Even though chairman and CEO of Canadian fabricator Floform Countertops Ted Sherritt experienced great success in the laminate business, the growing popularity of e-stone and the need to diversify his product offerings convinced him to offer it to his customers, along with solid surface.
Floform Countertops, based in Winnipeg, was founded by three brothers, John, Frank and Harry Dyck in 1962 as an add-on to their successful construction and cabinet business. The laminate countertop industry developed and the company grew to the point where all other lines of business were dropped in order to focus exclusively on countertops. New locations were opened in Edmonton and Calgary in the early 1980s while Custom Countertops in Saskatoon was acquired in 1988 to allow for coverage in all of the Prairie Provinces.
Sherritt, who is a chartered accountant, a chartered business valuator and a board member of ISSFA, said he was doing a lot of work with the company in the early ’90s, when it saw the growth in the solid surface industry and added it to Floform’s list of offerings as a higher-end option for customers. During that time he learned much about the surfacing industry, which ultimately lead to a larger role with the company.
“I was doing a bunch of finance work for the company, so I knew a lot about it and they offered me an opportunity to buy in,” Sherritt explained. “I came in as a shareholder and vice president of finance and administration in 1995, and when Frank retired in 2000 I became president and chairman.”
Floform supplies to more than 3,000 dealers of several types across Canada: small shops, big box stores such as Home Depot and various lumberyards, midsized kitchen and bath dealers and even sells direct to homeowners. It covers all of Western Canada, including the prairie provinces of Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta, and has branch locations in Saskatoon, Edmonton and Calgary. The main facility in Winnipeg is 45,000-sq.-ft. and is mostly used for post-form laminate manufacturing, although some solid surface work is also done there.The 35,000-sq.-ft. facility in Edmonton is used for solid surface and laminate, the 40,000 sq. ft. facility in Saskatoon handles all of the company’s quartz surfacing work and some solid surface, and Floform has a small sales office in Calgary. There are currently 175 employees on the payroll as well as 20 contract installers. The company does not do any work in the United States.
The company built its reputation on laminate countertops, which it offered exclusively until the early 1990s, but with its success in solid surface Sherritt was convinced that the company needed a product to compete with area stone fabricators. “We do a little bit commercial but 80 percent of our stuff ends up in the kitchen of someone’s home,” he explained. “That market was buying lots of granite. We looked at that and decided we needed to get into that market somehow. So we spent about a year or two researching plants and fabrication and finally decided that e-stone made the most sense.”
The company offers only 3cm quartz products, differing from the 2cm standard offered at Home Depot and available elsewhere. “We’re not the Home Depot’s stone supplier,” clarified Sherritt. “We only do laminate and solid surface for them and the 3cm product made most sense to us.”
The company’s e-stone product offerings are fabricated by a CNC machining center and computerized saw in its facility in Saskatoon, soon to be supplemented by a second CNC arriving in September. As for solid surface, all four of Floform’s facilities have small shops.
“We still use hand-held routers for solid surface and have about 12 guys fabricating and installing solid surface spread out over our four locations, so they are relatively small operations,” explained Sherritt. “We’re in the process of centralizing solid surface fabrication in our Edmonton location and making more of an industrial-type shop, but today we’re still using hand routers and don’t have any CNC equipment for solid surface yet.”