Page 1

LG Surface Give Students World Stage Page 18 Stain Removal Magic and the Perfect Solution Awaits! Page 28 Concrete Countertops for Fun and Profit from Absolute Concrete Works Page 36

A World Of Surfaces

VOLUME 2 • ISSUE 2 • 2009 • SINGLE ISSUE $14.95


Circle Reader Service #8 on the Reader Service Page or go to

Table of Contents Students Get World Stage LG Surfaces “Beyond Student Design Challenge” encourages students at several universities around the world to experience what solid surface is truly capable of. Page 18

ICE Sizzles A new trade show specifically for ALL countertop professionals debuts in Vegas next year. Page 26

Occupational Safety And health administration inspections: What to expect if OSHA shows up. Page 44

Paper Based Products One of the “greenest” surfaces on the market today, and whether that is the case or not, paper-based materials are winning the hearts and minds of consumers, specifiers and fabricators. Page 46

Taking it to The Bank Proving once again the versatility of solid surface – this time for two larger-than-life wall and floor murals – British artist Michael Craig-Martin used specially formulated colors of DuPont Corian to decorate a recent building addition to the European Investment Bank (EIB) in Luxembourg. Page 32

Supplier Profile: Colonial Saw Find out more about one of the earliest saw companies to plant roots in the fertile ground that is solid surface. Page 48


Table of Contents

Generating More Income with Inlays and Signage Offering inlays and signage can generate income for The Official Show ofadditional the International Surface Fabricators Association an existing countertop business without a lot of additional cost. How? Find out in this quick read by Gene McDonald. Page 30

06 - From The Editor 08 - President’s Letter 10 - Executive Director’s Letter 12 - Letters To The Editor 13 - Calendar Of Events 14 - Industry News 20 - Marketing Solutions

Concrete Countertops for Fun and Profit Take one part woodworker, mix in a generous helping of artiste, add equal parts structural engineer, chemist and environmentalist and dump the entire concoction into a mixer. After combining the ingredients for a few minutes, pour into a mold and sprinkle lightly with bubbling enthusiasm. Let stand. Yields one concrete countertop manufacturer. Page 36

22 - Education Connection 25 - Safety Corner 28 - Featured Commentary 40 - Business Solutions 52 - ISFA News 60 - Product News 64 - Ad Index 64 - Classifieds International Surface Fabricators Association • Vol. 2, Issue 2, 2009 • 3

Letters To The Editor Countertops & Architectural Surfaces welcomes Letters to the Editor. If you have questions about the magazine, or would like to make a comment, or voice an opinion about the magazine, ISFA, or the industry in general, please feel free to write to us. Please send letters to or to Letters, ISFA, PO Box 179, Lehi, UT 84043 or fax to (702) 567-8145 attention: Editor. Include a telephone number and address (preferable email address). Letters may be edited for clarity or space. Because of the high volume of mail we receive, we cannot respond to all letters. Send queries about Countertops & Architectural Surfaces to or to or mail to ISFA, PO Box 179, Lehi, UT 84043 or fax to (702) 5678145 attention: Editor.

M agazine Credits

Contacting ISFA Phone: (801) 341-7360 Toll Free: (877) 464-7732 Fax: (801) 341-7361 About This Magazine Countertops & Architectural Surfaces is published quarterly by the International Surface Fabricators Association (ISFA). Individual copies of Countertops & Architectural Surfaces are available at the non-member “newstand” price of $9.95. Countertops & Architectural Surfaces is also available by individual subscription at the following rates: ISFA non-members, one year (four issues) $30.00; ISFA members, one year free with every membership renewal. Special rates and charges apply for orders outside of the United States. Call for details. To subscribe, call (877) 464-7732. Printed in the United States of America. Copyright © International Surface Fabricators Association 2009. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reprinted or otherwise reproduced without publisher’s written permission. Countertops & Architectural Surfaces and The International Surface Fabricators Association assume no responsibility for unsolicited manuscripts or photographs. Materials will be returned only if accompanied by a stamped, self-addressed envelope. For change of address, please include old label with new information, including both old and new zip codes. Allow 3-6 weeks for address change to take effect. Periodicals postage rate is paid at the Lehi, Utah, post office as well as others. Opinions expressed by writers in this magazine are not necessarily the opinions of Countertops & Architectural Surfaces or the International Surface Fabricators Association, but rather those of the individual writers. POSTMASTER: Send address change to ISFA Magazine, PO Box 179, Lehi, UT 84043. Photography By: LG Surfaces, Sterling Surfaces, Gene McDonald, Rosskopf & Partner, Colonial Saw, CREA Diffusion, PaperStone, DuPont® Silestone, Utah Valley University. Photos in this publication may not depict proper safety procedures for creative purposes. ISFA

4 • Vol. 2, Issue 2, 2009 • International Surface Fabricators Association

and Countertops & Architectural Surfaces support the use of proper safety procedures in all cases and urge readers to take steps to institute such procedures. Credits Publisher & Editor Kevin Cole Creative Director Joseph Winters Contributing Editors Russ Lee ISFA Officers Of The Board Sid MacKay, President Evan Kruger, Vice President Hunter Adams, Secretary Ted Sherritt, Treasurer Joe Hoffman, Assistant Treasurer Michael Job, Director-At-Large Kurt Bonk, I.T. Officer Todd Werstler, Past President Russ Lee, Executive Director of ISFA ISFA Directors Mike Nolan, Director Mike Langenderfer, Director Martin Funck, Director Dave Paxton, Director Mike Cook, Director Harry Hollander, Associate Member Rep. Bryan Stannard, Associate Member Rep. ISFA Staff Russ Lee, Executive Director Joseph Winters, Art Director & Web Services Kevin Cole, Communications Director Sandy Milroy, Membership & Event Director Margaret Pettinghill, Administrative Assistant The ISSFA Mission Statement To help ISFA members become more profitable in their businesses by: • Promoting our members and the products they offer, • Educating our members to help them become better craftsmen and business people, and • Improving the industry through professionalism and honesty.


cience may eventually explain the world of How. The ultimate world of Why may remain for contemplation, philosophy, religion. ~ Liberty Hyde Bailey, Scientist


uccess in business requires training and discipline and hard work. But if you’re not frightened by these things, the opportunities are just as great today as they ever were. ~ David Rockefeller, Businessman


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FromThe Editor

ARoseIs aRoseIs aRose? Welcome to another issue of ISFA’s magazine. As you probably saw on the cover, we’ve got a new name: Countertops & Architectural Surfaces. After seeing it, you might be asking yourself “Wasn’t this called ISFA Magazine, or ISSFA Magazine, or ISSFA Business Journal before that? What’s with all this name changing business?” Well, we understand it is a little confusing, but it is not without purpose. Shakespeare may have said it best when he wrote: “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would still smell as sweet.” And while that logic may still hold true today, in response I would argue there is plenty in a name. Certainly a name doesn’t necessarily equate to reality, right? Just because a business is called “Bob’s Most Excellent Discount Countertops” doesn’t mean that 1) the business is owned or run by someone named Bob; 2) that the products put out by the company are the “Most Excellent”; 3) that the products are less expensive than other businesses; or 4) that the only thing the business sells is countertops. On the other hand, a name may make all the difference in the world. If you were looking for a new countertop, would you call “Bob’s” above, or would you contact “Sadam’s Mediocre Expensive Sinks”? Okay, that is a little oversimplified, but you

From the desk of Kevin Cole, Countertops & Architectural Surfaces Editor & Publisher, and ISFA Communications Director

Popular Membership Benefits& Services:

get the picture, right? A name should be reflective of a purpose on some level. In many cases a name is what sets things apart. It is the first chance we have to get someone’s attention and share a little about what we do. It also, over time, becomes our brand and the foundation upon which we build our reputation. And that should be taken very seriously. So what’s my point? We feel our new name better reflects who and what we are. And I think you will also find Countertops & Architectural Surfaces to be very reflective, as a name, of the content that you will find herein. We hope it will be a name you come to respect for bringing you useful and important information that will not only be enjoyable to read, but that will help you find ways to improve your business.

The Official Show of the International Surface Fabricators Association

Now we know that “change” doesn’t always equate to “better.” And we understand that uniformity can often lead to comfort and stability, but when you find a problem, you fix it, and when you find a better way to do something, you do it that way. So while we invite you to get used to the new name and the new faces here, we also invite you to hold us to a high standard in which we try to do the things that are best for the industry, and not just the things that are easiest. And to those ends, we offer you the following pages of this publication to peruse and pontificate over. Inside you will find topics covering a whole world of surfaces, from the tried and true, to the very new. It’s yours to leave or take… Sincerely,

Kevin Cole Editor & Publisher

6 • Vol. 2, Issue 2, 2009 • International Surface Fabricators Association

Update eNewsletter

Breaking Industry News, Fabricator & Consumer Articles and Latest Events.

fabricators helping fabricators.

START GROWING YOUR BUSINESS TODAY WITHOUT THE COST OF TRAVELING. The talk is about three key seminars that can give your company the edge it needs to succeed! Whether it be ways to standout from the competition, to qualifiying questions that seperate buyers from shoppers, and the right way to hire and train great fabricators, we have a solution for you. Here are our current Self-Study DVD Titles:

Job Management & Installation DVD

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Surface Sales System Seminar DVD

For more information, and to order these great DVD titles, visit and click on “ISFA Store.” Or call us at (877) 464-7732.

FromThe President ThePast, the Present, andthe Future. One of the first things I want to do is to thank our outgoing President, Todd Werstler, for all he did and accomplished in 2008. His love for ISFA is very apparent in his enthusiasm and willingness to get involved. He spent countless hours away from his company on ISFA business during a very tough year in which we all needed to be more involved with our businesses. His will be a hard act to follow. With the economic slowdown, like many of you, ISFA had to make some very difficult decisions to reduce its overhead. One of them was to relocate the ISFA offices to Lehi, Utah, where we worked out a deal with a nearby university to host our training center. The new training center is more advanced with a lower cost to the association, and such is a great move. We also had to cut staff. Joe Winters was the only one of our original staff that was able to relocate. So to Robert Oxley, Bill Wolle, Marie Gerace, Toby Opalinski and Carol Williams, we thank you for your service and wish you the best in the future. Looking to the future we are excited. Executive Director Russ Lee has assembled a dream team in Kevin Cole, Sandy Milroy and Joe Winters. They know our industry intimately and we are expecting great

From the desk of Sid MacKay, ISFA 2009-2010 President and proud ISFA member since April 15, 1997.

things from them. One of these things is going to be the International Countertop Expo. Starting next year we will be producing our own industry trade show, much like we did in years past. We will control the entire show and will be having it at a smaller more intimate place where we can have more interaction with each other. While at the Surface Fabrication & Design Expo in Orlando in February, I was talking with Martin Funck from Germany (one of our founding members), and he said he thought that the feeling of family that we felt 10 years ago in the association has been lost. Well, we hear what Martin is saying and we are inviting all of you to a Family Reunion. This reunion will include all of our cousins in the countertop and specialty surfaces industry. We look forward to meeting more concrete, glass, laminate, granite, paper and any other specialty surface fabricators. We know these new products and fabricators bring with them an excitement that can energize our industry and bring new ideas that will help us to look at things differently. In return, we can share with them some of the mistakes and learning experiences we have had to deal with, so hopefully they can bypass them. And together we can move forward toward a profitable future, better prepared to face the daily challenges. Changing gears a little, I want to let you know what you might expect from me as your new ISFA President. I am a pretty simple guy with very few original ideas. I attribute my success in this industry to the relationships I have formed and built over the years with ISFA members. I have been welcomed into their shops all over the country and they have shared with me the things that have made them successful. With that knowledge I have been able to grow and diversify my business, and by so

8 • Vol. 2, Issue 2, 2009 • International Surface Fabricators Association

doing, I have been able to give my family security, comfort and opportunities I only dreamed about. I feel I owe ISFA and its members a debt of gratitude, and by serving on the Board of Directors and as your President, I am hoping I can repay a small portion of that debt. My office door is always open to my employees and the same holds true for all ISFA members. Feel free to contact me anytime. This is not my organization, it is OUR organization. We need your insight and thoughts so we know what direction to move. We have no agenda except to meet your needs and expectations. We know we are not perfect and we have proven that in the past. We will probably also make mistakes in the future, but the thing that will help us avoid that will be your input and suggestions. Because of these tough economic times, we need each other more than ever. Together we can support, strengthen and uplift each other. Our networking can help us learn the things that will help us to survive these tough times. Just in the last six months I have learned many things from other ISFA members that have helped me save thousands of dollars in overhead expenses. I have also learned new marketing ideas that have helped generate additional revenues. These opportunities are available to every ISFA member who chooses to get involved and participate. If you have been involved, you know what I am talking about. If you haven’t been involved, don’t let another week go by with lost opportunities. I look forward to hearing from you and hope each of you will be at the Family Reunion in 2010. Sincerely,

Sid MacKay ISFA President

ISFA has resumed operations of the ISFA Training & Education Center, which provides standard setting hands-on training to countertop professionals, by partnering with Utah Valley University (UVU) in Orem, Utah. ISFA members and others interested in the industry can access world class training and qualify for college credit at the same time for the first time ever. For class dates and more information, call (877) 464-7732 or visit You can also turn to Page 13 in this magazine for specific calendar dates.


Executive Director TheNext New Passion. I was hooked early on and I hope I never recover. It’s not substance abuse, although I must confess there have been times when I have felt just as firmly in its grasp as if I were living my life in the ominous shadow of a needle. No, this particular addiction goes by the innocuous label of “solid surface.” My first experience with this amazing substance came when, as a remodeling contractor in the mid-80s, one of my customers specified a Corian ITB (integral bowl vanity top) for her bathroom. Since the countertop was larger than the space allowed, it was my job to cut it down to size. It was a daunting experience. Here was this beautiful, milky white countertop surface – practically perfect in every way (my apologies to Mary Poppins) – and they wanted me to cut into it? How, I wondered, and with what? When I inquired of the plumbing and appliance distributor who sold me the Corian what tools I should use to cut down the top, the salesperson behind the counter looked at me sideways and asked, “Are you a fabricator?” Fearing I might somehow lose my trade discount if I answered in the negative, I replied, albeit somewhat shakily, “Of course.”

From the desk of Russ Lee,

Executive Director of ISFA, Charter Fabricator Member (1997) and Industry Partner (2007).

Well, by hook and by crook (and some helpful advice from an employee with prior experience as a cabinetmaker) we modified the vanity top to fit the space and I got out of the project with my shirt intact. But I was hooked. I had to learn more about this amazing material that required the services of a craftsman (mysteriously referred to as a “fabricator”) to transform dusty sheets of modified plastic into flowing things of beauty. After some inquiries on my part, I was contacted by Doug Hansen, DuPont’s regional manager for the Atlanta area. He came to my house to scope out the situation, and while we talked in the driveway I got my first taste of the all-consuming passion this material engenders in people who work with it for any length of time. Doug was one of the most intense people I had ever met. Corian was his baby, and he was gatekeeper to the kingdom. Anyone who wanted to work with Corian had to go through him first. Keep in mind this was in the day when nobody knew anything about this relatively new and obscure material, whose share of the countertop market at the time was infinitesimal. You may not know the specifics, but you know the rest of the story. I ended up making my entrance into the enchanting world of solid surface by driving to Savannah, Ga., to attend a class on fabrication conducted in the shop of an established fabricator. That experience is another story for another time. Since then I have evolved with the product I have come to love. I had tasted the solid surface drug, and I craved it.

10 • Vol. 2, Issue 2, 2009 • International Surface Fabricators Association

But that is not the end of the story. Solid surface opened up a world of creativity and innovation that transports me daily to a Willy Wonka/Disneyland-like universe, which never fails to inspire wonder and excitement. Incredibly (to me, at least), that fascination now transcends even solid surface. In recent years I have been exposed to other surfacing materials whose characteristics and potential applications send the imagination soaring. The whole bevy of ‘green,’ or sustainable, materials is, to me, mind-blowing. Low pressure laminates like Richlite, Paperstone, bamboo and even solid wood are ratcheting up the creative options. There is one product out there more than any other that has the potential to grab my heart the same way solid surface did in days of yore. That surface is the concrete countertop. Sure, it involves working with raw materials that are messy. Cure times, admix properties and structural design are probably more art than science. But concrete is the medium of the artiste. I have tasted the drug, and I like it. If you want to see passion, walk into a room filled with concrete countertop manufacturers (the term, “fabricator” is anathema to them because it connotes someone who works with slabs, instead of raw, liquid mixtures). Their creativity in the medium is nothing short of awesome, and I want to be a part of that. It doesn’t hurt, either, that their margins are pretty darned good. Industrialization, to be sure, is on its way to the concrete countertop segment of the industry. The opportunities for growth are exponential, which will, I suspect, eventually fuel a gold rush to concrete not experienced since the heyday of solid surface in the mid-1990s. In the meantime there is a need for educating the market, both at the specifier and the consumer levels. And, yes, some concrete countertop manufacturers would probably benefit from instruction on the finer points of business management. There are stories to be told and applications to be developed. And I thank my lucky stars I get to be in the thick of it.

INTRODUCING Phase One of Decorative Surfacing Awareness at it’s Best.

The ISFA Board of Directors and Staff have been working very hard to bring you a major update designed to educate end-users and specifiers and promote the decorative surfacing industry to the rest of the world. This is an experience you won’t find anywhere else. • Surfacing Options • All New Design Center • Find a Countertop Pro • Consumer Trends • Fabricator Tools & Benefits • Your New Sales Tool For Getting Customers!

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lett tot ers he ed ito r Editor’s Note: ISFA received several letters from readers regarding the Vol. 2, Issue 1 cover that were critical of the graphic resembling Barak Obama’s campaign logo, with the title “Change is Here” written underneath. The tone of most of those letters objected to an apparent implied endorsement of the new president and his policies.

Tony Bolfing, of Bolfing Brothers Marble in Cypress, Texas, wrote, “I have enjoyed reading past issues dealing with topics such as new products, new tooling, etc. However, after seeing the cover of the latest issue I realized that ISFA may have a very different outlook on business and life in general.” Heath Howat, of Louis W. Howat and Sons in Harahan, La., wrote: “Now you are … involving politics. Change is coming and I hope this new administration knows what they are doing, but I don’t think they do. I also hope this change does what is best for the business owner and doesn’t punish them based on their success or the opportunity to grow their business.” And Gary Smith, of Down East Fabrication in Mechanicsburg, Pa., wrote: “I came upon the most recent issue of the ISFA magazine Volume 2 Issue 1 2009 and I was immediately repulsed by your choice for artwork on the cover. While I realize that Barak Obama won the most

recent election and is in fact our president, I can’t for the life of me understand why an organization which claims to be a champion of the Small business of this country would associate itself with [it]. This is without question the most difficult economic and therefore business climate that I have endured since I started this business 20 years ago. The current administration has placed a target on my back and I don’t like it. I have built a business that contributes to my community and I want to continue to do that.” No doubt there are others who misunderstood our use of the cover graphic, which resembled the Obama campaign logo. In fact, the cover was a play on the fact that Mr. Obama campaigned so heavily on the theme of “change” just as ISFA was undergoing major changes of its own. We meant in no way, shape or form to endorse or imply approval of Mr. Obama’s (or any other politician’s) policies. It is not our place to be political — right, left or in the middle. Our place is to serve the countertop fabrication community and provide assistance in helping fabricators improve their businesses. We simply thought the pun would emphasize the fact that the association has been undergoing change. We sincerely apologize for any miscommunication it may have sent and we hope, as the saying goes, that you will not judge a book by its cover. We strongly believe that

12 • Vol. 2, Issue 2, 2009 • International Surface Fabricators Association

judgements should be made not on surface impressions, or in this case perhaps a poor choice of pun, but rather on character and value. We are working very hard to provide real, tangible benefits to our members, such as our new Digital Fabrication course, which teaches attendees the basics of CAD, CNC programming and digital templating techniques or the many discounts available on other training programs. We responded to the writers of the letters shown above with an explanation of our intentions and our apology for creating a misunderstanding. Mr. Bolfing replied with the following comment: “To be honest, the last few months of ‘change’ have weighed very heavily on my heart and it has become harder and harder to keep my thoughts to myself, however negative. I would think (and hope) that I am not the only reader who looked more into the cover than it was intended.” Please give us a chance to re-prove our value to the fabrication community and overlook our blunder. None of us honestly felt that anyone would get the impression we were trying to associate ourselves with Barak Obama, and now we know we were mistaken on that count. We will be more careful in the future.

MIA OSHA/Shop Safety Training June 25, Cincinnati, Ohio 440-250-9222

Calendar Of Events

AZ School of Rock Basic Fabrication Course July 6-9, Gilbert, Ariz. 480-309-9422 CCI: Intensive Precast Countertops 101 July 13-15, Raleigh, N.C. 888-386-7711

ISFA Total Fabricator Training Sept. 14-17, Orem, Utah 877-464-7732 The Pinske Edge Fabrication Seminar Sept. 16-18, Plato, Minn. 800-847-6753 CCI: GFRC for Concrete Countertops 201 Sept. 17-18, Raleigh, N.C. 888-386-7711

Amelia Concrete Fusion CHENG Professional Countertop Training May 4-6, Atlanta, Ga. 770-631-1881

ISFA Total Fabricator Training July 13-16, Orem, Utah 877-464-7732

AZ School of Rock Basic Fabrication Course May 4-7, Gilbert, Ariz. 480-309-9422

Association of Woodworking & Furnishing Suppliers Fair (AWFS) July 15-18, Las Vegas, Nev. 800-946-2937

Buddy Rhodes Concrete Countertop Workshop May 8-9, Ontario, Canada 416-450-7716

CCI: GFRC for Concrete Countertops 201 July 16-17, Raleigh, N.C. 888-386-7711

AZ School of Rock Basic Fabrication Course Oct. 5-8, Gilbert, Ariz. 480-309-9422

The Tile and Stone Show May 10-12, London, England +44-189-275-2400

MIA Business Success for Fabricators Training July 22-23, Boston, Mass. 440-250-9222

CCI: Intensive Precast Countertops 101 Oct. 12-14, Raleigh, N.C. 888-386-7711

CCI: Intensive Precast Countertops 101 May 11-13, Raleigh, N.C. 888-386-7711

MIA Countertop & Floor Repair July 22-23, Boston, Mass. 440-250-9222

ISFA Digital Fabrication Course Oct. 12-15, Orem, Utah 877-464-7732

CCI: GFRC for Concrete Countertops 201 May 14-15, Raleigh, N.C. 888-386-7711

ISFA Total Fabricator Training Aug. 3-6, Orem, Utah 877-464-7732

CCI: GFRC for Concrete Countertops 201 Oct. 15-16, Raleigh, N.C. 888-386-7711

Amelia Concrete Fusion CHENG Essential Countertop Training May 16, Atlanta, Ga. 770-631-1881

AZ School of Rock Basic Fabrication Course Aug. 3-6, Gilbert, Ariz. 480-309-9422

ISFA Total Fabricator Training Oct. 19-22, Orem, Utah 877-464-7732

SIBOR International Exhibition of Natural Stone May 19-23, Lisbon, Portugal +351-21-892-1500

MIA Marketing Your Company in Today’s Environment Aug. 5, Chicago, Ill. 440-250-9222

StonExpo/Marmomacc Americas 2009 Oct. 21-24, Las Vegas, Nev. 866-550-6808

Stone+Tec 2009 May 20-23, Nuremberg,Germany 208-265-1714

MIA Business Success for Fabricators Training Aug. 5-6, Chicago, Ill. 440-250-9222

National Green Builders Products Expo May 27-29, Las Vegas, Nv. 800-859-9247

CCI: Intensive Precast Countertops 101 Aug. 10-12, Raleigh, N.C. 888-386-7711

CCI: Intensive Precast Countertops 101 May 11-13, Raleigh, N.C. 888-386-7711

CCI: GFRC for Concrete Countertops 201 August 13-14, Raleigh, N.C. 888-386-7711

AZ School of Rock Basic Fabrication Course June 1-4, Gilbert, Ariz. 480-309-9422

Full Frontal Tile & Stone Expo Aug. 17-19, Sydney, Australia +61-39-888-3459

MIA Marketing Your Company in Today’s Environment June 10, Seattle, Wash. 440-250-9222

American Waterjet Conference & Expo Aug. 18-20, Houston, Texas 314-241-1445

MIA Business Success for Fabricators Training June 10-11, Seattle, Wash. 440-250-9222 CCI: GFRC for Concrete Countertops 201 June 11-12, Raleigh, N.C. 888-386-7711 ISFA Total Fabricator Training June 15-18, Orem, Utah 877-464-7732 Construct 2009 June 16-19, Indianapolis, Ind. 972-536-6430

The Pinske Edge Fabrication Seminar Aug. 19-21, Plato, Minn. 800-847-6753 AZ School of Rock Basic Fabrication Course Sept. 7-10, Gilbert, Ariz. 480-309-9422 MIA Countertop & Floor Repair Sept. 9-10, New York, N.Y. 440-250-9222 MIA Business Success for Fabricators Training Sept. 9-10, New York, N.Y. 440-250-9222 CCI: Intensive Precast Countertops 101 Sept. 14-16, Raleigh, N.C. 888-386-7711

Woodworking Machinery & Supply Expo Sept. 24-26, Toronto, Canada 847-415-8024 Marmomacc 2009 Sept. 30-Oct. 3, Verona, Italy 202-783-7000

ZOW Italy Oct. 21-24, Verona, Italy +49-521-964-3370 The Pinske Edge Fabrication Seminar Oct. 28-30, Plato, Minn. 800-847-6753 AZ School of Rock Basic Fabrication Course Nov. 2-5, Gilbert, Ariz. 480-309-9422 CCI: Intensive Precast Countertops 101 Nov. 9-11, Raleigh, N.C. 888-386-7711 CCI: GFRC for Concrete Countertops 201 Nov. 12-13, Raleigh, N.C. 888-386-7711 ISFA Total Fabricator Training Nov. 16-19, Orem, Utah 877-464-7732 CCI: Intensive Precast Countertops 101 Dec. 7-9, Raleigh, N.C. 888-386-7711 AZ School of Rock Basic Fabrication Course Dec. 7-10, Gilbert, Ariz. 480-309-9422 The Pinske Edge Fabrication Seminar Dec. 9-11, Plato, Minn. 800-847-6753 CCI: GFRC for Concrete Countertops 201 Dec. 10-11 Raleigh, N.C. 888-386-7711

International Surface Fabricators Association • Vol. 2, Issue 2, 2009 • 13

Van Hagens, Industry Veteran, Passes Harry Van Hagens, who was well known in the solid surface industry via his long tenure with Colonial Saw Company, died unexpectedly of a heart attack on Dec. 11, 2008. With a career that spans 40 years and two continents, both Europe and the United States, Van Hagens has left many positive impressions on those who had the pleasure to work with him.

In The Industry Business & Industry News

Welcome to ISFA Magazine “In The Industry.” Here you will find noteworthy items of industry interest.

“When I first met Harry in Hannover, Germany, he won me over in less than five minutes with his knowledge of the grinding industry, and his quiet, without, as my mother used to say, ‘tooting his own horn’ way,” recalled Paul Ravinski, president of Colonial Saw. Within months, Ravinski had convinced Van Hagens to leave the Netherlands and work with him in the United States. Harry‘s extraordinary knowledge and ability to work with customers, always focusing on solving any issue brought to his attention, quickly became an asset to the company. “He instilled in [our technicians] his traits of respect for the customer and getting the job done quickly and professionally,” noted Dave Rakauskas, vice president of Colonial Saw. Van Hagens was known to freely share his vast knowledge of mechanical and electrical troubleshooting, and to pay careful attention to details. In 1991, he took on managing the West Coast branch of Colonial Saw, and was instrumental in the growth and developments of that office. The impact of this led to the company winning the title of Supplier of the Year for the Woodworking Machinery Industry Association. Harry was also appointed to the board of directors of the Association of Woodworking & Furnishings Suppliers (AWFS). A highly dedicated man who focused on taking care of the needs of others, Van Hagens will certainly be missed by all those he touched.

Louis and Company Constructs Utah Distribution Center Louis and Company, a wholesale distributor of more than 35,000 products including cabinet hardware, cabinet accessories, shop supplies, surfacing products and machinery has constructed a new 80,000-sq.ft. distribution center in Salt Lake City, Utah. The new facility serves as the hub for supplying products in Utah, Idaho and surrounding states. “We are looking beyond the current economic environment and are investing in the long run to be a valuable supply partner to our customers in this region,” said Tom Mauss, president and CEO. This new, larger distribution facility is being utilized in addition to the current facility in Salt Lake City. Integra Adhesives Opens Eastern U.S. Location Integra Adhesives has opened a new warehouse in the Eastern United States. The new warehouse has a complete stock of the company’s Surface Bonder Xi, Rodding Compound, RTP-01, Dispensers and Mixing Tips. According to the company, customers will benefit from significantly reduced shipping times across the United States and Canada. Located in Tennessee, the new warehouse will be able to ship all of the bonding products for solid surfaces, natural stone, quartz surfacing and composites, reducing delivery times east of the Rocky Mountains to two or three business days, reports the company. Customers west of the Rockies will continue to receive their shipments from the Washington state location. The company expects that reduced shipping volumes direct from the factory will translate into faster shipping times for western customers also. Product enquiries and sales communications are still directed through current channels.

Kohler Launches Web Site Promoting Water Savings Kohler Co. has launched – a viral online campaign dedicated to teach homeowners how easy it is to save water. With the launch of this site — and help from Web visitors — Kohler will provide up to $1 million worth of water-saving plumbing products to Habitat for Humanity. “Kohler recognizes the looming freshwater shortage facing the United States, and that saving water inside the home represents the best opportunity for a family to make a significant difference on their water consumption,” said John Engberg, manager of global media and Web development at Kohler. “This online campaign is dedicated to educate homeowners, and benefit Habitat for Humanity with donations of Kohler plumbing products.” Visitors to are asked to participate in a three-question quiz, and for every completed quiz, Kohler will donate $1 worth of product to Habitat for Humanity, which will be tracked in real time on the Web site. The short quiz calculates how much water and money the visitor’s family could save if they replaced their old toilets. Kohler has already guaranteed to provide $500,000 worth of product to Habitat for Humanity, and is encouraging homeowners to log on to its new site and help reach the goal of $1 million in product donations. The full donation of $1 million would equate to Kohler donating enough plumbing products to complete nearly 600 Habitat homes. The company is a dedicated partner of the Environmental Protection Agency’s WaterSense program, as evidenced by its recent receipt of the inaugural WaterSense Partner of the Year award. Natural Stone Council To Develop Federal ‘Check-off’ Program The Natural Stone Council (NSC), a collaborative organization representing business and trade associations serving the natural stone industry, has announced the development of what will be a congressionally authorized “check-off” program, an industry-funded research and promotion effort that would reportedly expand the

market for natural stone in the United States and increase demand of natural stone products. Other industries including the avocado producers, cotton farmers, the pork industry and milk producers, who used the funds generated from their check-off program to fund the popular “Got Milk?” campaign, have experienced tremendous success through similar programs. “Our goal is to increase the understanding of, preference for and consumption of natural stone,” said Gary Distelhorst, chairman of the NSC’s Check-off Committee. “Our current marketing efforts aren’t sustainable based solely on the generous donations of industry members, so we are seeking a way to fairly fund research and promotion of natural stone that will benefit us all.” Revenue from the check-off program would be administered and approved by the government-appointed Natural Stone Research & Promotion Board (NSRPB). This group would be representative of all industry segments including importers and would be responsible for allocating funds and approving business and marketing plans. In order to move the program forward, Congress must pass special legislation to authorize a check-off program for natural stone. Cornerstone Government Affairs, a federal lobbyist firm, has been retained to work on behalf of the NSC to further the passage of this legislation in Congress. Both will reportedly work with the appropriate federal agencies and Congress to achieve authorization of the natural stone check-off program. The group hopes to have the program implemented by early 2010. Research and promotion programs are authorized by federal legislation and are designed to strengthen the targeted industry in the marketplace while maintaining and expanding domestic and foreign markets. The programs are all fully funded by industry assessments. NSRPB members are reportedly nominated by industry leaders and appointed officially by a cabinet secretary, who will also oversee the activities of the board and approve budgets, in order to assure compliance with the authorizing legislation.

International Surface Fabricators Association • Vol. 2, Issue 2, 2009 • 15

NKBA Announces 2009 Kitchen & Bath Industry Hall of Fame Inductees The National Kitchen & Bath Association (NKBA) has announced the 2009 inductees into the Kitchen & Bath Industry Hall of Fame, which honors individuals who have made extraordinary contributions to the industry. The three winners are as follows: Kenneth E. Anderson, CKD, founder of TASK Lighting Corporation; James J. Bakke, president and CEO of in Sub-Zero Inc. and Wolf Appliance Inc.; and Mary Jo Peterson, CKD, CBD, CAPS, CAASH, author, speaker and instructor for the NKBA and owner of design firm Mary Jo Peterson Inc. These inductees were selected by a standing program committee from nominations made since the Hall of Fame’s establishment in 1989. Including the 2009 inductees, the NKBA has selected 81 individuals, who receive national recognition. They are also honored at the annual NKBA Board of Directors’ Gala at K/BIS. New Vetrazzo Distributor Agreements Allow Nationwide Availability Vetrazzo, providers of a surfacing material made of recycled glass in a concretebased matrix, has two new distribution agreements with sizable East Coast distributors KVF Distribution of Raleigh, N.C., and Atlantic Plywood of Woburn, Mass., to complete full coast-to-coast distribution. “The five-fold growth of the green building industry forecast over the next three years has accelerated demand,� said President James Sheppard. “By expanding distribution across the country, Vetrazzo can now meet the growing demand and provide a viable surfacing option for designers, fabricators and green building professionals.� Cambria Announces New Partner Program Cambria, U.S. producer of quartz surfacing, has announced that Fine Line Pacific located in Kent, Wash., and Flo Form Countertops, located in Winnipeg, Canada, as the first Cambria fabricator business partners to be inducted into the company’s Lexus Partner Program. Partners in the program must meet specific criteria set by Cambria that include sales success, quality, customer service and a commitment to marketing. In return, they are provided unique benefits from the manufacturer, including a guaranteed market position through exclusive fabrication

and distribution in their marketplace, and dedicated manufacturer sales, marketing and training support. VIC International Restructures Executive Staff VIC International Corp., a manufacturer of products for the natural stone and concrete industry, has restructured its executive staff, including a move by founder Vic Green to chairman of the board. theGreen industry. founded the company in 1978 and was recently awarded the Vince Migliore Lifetime Achievement Award. Former vice president, Kelly Milligan, has been named president and CEO after 21 years with VIC, and Steve Skirvin is now director of operations. CCI Expands Web Site The Concrete Countertop Institute (CCI) has added a new benefit for alumni of its training programs – a student spotlight section on its Web site that highlights the work of successful students. Projects are described as they relate to the training received from the institute, and photos representing the work of each student provide examples of the quality projects that are possible after applying the newly acquired knowledge. Alumni are encouraged to contact CCI with their stories and photos to be added to the site. Cold Spring Granite HQ Awarded LEED Gold Certification The new 22,500-sq.-ft. corporate headquarters of Cold Spring Granite, a Minnesota-based quarrier and fabricator of natural stone, has received LEED Gold certification from the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC). LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) is the USGBC’s leading rating system for designing and constructing the world’s greenest, most energy efficient and high-performing buildings. The building was designed to achieve LEED certification for energy use, lighting, water and material use, as well as incorporating a variety of other sustainable strategies. Key to certification for the company was the use of regional material as all stone for the building was extracted from its own quarries within 250 miles of the project site. In addition to using granite and limestone from the company’s own quarries,

16 • Vol. 2, Issue 2, 2009 • International Surface Fabricators Association

the new headquarters incorporates historical structural elements from the previous downtown industrial site as a portion of the new building. The new building’s front entryway includes truss columns that formerly held up the old building’s exterior crane beams. “Cold Spring Granites’ LEED certification demonstrates tremendous green building leadership,� said Rick Fedrizzi, president, CEO & founding chair of the USGBCl. “[The] new headquarters serves as a prime example of just how much we can accomplish.�

Scientific Dust Collectors Updates Site Scientific Dust Collectors has revised and updated its Web site at The upgraded site reportedly provides easier access to information about the company’s line of dust collection equipment, including baghouse dust collectors, cartridge dust collectors and bin vents. In addition, several new technical papers on dust collection have been added, including white papers on reverse pulsejet baghouses.

Scientific Dust Collectors manufacturers a full line of baghouse and cartridge style dust collectors. We are able to provide you with standard catalog selections as well as highly customized units to exactly match your unique needs, because we perform all fabrication in-house. We also guarantee filer life, performance, and efficiency! We hope you find this website useful in exploring our equipment and abilities. We are committed to providing you a standard or custom product that meets your individual requirements and solves your dust problems. Let us know how we can help you, "collect the facts" and "discover the difference". What's New at Scientific Dust Collectors?

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Almatis Appoints New CEO The Supervisory Board of Almatis, a specialty alumina product supplier, appointed Remco de Jong as the new CEO of the company. He succeeds Martin Laudenbach who stepped down from the position to take on a new entrepreneurial opportunity. De Jong joined Almatis in 2004 and has held various positions in Operations before he became the company’s COO in 2007.

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Biesse Redesigns Web Sites Biesse S.p.A, an Italian manufacturer of wood, glass, stone and solid surface fabrication equipment and systems, has unveiled a redesigned Web site for its Biesse and Intermac North American subsidiaries. The new site offers dynamic product pages and content along with unique features such as the interactive “Industry Portal Tab.” This feature allows visitors to view up-to-the-minute stock, weather and news information via Widgets, allowing surfacing professionals to stay informed of the latest industry trends in a single, centralized location. The site further features detailed Webinars, product demonstrations and information on industry trends, from product questions to Certified Biesse Dealer searches to online registration for popular events. In addition to the new site, Biesse has made substantial investments in its North American subsidiaries. In 2008 it opened a Toronto showroom, and plans are underway for a new Montreal, QC, headquarters for Biesse Canada. In the United States, the company has acquired a 15-acre parcel of land adjacent to the Charlotte, N.C., headquarters of Biesse America and Intermac America, where it plans to build a new 130,000-sq.-ft. headquarters building.

USGBC Appoints New Head of LEED The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) appointed Scot Horst senior vice president, LEED, a new position in the organization. Horst is a partner in 7group, a green building consultancy, and president of the Athena Institute International where he has been involved with a range of work related to Life Cycle Assessment. During his LEED Steering Committee chairmanship, Horst has overseen the development and revision of many LEED programs and he has worked on more than 70 LEED projects. “Scot‘s visionary leadership has been much in evidence in his role as chair of the LEED Steering Committee these past three years,” said Rick Fedrizzi, president, CEO and founding chair, USGBC and board chair, GBCI. “The evolution of LEED under his watch … sets a new benchmark for high performance buildings.”

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18 • Vol. 2, Issue 2, 2009 • International Surface Fabricators Association

signers, media, representatives from the student chapter of the American Institute of Architects (AIAS), LG and Sterling Surfaces. In April the three winners traveled to Milan, Italy, where they joined student winners from Europe and Asia, and exhibited their finished concepts at the design show, which draws more than 80,000 designers and exhibitors from around the globe every year.

Figure 1


SurfaceProjects TakeaWorldStage

Figure 1A

Figure 3

Figure 3A

Design Contest Pushes Material Beyond Countertops Students at several universities around the country have gotten a taste of what solid surface is capable of, and they liked it. LG Surfaces put together a contest called the “LG Surfaces Beyond Student Design Challenge,” and the designs that were submitted were not only original, but also pretty cool. And the three finalists received all-expenses-paid trips to the Zona Tortona’s “That’s Design!” show in Milan, Italy. These student designers also had the honor of actually having their designs brought to life by ISFA charter member, Sterling Surfaces, of Sterling, Mass. Their unique designs were showcased on the world stage, also giving solid surface more visibility as a material that transcends countertop applications. The winners of this inaugural event are Michael Rall from North Carolina State University, Soo Kang Lee from University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign and Paul Vu from California State Polytechnic University-Pomona. In March students presented their concepts to an audience including commercial architects and de-

“The concepts presented by these student designers truly demonstrate the limitless possibilities of our highly-versatile solid surface products, both in terms of form and function,” said Mike Tasch, director of commercial marketing for LG Surfaces. “We’ve witnessed countless new design applications suitable for commercial environments in industries as varied as retail, hospitality and dining, offices, banking, healthcare and education.” Once the three winning projects of the North American leg of the contest were chosen, it was up to Sterling Surfaces to make them a reality, however, LG Surfaces had faith that the fabricator could create these diverse and complex designs. “Throughout the past 25 years Sterling Surfaces has come to be known for their ability to deliver outstanding results for technically demanding, unusual, and high profile projects,” explained Tasch. The projects designed by the three finalists were the ‘Jinza Table’ by Paul Vu (see Figure 1); ‘Outdoor Chair’ by Soo Kang Lee (see Figure 2) and; Echo Nightstand by Michael Rall (see Figure 3). A video of the Jinza Table being fabricated by Sterling Surfaces has been posted on You Tube. A link to the video may be found on the ISFA Web site at “It’s thrilling to witness the creativity and variety of the students’ design concepts, as well as the lively discussion in our online gallery. Each of the participants stepped up to the challenge, and is truly thinking beyond current LG Surfaces applications,” added Tasch. All of the students entering the contest fully conceptualized their submissions, which can be viewed online at, where more information is also available.

International Surface Fabricators Association • Vol. 2, Issue 2, 2009 • 19


Piecing Together Your Home Grown Marketing Strategy Part 1 — The Basics of Marketing a New Product By Joseph Winters

The following statement says it all: Do or be done with. Thats the short, easy way to put it. But honestly, it’s true. In order to have a viable piece of the market share in today’s tightening economy, you must try new things, experiment on different ways to get the market share, and potentially consider adopting a new face. But who am I to tell you to adopt a new face, right? I mean after all your company’s face can be working just fine, without a blemish in sight. And for the few of you finding this to be the case, congratulations. That’s definitely something to be proud of. Continue doing what you do best. And share your success with another ISFA member, as its critical we all try our bests to stay afloat while helping our fellow brothers and sisters. But for the fabricators wanting to find a new approach to how to get business,

pay attention. This article and the rest in its series will give you some valuable pointers on how to find inexpensive, economical solutions for marketing and advertising your business, growing your market share, and creating that internal work flow through your facility so that you don’t have to send the shop guys home early. Launching a New Product I decided to start with a basic list of how to launch a new product. The launch of a new product, Web site or business needs to be well orchestrated. There is a preparation that often requires a few weeks time, in some cases a few months. Various techniques and services are available to insure a successful launch for your new product offering. So it is crucial you identify all of the stages outlined in this article that are most appropriate to your situation and get going!

20 • Vol. 2, Issue 2, 2009 • International Surface Fabricators Association

ISFA is finding that its members are adopting more and more surfacing options on a daily basis. In fact, it’s why the association changed its focus from just one material to all decorative surfaces. At first the fabrication movement was to stone, marble and granite. Now, fabricators are finding great interest in recycled and green materials, like concrete counterops, highly sustainable bamboo and recycled glass surfaces. Fabricators are even going for the profitable accessory market, high-end sinks, and fixtures. There are so many “countertop upgrades” out there that you can adopt. Your Homework Whatever you decide to adopt as your new product offering, remember to do your homework. Knowing everything you can

allows you to futher your skill sets. Seek professional guidance or training that might be available on this product. The key thing to remember, is that the more you know about your new product, the more questions you will be able to answer when your customer is throwing curve balls to you. Having an answer for them thwarts any hesitation they might have or are developing.

Let’s say your strategy is to market a lowcost vanity top to people who can’t really afford a bathroom makeover or upgrade. You might choose traditional direct marketing, like mailers and flyers plus a small online presence and a few local paper ads as your primary channels, and use such tactics including direct-response ads and e-mail solicitations that link to your Web site.

I’ll use concrete as a prime example. If you know nothing about it now, then more than likely your perception of this material is just the same as your typical consumer — that concrete is cheap, so the price of concrete countertops should be cheap.

If you need help in this area, I have simple advertising tips from previous articles for ISFA Magazine. Visit my Marketing Blog at to see some of those simple yet effective strategies.

The fact of the matter is, concrete countertop manufacturers aren’t working with wheel barrows, bags of rock and garden hoses. It is obviously a much more complex process than that. And with the endless possibility of design options and sellable characteristics that exist, it’s crucial you do your homework, so you are fully educated on how to handle this new product. It will also help you determine the product’s lifecycle. Once you start to see diminishing returns, you’ll know its either time to revise the product or get rid of it completely.

Test the Marketing Campaign and Continue with Launch! With all the money it takes to bring on a new product, like the tooling necessary to machine and fabricate the countertop, paying for the proper instruction, and staffing that particular division, it would be foolish rush along into the launch phase prior to testing. What should you test? It’s best to

Target The Ideal Customer To successfully launch your new product with a small financial outlay, it’s essential to focus exclusively on the prospects you believe are most likely to purchase from you, then grow it from there. These may be customers who are currently buying something similar and will appreciate the additional features your new product. Your best prospects have a perceived need for what you offer, can afford to buy it and have demonstrated a willingness to do so — probably by purchasing from your competition.’s always easiier to fill a need than to create one. Define your Tactics Next, choose your sales and marketing outlets. Will you market online, via extensive word of mouth campaigns or through kitchen and bath designers, for example? Picking several areas to market in achieves the greatest success because customers who can shop when and however they like tend to spend more and shop more often.

examine your product plus your marketing message and your marketing materials. Depending on what you plan to market and your budget, you can host roundtable discussions with members of the target audience, your good customers and even kitchen and bath designers to get a good idea what they think of your approach. Only after testing is complete, should you proceed to the final creation of your marketing tools and materials and roll out your campaign. From this point on, it’s all about building the buzz. But no matter what publicity route you choose, first make sure your products and the way you are going to handle the orders are completely ready and available for purchase and set in stone so that you can maximize returns from the coverage you receive. And your other marketing efforts should follow closely after initial roll out. Monitor the results from all channels, and in the first weeks and months be prepared to adjust your campaign to take advantage of what’s working best.

Been in a Countertop Shop Lately? Chances are You’ve Seen a Striebig.

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Education Connection Education Connection

Total(ly Awesome)

Fabrication Training TFT At UVU is GOOD 4U

Beginning last March, ISFA entered the era of a newly retooled ISFA Training & Education Center (ITEC) with its inaugural session of Solid Surface Total Fabrication Training (TFT) on the campus of Utah Valley University (UVU) in Orem, Utah. By the time this magazine reaches your desk, ISFA and UVU will have partnered on two additional TFT classes scheduled for April and May. There are several reasons why ISFA’s new philosophy of joining with industry players to provide training and other essential services positively impacts the countertop industry. 1. Same high quality instruction, better facilities. ISFA has tapped longtime solid surface trainer, current fabricator and ISFA board member, Mike Nolan, to teach the TFT at UVU. Nolan combines a degree in education with decades of experience as owner/operator of a fabrication business. That means attendees have the benefit of learning from an academically qualified instructor who possesses the unique perspective of someone who is actively involved in running his own fabrication company. For its part, UVU offers a fully-equipped woodworking shop to complement the wide assortment of tools and equipment

22 • Vol. 2, Issue 2, 2009 • International Surface Fabricators Association

generously provided to ISFA by its sponsors. Combining these resources provides students the opportunity to train on a variety of tools and equipment. Ultimately, exposure to the full gamut of fabrication scenarios translates into better preparation for real-world fabrication. This is what a few of the attendees at the March, 2009 TFT had to say about the class: “This was great for information, learning and fun at the same time. I would recommend this course to other fabricators because you can try a lot of different tools, as well as have discussions among the rest of the group regarding solid surface fabrication.” “Mike Nolan is the perfect instructor for this class. His knowledge goes far beyond what I thought was necessary for me to fabricate successfully. He goes to the next level for you.” “I received more than expected! I loved all the variety of what was demonstrated.” Whether you are an employer wanting to jump start a new employee’s fabrication skills, a distributor looking to enhance the product knowledge of your sales/office staff, or a business owner who wants to

4. ISFA training is light on its feet. If there is sufficient demand for it, ISFA has the ability to create Trainer Mike Nolan explains solid surface router techniques to the first strategic partnerclass to go through the new, upgraded Solid Surface TFT course. ships for just about any kind of training expand into solid surface fabrication, TFT relative to countertop fabrication. And offers top-notch training that is recognized because there are no expensive facilities for certification by all the major solid surto maintain, ISFA instruction need not be face producers. location specific. ISFA is currently conducting a survey of the needs and wants of 2. Lower overhead translates into professionals in the countertop industry to more ISFA involvement in the industry. determine what programs will be offered in By partnering with UVU, ISFA is able to the future. devote more of its resources to a wider range of worthy endeavors. That translates We hope you will take the opportunity into the ability to expand into all types of to make your feelings known so that we countertop training quickly and efficiently might better fulfill our mission of helping (depending on the need and interest level ISFA members become more profitable in from members of the industry). their businesses. You may participate in the survey online by going to The day is probably not too far off where industry professionals may come to ISFA to obtain basic and advanced hands-on The mission behind ISFA hands-on traintraining in solid surface, natural stone/ ing is to increase knowledge and compequartz surfacing, laminates/case goods, tency within the industry for all types of green materials, concrete and/or digital countertop surfaces. The Total Fabrication processing. Already, ISFA members reTraining series is geared to entry-level stuceive substantial discounts on the Marble dents and to working fabricators who wish Institute of America’s Accreditation Proto brush up on their fabrication skills. It is gram (see Page 24), TFT programs, and also perfect for bringing sales and office at select third-party concrete countertop support staff up to speed quickly on the training centers. intricacies of countertop fabrication. In the near future ISFA will offer more advanced 3. ISFA training is independent of prodtraining for all types of surfaces that cover uct brand. The objective of ISFA hands-on the essential elements of countertop retraining is to provide the best learning pair, electronic and digital fabrication, shop experience possible in the industry with a optimization and employee management. variety of tools, equipment and surfacing materials/brands. Although we gratefully Want to learn more? Visit the ISFA Web accept the generous contributions of site at or call the ISFA industry suppliers and producers, and are office at 877.464.7732. proud to aggressively promote their participation in the ITEC to the rest of the world, ISFA’s policy is non-brand specific. That

Education Connection

means students have the chance to learn fabrication techniques using a variety methods/ tools on different types of materials. The result is a richer, more complete learning environment.

International Surface Fabricators Association • Vol. 2, Issue 2, 2009 • 23

Education Connection

MIA Accreditation Discount ExtendedtoISFA Members Leading Industry Trade Associations Work Together to Promote Accreditation for Stone Fabricators The International Surface Fabricators Association (ISFA) is pleased to announce that ISFA members seeking fabricator accreditation with the Marble Institute of America (MIA) will now receive a substantial discount over non-member pricing. Effective immediately, ISFA members can apply for MIA accreditation at $250 over the MIA member rate, a savings of $450 off non-member pricing. The MIA’s Natural Stone Industry Accreditation Program currently has three different designations available to companies wishing to seek accreditation; Natural Stone Fabricators (primarily residential), Commercial A Contractors (heavy commercial), and Commercial B Contractors (light commercial). “From our standpoint, the decision was really a no-brainer,” said Garen Distelhorst, MIA accreditation manager. “It is in the best interest of the Accreditation Program and the companies already invested in the program, to increase the number of accredited companies. Knowing that ISFA has member companies ready to jump on this opportunity to differentiate themselves in this tough market is extremely exciting.” ISFA Recognizes the need to ratchet up excellence among fabrication companies throughout the industry and supports the MIA’s Accreditation Program, which establishes benchmark standards for technical expertise in the fabrication of stone products. Among the requirements for accreditation, participating companies must demonstrate they have mastered

24 • Vol. 2, Issue 2, 2009 • International Surface Fabricators Association

the principles of process engineering, business management and continuous improvement. “The goals of the MIA’s Accreditation Program are exactly in line with the longterm objectives of ISFA,” said Sid MacKay, president of ISFA. “We encourage our members who wish to incorporate current best practices of stone fabrication in their businesses to take advantage of the opportunity to become accredited.” Accreditation by MIA complements the ISFA Certified Professional program, which identifies and certifies member companies for their ability to deliver goods and services according to the ISFA Code of Ethics. Using an ISFA Certified professional is an end-user’s ultimate assurance of a job well done. “ISFA certifies based on ability to perform, while the MIA provides accreditation based on technical expertise,” explained Russ Lee, executive director of ISFA. “Taken together, they effectively raise the bar for quality in stone fabrication and installation across the board. This is a boon for endusers in both residential and commercial markets, who now have a standard against which to compare all types of stone fabrication. For stone fabricators, it provides a tremendous marketing opportunity to set themselves apart from the competition.” To qualify for the ISFA discount on MIA Accreditation, applicants must be members of ISFA in good standing. For information on the MIA accreditation program and to obtain a complete list of accredited companies, please visit www.marble-institute. com/accreditation.

ISFASafety Corner

From the desk of David Mack, Senior Account Executive of Schechner Lifson Corporation.

Safetyis Your Bottom Line No matter the size of your business, accidents can be very damaging. Lost time, lost money and loss of your good reputation are all potential risks. During good economic times your ability to absorb losses is difficult, but during difficult market conditions the effects of a loss can be devastating. The first step to protecting your livelihood is a proper and adequate safety program and property and casualty insurance combined with a proactive insurance agent. The second step is utilizing loss control and safety programs available through your insurance carrier loss control services. Once you access a quality agent and insurance and safety program you will need to become proactive in identifying exposures that have the potential for catastrophe. Your insurance agent can connect you with loss control services and should provide you with a walk-through risk-assessment of your business operations to help identify potential hazards. The following will help you start the process of mitigating losses by eliminating the opportunity for accidents. Drive Down Your Insurance Costs Fleet safety is among the most lucrative ways to reduce costs and minimize accidents. This is where an ounce of prevention is well worth hundreds of pounds of quartz. Whenever possible, an accident

review committee should be organized to review all accident records and reports to determine preventability. Some causes of preventable accidents can include: backing, intersections, pedestrians, traffic lane encroachment, mechanical failures, fixed rail vehicles, material handling and adverse weather. Proper accident record keeping ensures fleet safety through better driving practices the same way maintenance, mileage, delivery, fuel and payroll records are vital to the safe and efficient operation of a fleet. Control Costs by Preventing Workplace Injuries A loss prevention program’s return on investment is almost immediate. However, the execution of such a plan that encompasses every aspect of your daily operations can be challenging if not downright overwhelming. The supervisor is the key person in the creation of a safe workplace and the prevention of accidents. Supervisors have direct contact with the workforce and are instrumental in developing job training, safety attitudes, best practices and identifying unsafe acts and conditions. Safety training for supervisors can be provided through your industry association and numerous other organizations throughout the United States. Do your supervisors understand the importance of the responsibility for providing a safe and accidentfree workplace? If you can’t answer this question with a quick and resounding “yes” then you should make sure that they understand. Studies show that 85 percent of all accidents are the result of employees disregarding basic workplace safety and standard operating procedures. Having a supervisor that doesn’t overlook these things can make all the difference.

Maintaining Snow and Ice Logs If you live in an area in which snow and ice are an issue, it is a good idea to keep snow and ice logs. If your business is involved in a lawsuit resulting from a slip and fall accident, snow and ice logs can prove to be valuable in defending your case. Some of the benefits to keeping proper snow and ice logs include: • They are proof of how diligent you are at removing snow and ice from your property; • Proper maintenance of your property may help prevent slip and fall accidents from happening and/or reduce occurrences; and • They are valuable record-keeping tools, which allow you to match up snow removal bills of subcontractors who maintain your property during the winter months. Remember, anyone you contract for snow removal or any other services for that matter, must provide you with acceptable proof of insurance in the form of a certificate with the same or better limits as your own insurance program and must name your business as an “additional insured” prior to stepping foot on the jobsite. Ask yourself this question before the big claim, “Who would you like to pay for the negligence of your subcontractor?” These are just a few of the ideas you should be pursuing to help eliminate opportunities for accidents, because the best way to avoid safety issues is to avoid potential problems in the first place. David Mack Senior Account Executive, Schechner Lifson Corporation (908) 598-7875 David Mack joined Schechner Lifson Corporation in 2006, before which he managed a small insurance agency in Plainfield, N.J. David has a BA in education from Kean University and is a New Jersey certified Teacher of the Handicapped. He worked as a volunteer for Youth at Risk in Newark, N.J. as a team Leader in charge of training and fundraising. David also started a company in Maplewood, N.J., called Jump America Inc., providing interactive rides & team building for families, schools, businesses and non-profits, which he ran for 10 years.

International Surface Fabricators Association • Vol. 2, Issue 2, 2009 • 25

ICE Sizzles. Finally, atrade showfor theentire industry! ICE (International Countertop Expo), which is hosted and produced by the International Surface Fabricators Association (ISFA), will feature everything that is new and wonderful about countertop surfaces and the people who produce and work with them. It’s all about our industry – and its all under one roof. ISFA will debut ICE at Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino in Las Vegas, Feb. 8 to 10, 2010. Although the Expo will share production costs with Composites + Polycon (hosted by ACMA), each show will be held in separate exhibit halls. Attendees to one or the other show may attend both exhibit halls for the price of a single admission. “I don’t have the time or resources to attend a lot of trade shows,” said Mory Ludwick of Premier Countertops in Omaha, Neb. “If I have to limit trade show attendance to a single event it needs to deliver the most bang for the buck. ICE brings everything to one location at the same time and caters to the entire industry. It just makes good financial sense and it saves me a lot of time.” The Expo portion of ICE will be held in the intimate atmosphere of Mandalay Bay’s Islander Ballroom. Conferences will be

From the desk of Sandy Milroy - Director of Membership Services , Expos & Events of ISFA.

located on the same level, just a few steps away from the exhibit hall. And to make the convention experience even more convenient and more cost-effective for attendees, ISFA has reserved a room block at Mandalay Bay at below market rates. ICE will offer an exhibit hall packed full of new and exciting ideas for countertop fabricators; from the hottest new colors and the most exotic patterns, to the coolest GREEN materials. If you can make a countertop out of it, you will be able to experience it at ICE. But, it doesn’t stop there. With new products come new technologies, tooling, equipment and services – and it will all be at ICE.

standing next to a vendor with a product you need to diversify your business, the entire industry comes together for the first time next February in Las Vegas. If you can only squeeze in attendance at one trade show in 2010, ICE is for you. It’s the ultimate one stop shop for everything countertop. With the economy making signs of a beginning recovery in late 2009 or early 2010, ICE provides the perfect time and venue to come together, share ideas and learn how to take advantage of better times. This is where you will find the ideas and products you want and need to add profit and excitement to your business. This is one event where you should plan to come early and stay late. It’s that big. Really. For more information about ICE, the International Countertop Expo, visit the ISFA Web site at or call the ISFA office at 877.464.7732.

Complementing the exhibit hall will be a conference package unlike anything offered before. To survive and thrive in the 21st Century you must diversify, and ICE will give you what you need to do just that. If you are a countertop fabricator, and you want to fabricate more products than you are currently offering, this is the perfect opportunity to learn. Or, if you want more information on better producing the materials you are already fabricating, that will also be available. The conference program will offer a wide variety of al la carte seminars that address the pressing issues facing countertop fabricators today. Topics will be selected by a blue ribbon advisory panel of industry professionals and will be taught by qualified countertop and decorative surfacing veterans. Perhaps one of the most crucial elements ICE provides is a sense of community – the opportunity to see your colleagues face to face and learn from one another. If you think of the countertop industry as one big family, ICE is its first major reunion. Whether sitting down to breakfast with a fabricator from another state or country, or

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here’s an ancient tension between wanting to savor the world as it is and wanting to improve on the world as given. ~ Leon Kass, American Educator


hen you start using senses you’ve neglected, your reward is to see the world with completely fresh eyes. ~ Barbara Sher, Businesswoman

The Official Show of the International Surface Fabricators Association

There’s Nothing COLD About The Industry’s HOTTEST Event. February 8-10, 2010, Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino Las Vegas, NV ISFA will be hosting a new industry trade show called ICE (The International Countertop Expo) in 2010. ICE showcases the latest products, newest innovations and most up-to-date training for the countertop industry. Call for more info: (702) 240-1660 Email for more info:


In Conjunction With



By Frederick M. Hueston

Removing stains from stone, tile and, yes, even engineered surfaces can be frustrating. There are a variety of methods out there, but the wrong choice of chemical will not work, and can even be worse and make the stain permanent. I have even heard from some fabricators that were forced to replace an entire kitchen because of a mistake made in stain removal. If only there was a magic potion for removing stains. Well, the following is what I consider to be the magic you will need to remove most stains from stone, concrete, tile, engineered stone and almost anything that has porosity. Natural stone, concrete and, to a lesser degree, engineered stone are porous materials. This porosity is why these materials stain. The more porous a material is, the more easily it is stained. However, porosity is also why stains can be removed. All that’s needed to remove a stain is to reverse the staining process. In other words, the stone or other material has absorbed the stain and we are literally going to re-absorb it into a different material. This different material is what we call a poultice. A poultice can be made with several different powders. The powder base is combined with water, hydrogen peroxide or, in some cases, different chemical agents. (Sometimes paper is used as a base for a poultice also.)

Most of these materials can be found at hardware stores, or can be purchased from online suppliers. In some cases a simple poultice without any chemicals will work on a stain. Other times, chemical reducing agents are needed. Many stains are so deeply imbedded that the poultice alone will not be completely effective. Some type of chemical solution will need to be added to the poultice to dilute and/or react with the stain. The process is rather simple. When the poultice containing the chemical is applied, the chemical is absorbed into the stone. The chemical reacts with the stain and is then reabsorbed into the powder along with the staining agent. Clays and diatomaceous earth are usually the best base powders to use. However, it is very important to remember not to use whiting or iron type clays, such as Fullers Earth, with acidic chemicals. They will react, canceling the effect of the poultice. Identifying the Stain How do you choose the proper chemical for a given stain? First, you need to identify the cause of the stain. This is the most important step in stain re-

The base powder, often a ‘whiting’ powder (which can be purchased at most paint stores), can be any of the following: - Clays (Attapulgite, Kaolin, Fullers earth) - Talc - Chalk (whiting) - Sepiolite (hydrous magnesium silicate) - Diatomaceous Earth - Methyl Cellulose 28 • Vol. 2, Issue 2, 2009 • International Surface Fabricators Association

About The Author

Frederick M. Hueston is an internationally recognized stone expert and is the founder of Stone Forensics ( and technical director for Stone and Tile Pros ( He also hosts a weekly radio show: The Stone and Tile Show ( He can be reached at

moval. If you know what caused the stain, then you can easily look at a stain removal chart for the proper chemical to apply. Identifying the stain may be easy if the owner of the material saw what caused it. If that is not the case, then further investigation may be needed. Sometimes just looking at a stain may help identify the cause, other times you will need to play detective. If the stain is near a plant container, it might be that the plant was over watered and the soil has leached iron onto the stone. The color of the stain may help to identify the cause. Brownish color stains may be iron (rust) stains. The shape or the pattern of the stain may be helpful. Small droplet-sized spots leading from the coffee pot are a sure giveaway. Do some investigating and use your powers of observation. This will almost always lead to the identification of the cause of the stain. If, after thorough investigation, you still have no idea what the stain is, then you will need to perform a patch test. A patch test simply means applying several chemical poultices to determine which will remove the stain. I have found that most stains can be classified into one of the five following categories: 1. Oil-based – Grease, tar, cooking oil, greasy food stains, etc. 2. Organic – Coffee, tea, fruit, tobacco, cosmetics, etc. 3. Metal – Iron (rust), copper, bronze, etc. 4. Biological – Algae, mildew, lichens,etc. 5. Ink – Magic marker, pen, ink, etc. There are, of course, other materials that will cause staining, but these five categories are the most common. Selecting the Proper Chemical Once the stain has been identified, then, as mentioned above, you can find the proper chemical to use from a stain removal chart. However, the following basic rules apply to most stains: * Iron (rust) - Use oxalic acid, powder and water. You may also try a product called Iron-Out (available at most hardware stores). Both mixtures may etch polished marble, so re-polishing will be necessary. * Ink - Use mineral spirits or methylene

chloride, and powder. * Oil - Use ammonia and powder. Methylene chloride can also be used on tough oil stains. * Coffee, tea and food - Use 20 percent hydrogen peroxide and powder. * Copper – Poultice with ammonium chloride and powder. * Paint (water-based) - Use a commercial paint remover and powder. * Paint (oil-based) - Poultice with mineral spirits and powder. As with oil, deep stains may require methylene chloride. Remember, safety comes first! Please use extra caution when handling all chemicals listed above. Throughly read Material Safety Data Sheets for each chemical before use. Applying the Poultice Once the stain is identified, the following steps can be taken: 1. Wet the stained area with distilled water. Pre-wetting fills the pores of the stone with water, isolating the stain and accelerating the removal by the chemical. 2. Prepare the poultice. If a Powder is to be used, pre-mix the powder and the chemical of choice into a thick paste, the consistency of peanut butter. In other words, wet it enough so that it does not run. If a paper poultice is to be used, soak the paper in the chemical and lift the paper out of the chemical until it stops dripping. 3. Apply the poultice to the stain being careful not to spill any on the non-stained areas. Apply approximately one-quarter-inch thick, overlapping the stain area by about 1 in. 4. Cover the poultice with

plastic (food wrap works great). Tape the plastic down to seal the edges. 5. Allow the poultice to dry thoroughly. This is a very important step. The drying of the poultice is what pulls the stain from the stone into the poultice material. If the poultice is not allowed to dry, the stain may not be removed. Drying usually takes from 24 to 48 hours. 6. Remove the poultice from the stain. Rinse with distilled water and buff dry with a soft cloth. If the stain is not removed, apply the poultice again. It may take up to five applications for difficult stains. 7. Some chemicals may etch a marble surface. If this occurs, then apply polishing powder and buff with a piece of burlap to restore the shine. While some stains are very stubborn and will resist all attempts at removal, by following these steps and applying a little stain removal magic, you should be able to beat a majority of them.

Circle Reader Service # 4 on the Reader Service Page or go to


As most of you know, I focus a lot of my business on the ‘green’ movement. I don’t have CNC machinery and I don’t have some huge shop with 50 employees. I try to focus on quality and craftsmanship and also offering things that others don’t, rather than just pumping out tops.


WithInlays &Signage

To me, green is not so much about tree hugging but rather money-making common sense – blown up very big. Being green doesn’t necessarily mean fabricating every new environmentally-friendly product that comes on the market. It is more about saving – saving energy, saving water and saving material that would otherwise go to the landfill. And by doing all of this, you are not only having less of a negative impact on the environment, but also are saving money.

By Gene McDonald

And speaking of money, offering inlays and signage can generate additional income for an existing countertop business without a lot of additional cost. How? If you offer unique inlays, you may be able to make a sale that otherwise might go somewhere else. And if you can create that inlay using scrap materials, then you are going one step better. Take a look at your shop and how much scrap you generate. That is material you bought and you own that many of you may just be shipping off to your local trash dump. But, with a little effort and focus, you may be able to turn that scrap into cash. Many fabricators try to keep waste to a minimum by fully utilizing a sheet or slab of material, and making cutting boards out of sinks cutouts, etc. Going one step further, see if you can sell someone a sign made from the scrap that is just lying around your shop. That’s exactly what I did – with much success. The ‘Green’ Inlay Upsell I was talking to a husband and wife that had a white tile backsplash with a bright powder blue grout. They were looking for a recycled glass material that matched to use for their countertops. However, they could not wait for the time it took to get their custom mix of the recycled glass slab. I first suggested they change the color of the grout to open up the options, but once I said that, they both looked at me with eyebrows pointed down and said

30 • Vol. 2, Issue 2, 2009 • International Surface Fabricators Association

at the same time “NO WAY!” It became immediately apparent that they had done this as a husband and wife project and had spent many hours achieving this backsplash design, but we were having a tough time finding a match. They had seen the Avonite Cozumel in my shop from another job I was doing, and the color and pattern were close to what they wanted. It also contained recycled content, which was important to them. However, I could see they were hesitating to pick it because it did not quite match the grout. They had the color of the grout with them to help them make a good choice, and when I saw it, I asked if they had any grout leftover. They said they had a whole bag, and an idea struck me. I told them I could actually use that leftover grout to inlay a border of that color around the countertop so it would be an exact match without having to look further. I also suggested putting some mirror chips into the inlay that I had from some scrap pieces of mirror to give it some of the sparkle they had been looking for in the recycled glass slab mix. They liked the idea and the deal was made. So, I went about making the tops in the typical manner and then when I got to the inlay, I routed a groove about 3/8-in. deep (I improvised by hot gluing MDF as a guide for my router because I didn’t have a CNC). I then ground up the grout and poured it into the groove. I wrapped my finger with a rag, pushed it into the groove and wiped out enough grout so that it was at least half way down into the groove. That left me room to add the mirror chips and the inlay pour.

thickness. A couple of years back I had done a bar top for a customer that was backlit and wouldn’t you know it, the material was Cobalt Avonite from its Glass Series – a perfect match with no additional material to order. I just had to cut it into the desired shape and fill it with white. Of course, you won’t always have the exact color or material you are needing, but if you call around, you can probably get a scrap piece from another friendly fabricator in the area (which I have), or even order solid surface scraps using Emergency Material Services scrap service (they also can give you an ISFA member discount). Another company that specializes in solid surface scrap is That Mayo Clinic sign has since inspired other signs to be made that illuminate (which you can see on my Web site at I then got the chance to do the Florida State Seal for a government building and several others.

This job made the customer very happy and gave me a new idea: If a customer needs a specific color match, don’t be bound by the samples. If you can’t find a match, MAKE ONE!

Bringing it to the Forefront Ask yourself, ”What are we doing with our scrap?”, “Do our customers know we can also make them signs that match the countertops we just sold them or are going to sell them?”

Turning Scrap into Signs The next project I want to touch on is a sign I made for the Mayo Clinic which said ‘HOPE’ on it. In talking with the client, they told me the sign had to be cobalt blue, had to be illuminated and had to be the proper

Thinking about that myself was what inspired me to make a ‘WE RECYCLE” sign for my office, which is not only a great conversation piece to those who come in, but it also reminds me to bring up inlay de-

signs and sign possibilities for my potential customers. And I even make use of scrap that I can’t sell. I practice new techniques on scrap material when there is slow time or even on Saturdays. Our competitors are always hoping we are doing business as usual, but I am constantly learning and experimenting. And by doing so, it gives me more confidence to say “Yes” when a customer asks, “Can you do that?” Customers all want something different, and by offering them an inlay and having them pick the mix it makes them feel a part of the project and it excites them. Most importantly, you start to stand out; you become the topic of discussion at work, at home and to the neighbors. The old negative thoughts “Will my countertop fabricator do a good job?” that most consumers have never cross their minds or come out of their mouths. Instead, they are focusing on just how great you are and how nice their new countertop will look. About The Author

Gene McDonald, president of Refresh Interiors Inc., is an active member of the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), LEED for Homes Tampa Bay Chapter, Florida Green Building Coalition and ISFA. As a countertop fabricator specializing in green products, McDonald has fabricated and installed countertops in LEED-certified residential projects receiving Gold and Platinum certifications. He has worked with many green countertop materials and can be reached at 6511 43rd St. N., #1803, Pinellas Park, Fla. 33781; 727-527-0206;


think we’re having fun. I think our customers really like our products. And we’re always trying to do better. . ~ Steve Jobs, Founder of Apple

International Surface Fabricators Association • Vol. 2, Issue 2, 2009 • 31

Taking It to The Bank Solid Surface Artwork and ISFA Craftsmanship Showcased at the European Investment Bank.

By Kevin Cole

32 • Vol. 2, Issue 2, 2009 • International Surface Fabricators Association

Filed under: Beyond Countertops. Proving once again the versatility of solid surface – this time for two larger-thanlife wall and floor murals – British artist Michael Craig-Martin used specially formulated colors of DuPont Corian to decorate a recent building addition to the European Investment Bank (EIB) in Luxembourg. To execute the designs, Craig-Martin brought in two premier solid surface companies, who also happen to be longtime ISFA members. CREA Diffusion, of Solgne, France, was commissioned to bring Craig-Martin’s vision to life in the form of an 88 meter long solid surface wall fresco titled, “Parade.” Rosskopf & Partner in Augustusburg, Germany inlayed solid surface into oak flooring to create Craig-Martin’s “One World” floor sculpture in the building’s main atrium. The EIB, headquartered in Luxembourg, is the world’s largest financial institution and is publicly owned by the members of the European Union. It provides loans, mainly for modernization and infrastructure-type projects, to lesser developed regions of Europe. The new East building addition linked to the EIB’s existing headquarters, expanding it to 72,500 sq. meters. Known for his use of bright colors, CraigMartin selected solid surface for its many color options as well as its versatility. “Parade,” the largest project the artist has ever undertaken, is a collection of more than 60 images of everyday objects made in 20 bright colors of solid surface against a stark white solid surface background. “One World,” which was set into the oak floor of a huge central atrium, consists of three multi-colored globes made of solid surface inlayed flush into the oak flooring. Solid Surface on ‘Parade’ Before Craig-Martin decided on solid surface, though, he wanted to be sure it was

a proper fit, which is where former ISFA Europe president, Thierry Delles, of CREA Diffusion, came in.

the company could pride itself on and one which would ultimately give the company its little place in history.

“Whether thermoforming it, inlaying it with LED lighting or putting images onto it via ink sublimation, we are always looking for the limits of solid surface material,” said Delles. “At the end of every big, complex new project, we think we have finally reached the limits of the material. We get the impression that it is humanly impossible to do something more complicated, within a shorter time period and with a higher quality. And yet, the project we did at the European Investment Bank showed us that we couldn’t imagine where our passion for the job would push us.”

The principle behind the artwork seemed simple – panels of solid surface (each section consisted of eight full sheets) grooved in a CNC machine with curved thermoformed sticks of solid surface inserted, or inlayed, into the grooved panels. However, the project was far from simplicity.

After meeting with the artist, CREA Diffusion fabricated a 4 meter high sample so the artist could judge the quality of the work to make sure he believed it could be done in solid surface and still match up to his idea. “To put it into the proper context and to have the necessary perspective, the artist climbed onto the roof of our shop to check out the sample on the parking lot below,” explained Delles. “I believe it was at that moment that he fell in love with Corian.” Delles didn’t know it yet, but this project wasn’t just simple business, it would turn out to be more of an adventure, one that

First of all, DuPont had to create the specific colors that Craig-Martin had specified. Once that was accomplished, the sheer size of the materials created some real problems. Not only was the handling of the materials in the workshop and on the work site difficult, the gigantic dimensions made transportation of the materials a tricky proposition. And, as often happens with commercial projects, the window for installing the panels was shortened from three weeks to five days. To deal with the massive size of the project, CREA Diffusion decided to divide the fresco into 22 equal sections of 4 meters each. Additional space was rented for the three months it took to complete fabrication, in order to have enough room to accommodate the more than 800 sq. meter project. This made it possible to do all of the sanding outdoors, and the fabrication proceeded without incident. However, the company was not so fortunate on the install. To be able to transport the panels to the work-site, it was necessary to hire four police-escorted long-load semi trucks. When the material arrived on the job site, the area was so cluttered the panels couldn’t be brought any closer to the installation area than 50 meters. Even worse, there was only one 300-ton crane available for the entire work site. Further complicating the project was the fact that, even though an agreement had been reached to give three weeks to install the panels, Delles was informed he now had only five days to

International Surface Fabricators Association • Vol. 2, Issue 2, 2009 • 33

finish the project, because of the impending visit of the Duke of Luxembourg. CREA Diffusion commandeered the crane (to the detriment of the other trades on the job site) for its exclusive use, and called in all of its installation teams scattered around France to insure the fresco installation was done on time. “Our concept for unloading the panels from the truck wasn’t adapted for such a large crane, so we needed to quickly come up with a new plan,” explained Delles. “Our inexperience quickly showed itself, when the first panel we unloaded got to a height of 5 meters and came crashing to the ground quite dramatically. The workers at the job site all came to check out the damages and we lost much of the faith of our customer. Additionally, our own team was demoralized and everything seemed to come to a stop. We had to do something to reassure the client and our own install-

ers, and quickly.” The broken panel weighed 1,100 pounds, which meant CREA Diffusion was unable to transport it back to the shop, so the repair had to be done in street where it fell. At the same time, other members of the team returned to the shop to come up with a new way to transport the materials using the overly large crane. By 5 a.m. the next day (after pulling an all-nighter), the team was ready to make a second attempt at moving the panels. By 8 a.m. the truck was empty and the broken sheet was repaired. “When the customer arrived and saw that everything was back as it should have been, I swear he wanted to kiss me,” said Delles. “The trust was back, and he was really impressed by the miracle of solid surface.” The company had constructed a special cart just for the task of transporting the

34 • Vol. 2, Issue 2, 2009 • International Surface Fabricators Association

panels to the location in the new building where they were to be hung. Although it was perilous because of the size of the panels versus the tight clearances to get them there, the crew worked from 6:30 a.m. until 11 p.m. each day. At the end of the fifth day, all 22 sheets (350 sq. meters) were installed in time for the Duke’s visit. “Our misadventures that had frightened the customer, also helped him understand the risks we had accepted when we took the job,” said Delles. “It is for that reason that he wanted to have our name in writing near the signature of the artist. I think that is huge because we are just simple craftsman.”

‘One World’ of Solid Surface Craig-Martin’s second artistic project was a solid surface inlay in the flooring of the main atrium, which would be visible to nearly everyone coming into the building. For this project, charter ISFA member Rosskopf & Partner was chosen to turn the vision into a reality. “One World” is made up of a globe image in four bright colors set into the oak floor. To accomplish this, Rosskopf & Partner inlayed a variety of thermoformed strips of solid surface into the wood, taking extra care to make sure they were level with the oak surface. Once again, DuPont was asked to create some unique new colors for the project, which were used in conjunction with standard (bright) colors. The end result was striking. The intricate solid surface inlay is made up of 100 individual parts, which were fabricated at R & P’s shop using the company’s well known engineering skills and CNC machinery. To make the project a reality, 92 MDF templates were created and used to rout the inlay design into the finished parquet floor. Routing had to be done on the spot, which complicated the fabrication/installation process. The grooves in the flooring (more than a kilometer’s worth) were made to match up perfectly with the solid surface inlay. The final installation required a total of three weeks to complete. Rosskopf & Partner also provided four bar display systems located at the entrance area of the EIB, plus 14 kitchen worktops and various platforms. Topping the effect, German Chancellor Angela Merkel delivered her speech at the opening ceremony of the bank from a lectern manufactured by Rosskopf & Partner. Beyond countertops. International Surface Fabricators Association • Vol. 2, Issue 2, 2009 • 35

Concrete Countertops


for and Profit ABSOLUTE ConcreteWorks Mixes Art and Business to Create its Own Industry Niche By Russ Lee

Take one part woodworker, mix in a generous helping of artiste, add equal parts structural engineer, chemist and environmentalist and dump the entire concoction into a mixer. After combining the ingredients for a few minutes, pour into a mold and sprinkle lightly with bubbling enthusiasm. Let stand. Yields one concrete countertop manufacturer.

Or more specifically, Tommy Cook of ABSOLUTE ConcreteWorks (ACW) in Poulsbo, Wash. Unless you’ve been totally ensconced in a giant cocoon for the past several months, you probably know that concrete countertops are quickly becoming the darling of architects and kitchen and bath designers across the country. In the fashion world of residential countertops, where the purchasing process has rightly evolved into a “countertop experience,” concrete has the potential to become the ultimate personalized decorative surface. Why Concrete? Let’s say Aunt Mary left your customer a considerable inheritance when passing on, which made it possible to remodel the kitchen, including the installation of a new countertop. Dutiful nephew that he is, your customer would like to include something of dear Aunt Mary in the new design to remind the family of her love and generosity. As it turns out, Mary was really into knitting sweaters in DayGlo colors every Christmas for the family. “We could put Mary’s knitting needles right into the countertop in a prominent part of the kitchen,” Cook explained. “Just about anything you can think of with sentimental value could become part of a one-of-a-kind installation to make the countertop unique in a very personal way.” It was the personalization factor that caught the attention of former customers and now part-owners, Tina and Steve Silberman. “We were rebuilding a home and wanted countertops that were like nothing anyone else would have,” Silberman related. “So we went to several local granite fabricators and picked out a beautiful slab with lots of movement and interesting colors. The salesperson assured us we would never see anything like it anywhere else. It was unique. It was ‘our’ countertop.” As luck would have it, Silberman and his wife were invited to a get together at a friend’s new home and, lo and behold, right there in the kitchen was what appeared to be the very granite countertop pattern they had picked out at the yard. Silberman reconsidered his choice. “My builder said, ‘Steve, you really should check out concrete. They are doing some amazing things with it now,’” Silberman ex-

Steve Silberman (l) and Tommy Cook, co-owners of ABSOLUTE ConcreteWorks.

plained. “I told him the last thing I wanted was a sidewalk in my kitchen.” To make a long story short, the Silbermans made contact with Cook and eventually went with concrete countertops of their own design. Over time, one thing led to another and the Silbermans ended up becoming partners in the business. A former boardroom type from Los Angeles, Steve traded his three-piece suit and Mercedes for jeans, crew neck sweater and a pickup truck. He couldn’t be happier in his new role. It Starts with the Mold Life is filled with ironies -- and one of the little ironies of concrete countertop manufacturing at ACW is it often requires the talents of a skilled woodworker to make a custom project come out right. That’s because a large percentage of the countertop projects produced there are poured

into a mold made from wood. “It all starts with the mold,” explained Cook, “and the better the mold, the better final result. We use a lot of melamine panels for mold making because it is an affordable and durable material. It also helps that we can purchase seconds from the factory at favorable pricing.” Other materials used in mold making include formed acrylic, fiberglass and silicone rubber. From a production standpoint, the necessity of creating a mold before the project can be produced is one of the limiting factors of concrete countertop manufacturing. In essence, it requires the manufacturer to build the countertop twice – once as a mold and a second time as the finished pour.

International Surface Fabricators Association • Vol. 2, Issue 2, 2009 • 37

slab as an acid stain. It often takes a few tries to nail it, but Cook almost always comes up with a credible match for the sample provided by the customer. The process requires a combination of experience, creativity and basic chemistry – and a lot of time. “Given time and the right materials, a manufacturer can reproduce the look of just about anything,” said Cook. “Concrete is the ultimate custom material. We acknowledge up front that it isn’t for everyone, but an end-user who wants to inject a little of her personality into the kitchen countertops can’t do better than concrete.”

Cook stands in front of latest his latest batch of color samples. Cook stands in front of his batch of color samples.

On the other hand, it is a highly custom process that lends itself well to artistic expression and personalization of the finished countertop, which is a major part of the appeal to the end-user. “The customer is literally part of the manufacturing process,” said Cook. “They decide what elements go into the design and whether it includes items that have sentimental value. The story behind the countertop and its eco-friendly attributes are what draw people to concrete. We have even had customers become so involved in the process that they literally came to the shop and helped participate in the pouring of the art elements of the concrete.” That means the concrete counters will surely become a focal point of conversation when that customer entertains guests at home. It’s this “story behind the countertop” experience that generates the kind of passionate, word-of-mouth exposure that no amount of advertising money can buy. However, there is more to the process than pouring a bag of Sacrete into a mold and adding a little water. A Little Mad Science Because they work with one-of-a-kind molds and raw ingredients, the folks at ACW are able to control color, texture and pattern of the finished product. Yet, to accurately forecast how a piece will look after

it comes out of the mold and goes through the curing process requires experience in chemistry, admixtures, acid staining, sealers, waxes and finishing procedures. Creating an accurate control sample requires an understanding of the properties of the various raw materials used in concrete countertop production and how they interrelate to create what the artist had envisioned. Yes, artist. And Tommy Cook is known as one of the best. “It is not uncommon for a customer to bring in a sample of wallpaper or some other visual element they want their countertop to match,” explained Cook. “We tell them, ‘No problem.’ Then I have to figure out how to do it.” In his second-story research and development studio Cook has assembled samples of assorted raw materials in plastic tubs stacked neatly on shelves lining the walls. He uses these ingredients to create the background color for a sample. To this basic mixture he adds decorative elements, such as bits of recycled colored glass, specially selected pebbles, sea shells, geode fragments or colored pigments. If the finished project calls for a colored swirl, he draws on his experience to determine whether it should be part of the basic mixture or should be applied to the hardened

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Going Commercial When you do the math, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist – or an accountant, for that matter – to understand the very nature of such a custom operation is self-limiting, in terms of growth of the company. Even at prices ranging from $80 to $150 per sq. ft., low volume often translates into a bohemian-like lifestyle for the owner/operator. When Steve Silberman joined the company, he determined the best way to preserve the artistic side of the operation while creating a platform for increased profit was to grow the commercial and public sector side of the business.. Almost by definition, commercial work called for multiple units of cookie-cutter shapes. Custom coloring was limited to mostly generic background colors. The projects could still be personalized with memorabilia and special elements, but it was almost always on a grander, more high-volume scale. Plus, it went beyond countertops. Entering the realm of “decorative concrete,” commercial work opened up a whole new world of architectural surfaces, including benches, wall caps, monuments, arches, etc., in addition to more traditional countertop applications like vanities, reception desks and fireplace surrounds. With a special emphasis on reaching architects and designers, ABSOLUTE ConcreteWorks found itself participating as exhibitors in regional trade and interior design shows geared to that audience. Silberman also began approaching the specification community directly with personal visits, with some initial success, but quickly learned there was a lot of education still to

be done. “The majority of architects are just beginning to think of concrete for applications other than foundations and sidewalks or building cladding,” Silberman explained. “The rapid growth of green building and LEED-compliant programs are generating great interest in concrete as viable for architectural decorative surfacing. On average, they are just beginning to have an appreciation for the possibilities of this versatile, sustainable material from an aesthetic perspective.” The need for education notwithstanding, ACW brings in enough commercial work to balance the residential side of the business. The company employs six shop and installation personnel and produces the rough equivalent of four to six kitchens per week, plus commercial projects. As concrete countertop operations go, ACW is one of the larger players in the industry. “The growth potential for concrete as a decorative surface is substantial,” Silberman said. “We have come a long way, but we still have a long way to go as an industry. Consumers and specifiers need to be better educated and we, as manufacturers, need to develop more streamlined methods of production. Concrete will probably never become a mainstream countertop material but it can occupy a formidable market niche that is satisfying, lucrative and eco-friendly.”

More about ABSOLUTE ConcreteWorks ( ABSOLUTE ConcreteWorks is a national award-winning, eco-friendly, architectural and decorative concrete products firm. Based in the Seattle, Tacoma metro area, ACW takes great pride in being acknowledged as a premier Northwest designer and fabricator of custom functional art for residential, commercial and retail applications. ACW is nationally recognized as an industry leader in the use of dramatically stronger and significantly lighter weight Glass Fiber Reinforced Concrete (GFRC)

marketed under its SoundCrete® registered trademark brand. Specialties include (but are not limited too), concrete countertops, fireplace surrounds, outdoor kitchens, concrete furniture, Ofuro and designer bathtubs, shower and tub surrounds and a full spectrum of decorative concrete products. ACW also offers concrete masonry units and architectural details including wall caps, column caps and window and door surrounds. Many products are crated and available for shipment throughout the United States.

To that end, ACW hopes its membership in the International Surface Fabricators Association (ISFA) will help accomplish the goal generating of greater awareness for concrete countertops, particularly as the trade association implements an Awareness Campaign directed to opinion leaders in the specification community, as well as consumer publications. “The time has come for an industry association that represents the interest of the entire countertop community to these key market groups,” Silberman acknowledged. “We believe ISFA has the will and the horsepower to make that happen.” Meanwhile ACW will continue to do business with its mix of personalized residential countertops and volume-based commercial projects. For Tommy Cook, the artist, and Steve Silberman, the businessman, that is ABSOLUTELY fine. Circle Reader Service # 5 on the Reader Service Page or go to

Business Solutions 13TipsforSmall BusinessestoThrivein aDownEconomy If your thoughts are primarily based on fear, if you’re envisioning the worst for yourself and your business, if your conversations are focused predominately on bad news, then you’re seriously impeding your own success. Instead of giving succor to all the negative blathering, buckle down and determine to take actions every single day to improve revenue. Here are some suggestions. 1. Don’t you DARE pick up that phone unless it’s to generate business! Be ruthlessly disciplined about generating business as Job 1. Any activity that doesn’t secure new business should be delegated, or done during non-business hours. Prioritize everything else around this fundamental principle. During business hours, dedicate yourself exclusively to building your business. 2. Virtually stalk your prospects: Describe your ideal client. What types of organizations do they belong to? Join them. What kinds of publications do they read? Read them. What types of events do they attend? Attend them. Differentiate yourself with detective work about your targeted prospects. Research them; tap your network to learn more. This information helps warm up cold contacts, and sets you apart from most others who won’t go to this much effort. 3. Work backward to move forward. If you’re tracking important ratios, you know how many qualified prospect meetings it takes to generate one client, and the average sale per client. With only these two pieces of information, you can control how much you sell each month. Determine desired sales volume, then conduct two to three times the number of qualified prospect meetings required to achieve it.

4. Invite scrutiny. Whose business acumen do you admire? Who’s already successful in your field? Whose clientele does your product or service complement? Invite these folks to be your advisory board. Meet quarterly to gain their advice on your business challenges. Advisory boards impose a level of scrutiny and accountability that both challenge and comfort. Ensure you get unbiased, unemotional, tough truths by not including friends and loved ones on the board. 5. Your pipeline is your lifeline. NEVER stop prospecting. In good times or bad, keep your pipeline full! Even when you’re flush with business, don’t get cocky. Realize that if you wait to prospect until you need new clients, it’ll be too late to achieve immediate results. 6. You lag before you bag: The lag time between your first meeting with a qualified prospect and closing the sale is an essential ratio for managing your productivity. The sales you bag today likely began at least a month ago! 7. Play the numbers. Whether you enjoy it or not is irrelevant; networking is an imperative. Learn how to do it well. If you want to survive the lean times, you have to network regularly, and focus on helping others. Understand that networking is a numbers game, and play to win. 8. Don’t pander; ponder. Showcasing your wisdom without taking time to probe causal factors can be insulting. Instead, honor the complexity of client issues. Be inquisitive about their goals, frustrations, hopes and struggles. Then construct a matrix of options, and augment this with the advantages and disadvantages of each. 9. Prepare to bend by predicting the trends. Be vigilant about monitoring relevant trends, because they’re always in flux. Even more importantly, anticipate and maintain an awareness regarding forces that could affect the trends you’re monitoring. Doing so enables you to foresee and adapt to emerging trends before your competitors do. 10. Don’t defer getting referrals. If you’re not comfortable asking your satisfied clients to provide referrals, do it anyway! Once you’ve delighted them, conduct a brief interview to learn what they valued

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most about working with you. Using this information, draft a brief testimonial for them to edit and print onto their letterhead. 11. Publicize or perish. Both credibility and sales increase from having your information published, and speaking on your area of expertise. It’s not that hard! Every time you solve a problem for a client, produce an outline of the process from start to finish. Then fill in the outline, and voila, you have something to present to clients, at networking events or even in newspapers or trade publications. 12. Attend conventions with clear intentions. Recoup the opportunity cost of attending conventions. Identify and research your targets before you even leave town. Then make it your mission at the event to establish contact and engage them. Remember that attendance is not an outcome. Make your attendance result in new business or better business processes by preparing in advance. 13. Break it down to build it up. Identify key result areas of your business, such as prospecting, delivery, marketing, etc. For each, write out measurable goals each quarter. Break these down into component parts, and include them in your calendaring tool. No matter how many of these tips you implement, your own outlook and attitude can diminish their effectiveness. Those who prevail in difficult times are the ones who steadfastly refuse to allow negativity to form a barrier to their success. They instead deliberately and diligently take constructive action, thereby refreshing and reinvigorating their minds and their spirits, enabling them to take more action, which refreshes and reinvigorates. About The Author

Francie Dalton is president and founder of Dalton Alliances Inc., a Maryland-based consultancy specializing in the communication, management and behavioral sciences. Her new book, Versatility, published by ASAE, is available at along with more information about her offerings, and she may be reached by phone at 410-715-0484.

IT’S TIME TO STOP POINTING FINGERS.. INDUSTRY AWARENESS HERE WE GO! The ISFA Awareness Program is targeted to three key groups important to the decorative surfacing industry: Specifiers (Designers & Architects), Trade Professionals and Consumers. We will be consistently contacting Editors, Publishers, and Primary Contacts of major trade and consumer magazines touting ISFA as the ultimate resource for decorative surfaces. An essential element of that message is the only assurance of a job well done is to use a qualified ISFA member. The ISFA Web site,, will be redesigned to provide consumers and specifiers reliable and complete information on all types of surfacing materials. Leads will be generated for ISFA members through the Web site’s “Find A Countertop Professional” search function

Currently underway. For more information, give us a call at (877) 464-7732 or visit

mail it in and that’s it! Your subscription automatically starts the next time an issue is mailed out. What’s even better is that if you subscribe,

you save up to 15% off the cover price! Order online at or fax this form back to ISFA at (801) 341-7361 or by mail: P.O. Box 179, Lehi, UT 84043



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Not an ISFA member, but want your hands on the ONLY trade magazine for the ENTIRE surfacing industry? Then the time to act is now. But DON’T WORRY, we’ll make it easy for you to subscribe. Sign up for a FULL YEAR of Countertops & Architectural Surfaces for the LOW PRICE of $30 (that’s half off the cover price) and we’ll throw in the ISFA Surface Sales System Webinar (worth $69.95) download for FREE! That’s ONE FULL YEAR of Countertops & Architectural Surfaces AND the ISFA Surface Sales System Webinar for only $30. ISFA Member Bonus: Sign up now to become an ISFA member and get all the benefits of membership, PLUS Countertops & Architectural Surfaces magazine free. See our membership form on Page 65.

Occupational Safety and Health Administration Inspections A Basic Overview of what to Expect if OSHA Shows Up at Your Door By Brian Dean

In 1963 Bob Dylan released the song “The Times They Are A-Changin’” and those words still ring true today. With the new administration, many changes are coming down the pike and OSHA’s new direction will not be immune to those winds of change. Many safety professionals agree that the new administration will emphasize enhanced civil and criminal penalties as well as increased OSHA inspections. The new administration has already put a down payment on these priorities by increasing the proposed OHSA budget by $27 million. With these recent developments it will benefit all employers to be aware of the possibilities. What Prompts an OSHA inspection? One of the first questions people have in many instances is “Why is there an OSHA inspector knocking on my door wanting to look through my facility?” There are no secrets to the answer really. OSHA defines five instances where they will conduct an inspection:

notified within eight hours. 3. Complaints and Referrals. Employees are allowed to make confidential (if requested) complaints to OSHA regarding unsafe or unhealthy workplace conditions. Referrals from any source are also taken into consideration. 4. Programmed Inspections. From time to time OSHA may also “target” a specific high hazard industry, workplace, process, occupation or hazardous substance for increased scrutiny in the inspection process. A good example of this is the recent OSHA “National Emphasis Program” for crystalline silica, which brought the natural and engineered stone industry into the inspection crosshairs. 5. Follow-up Inspection. This occurs after an employer had previously received a notice of violation. As its name implies, they can come back to make sure those violations have been corrected as it had been agreed to.

1. Imminent Danger. This situation receives top priority amongst OSHA officials. In this case, it is reasonably believed that an employee may be killed or seriously injured by a dangerous situation before normal regulatory enforcement can remove the hazard.

Unfortunately, OSHA will rarely give you a call or send you an e-mail stating that they will be showing up at your door on a certain date. They apparently really like the element of surprise. If they do give you advanced notice, it will never be more than 24 hours.

2. Catastrophes and Fatal Accidents. This is in the event of the death of an employee or the hospitalization of three or more employees for the same reason. If one of these two events occurs, OSHA must be

When the Inspector Arrives It can be pretty nerve racking to have a government inspector at your facility. The only thing you can do to reduce the nerves is to be prepared. Have all of your required safety plans up to date and most importantly, in writing. If it’s not written down, it doesn’t exist. All training records should be kept in order and the most recent material

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safety data sheets should be on file. Again, if it’s not written down, it doesn’t exist. The first thing you must do if the inspector arrives at your door is to ask for their credentials. All inspectors understand that they are required to show them and expect this to happen. Even though you are allowed to verify the inspector’s credentials with his OSHA office, the inspection process cannot be delayed unreasonably. Be courteous and respectful to the inspector. OSHA inspectors have the ability to obtain a search warrant to enter your facility if they need to but it isn’t any better to have a cranky inspector. Opening Conference Before the inspector begins their tour of your facility, all interested parties should sit down and discuss why the inspection is begin conducted, the scope of the inspection and the applicable regulations that apply to your facility. If the inspection is the result of a complaint, then ask for a copy

of it. You may want to attempt to limit the inspection to that particular area contained in the compliant at this time. The inspector will request that the employer provide their representative to accompany them on the inspection as well as an employee representative. It isn’t legally required to have an employee representative present but the inspector will then ensure that they speak with a number of employees to get an idea of the status of the health and safety of the company work place. Walkthrough Once the opening conference has been completed, the inspector will begin the facility walkthrough with the representatives. The inspector is to conduct the inspection with as little interference into the operations of the company as possible, but they will speak with employees in order to get a better understanding of the status of the health and safety program. The inspector may also video tape, take pictures and monitor employees’ exposures to vapors or particulates along with other exposure measurements.

The inspector will continue the investigation until he or she feels that enough data has been gathered to satisfy the goals established in the opening conference. This may mean that only a portion of the site is looked at, or the entire facility. Do not volunteer areas to be inspected. If the inspector does not ask to see a particular area, then there is no need to go there. Do not volunteer any additional information or documents unless specifically requested. Closing Conference Once the walk through has been completed there will be a closing conference. The inspector will meet with the individuals that attended the opening conference. The inspector will not detail what penalties or fines that will be imposed (if any) but simply his or her findings. The things observed by the inspector will be discussed and at this point you may have an opportunity to bring to the inspector’s attention what has been done in regards to the findings. If the inspector has observed something that seems to simply be a misunderstanding, then this is your chance to clarify it. If something is observed that can be fixed immediately, then take the time to correct it prior to the end of the inspection. If something has been discovered that cannot be immediately corrected, then do not promise a time frame to be corrected. Whatever you do, do not be argumentative about whether something is or is not a violation. The likelihood of changing the inspector’s mind is slim. After all, in his mind, he is the expert. After the onsite inspection has been completed, the inspector will take his findings back to his office and report them to his supervisor. OSHA will notify you later if any fines have been issued.

About Brian Dean

Brian Dean, a Certified Hazardous Materials Manager, is the owner of StoneSafety LLC, has a bachelor’s degree in environmental health and safety management and has nearly 10 years of experience in the surfacing industry. He can be reached at,

OSHA inspections are not a fun thing to go through. But, like an IRS audit, there are things you can do to make them a bit less irritating. Document, document and then document what you documented. Have your plans in writing. Have safety meeting attendance written down and document what you went over. Have safe work practices in writing. Finally, practice what you have written.

International Surface Fabricators Association • Vol. 2, Issue 2, 2009 • 45


PAPER BASED SURFACING PRODUCTS It’s an amazing claim to be touted as one of the “greenest” architectural surfaces on the market today, and whether that is the case or not, paper-based materials are winning the hearts and minds of consumers, specifiers and fabricators. For that reason alone, it is spreading into interior countertops, wall cladding, furniture, signs, restroom partitions and a whole host of applications with each passing day. But how many of us know enough about these paper and resin products to actually take it on as another surfacing option in our fabrication shops? For such a great choice of surface, this jewel in the rough still isn’t well known, but could be something embraced by fabricators. That is because it fabricates almost the same as solid surface, which makes for easy adoption within many shops and it allows for another great “green” product that can be offered. When it comes to these paper-based materials, there are really four brands that typically come to mind: PaperStone, Richlite, Shetkastone and EcoTop. These products, while similar, each have their own specific formulations that also make them unique. The Brands, the Characteristics Perhaps the oldest and most well known of the paper-based surfacing materials is

Richlite. Made by the Ranier Richlite company, in Tacoma, Wash., this material has been around since the 50s. However, it did not really come into use as a countertop surface until the 60s when it was first used in commercial kitchens. Before that, the material was used in the aerospace, marine and other industrial industries. Richlite is made of natural fiber composites. These fibers largely come from paper sources that have been certified as environmentally responsible by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). It is primarily made of paper treated with phenolic resin that is then baked into solid sheets. Phenolic resin potentially provides adhesive, waterproofing and other desirable attributes and is commonly used in countertops for laboratories. It is used to impregnate the base material to bind it and increase durability. According to the company, the manufacturing process “crosslinks” the layers, creating a permanent structure once the curing is finished. Richlite offers two materials (r50 and r100) that contain 50 percent and 100 percent post-consumer recycled paper content, respectively. Richlite is also the first company to offer hemp-based countertops, which are from highly renewable fiber materials.

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Another growing brand of paper-based surfacing material is PaperStone, manufactured by Paneltech International, in Hoquiam, Wash. PaperStone products are made from post-consumer waste, recycled paper and petroleum-free, phenolic resins made from raw materials like cashew nut shell liquid. In the case of PaperStone, they use a proprietary resin, special and unique to PaperStone only. Paneltech also reuses by-products of biodiesel production to create the petroleum-free phenolic resin. The reuse of by-products reduces its global impact and creates a cleaner product. Talk about being green! Two types of paper based PaperStone products exist: 100 percent post-consumer recycled cardboard (original) and 100 percent post-consumer standard office paper (certified.) A PaperStone product made from virgin fibers is also available. They all use organic pigments which, according to the Paneltech, provide UV resistance, and even color distribution throughout the slab. The man who created PaperStone, Joel Klippert, has also developed another fiber-based material through his company, Klip Biotechnologies. This other material, known as EcoTop is made from a 50/50 blend of FSC-certified, post consumer recycled paper and renewable bamboo fiber. They are reportedly bound together with a water-based system, further enhancing the

PaperStone, pictured above, showcases one of its many faces of true beauty as a surfacing choice for kitchen countertops. Being such a versatile surface for so many channels in today’s markets, paper based surfacing products are an option that will surely grow to new heights.

‘green’ properties of the material. EcoTop features 10 colors, but the surfaces can be made in virtually any color, and the material was named as one of the “Top 10 Green Building Products of the Year” by Sustainable Industries magazine. Last but not least among the sustainable paper-based products is ShetkaSTONE, produced by ShetkaWorks in Le Center, Minn. This product uses both pre- and post-consumer waste fibers in its manufacturing process. According to the company all by-products and waste created in the manufacturing process (including imperfect or damaged sheets) can be recycled back into that process. One unique fiber that the company uses is decommissioned money. The patented process for creating the material involves creating a slurry from all types of pre and post consumer waste paper (ranging from waxed paper to magazines and phone books), plant material and cloth fiber, all of which are formed and hardened. According to the company, the density, strength, and thickness of the product can be controlled during the process. Because the process calls for minimal sorting and processing of the recycled fibers, the material has a look that reflects the contents. Marks in the material vary from magazine binders to staples,

and are described by the company like “a knot in wood or random patterning of marble or stone.” Taking it to the Shop While each material has its own specific characteristics, generally speaking these characteristics are very similar to each other. These materials are stain-, scratchand heat-resistant, although, as with most decorative surfacing products, they can be stained, scratched or burnt. They are also resistant to bacterial build-up, but not impervious. Because of the long, fibrous nature of the material, it is very difficult to break, and up to 2-ft.-long cantilevers and unsupported spans are allowed with materials that are 1-1/2-in. thick. The material is fabricated using traditional solid surface and/or woodworking tools, and can be easily worked with CNC routers to produce very intricate designs or detailed architectural components. Layering different colored resin saturated sheets in the panel production process further expands the range of design options possible. The standard size of recycled paper slabs is 60 by 144 in. but it varies between suppliers. Other available sizes are 30 by 144 in., 30 by 72 in. and 60 by 72 in. Most of the suppliers offer custom sheet sizes and the slabs typically come sanded to a satin finish.

Edges of these products generally resemble a solid surface product, but with a faint wood grain appearance. Paper-based materials can be fabricated with all of the standard edges used for solid surface, including eased, bullnose, half bullnose, beveled, double radius and ogee, etc. Seams carefully made with two-part epoxy are tight and difficult to see, but not to the “invisible” level that a fabricator would expect with solid surface. For this reason, like granite or quartz surfacing, fabricators must take into consideration the aesthetics of seam placement when designing a countertop or other surface. Lastly, material prices are roughly the same as quality granite and brand name solid surface or quartz material products. Recycled paper countertops, much like solid surface or quartz surfacing, generally offer warranties against manufacturer defects ranging from 10 years to lifetime. While they are not for everyone, these innovative, green materials are perfect for the consumer living a holistic lifestyle that wants their countertops to be both elegant and responsible. And for fabricators, it is definitely worth taking a look.

International Surface Fabricators Association • Vol. 2, Issue 2, 2009 • 47

w a S l ia n lo o C le Supplier Profi Solid Colonial Saw Helps Set the

As one of the earliest saw companies to plant roots in the fertile ground that is solid surface, Colonial Saw was founded in 1949 by John McLaren as a small saw service shop operating out of Buffalo, N.Y. Today it is a privately held corporation owned by Paul and Jean Ravinski, and is the sole provider of a variety of sawing and grinding equipment. The company has 19 full time employees and covers all of North America, with offices on both the East and West Coasts. How did it get from Point A to Point B?

Surface Sawing Standard

In 1951, McLaren saw there was no U.S. agent for Vollmer steel saw grinders, so he approached the Canadian agent for the company with an offer, and a deal was struck. McLaren bought out the Canadian supplier and became the U.S. agent for Vollmer. That same year, Manny Pacheco, the father of Jean Ravinski, bought out McLaren’s interest in his company and moved it to Kingston, Mass. Shortly thereafter, he brought his daughter and her husband into the company.

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Pacheco ran the company for many years, and when he passed in 1975, Jean and Paul continued to run it. Over the years, the Ravinskis added several new lines to the sharpening machinery side of the business and broadened the product line with the addition of the topquality Swiss woodworking machine lines Lamello and Striebig, for which they are most well known in the solid surface industry. They also expanded the operation across North America with the addition of the Ontario, Calif., office in 1984.

Enter Solid Surface Because many of the early solid surface fabricators began as cabinet makers, some of which were using Striebig saws, the company was sort of drawn into the industry early on. As the product grew, so did Colonial Saw’s role in it. Because the company works with so many blade manufacturers, selling them equipment to sharpen their offerings, and also sells saws that these blades go on, it was in a unique position to address the needs of solid surface fabricators. Working with these blade manufacturers, the need

for specialized tooling to cut solid surface was addressed. As such, it was found that blades for cutting solid surface needed a larger number of teeth than standard woodworking blades, and that a negative hook blade works best. This new blade design has become the standard in solid surface, and Colonial Saw made sure its solid surface customers were aware of the fact. As such, these fabricators found that simply putting a different saw blade on the same machine did an incredible job of making the cutting process of those big heavy sheets faster

and easier, and the quality of the cut was greater than they could generally get from any other method of cutting. However, according to Dave Bull, Striebig product manager with Colonial Saw, word grew slowly, at about the same rate as solid surface, until the formation of ISFA, which the company joined early on. “Just as the organization grew the solid surface industry, word of Striebig’s accuracy and durability grew,” said Bull. “Since then the list of ISFA officers and board of directors has looked like a who’s who list of Striebig owners.”

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Not only did Colonial Saw partner with the association, Striebig saws were in the fabricator training centers for Corian, Avonite and Wilsonart from the very beginning. And when the association began training fabricators, the company donated one of its vertical panel saws to the ISFA Training and Education Center (ITEC). “[We] attended close to 100 regional meetings as the industry grew, and helped Fabricators make more money by improving their cutting process and sharing what we were learning along the way with shops all over the country,” said David Rakauskas, vice president of Colonial Saw. “Watching the industry grow has been very interesting. We talk a lot about the first days of ISFA when they only had a few members. In those early shows we’d sell 10 to 15 saws in only a couple of days, as Corian took over the market and everyone ramped up to be able to fabricate it. Something similar happened when the industry moved towards granite, but by this time, there were so many players in the game, it wasn’t as intimate. It’s certainly a niche industry that can be very trendy, but it has matured into a legitimate contributor to the American economy. I’m anxiously waiting to see what the next big trend is that actually sticks with the consumers. I hope it will be one that’s profitable for the fabricators.” The Company Today The company continues to offer a variety of products today, in three distinct product groups. Colonial Saw is the exclusive North American distributor of Striebig vertical panel saws and is the U.S. distributor for the full line of Lamello power tools, famous as the inventor of the biscuit joiner. The company also carries a broad line of grinding and sharpening machinery for sharpening shops and tooling manufacturers. Like most companies in the current challenging economy, Colonial Saw is not above the tough times, but has refocused a bit to stay on top of its game. “We are doing a lot of service work and are focusing our new machine efforts around government agencies, as that is where the economic stimulus is most focused,” said Rakauskas. “We’ve sold a much larger percentage of machines this year to schools and museums than we ever had.” He also has seen more of the saws going

Above: Paul Ravinski, president, and Dave Rakauskas, vice president of Colonial Saw.

to medical laboratory fabricators that use them on very dense materials that are resistant to chemical and biological contamination (such as Trespa’s TopLab product), which are specifically engineered for laboratory settings. Looking Ahead “Just as solid surface material has found new markets for application, we continue to seek out new niche products and markets for our product offerings and will continue to strive to help make our customers more efficient and profitable,” said Bull. “However, we will not ever try to be all things to all customers or spread ourselves too thin, because that eventually dilutes the service we are able to provide.” In addition to its unique offering of machinery, one driving factor for the company is its willingness to go a step further in sharing its knowledge with fabricators to increase their precision and profitability. Bull credits this to the fact that a small group of people have been with the company for many years and know the machinery they offer inside and out. That, along with the nationwide coverage area afforded by the

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company’s locations on either coast leads to the outstanding customer service for which it is known. And that is why, as Rakauskas puts it, “the vast majority of solid surface shops” own Striebig saws. It is doubtful that will be changing anytime soon. For more information on Colonial Saw, call 781-585-4364, e-mail or visit

ISFA ARCHITECTURAL This Presentation kit includes the following: • Architectural Presentation Powerpoint Show With Talking Points • ISFA Architects Video, “Solid Surface... Beyond Countertops” • Architectural Presentation Directions • Presentation Check List • Presentation Room Set-up Sheet • Pre Registration Sign-up Sheet • At The Door Sign-up Sheet • Thank You Letter • 400-C-G-4 Quality Standards for Solid Surface Materials • 400-C-T-7 Solid Surface Design Factors • 400-C-T-1 Material Grades and Size Requirements • ISSFA-02-01 Classification and Standards for Solid Surfacing Material This is a free benefit for all ISFA Fabricator Members. To get your copy, give us a call at (877) 464-7732 or visit for the latest.

Here. Now. News. Welcome to The ISFA News Section. Here you will find noteworthy items of industry interest specifically drawn around The International Surface Fabricators Association and it’s members.

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NotesFrom TheISFA GeneralSession AtSFDExpo The International Surface Fabricators Association (ISFA) had its 2009 annual meeting once again this year at Cygnus Expositions’ Surface Fabrication & Design Expo in Orlando, Fla., in February. While attendance at the show was significantly down this year, much like the current state of the economy, ISFA took advantage of every opportunity while there to share information on the changes that have recently been made with the association and bring members together. At the general session, new Board of Directors Officers were introduced. Changes to the association officers include Sid MacKay stepping up as President, with 2008 president Todd Werstler, of Tower Industries in Massillon, Ohio, moving to the position of Past President. MacKay is the owner of Creative Surface Solutions, a fabricator of solid surface and hard surfaces in Las Vegas, and he previously served as Vice President. That role has now been filled by Evan Kruger, of Solid Tops, in Easton, Md. Ted Sherritt, of Floform Countertops, in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, remains as the association Treasurer and Hunter Adams, of TRINDCO in Suffolk, Va., will remain Secretary. Two directors left the Board this year, having faithfully fulfilled their terms. Keith Layton, of Mountain Tops Solid Surface in Hayesville, N.C., departed from board, having served as Past President in 2008 and President in 2007. Also Brad Reamer, of Wilcor Solid Surfaces Inc. in Wood

Dale, Ill., stepped down from a Director position. Consequently, three association members were nominated to fill the Board vacancies. Nominated to sit on the board were: David Paxton, of Paxton Countertops in Grand Ledge, Mich., Mike Cook, of Concrete Approaches, in Dallas, and industry veteran and one of the original founders of the association Martin Funck, of Rosskopf & Partner. Rounding out the Board are Joe Hoffman, of Hoffman Fixtures Company in Tulsa, Okla., Michael Job, of Quality Surfaces Inc. in Spencer, Ind., Kurt Bonk, of Cabinets2Countertops in N. Canton, Ohio, Mike Nolan, of Windbound Co. in Morganton, N.C., and Mike Langenderfer, of The Countertop Shop Ltd. In Holland, Ohio, all of whom are retaining their directorships.

promote the interests of ISFA fabricators. The Innovator Award is for the fabricator member firm or individual who goes outside the box and creates a product or system that enhances the life of the solid surface fabricator. This year’s winners are Luke Moore and Tom Risinger of Fine Line Pacific. Not only did they create a state of the art fabrication facility that sets the standard for solid surface and hard surface fabrication, but they have been open and willing to share their knowledge and experience with other ISFA Fabricators, which gets at the real heart of the association. The Envision Award is given to the manufacturer member that excels in creating something imaginative and special for the surfacing industry. The winner this year

Annual ISFA Awards Also announced at the general session were the 2009 ISFA Award winners. Each year, five ISFA members are chosen by their peers to stand out as the very best, and this year’s winners certainly met the criteria. The Associate of the Year Award is given to an as- Mally Henne accepts the ‘Associate of the Year Award’ on behalf of Kohler Co. from Russ Lee and Sid MacKay at the pool party networking sociate member reception following the ISFA general session in Orlando. company that in the past year has best exemplified is Vetrazzo, for its development of an innothe role of servicing the needs of fabricator vative and sustainable decorative surface member companies, and who has best that uses 100 percent recycled glass that supported ISFA in all activities. This year’s comprises 85 percent of the final product winner is the Kohler Company, for its by weight. strong support of the decorative surfacing industry, as well as proactive efforts to

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The Fabricator of the Year is awarded to an individual of a fabricator member company that in the past year has best exemplified the ISFA ideals of quality, innovation, character and exemplary service to ISFA and/or the decorative surfacing industry, with overall excellence. For leadership, commitment to quality and willingness to serve fellow fabricators, even in the face of exceptional personal and professional challenges, the winner is Vanessa Bates of Block Tops. The top award is entry into the ISFA Hall of Fame, which is awarded to the individual, or individuals, who have in the course of their career made significant contributions to the decorative surfacing industry, and have demonstrated leadership and commitment to the ideals of ISFA. For their imagination, innovation, enthusiasm and undying devotion to enhancing the performance and aesthetic qualities of solid surface, the winners of the 2009 Hall of Fame

Award are Gil Ross and Marvin Wernick of Avonite Surfaces. They took a limited solid surface color palette and introduced color and texture, forever changing the look and appeal of this versatile decorative surfacing material. Notes on the Show Immediately following the general ISFA session, the association hosted an informal networking event at a poolside facility at the nearby Vista Cay resort. There, members of the industry spent the evening talking, while they dined and drank in an informal setting where they could share ideas, reinvigorate old friendships and make new acquaintances. This year’s keynote address event was hosted by ISFA executive director, Russ Lee, who led a panel discussion with some of the industry’s most knowledgeable and influential figures: Roberto Contraras,

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president of Cosentino USA; Gregory Vas Nunes, president of LG Surfaces; Jeffery Girard, president of the Concrete Countertop Institute; Todd Werstler, president of ISFA and also president of Tower Industries; Guido Gliori, president of the Marble Institute of America and also executive vice president of Grazzini Brothers & Company; and Bob Paradiso, vice president of sales with Vetrazzo. The panelists gave a broad industry overview from the various sectors they represented and also spoke of where the biggest opportunities might lie in the troubled times we are facing. Among these was a continued growth in the importance of the “green” movement, as well as likely growth in the institutional sector, potentially bolstered by the recently passed economic stimulus package. The keynote address was immediately followed by the announcement of the Surface Fabrication Achievement in Design

Contest winners. The contest was cosponsored by the Surface Fabrication & Design Expo and Surface Fabrication magazine: • Best Residential Kitchen – Gene McDonald, Refresh Interiors Inc. • Best Freestyle Art (small) (also Best of Show – small) – Florian Tolksdorf, Rosskopf & Partner AG • Best Green Application – Gene McDonald, Refresh Interiors Inc. • Best Commercial/Institutional – Studio ABK, Sterling Surfaces * Best Residential Bath – Dave Drees, Fabricators Unlimited • Best Freestyle Art (large) (also Best of Show – large) – Michael Morris and Yoshiko Sato, DuPont (also fabricated by Sterling Surfaces)

for any typical router, which sprays a very fine mist of lubricant onto the router bit when edge profiling solid surface materials. According to the company, the water attachment allows a typical router to cut an edge profile in one pass that is clean enough to greatly reduce or even eliminate the need for edge sanding. The system also reportedly prolongs the life of bits and reduces bearing issues. Performance Abrasives showed off an array of abrasive equipment, among which was a recently developed and patent pending Wavy Edge Scuff & Buff Ball. Made with non-woven material and available in grits from 60 to 600, the ball is made from a stack of individual wavy edge discs that are interchangeable and replaceable. They mount into collets or drill chucks and can be used to sand or polish radii in sinks and bowls. An interesting highlight of this year’s show was the “concrete pavillion,” a new feature at the show that allowed a showcase for the rapidly advancing concrete countertop technologies. There was an obvious excitement as solid surface and stone countertop fabricators mingled with concrete countertop manufacturers, sharing ideas and insights into both the art and the business of countertops.

But the ingenuity at the show wasn’t limited to fabricators alone, several companies showcased new products. Karran previewed a new line of sinks it will be carrying that consist of stainless steel bowls that are near-integral with solid surface countertops. The sinks also has a model designed to do the same with laminate. Although the company would not divulge the specifics at this time, the new sinks are expected to be available by mid-summer. Another new sink to be viewed at the show was one offered by Gemstone, which showed off its new vanity bowl, the 1714-VIO, which has an integral overflow. displayed a new attachment they are offering

Top: This reading lamp, titled ‘Snatch’, was fabricated by Rosskopf & Partner, and designed by Florian Tolksdorf. It took Best Freestyle/ Art Small and Best in Show Small at the SF Achievement in Design Contest. Bottom: Fabricated by Sterling Surfaces, Sterling, Mass., and designed by Michael Morris and Yoshiko Sato, this DuPont Corian entry into the Surface Fabrication Achievement in Design Contest titled “LightShowers II” took Best Freestyle/Art Large and Best in Show Large.

In addition to ISFA, the Marble Institute of America had a presence at the show participating in various conferences, as did the Stone Fabricators Alliance. And, The Fabricator Network once again broadcast the show live via the Web from its booth. New Beginnings Though small, there seemed to be a general feeling of unity at the show with everyone well aware of

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the tough economic conditions this industry, like most others, is facing. The previously annual Surface Fabrication show has not been scheduled to return in 2010 and when asked about the status of the event, show organizers stated that they’re working to leverage more of Cygnus’ properties to create a broader, refocused event, but one that will likely be launched in 2011 or beyond. Conversely, ISFA, who previously owned the Surface Fabrication & Design Expo under its prior moniker of the SSIE, will be initiating a show in early 2010 to fill the void left by the end of the Surface Fabrication & Design Expo. The new trade show is to be the International Countertop Expo (ICE). ICE is the only trade show if its kind that showcases ALL types of countertop products under the same roof. Conferences will include tracks on the fabrication of various countertop materials, as well as best business practices and will be taught by industry professionals. The new ICE will be held at Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino on Feb. 8 to 10, 2010. For our 2010 debut ISFA will team up with the American Composites Manufacturers Association (owners and producers of Composites+Polycon) to bring two powerful shows, more exhibitors and more attendees to one location. A paid entry fee for either one of these exhibitions, which run back-to-back, will get attendees into both for no additional charge. “Our goal for the 2010 International Countertop Expo is to have every countertop material represented on the exhibit hall floor,” said Sandy Milroy, ISFA director of membership services and events. “Our conference program will include tracked ‘how to’ sessions on various countertop materials, along with an ala carte menu packed with ideas fabricators can implement immediately to improve their businesses.” For more information contact Sandy Milroy

at 702-240-1660 or

AssociateMemberAdditions totheBoardofDirectors

In April, a vote took place amongst ISFA associate members to elect two representatives to sit on the board of directors. The new positions include one person each from the Component Supply Partners and Equipment & Consumables Partners respectively to serve on the board. On April 2, a Web conference was held to allow associate members to nominate the two representatives. Representatives from several well known and reputable companies were nominated for the positions, making for a tough decision one week later when the vote was made. On April 9th, ISFA announced Harry Hollander, of Moraware, and Bryan Stannard, of ITW

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Plexus, were named as the associate member representatives on the board of directors. Hollander represents the Equipment & Consumables Partners and Stannard represents the Component Supply Partners. Both new board members will serve a initial term of one year with the option to extend for an additional one-year term.

SandyMilroyJoinsthe ISFAStaff

The International Surface Fabricators Association (ISFA) has named Sandy Milroy as Meeting & Membership Director. The move follows a vote by the membership to adopt a change in focus to embrace all decorative surfacing products. “By changing the focus of the association to embrace all surfacing materials we

can concentrate on the total needs of our fabricator members, instead of promoting a single product category,” said ISFA President Sid MacKay. “Sandy Milroy’s understanding of the industry will be a huge asset.” Milroy has more than 20 years’ experience in marketing and communications and has been affiliated with the countertop industry for the last 12 years. In 1998 she joined the original staff of ISSFA, working as the association’s Communications & Marketing Director. She has spent the last four years working with Cygnus Expositions, most recently as the Associate Show Manager for the Surface Fabrication & Design Expo. In addition to the modification of focus, ISFA also announced at its annual meeting in February the re-establishment of an association-owned industry trade show.

Milroy will head up the efforts behind the event, which will take place in 2010 in Las Vegas. In addition to the exposition, her duties at ISFA will include management of other association events and overseeing membership. “I am passionate about the countertop industry, and my new role with ISFA allows me to have a positive impact,” said Milroy. “The new direction of ISFA allows us opportunities to better serve our members, and I look forward to making that happen.” “With a new leadership, renewed focus on the fabricator and recapturing of the industry’s annual expo, we feel confident ISFA can take a proactive role in helping our members become more profitable in their businesses,” added MacKay.

ConcreteCountertop AdvisoryCouncil

Under the direction of ISFA Board Member, Mike Cook, an advisory council addressing the needs of the concrete countertop segment of the industry has been formed. Members of the council include Jim Brown, of Concrete Habitat, Michael Bustin of Meld USA, Jim Ralston of Urban Concrete, Cory Smith of Concrete Design Solutions, Todd Trent of Concrete Design Solutions, Evan Kruger of Solid Tops, Mike Langenderfer of The Countertop Shop and Russ Lee of ISFA. The purpose of the advisory council is to identify the needs of the concrete countertop segment and create plans for addressing those needs, including an agenda and timeline. Members of the council represent all facets of the concrete countertop segment from small independent manufac-

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turer to producer of pre-cast slabs. “Our goal is to take a highly fragmented segment of the industry that boasts a lot of talent and innovation among its members, and create unity and a common sense of direction,” said council chairman, Mike Cook. “We have a great opportunity to combine the resources of ISFA with the knowledge and expertise of members of the Advisory Council to implement initiatives that will positively affect the lives of concrete countertop manufacturers everywhere.” The Council held its first meeting via Web Conference on May 1.


ISFA has launched a new Web site at While the front page of the Web site is focused on a designer/ consumer audience in an effort to provide good information to buyers and promote ISFA members, the site is really divided into two sections. By appealing to both end-users and speci-

fication professionals, has positioned itself and the association as the ultimate resource for all things countertop. Visitors to the site will find specific information on all types of countertop surfaces, design trends and high-quality photos of finished installations. Consumers and specifiers also have the opportunity to interact with industry professionals in the “Ask A Professional” section of the site. Prominent on every page is a “Find a Countertop Professional” button, which directs visitors to a graphical search page. Here, the visitor can locate ISFA fabricators by zip code, which will be displayed on a map. When the user clicks on the map, address, phone and Web site information is displayed. The visitor can then call the fabricator directly or click on the link to the fabricator’s Web site. This service is offered free of charge to all ISFA members, and is administered by the ISFA staff instead of a third-party marketing company.

section for fabricators, which allows them to gather and share information, network, review ISFA benefits available and much more. In the ‘Industry Resource’ section of the Web site, fabricators will find the latest news, information on upcoming events and training opportunities, contact information for ISFA staff and board of directors and back issues of ISFA’s publications. Check out today and make sure you are taking advantage of all that the association offers.

The other half of the Web site has a robust

ISFA Staff

Serving Our Members And The Surfacing Industry Russ Lee Executive Director Email: Office: (877) 464-7732 ext. 12 Direct: (801) 735-7606

Joseph Winters Creative Director & Web Services Email: Office: (877) 464-7732 ext. 11 Direct: (702) 468-2639

Kevin Cole Communications Director Email: Office: (877) 464-7732 ext. 13 Direct: (815) 721-1507

Sandy Milroy Meeting & Membership Director Email: Office: (877) 464-7732 Direct: (702) 240-1660

Margaret Pettingill Administrative Assistant & Registrar Email: Office: (877) 464-7732 Ext. 10

Main Office Toll Free: (877) 464-7732 Direct: (801) 341-7360 Fax: (801) 341-7361 Email: Web:

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Board Of Directors

Serving The Industries Surfacing Professionals

Sid MacKay President Creative Surface Solutions 2855 Coleman Street Las Vegas, NV 89032 Phone: 702-365-6444 Fax: 702-365-6798 Email:

Evan Kruger Vice President Solid Tops, Inc. 505 South Street Easton, MD 21601 Phone: 410-819-0770 Fax: 410-819-0783 Email:

Hunter Adams Secretary TRINDCO 1004 Obici Industrial Blvd. Suffolk, VA 23434 Phone: 757-539-0262 Fax: 757-539-8921 Email:

Ted Sherritt Treasurer FloForm Countertops 125 Hamelin Street Winnipeg, Manitoba R3T3Z1 Phone: 204-474-2334 Fax: 204-475-9295 Email:

Michael Job Director-At-Large Quality Surfaces, Inc. 2087 Franklin Road Spencer, IN 47460 Phone: 812-876-5838 Fax: 812-876-5842 Email:

Kurt Bonk I.T. Officer Cabinets2Countertops 7142 Frank Avenue NW N. Canton, OH 44720 Phone: 330-244-0221 Fax: 330-266-7635 Email:

Todd Werstler Vice President Tower Industries P.O. Box 647 Massillon, OH 44648 Phone: 330-837-2216 Fax: 330-837-2642 Email:

Mike Nolan Director Windbound Co. 113 Craftsman Drive Morganton, NC 28655 Phone: 828-438-0892 Fax: 828-438-0893 Email:

Mike Langenderfer Director The Countertop Shop Ltd 10406 Geiser Road Holland, OH 43528 Phone: 419-868-9101 Fax: 419-868-9104 Email:

Martin Funck Director Rosskopf & Partner AG Bahnhofstrabe 16 D 09573 Augustusburg - Hennersdorf Germany Phone: 493-729-12524 Email: martin.funck

Dave Paxton Director Paxton Countertops P. O. Box 174 Grand Ledge, MI 48837 Phone: 517-719-0146 Email: paxtoncountertops

Mike Cook Director Concrete Approaches 2246 Vantage St. Dallas, TX 75207 Phone: 406-544-5150 Fax: 214-637-1529 Email: mcook@

Harry Hollander Associate Member Representative Moraware 3020 Zeus Way Reno, NV 89512 Phone: 650-242-4272 Fax: 309-414-1013 Email:

Bryan Stannard Associate Member Representative ITW Plexus 30 Endicott Street Danvers, MA 01923 Phone: 210-389-2917 Fax: 978-774-0516 Email:

Joe Hoffman Assistant Treasurer Hoffman Fixtures Company 9421 E 54th St Tulsa, OK 74145 Phone: 918-627-3055 Fax: 918-627-3560 Email:

International Surface Fabricators Association • Vol. 2, Issue 2, 2009 • 59

Product News Product News

Integra Adhesives Offers New Tips and Cartridges Integra Adhesives has introduced newly designed Static Mixing Tips and Cartridges, which are exclusive to the company and made in North America. These new components will reportedly provide improved adhesive performance today and ensure cost stability and supply for the future. According to the company, these new 250ml Adhesive Cartridges and Bayonet Mixer Tips “with Wings” are the first of their kind to be made in North America and are sold exclusively by Integra Adhesives and their distribution network partners. The 250ml cartridge body is molded from impact resistant Nylon 6 to eliminate freight damage or breakage in shop use and has the added feature of being recyclable in most jurisdictions, reports the manufacturer. Glass fiber reinforced polymers strengthen the cartridge to reduce sidewall flex and improve cure performance. In addition, the coaxial outlet places the Activator in the center of the adhesive stream to pre-blend components before static mixing. “These strategic moves will ensure our customers have continued access to quality components at competitive prices”, said Chad Thomas, Integra’s inside sales manager. “As the manufacturer of these components, we now have the ability to work directly on product development and have recently demonstrated this new response capacity with the addition of “wings” on the new tips to allow easier attachment and removal.” The Static Mixing Tip is specifically designed to work with the viscosities of the company’s complete range of seaming, laminating and accessorial adhesives. The “Quick Lock” attachment method reportedly provides a secure seal and eliminates the need for a screw cap. The spiral mix-

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ing element reduces back pressure resulting in even cures and easy flow, according to the company. Circle Reader Service # 8 on the Reader Service Page or go to www.

Jet Edge Posts Used Waterjet Equipment for Sale on Web Site Jet Edge, Inc., a manufacturer of ultra-high pressure waterjet and abrasivejet cutting systems is now posting used waterjet equipment for sale on its Web site at www. The company’s used waterjet equipment inventory includes ultra-high pressure waterjet intensifier pumps, motion systems, accessories and mobile cleaning and cutting equipment. Circle Reader Service # 9 on the Reader Service Page or go to New Staron Tempest Colors Feature Unique Surface Effects Staron® Surfaces, a division of Samsung, has expanded its Tempest product line by adding 10 new colors, bringing the entire Tempest palette to 20 color options. The new color series, branded Tempest Stylist, like other colors in the Tempest product line, includes larger, translucent particulates, which create a look similar to quartz and natural stone. Additionally, in several of the new color choices, the addition of reflective chips creates an appearance consistent with metallic elements and minerals often found in nature. The result is a depth and saturation of color that is

The new Tempest colors also are certified by the GREENGUARD Environmental Institute, a certification that recently was granted to Staron for its full range of solid surface materials, including the Staron Tempest line and Staron all-acrylic sinks and bowls. Each of the product lines passed the requirements of two GREENGUARD certification programs. GREENGUARD Indoor Air Quality Certified product certification is granted for low-emitting interior building materials, furnishings and finish systems. The more stringent GREENGUARD for Children & Schools certification is granted for low-emitting interior building materials, furnishings and finish systems used in educational (daycare and K-12) environments. The GREENGUARD certification reportedle streamlines the process for attaining points toward LEED for Commercial Interiors certification in its Environmental Quality (EQ) 4.5 section. Circle Reader Service # 10 on the Reader Service Page or go to www.

Amana Tool Expands Saw Blade Line Amana Tool, manufacturers of industrialquality carbide-tipped and solid carbide cutting tools, has added to its A.G.E. line of industrial wood-cutting saw blades. The new blades include a range of diameters and are suitable for ripping and cross-cutting a variety of soft and hard woods. The blades are designed to be used in table saws or gang-rip saws and feature unique tooth geometry, special carbide grade and alternate top bevel (ATB) designs. The series of blades are laser cut from virgin steel, then flattened, ground and tensioned. Carbide tips are then brazed onto the blades, reportedly enabling smooth, accurate cutting. The tips are made of a specially designed carbide grade that resists breakage and can be resharpened. The new blades range from 6-1/4 to 24 in. In addition to wood-cutting blades, the

line carries specialty blades for different applications including solid surface. Circle Reader Service # 11 on the Reader Service Page or go to Artisan Offers New Heavy Gauge Sinks Artisan Manufacturing’s undermount sinks offer a 16 gauge, 304 commercial grade stainless steel. This new sink collection, with its high luster satin finish, reportedly complements the latest trends in kitchen design and provides sinks that are resistant to both stains and corrosion. The company offers 13 styles and 22 sizes with depths up to 10-1/8 in. and widths to meet every design and functional requirement, including single, double and extra deep bowls, offset sinks and bar sinks. The proprietary V-Therm Shield reportedly provides sound deadening results that reduce noise and vibration, and offers thermal retention qualities. Circle Reader Service # 12 on the Reader Service Page or go to Diamond Surfaces Now Carries Festool Products Diamond Surfaces has added the Festool product line to its offerings. This now allows the company to not only offer 3cm solid surface materials, but also the tools used for its fabrication. Circle Reader Service # 13 on the Reader Service Page or go to Dynabrade Introduces Air-powered Abrasive Belt Machine to Replace Hand Filing, Sanding The new Dynafile abrasive belt machine from Dynabrade grinds, deburrs, blends and finishes normally inaccessible areas on metal, plastic, fiberglass and other composites. The patented abrasive belt tracking system built into every Dynafile reportedly provides trouble-free operation. More than 30 interchangeable contact arms are available for a wide range of applications, and the equipment uses coated abrasive belts 1/2, 1/4 or 1/8 in. wide by 24 in. long. Non-woven nylon and cloth polishing belts are also available. The 20,000 RPM tool weighs 3 lbs. and the lightweight, composite housing reportedly reduces vibration and is thermal insulated to prevent cold air transmission to the operator’s hands. The air motor is also adjustable to the most comfortable throttle lever position, reports the company. A line of accessories are also available. Circle Reader Service # 14 on the Reader Ser-

Product News

reportedly unique in acrylic solid surface countertop materials. The 10 new Tempest Stylist colors are Radiance, Glimmer, Sonoma, Starfire, Goldleaf, Whip-poor-will, Zenith, Prairie, Sandpiper and Confection.

International Surface Fabricators Association • Vol. 2, Issue 2, 2009 • 61

vice Page or go to

Product News

Houzer Offers New Line of Undermount Stainless Steel Sinks Houzer Inc. has unveiled its newest line of undermount stainless steel sinks that are specifically designed for trade applications of countertop fabrication. This new line of sinks - The Eston Series - is available in five models. Designs include rectangular single bowl, D-Bowl, 50/50, 60/40 and 70/30 double bowl. Sink models are available individually boxed or on bulk nested pallets for high volume production shops or jobsites. Mounting clips are also included. The line is constructed with 18 gauge T304 stainless steel, StoneGuard Spray over rubber pads, brushed satin finish and 9-in. depths. Circle Reader Service # 15 on the Reader Service Page or go to www.

Innovative Stone Expands Natural Stone Countertop Offerings In an effort to meet demand for stainresistant granite countertops, Innovative Stone debuted its anti-stain natural stone countertop collection called Everlife, reports the company. This new collection reportedly does not require sealing and is protected by the company’s PermaShield technology. Everlife is comprised of a global collection of designer-selected granite, marble, quartzite and soapstone colors. The PermaShield protection process reportedly covers microscopic 62 • Vol. 2, Issue 2, 2009 • International Surface Fabricators Association

staining paths below the surface of granite. These paths are infused with molecular technology causing them to adopt water and oil-repelling properties, according the company. The process does not affect or alter the surface of granite, leaving no added color or coating. In addition, Everlife has received industry certifications from NSF International and the GREENGUARD Environmental Institute (GEI). Both of these independent, non-profit organizations have classified Everlife natural stone countertops to be safe and sanitary for use in the home because of the material’s ease of cleaning and preservation of indoor air quality, reports the company. Innovative Stone is reportedly the only natural stone supplier to earn the NSF-51 certification for cleanability. Everlife comes with a 15-year stain-resistant warranty and is available in more than 45 colors. Circle Reader Service # 16 on the Reader Service Page or go to

Superior Stone Products Offers New Adhesive Superior Stone Products has added ACRY-TYTE to its lineup of adhesives for the natural stone industry. This acrylic adhesive is designed to create tight, invisible laminations, reports the company. Packaged in a standard size caulk tube, the adhesive and catalyst are reportedly mixed perfectly every time with the E-Z TIP applicator. The package includes the adhesive, catalyst and mixing tip in one 280ml tube. This adhesive eliminates the need for pre-mixing or pre-coloring and is available in clear or colors designed to match hundreds of stone colors. It is suitable for use with solid surface, quartz surfacing and natural stone. Circle Reader Service # 17 on the Reader Service Page or go to

The Original Sink Hole Saver is made to keep tops in once piece during installation, but the innovative edge-clamping design allows it to be used for other applications such as: 1) with CNC and waterjet machines (for lifting stone off the machine), 2) on A-frames (protects countertop during transport), and 3) during manual fabrication (strengthens top while cutting), reports the company. The Sink Hole Saver VC1 features thumb-pumped cups and the Automatic Sink Hole Saver VC2 features an automatic vacuum pump that operates on 9V battery. These models secure to countertop surfaces with 6-in. vacuum cups. These vacuum cup rails are used during installation of curved or “bump-out” countertops, and are often combined with the Original Sink Hole Saver (clamp version) for added versatility during tough installations. The SHS Angle bracket reportedly allows protection of “L”, “bat wing” or any other angled countertop during transport and installation. The bracket connects two Sink Hole Savers of any length, allowing 0 through 270 degrees of rotation. The product is suitable for inside and outside corners, making it especially helpful for the installation of fragile “L-shaped” countertops. Finally, SHS Vacuum Cup Attachments are added to an existing Original Sink Hole Saver (clamp version) to enable installers to “flip” between two systems. The install crew can use the mechanical clamps for countertop transport on the A-frame, and then they can “flip” the same rail to the vacuum cups side for the final installation. Circle Reader Service # 18 on the Reader Service Page or go to www.

Specialtytools Provides Coolant System for Hand Held Routers has introduced the LubriCool System, designed to reduce sanding time on solid surface profiles by up to 75 percent, reports the company. The system also reportedly increases tool life and reduces dust. Cooling of the cutting tool helps to eliminate burning, thereby reducing the amount of sanding needed to bring solid surface profiles to a suitable finish. It also increases bit life by three to five times and eliminates the need to clean or lubricate metal bearings, reports the company, because the temperature of the bearing is reduced. The system evenly applies to the bit LubriCool Liquid, a proprietary formulation designed to be used with acrylics. A gallon of the lubricant will reportedly last for five to six average kitchens, but will vary depending on the router settings used. Circle Reader Service # 19 on the Reader Service Page or go to

Pinnacle Offers New Concrete Countertops with Recycled Content Pinnacle Cast Concrete has created a concrete countertop product that reportedly contains 98 percent recycled content. According to the company, the process begins with 100 percent post consumer glass as an aggregate. A binder composed mainly of fly ash (produced by CeraTech Inc.) is used as the glue holding the glass together. The concrete countertop material is available in a variety of colors and finishes. The material is free of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), has a stain proof finish and can be cast into virtually any configuration or color, reports the company. Circle Reader Service # 20 on the Reader Service Page or go to www.

Product News

Omni Cubed Offers Countertop Protection Equipment Omni Cubed’s Sink Hole Savers reportedly protect countertops from breakage during lifting, moving and installation. The company manufactures three models available in 4-, 6- and 8-ft. lengths, and two accessory attachments to cover all types of installations. All products are made in the USA and are covered by a one-year limited warranty.

International Surface Fabricators Association • Vol. 2, Issue 2, 2009 • 63

Ad Index Referral Number

Page Number

A d Index & Classifieds


05 - AWFS Fair


21 - Colonial Saw


39 - Diamond Surfaces


02 - Domain Industries


29 - Federal Saw & Tool


17 - Fred Hueston & Associates


67 - Integra Adhesives


68 - Kohler

ISFA Classifieds Interested in Training for Concrete Countertops? If you are in the market to obtain state-of-the art training in the manufacture of concrete countertops, you’ll want to take advantage of these specials available to ISFA members only. Concrete Countertop Institute (CCI) Sign up for BOTH Precast and GFRC classes in March or April and receive $400 OFF the cost of tuition. Applying the techniques and production methods you learn at CCI classes will lead to a year of savings in production costs and increased profits for your business! The production techniques learned in CCI’s GFRC and Precast classes provide new skills and product offerings that appeal to the tastes of high-end clients. The production methods taught will help you increase productivity while decreasing associated costs. Cheng Concrete Training Academy ISFA members receive 15 percent off all Cheng Concrete training: 1-Day Essential Concrete Countertop Training • Introduction to the design approach, tools and techniques for building a concrete countertop. Regular Price: $585. ISFA Member Price: $500 3-Day Professional Concrete Countertop Training • Designed to teach the professional all facets of crafting, marketing and selling high quality concrete countertops. Regular Price: $1850. ISFA Member Price: $1575 5-Day Advanced Countertop Design Training • Work directly with Fu-Tung to learn original design techniques, methods and fundamental principles of kitchen design. Regular Price: $3150. ISFA Member Price: $2680. Amelia Concrete Fusion Take any of the Cheng concrete classes offered by Amelia Concrete Fusion ( in 2009 and, as an ISFA member, receive a 15 percent discount.

64 • Vol. 2, Issue 2, 2009 • International Surface Fabricators Association

ATTENTION FABRICATORS Do you have used equipment tak-

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For Surfacing Experts wanting to become a new member, please fill out the entire form. Membership in ISFA is the industry endorsement of high quality. This endorsement cannot be purchased for the price of membership, but must be established by the company and upheld by each member of the organization. Fax this form back to (702) 567-8145 and we’ll do the rest. Your new membership packet will be in the mail shortly. Please allow 2-4 weeks for delivery.

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Each member of the International Surface Fabricators Association agrees to observe high standards of honesty, integrity, and responsibility in the conduct of their business. By adhering strictly to the highest quality standards of fabrication, manufacturing and installation. By promoting only those products and services that are proven quality and value. By writing contracts and warranties that are clear, honest, and fair to all parties involved. By honoring all contractual obligations in a reasonably prompt manner. By quickly acting on and attempting to resolve all customer complaints, and in situations where complaints appear unreasonable and persistent, by encouraging the customer to initiate and approach third party dispute settlement mechanisms. By being fiscally responsible and honoring all legitimate financial obligations; By maintaining all required licenses and insurances; I,_______________________________, do hereby certify that the foregoing is true and correct to the best of my knowledge, and do agree to abide by the Code of Ethics of the International Surface Fabricators Association for as long as I hold an active membership therein.

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About Your Business

What type of material(s) do you work with?

What category best describes your business classification?

Solid Surface

Stone / Granite







Raw Materials Supplier






Cther (please specify)

Distributor/Manufacturer of Sheet Goods Cther (please specify)

Which one category best describes your job title/function? Owner/Partner/Corporate Management and Related Personnel Production/Plant Management and Related Personnel Design (includes staf designer/architect and related personnel) Purchasing/SPecifier and Related Personnel Marketing & Sales Management and Related Personnel Other (please specify) Information By Category If you want more information from several advertisers in a category, circle the category number that matches up with the category in the box to the right. C01 Abrasives

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C02 Adhesives

C12 Sinks

C03 Air Quality Equipment

C13 Software

C04 CNC Machinery

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C05 Hand/Power Tools

C15 Stone

C06 Material Handling Equipment

C16 Templating Equipment

C07 Prefabricated Accessories

C17 Tooling

C08 Quartz Surfacing

C18 Training

C09 Saws

C19 Waterjet Equipment

C10 Sealers/Polishes

C20 Other Materials

66 • Vol. 2, Issue 2, 2009 • International Surface Fabricators Association

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ISFA Countertops & Architectural Surfaces Vol. 2, Issue 2, 2009  

This debut issue of Countertops & Architectural Surfaces features some of the best articles from ISFA so far, including generating more inco...

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