The NKBA recognizes the importance of maintaining professional development and design certifications, and we want to strengthen these standards and, at the same time, allow students and non-certified members better access to these training resources,” said Bill Darcy, CEO of the NKBA.

CEU Requirements

Another change is that NKBA members who earn their CKBD will now be required to complete 20 continuing education unit-hours (CEUs) in each two-year cycle to keep the certification rather than the 12 CEUs required in the past. The first of the new two-year cycles runs from July 1, 2016, to June 30, 2018.

“By requiring more rigorous CEU program requirements, the NKBA will be regarded as the gold standard in continuing industry education and will greatly increase the value of our members’ achievements,” Darcy stated.

Associate Certification Expanded

Students who attend any of the 40 college programs accredited by the NKBA will now be able to take an exam for Associate Kitchen & Bath Designer (AKBD) certification after completing 85 percent of their coursework. However, non-students will still be subject to the existing pre-requisites of two years’ experience and 30 education-hours to sit for the AKBD exam.

Complete CKBD and AKBD candidate requirements can be found on the NKBA website.

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LEED v4 and LBC Now Recognize Sustainable Stone Certification

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LEED v4 and LBC Now Recognize Sustainable Stone Certification

Posted on 25 October 2016 by CRadmin3

natural-stone-councilThe Natural Stone Council (NSC) – an association made up of the leading Natural Stone Associations in the country – announced its Sustainable Production for Natural Dimension Stone (ANSI/NSC 373) certification is now recognized by the U.S. Green Building Council’s (USGBC) LEED v4 building certification program, as well as the International Living Future Initiative’s (ILFI) Living Building Challenge (LBC) version 3.1. Design teams now have a clear path to ensure the stone they specify helps projects reach sustainability goals as outlined by LEED and LBC.

“Being named an approved program by the USGBC and the ILFI within Responsible Sourcing of Materials is a huge accomplishment for the stone industry,” says Kathy Spanier, NSC Sustainability Committee Chair and Director of Marketing at Coldspring, a Minnesota-based stone industry producer. “These achievements come as the result of tremendous coordination and years of cooperation among stone industry associations, environmental experts and additional stakeholders to further the awareness of sustainably sourced natural stone.”

The sustainable stone certification standard was established in 2014 by the NSC. The two main goals of the standard are to provide natural stone quarriers and fabricators with third-party verification of their sustainable practices and to give the building and design community confidence that certified stone is a sustainable material choice.

The NSC Sustainability Committee worked closely with third-party organizations to determine the sustainable footprint of how stone is quarried, transported and processed in order to align the ANSI/NSC 373 with LEED and LBC. In addition, ANSI/NSC 373 was developed using the consensus-based ANSI (American National Standards Institute) process and can be applied internationally with certification by a third-party certifier like NSF International.

“I attribute the success of the ANSI/NSC 373 certification acceptance to the Natural Stone Council’s early commitment and dedication to aligning with leading green building programs such as LEED and LBC,” says Jessica Slomka, manager, National Center for Sustainability Standards, NSF International, LEED AP BD C.

ANSI/NSC 373’s national and international requirements for environmental, ecological, human health and social responsibility in stone quarrying and processing will help satisfy the growing demand for transparency in the market.

“Natural stone rates high on an environmental scale. It is reusable, low maintenance, emits no VOCs, and is one of the most durable and most beautiful materials on the planet,” says Duke Pointer, Executive Director of the Natural Stone Council. “The ANSI/NSC 373 certification gives the market confidence they are using a material that has also been third party verified.”

LEED v4 and LBC Application

The LEED Steering Committee approved certification to ANSI/NSC 373 Sustainable Production of Natural Dimensional Stone as a “USGBC-approved program” third-party verification (full credit) in Option 1 of LEED v4 BD+C and ID+C Material Resources credit Building Product Disclosure and Optimization – Sourcing of Raw Materials, provided that the facility and/or quarry operation has earned certification including either optional credit 7.2.1 (Ecosystem Boundaries) or 7.2.2 (Environmental Impact Assessment), and has made its scorecard publicly available.

In addition to LEED v4, the Living Building Challenge is advocating the Sustainability Standard for Natural Dimension Stone for Living Building projects using natural stone. ANSI/NSC 373 aligns within the LBC 3.1 Material Petal, in the Responsible Industry category.

The rigorous and voluntary certification standard including its companion Chain of Custody program is gaining acceptance among stone industry companies. In 2014, TexaStone Quarries, which operates natural stone quarries and a closely aligned fabrication facility in Garden City, Texas, became the first company in the world to achieve certification. Coldspring became the second to achieve ANSI/NSC certification of its headquarters, primary manufacturing operations and three Minnesota-based quarries. Additional companies have since certified, with more working to achieve certification.

For more information about ANSI/NSC 373, visit http://naturalstonecouncil.org/education-training/nsc-initiatives/dimensional-stone-standard/ .

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The Total Worker Health Approach

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The Total Worker Health Approach

Posted on 24 October 2016 by CRadmin2

ship-brandIt is widely known that the West Coast states (California, Oregon and Washington) have some of the strictest rules regarding the health and safety of workers, but these states also provide an assortment of publications and tools that are useful for any business anywhere in the nation. The latest of these tools is the Safety & Health Improvement Program (SHIP), which was developed in Oregon under the Total Worker Health (TWH) initiative established by the National Institute of Occupational Safety & Health (NIOSH).

About Total Worker Health

For decades, NIOSH has been attempting to deal with the 3 million nonfatal workplace injuries that occur in the U.S. each year, costing more than $1 billion per week in workers’ compensation claims. In 2011, NIOSH launched the TWH Program in an effort to advance the health and well-being of workers in the United States, which benefits not only workers but also employers in a variety of ways, including increased productivity.

As part of the TWH Program, NIOSH established six Centers of Excellence for Total Worker Health across the country. These centers, located in Connecticut, Massachusetts, Illinois, Iowa, Colorado and Oregon, have been conducting research and publishing new materials for employers for the past five years, and this work has culminated in the development of the Toolkit Kiosk by the Oregon Healthy Workforce Center.

Benefits of SHIP

The latest addition to the Oregon Healthy Workforce Center’s Toolkit Kiosk is SHIP, and its primary goal is “to promote employee health, safety, work-life balance and team effectiveness.” When used properly, the program can reduce stress and work-life conflicts experienced by employees, improve company health and safety practices and increase job performance and team effectiveness.

Research shows that when employees have conflicts between their work and personal lives, they experience higher levels of work stress, burnout, health problems and turnover. These conflicts also decrease job satisfaction, commitment to the company and performance.

SHIP has been extensively tested in labs, workshops and the real world. The program was first validated in the construction industry, and it has been adapted to for use in several others. It made available through online manuals, printable materials and software downloads, and it was designed to implemented without external support.

Work-Life Support

SHIP tackles the problem of work-life conflicts by getting owners, managers and supervisors involved in the safety and health of employees. First, supervisors must recognize that the demands of the job can affect personal and family responsibilities, but showing genuine concern about the conflicts, being knowledgeable about TWH programs, resources and policies and sharing techniques for managing responsibilities can help to reduce the impact on the business.

In order for the program to work, supervisors must demonstrate a commitment to safety – which includes all of the following points:

  • Understand and communicate the company’s safety expectations
  • Train employees on safe practices and how to recognize risks
  • Ask for suggestions and encourage creativity in coming up with solutions
  • Ensure duties are safe and demonstrate concern for employees
  • Reinforce safety procedures and practices
  • Take action against unsafe behavior and conditions

Supervisors are helped through this process with the four components of SHIP:

  1. Supervisor computer-based training
  2. Supervisor behavior tracking
  3. Team Effectiveness Process (TEP)
  4. Regular check-ins and follow-up

For further information about SHIP and the TWH approach, check out the Safety & Health Improvement Program website, download the SHIP Start Guide or go through the SHIP Leadership Briefing Slides for Power Point.

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Seven Keys to Get Out of a Rut

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Seven Keys to Get Out of a Rut

Posted on 21 October 2016 by CRadmin2

By Paul Lemberg

Rut: a routine procedure, situation or way of life that has become uninteresting and tiresome…

And not surprisingly, unprofitable.

They say a rut is a shallow grave with two open ends. The good news (good news?!) is that the ends ARE still open, which means if you act fast, you just might get out of it.

How do we get into these ruts anyway? Who would voluntarily lie down in that grave, shallow or otherwise? Dr. Edward Debono suggests that thoughts are pathways that are literally etched into our brain as electrical connections that get strengthened each time we think them, thus limiting our mental options – just like cow paths.

It all begins when one of the cows wanders home from the field along a new path. Being cows, others naturally follow, nicely beating down the grass. The next evening our intrepid cow is a bit less bold and follows her own freshly trampled path with fellow cows in lockstep behind her. And so on, night after night, widening the path into a footpath, which over time, becomes hardened into a dirt road. More time passes, and the road is paved into a street, then an avenue, a two-lane highway and ultimately, an Interstate.

By the time you come roaring up the on-ramp in your shiny SUV, your direction is all mapped out in front of you. There’s no way to turn and nowhere to go but towards the next exit. If you want to chart a fresh direction, you are going to have to grab the steering wheel and give it a hard, gut-wrenching yank to the right.

And so it is with your thoughts and actions. Repeating them a few times all but insures you will comfortably repeat them indefinitely unless you take deliberate, and possibly disruptive, action to do otherwise.

Here are seven rut busters I use with my business-coaching clients that you can apply immediately to get yourself and your business out of a rut.

1. Shift your mindset from self to customer.
Most business people think of themselves first. They craft product and service offers from their own perspective and consider themselves the beneficiaries of their actions. While that’s not wrong, to get out of your rut, do this: Put yourself into the mind of your customer. Who are these people anyway? What are they concerned about? What are they trying to accomplish? If you were your customer, what would you think of that new product, marketing campaign or email blast? Are you selling your wonderful stuff, or are you providing them tangible, meaningful benefits? Ask yourself, “If I were the customer, would I care?” And if not, consider, “What WOULD I get excited about?”

2. Shift your mindset from customer to client.
A customer is someone who buys your goods or services. The original meaning of client is entirely different: someone who is under your care and protection. Now that’s a switch, isn’t it? If they’re customers, your goal is to get them to buy something. But if you were to think of them as under your care – would you approach your business from another angle? How would you take care of them? How would you protect them? What new programs would you want to implement immediately?

3. Revisit your vision.
Whenever I feel like I’m in a rut, I return to my vision and do two things. First, I make sure it still inspires me and that it is pointing me in the direction I want to go. Once sure, I put pen to paper and rewrite it – not just once, but over and over. And I keep writing until I can’t write it anymore because I’m jumping up and down with a new idea I must do something about right away.

4.Conduct a Survey.
If you don’t know what to do next, ask your clients. (They are clients, aren’t they?) Conduct a survey about anything that interests you. Ask them what’s bothering them. Ask them what they’re stuck on. Ask them what they like about your company and what they’d like you to do next. Ask them about new features, new products or new services. If you’re not happy with your current customers, conduct a survey among the kind of people you’d like to have as customers. And, if you can’t do that, conduct a survey online. Write an attractive search engine ad, promise something of value and drive people to a survey page. Ask them anything you like. The answers will almost always provide you with an interesting, and oftentimes surprising, mind-shift.

5.Focus on building your strengths and dump your weaknesses.
From the time we are little children, we are taught to better ourselves by working on our weaknesses. This is often frustrating and fruitless and certainly not as much fun as practicing our strengths.

Try this on: What if you focused 100 percent of your energy on being world-class in those few things at which you are already very good and out-tasked or outsourced those things at which you were mediocre. Imagine if you never had to face any of those things again, and you could spend all your time doing the good stuff. Would that change the way you felt about your business? Would that bust you out of your rut?

6. Not if, but how.
Think of that wild and crazy idea you had recently. The one where you said to yourself, “That would be great, but there’s just no way.” Well, I know there’s no way – you just said so – but if there was a way, what would it be? Answer that question as if you believed it was possible – probable even – and then get busy making it real. That’s power, you know: turning your vision into reality. Talk about a breakthrough!

7. What are you willing to sacrifice?
Some important things are more important than other important things, and trying to keep all those plates spinning in the air saps your vigor for the ones that truly matter. Dissipated energy – lethargy — is one of the reasons we lie down in that rut in the first place, and dropping a few of those plates can really help things break loose. So let go. Make the sacrifice. Clear your plate, and give up some of those precious things you’ve been holding on to. Focus your vitality on plans that will really rock your world.

Ruts? Who needs ‘em?

About the Author

Paul Lemberg’s clients call him “the unreasonable consultant” because he helps them see the unnecessary limits they place upon themselves and encourages, cajoles and, at times, beats them over the head to take bold, sometimes uncomfortable and often unreasonable actions to reach their critical business goals. He is CEO of Axcelus Consulting, the world’s only systematic business-acceleration program helping entrepreneurs and executives rapidly create faster-growing, profitable and sustainable businesses. His newest book is Be Unreasonable. Paul is available for keynote and executive retreats and can be reached via www.paullemberg.com.

Copyright ©2016, Paul Lemberg. All rights reserved. For information, contact FrogPond at susie@FrogPond.com.

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Aristech Announces $11 Million in U.S. Plant Investments

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Aristech Announces $11 Million in U.S. Plant Investments

Posted on 20 October 2016 by CRadmin3

aristech-surfaces-logoAristech Surfaces, a global surface materials company, announced that it is investing more than $11 million in U.S. plant improvements over the next three years as an ongoing, comprehensive commitment to continually improve the quality of its products.

Work will be completed this month on a $4.5 million project to replace a stainless steel belt on one of Aristech’s continuous cast machines in its Florence, KY plant, where it holds four of the world’s largest acrylic casting machines. These machines, measuring more than 100 yards long and exceeding nine feet in width, are key to ensuring sheet size flexibility and supply reliability for Aristech’s customers.  Recently, the company also invested $2 million on the installation of new sanding equipment for its solid surface sheets as well as a new production line to manufacture shower bases in Belen, NM.

“Our investments are an indication of Aristech’s commitment to the future, strategically investing in our equipment and quality to produce acrylic and solid surface with stunning design, quality, and performance-driven characteristics,” said Ross McMillan, CEO of Aristech Surfaces.  “At our Belen, New Mexico facility, we also made investments this summer to launch twelve brand-new design materials under the Studio Collection™ brand; this newly formulated three-dimensional aesthetic combines a striking design look with a thermoformable, repairable surface.  Aristech is committed to driving both product innovation and continuous advancement of product quality.”

The Florence plant produces cast acrylic sheet for the hot tub, bath, and sign markets, as well as acrylic solid surface for commercial industries including retail, healthcare, education, hospitality and recreational vehicles.  Aristech’s Belen plant produces the Studio Collection, a luxury design material for applications such as illumination, partitions, privacy panels, furniture and backlit countertops.

You may also be interested in this article about new design options from Aristech.

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Wood’s Powr-Grip Offers Inteli-Grip Vacuum Lifters

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Wood’s Powr-Grip Offers Inteli-Grip Vacuum Lifters

Posted on 19 October 2016 by CRadmin3

inteli-gripHandling large sheets of glass, stone, metal and other materials can be challenging and inherently risky. As a result, work is continually being done to improve products by making them safer, more efficient and more responsive to the customers’ needs.

In anticipation of those needs, Wood’s Powr-Grip developed the next generation of vacuum lifters featuring the company’s proprietary Intelli-Grip™ technology. This state-of-the-art design reportedly monitors the lifter’s vacuum and power systems, adjusts resources as necessary, and notifies the operator when something requires special attention. It tells the operator what they need to know, when they need to know it, allowing them to focus on the material handling job and not the nuances of lifter operation.

Vacuum lifters with Intelli-Grip™ communicate critical information at a glance via a color LCD display screen. A flashing amber strobe light and audible alarm warn about conditions that may compromise safety. These vacuum lifters also host a variety of safety features that help prevent anyone from performing dangerous actions. On every lift Intelli-Grip™ tests for a good vacuum seal and checks for low power. If the battery is dangerously low, it also prevents the lifter from attaching to loads. Every time the vacuum lifter is powered up, Intelli-Grip™ automatically performs self-diagnostics, to make certain the lifter is ready-to-go. Unique service codes quickly identify potential problems, minimizing lifter down-time. Smart power management enables the lifter to work longer on a single charge.

You may also be interested in this article about Powr-Grip’s vacuum pad with replaceable ring.

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Antolini Introduces Bronze Amani

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Antolini Introduces Bronze Amani

Posted on 18 October 2016 by CRadmin3

antolini-bronze-amaniAntolini’s Exclusive Collection is a unique offering of natural stone surface materials designed to complement today’s modern residential architecture. Among these stone designs is the newest addition, Bronze Amani, a variation that originates from a quarry in Spain and contains an assortment of rich earth tones. The color palette of Bronze Amani is cohesive with classic, bold patterns and textures. Antolini states that the material can also enhance the characteristics of contemporary, minimalistic interiors. Bronze Amani makes surroundings welcoming and relaxing.

Available in Polished, Lether and Antique finishes, Bronze Amani displays a color palette of classic yet bold patterns and textures, and works well as a complement to contemporary minimalistic interiors. In rooms where Bronze Amani is applied as the primary material or as an accent —in either horizontal or vertical applications—the impact can be remarkable, as the material has a variety of distinctive traits.

According to Antolini, the material can be a highly effective design treatment. “Bronze Amani’s warm, embracing earth tones and golden hues embody romance, elegance, and tranquility,” says Antolini, “while at the same time, it is remarkably dynamic and has the ability to reflect light and enlarge any surrounding where it is applied. It can make surroundings welcoming and relaxing, turning them into a unique oasis of peace and relaxation.”

You may also be interested in this article about Fusion WOW Quartzite from Antolini

 

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StoneTalk Episode 27: Chuck Russo

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StoneTalk Episode 27: Chuck Russo

Posted on 17 October 2016 by CRadmin2

Episode 27 of Moraware’s StoneTalk podcast features Chuck Russo of BacaSystems.com.

Host Patrick Foley and Chuck Russo discuss:

  • The advantage of using robot saws over other types of automated equipment
  • The benefits of a 2-table system
  • Different approaches to ensuring employee safety around equipment

 


 

Read the transcript of this episode here: StoneTalk Episode 27 – Chuck Russo

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Fabricator Profile: KAT Fabricators Stays Organized

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Fabricator Profile: KAT Fabricators Stays Organized

Posted on 14 October 2016 by CRadmin2

product-main-granite-largeKAT Fabricators is known as “your source for custom countertops” in the Dallas, Tex., area, and the company prides itself in keeping highly organized at all times. In fact, because the company does such a high volume of sales with big-box stores, such as Home Depot and Lowe’s, staying organized is a crucial element in maintaining customer relationships and honoring schedules.

Because KAT Fabricators does the majority of its business on the wholesale level, there is no need to maintain a showroom, and attention can be given to production and customer service. Stepping into the modest office, the company is all business. The customer-service department operates just behind the front door, and a few of the desks include state-of-the-art computer systems with dual monitors, which help to schedule up to 10 jobs each day with a high degree of accuracy.

Walking straight back through the office leads to the stone shop, which was originally dedicated to solid surface fabrication but now accommodates granite and engineered stone. Offering a wider variety of materials allows KAT Fabricators to act as a one-stop shop for dealers and builders with an assortment of jobs.

On the other side of the stone shop, is an open yard for warehousing slabs and remnants, and the solid surface shop is just past this. As of 2010, KAT Fabricators was using a CNC machine for sink holes while an advanced straight-line edger does most of the heavy work.

KAT Fabricators constantly and consistently works on improving efficiency and providing service and quality that surpasses that of the competition. This allows them to set competitive pricing without having to rely on low prices to gain new business.

Read more of this Fabricator Profile here: Tour of KAT Fabricators in Dallas

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