Another part of the equation is the equipment and infrastructure needed for commercial work.
"We had a V-groover that we were using for residential work, but had to accumulate other equipment and start focusing the shop flow toward commercial," said DeCaro. "We invested $350,000 to $400,000 in equipment that is dedicated mostly to commercial, which processes through the shop a little differently."
One significant purchase was the computer system behind the equipment. "We purchased state-of-the-art computers so we can use AutoCAD and make accurate drawings," he said. "That's where you really need to start. You have to make an investment in the infrastructure."
Concerning infrastructure, Eagle Fabrication also invested in overhead cranes for material movement, which saves time and increases safety. The company believes in letting the equipment handle as much of the work as possible.
"We have digitizing equipment in the form of a digitizing table and a PhotoTop camera to electronically photograph and template," explained DeCaro. "If we get a hospital job with 90 rooms, we can take pictures in half the time we can make physical templates. I can send a guy there with a camera instead of a truckload of luaun.
"We have a CNC machine, of course," he continued. "You can't be competitive on large commercial projects without one."
Another investment that has paid off for Eagle is thermoforming equipment. "Approximately 10 percent of our work is thermoformed and I'm honestly surprised it's not more," said DeCaro. "We are trying to market it more because it brings a dimension that can't be achieved with stone. We prefer customers quote solid surface rather than engineered stone, even though that's not a bad product. We want to show thermoformed tops with curves and things we know you can't do with stone, so we go out of our way to do that."
Hard Work That Pays Off
After the time and planning comes the actual work. Eagle Fabrication processes about 250 sheets of solid surface every month on commercial alone, purchasing more than $1.4 million in sheet goods every year, mostly for commercial jobs. That translates into more than $2 million in commercial sales and another $2 million in residential sales yearly.
Like residential, referrals are a great source for getting commercial work, so quality makes a difference. "If you do a good job you can get referrals through the architects," said DeCaro. "Sometimes architects will even request your company right in the specs. It's certainly a good feeling and speaks volumes of your company."