At a Glance
Digitally templated and fabricated custom countertops
Baseball can lead a person in the most unexpected directions—even toward custom countertop fabrication. Jon Mancini knows this firsthand, having worked in the marketing department of the Boston Red Sox until 2005, when an opportunity came along to do marketing for a different kind of heavy hitter: a Massachusetts-based counter fabricator called CounterEdge. But as much as Mancini enjoyed his new gig, his initial experience was short-lived.
“I left the business after almost three years because there seemed to be too many unqualified, uninsured competitors who were cutting us off at the knees with pricing because many of them were able to work out of garages and install out of pickup trucks,” Mancini says. “And if customers could get it cheaper by going this route, that’s exactly what they did—a sign of the ensuing financial crisis, for sure.” After a couple years working for an ad agency, though, Mancini found himself making a u-turn back to countertops when he and an associate learned of and obtained a game-changing piece of technology.
Known as the Fabcenter, an all-inclusive digital-fabrication workstation, the innovative device essentially cuts, edges, and polishes full slabs into finished countertops without the station-to-station movement—and risk of breakage—of traditional countertop fabrication. And a digital-templating device helps the Fabcenter deliver within a margin of error of just a half a millimeter. Although it required tedious assemblage, additional staff training, and a financial investment of more than $500,000, the workstation does the labor of as many as three employees—substantially lowering CounterEdge’s overhead and allowing for competitive pricing.
“That machine is able to put a full Ogee edge [one of the highest-grade edge details] on a kitchen in one pass, so to speak,” Mancini says. “The arm of the Fabcenter switches out drill bits, the saw, edge profiles, and [a] polisher; it’s all on that one station.”
Top 3 CounterEdge Countertop Varieties
1. Granite and marble are both natural stones with natural movement, Mancini says.
2. Natural quartz is popular because it’s low-maintenance. “It’s nonporous and doesn’t need to be sealed and resealed as granite and marble do,” Mancini says.
3. IceStone and Curva are more eco-friendly surfaces mixing concrete and recycled glass.
The Fabcenter has also earned CounterEdge some exceptional and interesting clients, such as a high-end custom builder who sought out the company’s services for his vacation home on Nantucket. His request for sustainable materials led CounterEdge to Bio-Glass, which is made from 100 percent recycled glass (as opposed to a typical glass-concrete mix). “Our biggest concern was breakage during fabrication—as well as all those technical things we never really concerned ourselves with before,” Mancini says, alluding to the different saw speeds and other idiosyncrasies CounterEdge had to learn before working with the material. “And if you made the slightest error—that slab of BioGlass was thousands of dollars; it would have been on us to replace it. Even when it got here in a crate, we were worried!”
With other countertop projects, the challenge can have more to do with client requirements than those of the material itself. One exacting client that CounterEdge has been working with recently is a Connecticut-based assisted-living facility. The client is looking to have new countertops gradually installed in 360 units, and the project comes with what Mancini calls a “whole laundry list” of requirements on things such as noise control and daily start and finish times.
CounterEdge has held up its end of the bargain so far, thanks in at least some part to the assistance of the Fabcenter. And Mancini, for one, never ceases to be amazed by its capabilities—or the great impression it leaves customers with. “If a client doesn’t like a seam—or wants a different part of the stone to be used—we can make that change in real time,” he says. “Operating such advanced technology is still only a dream with any of our local competition.” ABQ