When John "Jack" Hussey hosted the first Corian seminar in New England with his local distributor, he wasn't exactly a fan of solid surface. "We didn't know what the dust was," said Jack, who was a custom cabinetmaker at that point. "In the early days everything was ¾ in. It was heavy . . . but we saw a nice opportunity and we wanted to service our customers when they asked for it."
Jack's Custom Woodworking began in 1971 when Hussey turned the horse barn at his parent's house into his first shop. For the first few years it was only Hussey and one other helper in the wood shop. Corian was the only solid surface product at that time and he recalls that the '70s were slow to embrace the new material. It wasn't until the 1980s that Jack's shop would see significant growth.
"The economy was good," remembered Hussey. "Then, Avonite came out with a palette of colors. After that it just flew."
Avonite started the ball rolling with a new color palette and DuPont was right behind with its own colors, stepping up to the plate. Before that, Hussey recalls working with only five colors. "[The colors] were all plain," said Hussey. "There was nothing that had any life to it." After consumers were exposed to the new look of solid surface, they liked the colors and they wanted the product, allowing cabinetmakers to be very creative with the material.
At that time, Hussey became aggressive in the countertop business. He shut the door on his millhouse, effectively closing the cabinetmaking side of his operation. Once Jack's Custom Woodworking went strictly countertops, Corian was the No. 1 material source for countertops at the shop and remains Hussey's top solid surface seller today.
JCW also works with the growing market of green and recycled products. The shop is the largest fabricator of Alkemi recycled solid surface.
Right now, solid surface accounts for about 70 percent of the business that comes into JCW and about 90 percent of the business is commercial work. In a year, the shop easily goes through 3,000 sheets, sometimes using more than 100 sheets on one job in a week's time. It's not uncommon, said Erica, Hussey's oldest daughter, to have between 40 and 50 commercial projects on the shop floor at one time.
About five years ago, the shop added quartz surfacing to its long list of countertop offerings that included solid surface, laminate, wood and stone. The sale of quartz was limited in its first three years available through the shop. In the fourth year the shop saw a noticeable growth and sales spiked in the fifth year. Now, quartz is responsible for approximately 13 percent of the shop's countertop business.
While quartz is moving up in the shop, Jack has seen granite sales tailing off in the last year and a half, with natural stone now accounting for less than 3 percent of his business. "I think granite's peaked," he said. "Granite's beautiful, but our focus and our concentration, today and tomorrow, is definitely going to be on solid surface."