Starting in the stone industry as an installer in 2006 with Park Industries®, Shawn Bronson installed machines in hundreds of stone shops around North America. After nearly a decade, Shawn decided to give this up to spend more time with his family on the East Coast. He took a job as a maintenance tech for a granite company who operated several Park machines. Looking to grow, Shawn also developed a side business as a contracted machine maintenance tech and installer. He did such for over 5 years and gained an intimate knowledge of the CNC machine market.
“When I went out on my own, I didn’t limit myself to working on just Park equipment,” Shawn explains. “I worked on all machine brands and trained countless operators on them. From what I experienced, as far as ease of operation and machine reliability goes, nobody beats Park machines.”
Running his own stone shop
As a contractor he met Rob and Lauri Malz, founders of Shaker Hill Granite. Shawn helped them train operators and provided maintenance services. Shaker Hill Granite then hired him to be their new production manager and instantly his dedication to the company was apparent. Now nearing retirement, the Malz’s are looking to move the company into good hands, not just the highest bidder. Shawn is the obvious choice, and they are currently working on finalizing the transfer of company ownership to him.
Shawn, with his unique experience as a machine installer, has seen more shops than 99% of other owners, and took advantage by developing his own “shop wish list.” He also maintains excellent connections with fabricators across the country that he still collaborates with today.
This “invaluable” experience, paired with Shawn’s jack-of-all-trades mindset, has been a successful combination for Shaker Hill Granite so far. Shawn explains, “Back when I was installing for Park, I learned many trades outside of my job description like electrical, plumbing, and rigging. I like to soak up as much knowledge as I can.” With high machine IQ already in place, Shawn has picked up stone fabrication quickly. He has already become proficient in hand polishing, installing, templating and more.
Shaker Hill Granite specializes in very high-end, custom work utilizing mainly natural stones and exotics. A single mansion with $180,000 worth of quartzite, marble & granite spread out over 14 rooms is nothing out of the ordinary for them. Shawn explains, “We may not have as high of a volume as some shops, but our work needs to be flawless. Customer satisfaction is everything.”
Buying what he once installed
When Shawn came to Shaker Hill Granite, he felt the partnership with Park Industries was right to continue. As they were already running a variety of Park Industries machines, and his personal experience with Park was strong. He explains, “I’ve seen the ins and outs of the machines and the company behind them. This has given me extreme confidence in partnering with Park Industries as a shop owner.” When Shaker Hill Granite was looking to bolster their polishing production, it wasn’t a hard choice for Shawn. In 2021, they added a pair of TITAN® 3700 CNC Routers from Park Industries.
One major reason he chose the TITAN’s was the simplicity of the machine and ease of training. With labor shortages and new employees entering the industry, training has become harder. This is one aspect why he wouldn’t consider buying an Italian machine. From his time working on them as a contractor, he found Italian made machinery hard to train and described the software as “too complicated”.
High speed polishing & high efficiency
Since adding the TITAN 3700s to their shop, Shaker Hill Granite is producing nearly 30 more jobs a month than before without adding a single extra person to their staff. Shawn credits the workload solely to this addition. He explains, “In other shops this number could be higher, but for the small team we have, and the complex work we are doing, it’s provided excellent results for us. Our tops are coming off the TITANs install ready and living up to our extremely high standards.”
Shawn is finding great success in running his TITAN 3700’s at speeds 400 inches per minute or greater. He explains, “The TITAN can run high-speed polishing all day, every day. I know we could push them even faster, but we just don’t need to.”
With built-in smart programming, plenty of spindle water, and the machine’s rigidity, Shawn labels the TITAN as a no-brainer for anyone considering a CNC to run high speed tools on.
Bringing the ParkWay to Shaker Hill
Shawn’s time as a Park associate stands out to him as he transitions from employee to owner. He credits Park with helping him define the type of leader he is today.
To this day, he even keeps his laminated copy of the Park Industries ParkWay list he received back in 2006 as a reminder of how to treat people, whether they be customers or employees. It stays in his pickup truck at all times with him.
“Park Industries made me who I am today, and those core values they live by are with me every day,” Shawn said. “From customer to associate satisfaction, I strive to reflect their values in my business. I use them as a blueprint for what I want to model our business after.”
Shawn flat out knows the machines. So, while he describes Park Industries service team “some of the most knowledgeable people in the industry”, he’s only called them about 5 times over his years working in shops.
He has confidence when push comes to shove, he can rely on Park to have his back and states having next day parts available for when he can’t plan is “huge!”
Shawn concludes, “I would recommend Park Industries machines to anyone. They stand behind their product and are the industry leaders for good reason.”