The tops incorporated a 2-in. bull nose edge all the way around and full MCP substrate. They also wanted backsplashes that were set forward from the back of the top to keep drinks from spilling (see Figure 3). DeCaro said this project was not without its challenges also.
"We engineered a 1-in.-thick curved backsplash that is dadoed and hard-seamed into the deck," he said. "Bending and then gluing the backsplash to get the proper thickness was no easy task."
The large size presented another difficulty. "They wanted the tops in one piece and they were over 18 ft. long on radius," said DeCaro. "The 2-in. bull nose was also a challenge because of the large particulate. We had to stack it carefully to make sure there were no lines on the front."
When all was said and done, Eagle had used 26 sheets of Wilsonart "Mineral" solid surface and completed the job well before the deadline.
Dealing With The Differences
Whether commercial or residential, every project has its challenges, but there are some very apparent differences to handle when moving to the commercial side of the industry.
One of the main issues is the erratic pay schedule. "The pay structure for commercial is quite a bit different than residential," said DeCaro. "It is very typical to wait 90 days to get paid. You could have three or four big jobs in a row and then go without one for awhile, which causes a cash-flow crunch."
DeCaro said good relationships with distributors and banks are very important when it comes to cash flow and keeping things going. He pointed out that many times you are working with the same customer so you have a good idea of the pay schedule based on their habits, but when you pick up a new customer, it is critical to get a thorough credit check because deposits are rarely an option in this segment.
"The worst-case scenario is when you have retainage on a job so that the contractor is holding 10 or 15 percent until the last shingle is put on the roof," he said. "You could have put your tops in three months ago, but if they aren't finished with the windows or someone put a faucet in wrong, you don't get paid. Retainage can sometimes be more than the profit you make off of a job. That is difficult."
DeCaro said developing a relationship helps to negotiate faster payment schedules.
"Sometimes the stress level is intense, depending on lead times," he warned. "The millwork guys have the best intentions to give you as much notice as possible, but it's not uncommon to know about a job for a year, be focusing on it for a month and then have a customer tell you today that he needs the 90 tops next Monday. That's the way it works and you have to be able to handle that."