When guys are either getting into this industry, or looking for more ways for their businesses to increase it's revenue - I like to bring up what I call the "Holy Triad" of our Industry. It is an option for them to consider - if they are open to it.
Here's what I mean by the "Holy Triad." I have a theory that basically goes like this:
1. Over 50% of all natural stone fabricators started in the trade as tile guys (that's part 1 of the triad) they either did - or currently do tile work.
2. Many of those "tile" guys have added Fabricating slab countertops (this is part 2 of the triad)
3. Additionally, that guy (that started out setting tile in the 70s and added slab in the 80s) offers stone restoration / polishing (with diamonds) natural stone flooring and countertops
If you can answer "yes" to all three of the above, you are already in the "Triad" league.
So basically, my "Holy Triad" of our "Industry" is: TILE / SLAB / RESTORATION.
If your business has the first two parts of the "Triad," your next logical step is to add the third - Restoration Services - to the line of products and services that your company provides.
Think about this: if you have a company that installs hundreds or even thousands of square feet of natural stone floor tile (or slabs that are cut up and used in a flooring application) every month - you are (in effect) planting "little money seeds" under EVERY square foot of flooring that you are installing. In anywhere from one to two years from the day that you are finished (installing that big honed limestone floor that you may be working on right now) that "floor" will need to be restored in some way. Maybe re-honed, re-polished - whatever the point here is, is that if you are the one installing 1500 square feet of flooring this week, wouldn't it be nice to know that somewhere in the next 24 months - that same floor could generate another $2,250.00* in income? (*Figure based on 1,500 Sq. Ft. x $1.50/Sq. F.t for the example - what you charge is up to you).
The guys in my opinion - who have figured this one out (the Holy Triad that is), are guys that actively do tile work, slab fabrication and stone restoration and concrete polishing. (OK the concrete polishing is a bonus, and counts the same as restoration - hence my not having a "Quad" something or another, and besides, "Triad" sounds better). A typical company that fits into the profile is a company that will contract with a customer to do (as an example) all of the home's countertops in various slab types, and all of the floor tile work (maybe soft goods like carpet, too, if they are so inclined). This is where (in my opinion) the brilliance of this strategy comes into play.
The company who uses their ability to "track" their jobs from the past, and schedule follow up calls on one year and two year anniversary dates of the job's completion - will be best positioned to "keep" potential restoration sales "in house." Example: You have a job from two years ago - like the one above. You got all of the slab work and all of the stone tile flooring. The job went great - no problems, no complaints, customer paid (happily) and you're pretty sure they'd give you a good referral (as would all of your other customers).
OK - it's two years since you've been done with this job, you call this same customer up and ask how their floors are looking, and mention that you now offer floor re-polishing / restoration services, and "since you did their floors two years ago, would they like an estimate on having everything re-honed?" (or whatever you want to insert here). You already KNOW - exactly how many square feet this floor has, what the hassles were on the initial install, how they (the customers) were to work with, how they paid, etc. You are this much more ahead of anyone else that would happen to provide a bid for the same job! You got the initial job, now you can go after this same client and "keep" the latest income that this project would generate "in house" - or in other words - depositing the proceeds into YOUR receivables instead of one of your competitor's.
The added bonus of getting into the restoration side of our industry, is that there are things more than just natural stone that you can polish - one in particular - conventional concrete - is becoming more and more popular as a flooring finish. Take a look at the floors of the next big box hardware center, grocery store or shopping mall that you walk into (that was built in the last two to five years). More and more often, I am seeing a polished concrete, sometimes stained too - adorning the floor where ten years ago - that same floor would have been a decorative ceramic tile or natural stone product.
Now, in 2009 - more finished floors on the new construction projects that still are being done - are resorting to a polished concrete finish on many of the floors - in an effort to save on overall building costs. A number of companies that subscribe to the "Holy Triad" theory have been able to capitalize on this latest trend in flooring finishes.
It makes total sense to me that IF a guy who already works with diamonds as a Fabricator, understands the concept of stock removal versus polishing. THAT guy should have no trouble adding "floor polishing / restoration" to the list of services that his company provides.
The initial cost (of adding all of the hard equipment, expendable tooling & supplies and acquiring the specific training to be able to actually offer AND provide said restoration services) is considerably less than the cost of a decent manual bridge saw. From an investment point of view - I would have to say that if you are installing all of those "little money seeds" already, why not invest in your ability to turn that floor you installed last week - into a future income generator? That guy could be you!
About sources... Now that your curiosity has been aroused, I'll bet you want to look into just how small of an investment you'll need in order to propel your company into the "Triad" league. The first inquiry I'd make would be to look at SuperAbrasive's Lavina (Italian for the word "landslide") Surface Preparation System, current available through Braxton-Bragg.
I was recently able to visit both SuperAbrasive's US facility in Atlanta, Georgia, and their modern diamond manufacturing facility in Krun (visit the Slippery Rock website and download my September article, at wwwslipperyrockgazette.net/archives/page22). I was impressed with the high quality of the machines that they offer. Their training and certification process that is used to acquaint operators with the equipment and the supplies is comprehensive and totally professional. With all of the choices that are out there, I'd put Braxton-Bragg and Super-Abrasive at the top of my list for the day that I would join the "Triad" league.
Best Regards & Happy Fabricating!
"Education on Location" at Fabrication Shops around the world is a service that is provided by AZ School of Rock. For more information, please contact Kevin M. Padden atby phone at 480-3099422 or via e-mail at