Aaron Crowley

Crowley’s Granite Concepts

I am assuming you will agree with this: of all the jobs in the stone business (besides ownership), installing has got to be the toughest.

Installers are stuck onsite till the job is complete, they have to solve a myriad of unforeseen problems with the customer looking over their shoulder, and often they have to finish work that was missed by measure-up or shop!

To help you help your shop help your installers, here’s five mistakes shops make that make installers crazy, and how you can avoid them.

Leaving the Sealing to the Installers

Counters still wet and gritty from fabrication are like coal in a Christmas stocking for an installer.  First, they get everything and everyone on install dirty, and second, they must be cleaned and then sealed before the job is completed.

This is a risky, time consuming, and smelly process when done in someone’s home.

Sealing can and should take place in the controlled environment of a well-lit shop, where proper cleaning and drying can take place prior to the application of sealers.

When done in this environment, it takes less time and produces a better finished product.

Scattering Counters, Splashes, and Work Orders

One of the biggest time (and money) wasters in a stone counter operation is when installers must search the shop with work order in hand, trying to track down the counters and splashes.

Scavenger hunts are fine for bachelorette parties, but highly skilled/highly paid installers should not be hunting for anything, not even the job site address.

The solution to this common craziness is a dedicated and defined space/place where completed jobs are staged for install.  This includes counters, splash, templates and work orders!

Cutting Back Splash “Long”

There is a misconception among measure up techs (and sawyers) that the splash must be cut long during production and cut to final length on-site by the installers.  With one exception being miters, all backsplashes can be precisely measured and cut in the shop for installation.

Of course, this requires a little math by the measure-up tech adding overhangs, subtracting transition lines and such, but it completely eliminates the terribly inefficient re-cutting to length of every piece of splash on site.

It also eliminates the need to run extension cords, saw-horses, and tools outside – not to mention the double handling (setting up and taking down) of every piece of splash!

Sink Clips

Today, there are multiple off-the-shelf solutions for mechanically attaching an undermount sink to the counter to eliminate delamination and failure. Clips or sink fasteners can be easily and seamless incorporated into a shop operation.  

When systemized, these techniques take mere minutes in the shop, when the alternative is spending hours onsite cutting, routing, and blocking sinks with wood, or returning to job sites when the silicone adhesive technique fails. Note: there’s only one system out there to reinstall a undermount sink that has fallen out: the Hercules Sink Harness. Keep several on your install truck.

Failure to Check Templates for Returns, Holes, Notches 

Few things are more infuriating to a tired installer than a customer pointing out that a return polish or faucet hole was missed…when it was clearly marked on the template for the shop to see!  

Murphy’s Law generally requires that the customer point this out to the installer after all their tools are packed up.

So what’s the solution to ensuring little things like return polishes and faucet holes aren’t overlooked in the shop?

A finisher who has looked at the counter, work order, and templates 15-20 times can easily miss something staring him right in the face.

The solution is simply delegating the task of QC to a supervisor or even a machine operator, counters can and should be double- checked by a fresh set of eyes before they are taken down off the finisher tables (and before they are sealed). 

These five tasks must be completed by someone in the company, and most likely your shop crew is happy with the current status quo.

But by shifting these tasks out of install and into the shop, many, many hours per week will be saved and in almost every case, quality will improve as well!