Although he has a degree in accounting, when introduced to the world of granite by a friend, Kip Cameron, owner/president of Granite Tops Inc., Cold Springs, Minn., fell in love with its natural beauty and knew he wanted to make it his business. However, as his business grew, he realized that adding quartz surfacing to his lineup was a move he couldn’t afford not to make.
Granite Tops was founded in 1995 as a granite countertop fabrication facility with Cameron leading a team of four fabricators.
“I kind of found myself in that field and wanting to be more hands-on,” explained Cameron. “I love the accounting side of it and building a business, but I just didn’t like to be behind a desk. I really enjoy the hands-on. I’m an owner that can do every part of the job and through the years I’ve had to.”
Over the next six years the business grew, and at the end of 2001 Cameron decided to add quartz surfacing to the company’s product offerings. By the end of 2005 the company employed 86 full-time employees working two shifts in a production facility of about 44,000 sq. ft. and a warehouse of 17,000 sq. ft., and covering a 200-mile radius. In the four years Granite Tops, which now offers granite, Silestone and Formica Stone, has been offering quartz surfacing, it has grown to be about 30 percent of the company’s business. The company goes through about 500 slabs of natural stone a month and another 200 slabs of engineered stone.
Granite Tops handles both residential and commercial products, mostly taking on high-end residential projects. Although the company is a Silestone fabricator, and Silestone has an exclusive deal with Home Depot stores, Granite Tops does not do any of that work.
“We deal mostly with our network of kitchen and bath dealers and builders,” explained Cameron. “We get some walk-in traffic, but it only makes up 5 percent of our business at most.”
Cameron said the company has a showroom, but it is more of a selection center that Granite Tops’ clients can send customers to so they can look at different colors and select from the company’s warehouse. This is one area Cameron said is much easier on the quartz side of things.
“In the quartz world there really is no need to hand select your slab. A box of samples will do,” he said. “It’s very easy to get in front of your customer and just give him multiple choices from inside of a color packet. The controlled colors make the selection process with the quartz very streamlined.”
A Modern Facility, A Modern Product
Granite Tops operates from a modernized facility, complete with CNC machinery, computer systems, plotters, etc. The company is located close to a major manufacturer of stone working equipment and serves as a sort of test facility for the company.