Aaron J. Crowley

Stone Industry Consultant

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Fig. 1. Sad but true: Stone shops discard thousands of potential dollars as scrap and waste.In last month’s issue, we discussed 5 simple cost reduction ideas that immediately improve profits without increasing prices or volume.  This month, we will continue that theme by reviewing an innovative product that has grown the sales and profits of a Kansas City fabricator without adding a single new customer or fabricating another kitchen.  The fabricator is William White of Counter Solutions and the innovative product is the Tomahawk Stone Splitter.  

Fig 2. William White has adjusted their rip to 4 inches, producing tiles that stack 33 per/ sq. ft.If your customers ask on a regular basis, “What happens to all my leftover granite?” then you will understand the light-bulb that went off over William’s head when when he and Mike Yates, the owner of Counter Solutions saw the red metal box at Coverings last April.

There it was, chopping pieces of split stone material off a 6” strip of granite with about as much effort as it takes to clip your fingernails.

Fig. 3. Santa Cecelia stacked tile backsplash and counter in Counter Solution’s showroom sample.In a series of simple motions, a piece of scrap that is expensive to dispose of and otherwise useless for finished product, is turned into boxes of beautiful, split stone pieces that make amazingly unique backsplashes, walls, and accents for the kitchen counters, walls, or outdoor kitchens.

Fig. 4.  This front desk counter of tumbled and stacked stone incorporates a water feature.It’s also quite profitable!  Mr. White says they sell the boxes of split stone material for $18s/f and customers rarely bat an eye. 

With a couple of simple displays in their showroom, and a couple of leading questions about possible uses for the client’s scrap material, the team at Counter Solutions is using the Tomahawk Stone Splitter 4-6 times per month, creating $500-$1200 in profit– pure profit!

Obviously nothing is easy and launching a new concept requires hard work in the beginning and determination to see it through. 

Selling split stone material is no different.  But, the dramatic effect of the split stone stacked on a granite counter does a lot of the heavy lifting. 

Installing a couple of different displays with unique colors and designs is required to create the picture in the client’s mind that is compelling enough to convince them to spend a few hundred extra dollars to put the icing on the cake of their granite counters.

Speaking of installing the split stone, once you set your first showroom display, you will understand William’s advice: “Sell the product, DON’T install it!” 

With the 4-inch-wide granite scraps that William prefers to use, it takes about 33 pieces of split stone to make a square foot of finished surface. 

You do the math on 25 s/f of backsplash, and it’s its obvious that the client or their tile setter is better suited to install it, because of the labor involved.  (Remember, we’re talking about maximizing profit, not finding new ways to expend labor!)

One last bit of advice from another Tomahawk veteran, don’t fall into the trap of ambitiously turning all your scrap into split stone inventory as clients are more likely to choose their own material for their split stone needs because it is more likely to compliment the counters and it also gives them that “green” feeling!

Learning how to increase the dollars your current customers spend with you is one of the easiest and fastest ways to grow sales and profits in a small business. 

If you’ve got customers, you’ve got a built-in profit center just waiting to be fulfilled by the Tomahawk Stone Splitter.

So visit www.braxton-bragg.com/tomahawk to watch it work. Be prepared to see the light bulb go off above your head!

Aaron Crowley is a stone shop owner, author, speaker, and consultant to mid-size stone companies. Contact him at aaron@fabricatorsfriend.com