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2|February 2020 Fox Marble
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Neolith and Diresco: the Next Big Things?
Neolith is a sintered material, and is considered an ultra-com- pact surface. According to McLaughlin, it is made with 100 percent natural ingredients, and contains clay, feldspar (a major component of granite) and other minerals. There are no glues or resins – it is made with heat and pressure, continued McLaughlin.
“I feel sintered stone slabs are the future, because they can be made large and thin, can be eas- ily shipped around the world, and because they are strong at a frac- tion of the weight of natural and engineered materials. Neolith is also impervious to UV rays and can be applied on a wide variety of residential and exterior build- ings plus it will not stain or fade. Traditional marble and quartz slabs are not going to go away anytime soon, but the big growth in the future is going to be thin, large format sintered materials. I can see it, and it’s coming like a freight train, and only 30 percent of the fabricators in this area are handling it. Some shops don’t seem to care or don’t want to learn, because they are so busy. But when the market slows down and the more sophisticated buyers continue to want what they want, those shops that haven’t learned to work with sintered stone, will wish they had.
“It’s really not difficult once you get the technique down. It’s also great for your installers, because
Slippery rock Gazette
     Photos (2) by Mark Ream
you’re looking at a third of the weight per square foot. Think about it: currently installers are handling kitchen islands that can weigh up to 1000 pounds, where Neolith is a fraction of the weight. This greatly enhances the install- er’s work longevity. Neolith is impervious and sustainably made. Furthermore, almost every house has one kitchen, but has three or four bathrooms, and when you see shower walls and floors all wrapped in Neolith with no seams and no grout joints, it’s amazing and beautiful! We are also doing residential and commercial ex- teriors with Neolith all over the west coast of California. So, this is where the trend is going for the mid- and upper-end markets. It’s not going to happen overnight, but it is coming.”
Diresco, Fox Marble’s other big surface, is a UV resistant quartz surface made in Europe. Like Neolith, it is distributed by Evolv Surfaces. According to McLaughlin, Diresco is asceti- cally on par with all of the top
Left: Even with automation, sometimes handwork is needed to smooth an inside bevel. Right: A sawyer for Fox Marble checks the cut on a Neolith® slab.
Below, right: This view shows a small part of the size and scope of the Fox Hensley fab facility in Richmond, California. Photo by Henry Guerro
brands of quartz surfaces, and perfect for those wanting to ex- tend their aesthetic of their indoor kitchen to the great outdoors.
As for material sales ratios, Fox Marble fabricates approximately 30 percent quartz, 20 percent Neolith, with the balance being natural stone – specifically white marbles. Granite sales, accord- ing to McLaughlin, have abso- lutely flat lined in their area of California.
Service and Quality, the True Keys to Success
“A while back, I had read in the Wall Street Journal that America is the most competitive country in the world, and I believe that.”
continued McLaughlin. “Why do you think that inflation is held in check? It’s not just because of the Fed! It’s because we have a competitive economy. So, over the years, we chose high-end, and have shrunk our exposure and geographic reach, because the competition has proliferated. There are over 400 stone fabri- cators in northern California, but because we chose high-end, there is less of a pool of fabricators that can handle that level of business. That doesn’t mean we make all kinds of money on it! You see, the more sophisticated the client, the more service is required, and the more manpower that’s needed. So, an eight percent bottom line is our goal, but we are not quite there, even with automation, whereas, our Stone Care division is double that.
“What makes us unique is our level of service and ability to com- plete complex, high-quality jobs, on time. Our reputation is that we take care of our clients, and
that’s really what it boils down to. You’re in the wrong business if you just look at the short term, and don’t service the heck out of your clients. If you don’t, you’re going to fail. It’s just a matter of time.”
Equipment and the Folks Who Operate It
If you’re wondering at this point what equipment Fox Marble keeps, let’s just say that it’s a full house of CNCs, water jets, line polishers, etc, and consists of a mix of Breton (the lion’s share), Park, Intermac, and soon, some BACA equipment, said McLaughlin. “What’s exciting is the BACA robot! The folks at Baca really do see the future, and with the right tooling for sintered material, including automated mitering functions. “It’s going to be a big deal. We are just now getting one installed, and there is a new one coming next year. It’s the BACA Robolution.
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  Fox Marble and Evolv Surfaces share 80,000 square feet of land in San Francisco, including warehouses and offices, shop facilities (Fox Marble) and a slab gallery.

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