In 2001, Jeff Goodsell came across a piece of equipment at a trade show in Florida that caught his eye — a machine designed to etch images into stone using laser technology. When he told his wife Bonnie about it, she bought the second machine of its kind ever sold in North America and has developed a business around it called Picture This On Granite.
The company now employs nine full- and part-time staff out of its 6,000-sq.-ft. facility in Stanstead, Quebec. The facility is largely headed up by Art Director Joe Ford, who has been employed with the company for about three years and manages the Camtech Laser Etching CNC equipment.
"I was told when we first bought the machine it was a new technology, and they had to put a lot of work into just getting it up and running," said Ford. "But now the technology is very precise. We use the software properly and it's down to a science to achieve the best possible quality. It's easy to get a machine; the difficult thing is to make it productive. That's the people side of the business."
The company has made a full-time operation out of etching images into a number of substrates and then hand painting the images. Applications range from backsplashes, signage and wall murals to flooring and monuments, and everything in between. Because not many companies offer a similar complete service, the company's target market is endless for both interior and exterior applications.
"We have our products all over the world," said Ford. "We've done everything from a monument piece in Saudi Arabia to a 4- by 8-ft. wall mural in Hawaii, and really all over the North America but we still need more!"
While the company focuses its energy on working with granite, it also handles a variety of other natural stone, including travertine, slate and marble, as well as tile, engineered stone and even solid surface.
"We work with 12- by 12-in. or 18- by 18-in. tile and we've done Silestone, Cambria and Zodiaq as well as solid surface to name a few," said Ford. "We have to use different settings for it, but it can be done. There are other companies in this market that go off and try different materials like wood, leather or glass, and we've done a little bit of it, but we really try to target our market in granite. That's what we do best."
The company works with a number of granite fabricators there in Stanstead, which is actually the Granite Capital of Canada, kind of a center of influence for granite if you will. Working with other experienced fabricators allows the company to provide cut-to-size material, special waterjet cut shapes and complete installation of the final job almost anywhere in North America.
Depending on the size of the job, Ford said they can be doing five or six etchings a day, or with very large projects they may be running a single etching for 24 hours. "In a lot of cases we can do a double shift without really having to have the manpower here," said Ford. "We can actually set up the bed of our machine so that we have an extra shift. We can load multiple pieces on it, and when we come back in the morning, everything's etched and ready to go."