After outsourcing stonework for over 30 years, Dustin Hughes, owner of Contemporary Concepts, decided to fabricate their own stone. He brought in Victor Swithenbank III to help lead the switch, and Victor brought in Park Industries. Now they produce 1,000 sq. ft. per week with just two fabrication employees in a digital facility with an extremely unique showroom.
CCI Stone Studi0
Contemporary Concepts Inc, or CCI, started in the commercial millwork industry in 1981. Dustin Hughes, owner of CCI, recalls sanding doors at the age of 5 with his dad, founder of the company. In 2004, Dustin purchased the company from his father and began looking for ways to improve. In 2015, they opened a new division of the company for stone fabrication coined CCI Stone Studio.
Dustin, being new to fabricating stone, brought in his first employees for Stone Studio. Among them was Victor Swithenbank III. Victor, now shop manager, had ran Park Industries machinery from his very first day in the industry. Together, Dustin and Victor chose Park Industries machinery to help build the new business.
Read their story! Expand the sections below to learn more about CCI’s story and their partnership with Park Industries®.
A Stone Nightmare
For the first 30 years of CCI’s life, stone fabrication was something CCI outsourced as they had to include it as part of their package of services to complement their millwork. Dustin described it being a scheduling “nightmare” with subcontractors not showing up or meeting deadlines. Finally enough was enough, so in 2015, CCI took the plunge into fabricating their own stone and started planning the beginning of their shop.
Bringing it In-House
Dustin leaned heavily on the experience of his first employees Victor and another fabricator who had a combined 40 years of stone experience between the two of them. They had both only used Park Industries equipment, something they were both extremely happy with. They described to Dustin the quality of the machinery and the level of service they had experienced previously. He was sold.
Besides the rave recommendations from his employees, Dustin also liked the fact the Park is both American Made and Family Owned as it reflected his own values. CCI decided to purchase a YUKON® II Bridge Saw as their first piece of equipment for the new shop. Looking back on it, Dustin had two simple words to say about his choice to choose Park….”Great Decision.”
For Victor, since the very beginning Park has made a huge impression on him. After moving to CCI and getting a brand new YUKON II, he was blown away by that machine. Victor labels himself as Pro-Park stating, “Park is just in my blood.”
From Typewriter to Computer
The DSE Experience
In 2017, Dustin’s was told about an upcoming Digital Stoneworking Expo in New Jersey. Dustin was intrigued, as he strives to be ahead of the curve, so he brought Victor and his trusted workers with him to the event. At the event, everything stuck and they understood the need to go digital. They bought into digital stone fabrication right then and there so they started planning to make the leap as soon as they left the DSE. Dustin described the change as “going from a typewriter to a computer…there was no need to ponder it further.”
When Victor saw the production numbers of a digital shop presented at the DSE – it was simply a no-brainer. He explains, “We thought we were killing it as a manual shop with our YUKON, but once we saw the numbers we felt like we were about 18 years behind this and stuck in the stone age.”
The biggest impact from the event for Dustin was the ability to measure their production with digital equipment. He wanted to easily be able to track and tell what was going on in the shop, without getting too involved. For Victor, it was how fast he could cut, how tight they could nest, and the impact it would have on the shop’s environment.
CCI began looking at their options for digital sawing. Victor says after evaluating other manufacturers, “I just felt they didn’t quite have the capabilities and quality of Park. We’re a shop that doesn’t want to buy twice, we want something to last for the future. Park’s quality sells itself.” Ultimately they chose the SABERjet™ CNC Sawjet.
Learning CNC & Park’s Training
CCI now feels like they are ahead of the curve though Victor says the transition was unsettling. “I was just peaking with my skills as a manual fabricator, so I was terrified to go from a bridge saw to a CNC Sawjet. I basically went back to stone kindergarten to learn the digital way.” He also felt like he was giving up some of the craftsmanship of doing things by hand, but now advises those with that fear, “You have to get over that wall. The success waiting for you on the other side is three times better in every way you look at it.”
Going to Park Industries facility for training and getting his hands on the user-friendly capabilities of the SABERjet alleviated those concerns. Victor had the full Park experience, as he explains, “We were welcomed with open arms during our training. Our trainer took his time and made sure we understood everything before moving on to the next step during training.”
A Showroom Masterpiece
The New, Old Building
With the needs identified after the DSE, they determined a new shop was required to lay out their equipment the right way. Dustin’s mindset was to improve both the efficiency of CCI’s internal production capabilities as well as the experience for their customers. With the new shop, he had an idea that’s created some buzz in their market.
CCI made the move into an old beer warehouse in historic downtown Texarkana for their stone showroom and fabrication shop. The building’s local claim to fame was it’s the same building that Smokey and the Bandit went to get their beer in the 1977 hit movie. (Urban Myth). It offers 12,000 sq ft of showroom and 8,000 for the production shop. With this unique building, Dustin’s brainchild came to life. The design and atmosphere of the showroom provided an out of the box experience, yet fit in with the downtown window display theme.
If you are ever looking for showroom inspiration, look no further than CCI’s stone showroom. Walking through it feels like an art gallery made completely out of slabs. The indoor showroom consists of multiple open spaces, filled with suspended slabs to gaze at the customer strolls around until they find the right one. (Check it out in the photo gallery below!)
It is complete with a backlit floor-ceiling marble fireplace, a kitchen with full backsplash and a double waterfall island, and an open window atmosphere and elegant lighting to make it all pop.
1. SABERjet™ – a Game Changer: Victor’s overall impression of the SABERjet, “It has changed our game immensely. It’s made our shop dustless, in addition to providing an excellent moral for the shop because no one has to cut sinks out and there is way less grinding required.”
Victor describes the amount the SABERjet can cut and produce per day, “Ridiculous in the best way. Its material yield and how tight you can nest result in unmatched run times. If you see the numbers first-hand, you’re going to choose the SABERjet.”
Two key features of the SABERjet he loves are the mitering capabilities and the ballast tank design. Their commercial side has tons of miters and intricate designs, and the SABERjet cuts it all precisely and easily. The miterjet (mitering waterjet) saves them hours on inside mitered corners and the ballast tank is an operator’s best friend with it’s quiet jet cutting. Victor explains, “You can sit and have a conversation at normal volume with someone standing right next to the machine as it waterjet cuts.”
2. FASTBACK® II – the Money Printer: “I love everything about the FASTBACK II [Flat Edge Polisher] because you put a piece of stone in one end and it prints a piece of money on the other side.”
He continues, “It does the work that people don’t want to do, it never complains, and it’s a workhorse. It delivers a perfect polish, it’s quality built of course, and it’s a simple machine….every shop should have a FASTBACK.” The FASTBACK II created another morale boost with his polisher since he no longer needs to polish backsplash over and over for big jobs. CCI recently did a job with 1200 linear ft. in 7 hours on the FASTBACK II.
Victor explains, “We run it at an average of 45″ per minute, but have run it up to 70″ per minute at times for white quartz. We purchased the machine for one big hotel job and the time and labor savings of that one job paid for the entire machine.”
3. HydroClear™ – It’s All Good: Victor comments on their water clarification system, “The HydroClear is another no brainer piece of equipment that’s been a huge positive with us. It’s saved us $1000 per month on our water bill. Our water consumption has gone way down, there’s hardly any maintenance, and we can proudly say we are an environmentally responsible stone shop. I have nothing bad to say about it.”
Two Sides of Why Park?
An Owner’s Perspective (Dustin)
As an owner, Dustin leaves the production up to the shop guys and states there are never problems he has to worry about or even hears about with the machinery. He can focus on running the company with Peace of Mind that his investment is running efficiently, without a second thought.
With the new machinery, CCI’s production has also increased tremendously with a confidence appearing where it wasn’t before. Dustin explains, “We’re not afraid of any project now since we know what our capacity is. We just put it in our calendar and can easily understand the deadline. We’re able to take on projects, like 11 story hotels on a tight deadline, we’d never dream of before going digital.”
A Fabricator’s Perspective (Victor)
Victor, who strongly values networking with other members of the stone industry, gets asked frequently why should someone choose Park. His response?
“The customer service is outstanding, I’ve never been let down by them. Obviously these are machines with moving parts in a rugged industry, something is going to break at some point. Park’s service stays on the phone with me until I am fixed or satisfied. They go the extra mile at every interaction – they are EXTREMELY informative, answer all my questions, and teach me anything I ask. The service constantly impresses me, everything from social media through phone support is 100% top notch. They’ve basically been my lifeline in the stone industry.”
He concludes, “After working with Park for over a decade, the performance is unmatched…the reliability is unmatched…and the customer service is unmatched. I will never switch from Park. Period..Plus they are just beautiful machines.”
Texarkana, Arkansas, USA
TYPE OF FABRICATION
750-1000 sq. ft. per week
NUMBER OF EMPLOYEES
34 total (27 in wood, 7 in stone, 2 in stone shop)
Began in 2015 with a YUKON® II.
SABERjet™ XPCNC Sawjet
Single Table, Two Table
Countertops, Cutting, Dimensional
Waterjet, 27hp saw, 5-axis, Mitering, VFD, Slab Loader
FASTBACK® IIFlat-Edge Polisher
Up to 65″/ min, Spindle stagger, SlabBACK™ support, Single-pass
Pathfinder®Digital Slab Station
Veinmatching, Digital inventory, 3D kitchen layouts, HD slab capture
The SABERjet™ has completely flipped our game! Our profits have increased, our turnaround time is faster, and the safety of our shop has been transformed. We have no dust in our shop. The SABERjet™ has had ridiculously positive effects on our shop.
Victor Swithenbank III
Put stone in the front and catch money on the end. Every shop needs a FASTBACK ® II.
Victor Swithenbank III