QuartzSource – A Different Idea for Supplying Engineered Stone

Posted on 10 April 2014 by cradmin

We, here at CountertopResource.com, recently heard about a new company that has a much different philosophy about how it supplies quartz surfacing to fabricators – QuartzSource – and we thought it was worth sharing.

The man behind the company is Evan Kruger, the owner of Solid Tops, a fabrication company in Maryland that works with granite, quartz surfacing, solid surface, and a variety of other premium surfacing materials. I did some research and Kruger seems to have a pretty solid reputation in the industry, being one of the first fabricators to receive MIA Accreditation, one of the founders of EOS Surfaces, a past board member and president of ISFA and a founding member of the Artisan Group. Kruger is known for his industry involvement and innovation, and so it comes as little surprise that he created QuartzSource in a much different manner than most material suppliers.

In discussing the company with Kruger, he said his new business ships quality slabs directly to fabricators’ doors from the manufacturer in Asia, unbranded. Yes, you read that correctly, there is no brand name associated with the product at all. The reason behind the business model, according to Kruger, is because he has seen how some fabricators have built up brand recognition for big quartz surfacing companies only to have those companies give a 30-day notice and then open their own fabrication shops or give exclusivity to another fabricator in that area and basically take the business away from the fabricators who had worked so diligently to build their brand in the first place. Kruger believes that fabricators need to have control of their own branding message if they are to regain the ground lost during the past 7 to 8 years. The “skin in the game” for Kruger is this very lack of owning his customers’ brand. He said, “If I do a poor job supplying my customers, they can take their business elsewhere because they own the brand name! The customer doesn’t need to buy from me to keep his own brand intact. Therefore I need to be very diligent to serve him well and that gives my customers a lot of confidence to invest.”

When developing the idea, he started thinking about how fabricators could feel more comfortable about putting so much effort into branding a product without fear of it being taken away from them. He knew the product had to be not only free of a corporate brand, but also be of high quality and come in innovative colors that would be sell well, while being at a competitive price. That way businesses could make a good profit on a material they could then brand as their own product.

After coming up with the idea, he then needed to find a supplier that could produce to his specs at a good price. So, he went to Asia, where he had developed numerous contacts over the years, and began looking for a quality quartz product that would be available at a reasonable price.

After extensive research and development, he found a process he thought would meet his demands and tested it against some of the bigger manufacturers’ products to make sure it met or exceeded their quality. With the proper test results achieved, he worked to develop new marble-like colors that he felt could compete well against the more innovative and best sellers in the U.S. market today. He then worked out a way to ship the product to anywhere in the United States at a reasonable price that would not drive up the costs. Once he had all of this in place, before setting out to find fabricators that would be willing to buy container loads of quartz and give the program a try, he made his own fabrication business the veritable guinea pig. He brought in several containers of material and began offering it as his own regional name brand, “Chesapeake Quartz.”

"Ballston" - one of 20 colors of quartz available from QuartzSource

“Ballston” – one of 20 colors of quartz available

After refining the system and making sure all of the quality control and shipping bugs were worked out, Kruger then began to look for other fabricators that would be interested in cutting out the costs of the middleman and developing their own brand of quartz without the worry of having the rug pulled out from under them after putting in all of the hard work.

Armed with this sort of a “buyers club” idea, he found several fabricators willing to give it a go, and he said the results have been very rewarding so far with re-orders coming in from several of the early adapters already.

Being a fabricator himself, he then came up with a few additional ideas to help fabricators to get the most out of the product, including having the material made in jumbo-sized slabs that allow for fewer seams and fewer slabs to be used in a given project, thereby increasing the savings on material and labor. This was partially accomplished by having the factory leave the raw edges of the slabs intact to increase the actual dimensions of the slabs, while also lowering the labor cost to produce them. So the fabricator pays for 63- by 126-in. slab, while the actual polished dimensions are closer to 65- by 128-in.

In return for his time and effort, Kruger decided rather than jacking up the price for the slabs to make a large profit, he would take only a small cut to keep the price low and to cover his costs and the costs of producing samples for buyers. He said he sees the real profit when he fabricates the material for his customers’ projects, because he is able to make a much higher margin, just like the other buyers are able to do.

He said the result is that those who buy in (including himself), must order slabs by the container load (56 3cm slabs or 84 2cm slabs per container), with up to four different colors per container. They can stock as many or as few of the colors they want and they can call it whatever they want, i.e. “Sunshine Quartz” in Florida, “Buckeye Quartz” in Ohio, “Sooner Quartz” in Oklahoma, etc. QuartzSource handles all of the shipping and customs, and include hundreds of samples as part of the service. All of the companies who buy in get the material delivered directly from the factory to their door in good order, at a low cost and on time.

Of course, this type of a program is not for everyone. Kruger’s intended customers are those independent-minded companies capable of creating their own brand identities and supporting their routes to market. Also, because the company purposely avoids using local distributors, the participating fabricators must be able to plan for and maintain their own inventories to avoid shortages. But those who can handle these caveats and who seek to control their own financial destinies, may stand to see their margins increase significantly if it works as well as Kruger puts forth.

We would love to hear your opinions on this sort of a program. Do you think it could work? Are you or have you been involved in a program like this? Post a comment or drop us a line at info@countertopresource.com with your thoughts.

And for those interested in more information, you can find it at www.QuartzSource.com.

7 Comments For This Post

  1. Norman Saarloos Says:

    A very interesting step, this is what many large fabricators have been doing in Europe like Lechner in Germany, Ligron in Russia and some smaller ones in Holland. Their strategy is to have a couple of suppliers for their own brand. Being independent from a major brand gives you a lot of flexibility and options to have your own custom colors. You need volumes so finding other partners is a good way to keep it interesting for everybody.

    Good job Evan! Best regards from the Netherlands,

    Norman

  2. Joseph Corlett Says:

    Evan does it again. Great guy and I wish him the best with this.

  3. Evan Kruger Says:

    Norman and Joe,
    Thanks for the kind words. It’s been a lot of fun and a lot of hard work getting QuartzSource off the ground but now the orders and reorders are coming in faster than expected. Most importantly I feel like I finally can do something for fellow fabricators that puts more profits on their bottom lines and more control of their futures back in their own hands. It’s working here at Solidtops so I know self-branding with the right colors will work for many other fabrication companies.
    Kind regards,
    Evan

  4. Max Filo Says:

    A container of slabs is a pretty hefty investment. I’d be curious to hear from others who have bought into this program. It’s not something I’d jump head first into without hearing how fabs have done with the product!

  5. Mia Fajardo Says:

    I’m curious does anyone know if this program is only for the United States?

  6. Norman Saarloos Says:

    Thank you too Evan. Self-branding and sourcing your own slabs is a great advantage. When it comes to quality you need to know the criteria for B-grade in order to buy A-grade. This is often overlooked by companies when they purchase their slabs in China or India. It is something that I mastered after looking at many defects and visiting many companies. An accurate calibration of the thickness for example is extremely important in a country like Germany or when you work with a half inch thickness. You also need to know if slabs get a re-polish and what this means to the gloss level at both ends of the slab. Working with uni colors like pure white can give problems too if you haven’t set up a kind of quality reference. Protecting plastic film on dark slabs can give you hard time cleaning the residue if your supplier suddenly decides to use another brand. You have a lot of experience producing EOS, let me know if you need any help or advice in future because I am happy to share my experience on this subject.

  7. Ken Says:

    the Marmoglass and Nanoglass is pure white color and it is more SHINE.
    here has materials of :
    – Marmoglass GS001
    – Marmoglass SN002
    – Nanoglass 3rd generation
    Ken Tang from China

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