At the solid surface show in March, we met with Cosentino, the makers of Silestone quartz surfacing, and the conversation focused quite a bit on how a number of solid surface fabricators were taking on natural quartz such as Silestone® products. During that conversation, I was told that the company provided a lot of expertise to companies wanting to add quartz surfacing to their product line, which prompted the following interview with Kevin Matthews, national certification director for Silestone®, and Don Bozarth, general manager of Quartz Surface Solutions™, a company that has partnered with Cosentino™ to aid in shop setup and fabrication issues.
Surface Fabrication: Where do new Silestone® fabricators typically come from?
Don Bozarth: More fabricators come from the solid surface side, but it just really depends. A lot of solid surface fabricators are out there recognizing the market trend toward quartz and how well the growth of the quartz market has been. The money to be made in the market is so good that I think these guys are starting to see that. Even the natural stone fabricators are coming our direction. Big companies tend to be coming after it. I’ve met with many shops and so many shops do all three really, and a lot of them are also doing cultured marble. Bottom line, quartz fabrication compares very well with solid surface fabrication on many levels.
Kevin Matthews: I come from the granite business, and in a lot of cases the granite guys have an aversion. They don’t want to get close to quartz surfacing because they see that as a synthetic and they’re the natural granite guys. The guys from the solid surface shops that buy equipment to fabricate quartz surfacing, however, realize they can also fabricate granite and generally do.
SF: For those taking on quartz in addition to solid surface, there are some major machinery differences. Are there any differences for natural stone fabricators?
Bozarth: No, not really. I think the major change that comes to mind is that quartz tends to run faster with the same machinery. You use basically the same setup but the feed rates and the speed at which you can actually cut the material is much higher for quartz.
SF: What help does Silestone® offer in the transition?
Matthews: We’ve taken a different approach than a lot of quartz surfacing companies. We put some barriers to entry into our program. We basically give exclusive and co-exclusive territories so that you are not competing against every stone shop that is out there that is buying a slab or two. So our guys have to make an investment not only in the infrastructure and the shop itself, but in committing to buying containers of material from us on a continuing basis.
Bozarth: If fabricators want to get into quartz, through our network we have an almost endless number of resources to assist them in the transition and help take a little bit of the fear factor out of it. My group at Quartz Surface Solutions™ centers our business around just that fact.
SF: What would you say is the biggest difference solid surface fabricators will see in the quartz fabrication process?