Aaron J. Crowley

Stone Industry Consultant

History and current events suggests that there are some groups of people who will never get along…Cowboys and Indians, Arabs and Israelis, Republicans and Democrats. 

Being the owner of a stone shop for the last 14 years, there were times I would have added Installers and Fabricators to that list.

As long as I’ve been in the stone business, the belief among installers has been that shop guys don’t “care” as much and shop guys have always believed that installers are impossible to please.  

For years I was the ultimate hub for complaints and it seemed like my main job was to referee just enough civility between these two departments to get the counters made and installed so we could get paid.

But that was then and this is now.

If you’ve struggled to achieve harmony between these departments in your stone shop, read on as I’ll share a meeting format and management technique that has revolutionized the relationship between our installers and the shop crew and made my life a lot easier in the process.

We begin every morning now with a 15 minute huddle that covers the installs from the previous day, the current day, and the day to follow. 

The “We” includes our Lead Installer, Production Manager, Measure Up Tech, Project Coordinator and myself as quarterback (not referee!).

And instead of calling out plays, I’m calling out the following questions:

The first question I ask is to the Lead Installer for a report of the job that was installed the previous day.  He refers to the written install reports as to how well the counters matched the templates, how well the job was templated, and to whether there was anything that caused them delays.

Upon hearing the feedback, I give our Production Manager and Measure Up Tech a moment to ask follow-up questions of the Lead Installer and to explain (or apologize, if necessary) what might have happened.

The second question I ask is of the Production Manager and Measure Up Tech about the current job going out that day.  

Is there anything the Installers need to know that wasn’t mentioned in the work order? Did anything happen during production that will cause problems or embarrassment for the installers once on site? 

At this point, the counters are already being loaded into the install trailers, so it’s too late for the shop to make any last minute fixes. But…it’s not too late to inform the Lead Installer of any issues that the installers are going to face once on-site with the client looking over their shoulders.

The last question I ask is about the job that’s going out the following day. Of the Project Coordinator, I ask if the install has been confirmed with the client. I ask the Production Manager and Measure Up Tech the same questions as before, but with a different reason! With a full day before the counters will install, they have time to anticipate, identify, and resolve any issues before the installers begin loading them.

The fact that we have these meetings every single day of the year creates a predictability that is very healthy: the installers know they have a forum to offer feedback so long as it is specific and respectful.  Production and Measure Up know that their work will be evaluated in the presence of their peers (not to mention their boss) and that they are held to account. And most importantly – there is no filter between departments, as the feedback is direct and fresh in everyone’s mind so it is genuinely useful.

So…what about your crews? Are they getting along? Are your installers happy with the work your shop is producing? If not, it is time you take on the role of quarterback and call a huddle of your key people. Start calling out questions and demanding that they run the plays according to the playbook. 

You will see amazing results when your departments stop competing against each other and begin playing on the same team, for the same goal! 

If you’d like to continue this topic of conversation or be coached through its implementation, send me an email.

Ready? Break!

Aaron Crowley is a stone shop owner, author, speaker, and consultant to mid-size stone companies. You may contact him at