It’s been an amazing journey over the past 12 years since I tripped a wine glass over my traditionally set granite tile countertop. Really, that’s how it all started.
Being in the trades since 1974 I considered myself to be a pretty good tile setter. I wanted a granite countertop in my home but I was not willing to spend my life savings to have it. I decided to use granite tile and, as the story goes, my countertop ended up with a tile that was just a little too high and there went my Merlot. That’s when I began my quest to make a granite tile countertop faster, better and less expensive.
I have seen the granite industry change dramatically over the years. Technology improved for the fabricator but it came with a price. CNC (computer numerically controlled) equipment was required to produce more countertops and beat the competitor.
The good old days of rolling up your sleeves and doing the work yourself was falling by the wayside. Workers were no longer needed so they were sent home with pink slips.
These machines gobbled up vast amounts of energy and water (as much as 70 liters or 18 gallons per minute). It’s not that automated equipment is bad, it’s just that very few fabricators spend the additional $15,000 plus to purchase the filtration systems they need to recycle their water. So what do they do with the 18 gallons of water per minute they use? It goes right down the drain.
Looking at the dynamics of getting a granite or quartz countertop, you can see that there is a cost to our environment with little attention given to promoting any green initiatives.
As I developed my tile system, it became apparent in my quest for better, faster, cheaper that I was also saving water, power and employing people instead of using the more expensive equipment.
My last point opens up some interesting solutions to a very unhealthy fact about our industry and that is travel.
Expensive CNC equipment, required to open an automated granite fabrication facility, starts in the hundreds of thousands to well over one million dollars so they are usually set up in cities or highly populated areas. Small towns and rural areas are spread out and often hundreds of miles away from the nearest granite fabricator. If small town residents want granite they are going to pay for it and so will Mother Earth.
An example of that right here in Salt Lake City is that trip fees of $600 for each trip (one trip to template and one to install) are charged to service the rural community of Vernal, Utah, located 150 miles east of Salt Lake. That means the additional cost above the price of the actual counters is $1200.00. Mother Earth hands out about 40 gallons of gasoline and chokes on exhaust. The homeowner in Vernal just gave a company in Salt Lake a whole bunch of money when they could have kept the money in their own community by using our method and hiring local fabricators.
My average water consumption is less than 3 gallons for the average kitchen. My hand polisher consumes about 1.9 kw per day ($95 per year) with a production rate of approximately 40 square feet a day per fabricator. A single owner/operator can fabricate a kitchen a day in a workspace no larger than a single car garage with a tool investment of under $2,000!
Opening your own shop in your community keeps those precious dollars there while creating jobs. We all benefit from the financial and ecological aspects of owning your own granite countertop company, as well as having the luxury of a beautiful countertop.
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