Darrin Mikk, owner of Creative In Counters in Mount Airy, Md., started like many solid surface shop owners, with limited resources and an overwhelming desire to succeed, and over the lifespan of his business, he has done just that.
When Creative In Counters first opened its doors, he and his few employees manually fabricated only solid surface out of a 2,000-sq.-ft. shop.
Now, the company's showroom alone is 5,000 sq. ft. and it offers not only solid surface, but also quartz surfacing and natural stone. The company does about 90 percent of its business with kitchen and bath dealers, remodelers and builders, with the remaining 10 percent being sales direct to the customer.
Creative In Counter's manufacturing facility is now 19,000 sq. ft complete with a full line of modern equipment, and the company employs 35 people (see Figure 1).
"We were doing only solid surface for about 10 to12 years," said Mikk. "But two years ago we opened up our current facility, ready to fabricate engineered stone and granite."
The addition of quartz and granite to the shop was a business decision Mikk said he felt the company had to make, with those products doing so well in the marketplace.
Broadening The Horizons
Rather than starting out small in the hard surfaces side, the company came onboard with a variety of machinery for handling quartz and granite, including an overhead crane system, CNC machining center, bridge saw and a splash machine for edge profiling.
Having already introduced CNC machinery into his shop for processing solid surface, Mikk was very familiar with the technology and embraced it with open arms. However, it wasn't without its trials.
"One of the trickiest steps was figuring out how to set up the shop properly," said Mikk. "There have still been some growing pains on that. We're Corian guys. We didn't have much experience with the granite world. When we got into it we took the philosophy that the machines were better off doing the labor. We didn't have a lot of people that knew how to fabricate granite, so we went with the machines first that could actually fabricate it and get us into the trade a little quicker."