Brief in counters : by David Coster
David Coster, Director of Advanced Stone & Masonry Supplies, which sells Stain Proof and Tenax products, talks to Max Cunningham, Production Manager at Rock Revelations in Northamptonshire.
David: Natural stone, sintered/porcelain or quartz?
Max: I would personally go for sintered material just because of its properties and because I have worked with it for so long. Customers also want to go for sintered materials. Its best property is coping with heat. Customers are used to old black granite and being able to shove a hot pan on it. It puts them off quartz so they go for ceramic. It’s the future of stone. I think people know if they are going to bring a ceramic job to us that we can complete it and they’re not going to have a problem with it. There are always some issues in fabrication, but nine times out of 10 I can get the job into the kitchen without a problem.
David: Straight off the CNC or hand finished?
Max: It’s a combination. I have just invested in the tools for the CNC so all the sink cut outs, pencil or bevel, are coming straight off the saw finished. It’s just the final edges that need to be done by hand.
Templating: Digital or physical?
We are completely digital now having got rid of Corex about three years ago. It’s better for the environment but also with a laser I can have someone on-site, laser it, and if there’s a problem I can get straight on to the AutoCad and on to the machine and straight away it’s being cut. It increases our geographical spread. I have sub-contractor templaters around the UK. They can be at someone’s house straight away. They might be on the South Coast, in Canterbury, and then yesterday I had two jobs in Scotland.
Customers. Love them or hate them?
It’s a love/hate relationship. You never get anything from them apart from their money. They are high end and demanding. They want this, then they want that. You have to try to lay it on the table so they know it’s not always going to be like that and they have to wait.
What will be your next investment?
We have just got planning permission to extend the factory, mainly so we can get a five-axes waterjet, because we do so much ceramic work now with so many cut outs so close together. You can’t do it on a CNC.
With the government saying the UK has to reach Net Zero carbon emissions by 2050, what plans do you have?
We don’t have a plan yet. It’s a way off. But we will have to work something out.
And ethical sourcing?
We use the main brands. I hope they are dealing with it.
Have you noticed any problems as a result of Brexit/Covid?
Loads. The cost of containers and trying to get goods into the country. Even from Cosentino I don’t get slabs on time. I don’t know if that’s because drivers are stuck at the docks or they just can’t get the materials any more.
The future: worse, better, the same?
I would like to say it would be better – there are different materials; we are looking to expand; more machinery. I think during Covid some customers have understood things can be difficult and are more open to the idea that they might have to wait. Perhaps customers will be more understanding in future... But perhaps not.
I just want to ensure what comes out of the factory is as good as it always has been, if not better. I don’t want to start getting more workload, I want to concentrate on the quality; getting the people in the factory more fully trained to make it better.
Trends. What are customers looking for now and what do you anticipate is coming?
I don’t think white marble effect quartz will ever go, but the thing we are selling most of now is Dekton Kelya, which is dark with a light vein. That’s coming through all the time. We have at least three or four jobs in that a week.
But granite’s coming back. I don’t know if it’s fashion or trend, but I think it might be because everyone has white quartz and it’s something different.
I have a mixture of white and dark materials – I always do. People who have had white will then go to dark. There’s way more darker Dekton with busier veins coming on. I think that will work for ceramics, but when people go for quartz there are so many whites out there now.
For next year, the rumour is it’s green. I can see pink and green coming in again. At the moment it’s all grey, white or dark. There’s no actual colours. That can change.