People and places in the stone trade.

Company Notes - May 2007

   • Granite City Tool Co. launches, an Internet forum for total advice on CNC needs. The Waite Park, Minn., company will offer the expertise of Tom Dingmann, CNC sales/purchasing manager; Marty White, CNC division manager and former U.S. national sales manager for Tyrolit-Vincent tools; Doug Fanning, CNC specialist with 15 years of machine experience; Ben Jensen, CNC specialist and former CNC application engineer for Komo Machine; and John “Rock” Davis, Midwest CNC Tool Specialist and leader of Granite City’s hand-on fabrication seminars.
   • Universal Laser Systems Inc. recently doubled the size of its U.S.-based headquarters by expanding into a second company-owned building in Scottsdale, Ariz. The new state-of-the-art facility houses laser-system production; sales, marketing, engineering, and technical-support staff; and warehousing/shipping operations.  
   • North American Stone Crafters of Enid, Okla., donated the fabrication and installation of black-granite countertops in February for a Lawton, Okla., home constructed as part of ABC’s Extreme Makeover: Home Edition series. The Enid News & Eagle reported that the company worked as part of an effort to construct a new home for Gene Westbrook, a U.S. Army veteran wounded in Iraq, and his family.
   • Close to 300 New York-area retailers, architects, and contractors attended the March 28 opening of Dal-Tile’s upscale tile-and-stone gallery in Manhattan. The 5,000 ft² street-level space features material displayed like fine artwork. The new trade-only showroom is the seventh gallery the Dallas-based company opened in the U.S. in the past four years.
   • Aro Granite Industries Ltd. is now listed on the National Stock Exchange of India, according to the New Delhi-based Economic Times. The granite-processing firm is the first 100-percent export-oriented unit (EOU) to be listed on the exchange.

Pedrini: Making the Cut in India

   THERKUTHERU, India –  An entirely automatic system, equipped with the most advanced technology, is set for the factory here of PRP Exports, one of the major exporters of granite blocks worldwide.
   Pedrini Spa of Carobbio degli Angeli, Italy, is already installing a large system, including a cutting department, a resining line, a finishing line for resined tiles and a finishing line for natural tiles.
   To ensure top long-term productivity and reliability levels, the Pedrini line is equipped with gauging machines, pre-polishing and polishing machines of the Supernova B065 series using the patented Rotor spindles, along with continuous cross cutting/squaring machines of the System M750 series.
   The factory covers a surface of about 12,500 m² that can be expanded up to 22,000 m², and is equipped with a complete system for the production of resined and polished slabs. When PRP Exports decided to diversify and widen its market with new production, namely granite tiles, it turned to Pedrini.
   The system includes a cutting department with a topping unit – seven Arco di trionfo M594 cutting centers equipped with automatic unloaders, 16 block-holding carriages and a conveying carriage for a productive capacity of about 4,000 m² per day of 1cm-thick tiles. The block flattening is carried out by the topping unit using specific discs that remove all irregularities on the raw block’s upper surface, solving a block-height problem that usually causes machine downtime.
   This solution also allow the carriages to feed the cutting centers with blocks ready for the vertical discs that are subject to lower wear as they operate on flat surfaces. This technology reduces the cost of the diamond discs and eliminates downtimes for the flattening; it keeps a high productivity level,  even in case of reduced-height blocks that are less-valuable than large-sized blocks and difficult to market.
   The strips coming from the cutting department need an aesthetic/strengthening treatment; the cycle includes automatic loading on the production line, pre-cross-cutting of modular lengths, gauging/pre-polishing, and then automatic transfer on trays of the Pedrini Resinline, which takes care of drying, pre-heating and resining. The trays are then fed into vertical ovens for the resin polymerization.
   At the oven exit, an automatic unloader takes the resined strips from the trays and places them on pallets that are then sent to the finishing lines for the final steps of polishing, cross-cutting, squaring, side gauging, chamfering, drying, inspection and packaging of the finished product.     
   In case of products to be marketed as natural, the pallets of strips from the cutting department are positioned on a second line for all finishing steps, from pre-cross cutting to packaging, after being loaded automatically for the process.

Company Notes - April 2007

  • Best Tile Distributors of New England recently celebrated the grand opening of a contractor-specific showroom in Woburn, Mass., with an all-day training program sponsored by the National Tile Contractors Association (NTCA).The program, hosted by Best Tile general manager Doug Maynes and Gerald Sloan, the NTCA’s director of training, featured table-top displays and training session demonstrations from LATICRETE® International Inc., Blanke, ProFlex, HardiBacker, Miracle Sealants and GranitiFiandre.
    • Advanced Industrial Machinery (AIM) recently moved its operations to a 20,000 ft² facility in Hickory, N.C. Founded as an engineering consulting firm in 1977, AIM specializes in the deign, development and manufacturing of industrial cutting, sawing, abrading and drill systems for fabrication of stone and other hard-surface materials.
    • LATICRETE International Inc. recently began packaging all mortars, thin-sets and grouts for the North American market in recyclable plastic bags. The new packaging is durable and puncture-resistant, will not rip or leak from the top or bottom, and is finished with a non-slip texture.

People - April 2007

   • Northwood Machine Manufacturing Co. expands its Stoneworks Division with Robbie Tidwell as sales and marketing manager. Tidwell, who’s been with the Louisville, Ky.-based company since 1992, holds extensive industry experience, including operation of his own CNC-equipped cabinet shop, as well as regional sales and customer support management.
   Northwood also appoints Anthony Crain and Bryan Johnson as application engineers responsible for the operation of the state-of-the-art Northwood Education and Research Center, which expands and facilitates technology transfer from the company to its customers. The company also adds Leanne Hernandez as director of marketing; she joins the company after providing marketing services to Northwood for several years on an independent basis.
   • Jason “Jay” Pastorius joins Global Granite & Marble as a sales representative to service Ohio. Pastorius brings 11 years of experience to the St. Louis company, including work as a natural-stone sales specialist with L.E. Smith Co. in Bryan, Ohio, and as director of operations for Mont Granite’s Pittsburgh facility.
   • Best Tile Distributors of New England appoints of Jacki Adams as New England residential sales manager at its Woburn, Mass., location. She comes to the Ludlow, Mass-based company from Dal-Tile International, where she worked for the past 10 years in various roles, including general manager, sales service manager, regional operations manager, national credit manager and regional credit manager.

People - March 2007

   • Alpha Professional Tools® adds Don Ferko to represent its Ohio Valley Territory of Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and West Virginia, along with the western regions of New York and Pennsylvania. Prior to joining the Oakland, N.J.-based company, Ferko holds 14 years of experience working with tile, marble and granite, and is a third-generation tile setter and marble mason.
   • LATICRETE International Inc. promotes Nick Macrino to Architectural Group Manager. He’ll report directly to the sales manager for North America for the Bethany, Conn.-based developer of installation systems for stone and ceramic tile; Macrino has worked for LATICRETE for two years, and holds 26 years of professional sales and management experience in the ceramic-tile industry.
   LATICRETE also promotes Walt Stivers to regional sales manager for the Indiana region, managing sales efforts in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, western Pennsylvania, South Dakota and Wisconsin. He joined the company in 2005 as a technical sales representative in the Kansas City/St. Louis market; previously, he worked as a manufacturer’s representative in the cement and concrete business.