by Rich Hassert

A new book titled “Serial Innovators” published by Stanford University Press, makes a clear distinction between Invention, which the authors define as an application of technology; and Innovation, which is a marketable solution to a customer’s problem.

So what’s this to do with Coverings 2012? Well, as in prior years, I walked the show looking for what’s new. Sometimes I saw invention, less frequently did I find interesting innovations.

The primary reason I look for innovation is that I am looking for new products to offer through Braxton-Bragg. I want to find neat stuff to sell. This year I found two innovations that impressed me, both created by the same individual. One innovation will be rolled out through Braxton-Bragg and one is free for the taking…if you are able.

The first problem to be solved is the problem of protection. Tom Munro has reasoned that if you could prevent damage to stone, you would reduce the need for stone restoration. Tom researched the problem and discovered that homeowners will not re-seal granite countertops, and do not properly care for stone showers, stone floors, and other natural surfaces in their home. The problem is that people lack the knowledge and, usually, access to products that will enable them to properly care for their investment. Solving this problem led Tom to work with chemists to create a line of cleaning and conditioning products, which he offers under the Supreme Surface brand. I have tested four of the products and liked what I saw, so we have added it to the Braxton-Bragg website. If you are a fabricator, you might want to re-sell these products to your customers.

The innovation that is free for the taking is a solution to the 1980s and ’90s bathroom boat anchor, i.e. the giant whirlpool tub. These plastic eyesores were built into tens of thousands of new homes over a twenty-five year period.

As people update their baths, an inexpensive, low-profit solution is a new countertop—but a much better answer is to turn your room into a spa, replacing the ugly tub that nobody uses with a custom, stone shower. To get an idea of the possible, you can visit Tom’s website: http://www.supremesurface.com/showers/tileshowers.html.

When you solve a problem, you can make more money than you can by simply replacing a lavatory countertop. True innovation is always rewarded; inventions–only occasionally.

If you have an innovative solution, please give us a call; we would love to do a Slippery Rock article about it. Look for an upcoming interview with Tom Munro this summer.

Hope you enjoy the read.

Rich Hassert

Email responses to: