FAQ pertaining to starting a new Cultured Marble
|What is cultured marble?|
|Cultured marble is simply a mixture of polyester resin, crushed limestone, pigments and hardener. This matrix is poured over a mold that has been sprayed with a polyester gel coat. The gel coat is what gives the marble its glossy finish and stain resistant quality. After it is cured, the product is removed from the mold and is an exact copy of the mold.|
|Is there more than one type of cultured marble?|
word ‘Cultured’ simply means something produced
under artificial and controlled
conditions but you’ll often hear it referred to as cast
polymer, man made or
artificial marble, tiffany marble, faux marble, plastic cement, to name
few. I use these
as well, throughout the website. There
is also cultured Onyx, cultured granite, solid surface and a host of
marble products that are not mined out of the earth is
We train our new customers on many different formulas and techniques including marble, onyx, granite, spray granite, flexible marble, textured surfaces and more. You can read more about them on the Formulas page. Some factories only use two or three formulas and some factories use them all, but you will very quickly learn which products and formulas make you the most money and that is what it is all about.
|Can I be competitive with natural marble and ceramic tile?|
|Absolutely. When you e-mail us through the Contact page we will send you information on what you can expect your material costs will be. Your material cost will vary depending on where in the world you purchase your raw materials.|
|What are some of the advantages of our manufactured marble over other products?|
Cultured marble has a gel coat on the surface which makes it non porous and stain resistant. Natural marble is very porous so absorbs everything that is dropped on it and is very susceptible to staining by chemicals, cosmetics, food and other things used in the bath and kitchen.
It is also seamless. The vanity top, back splash and sink are all one piece so there are no seams or joints where dirt can accumulate. Shower surrounds are large marble panels so you don’t have grout lines that you see in a tiled shower. The grout between the tile is like a sponge so it collects moisture, dirt and soap scum and is a breeding ground for mold and mildew.
Natural marble is limited to flat surfaces while manufactured cultured marble products will take the shape of whatever mold you pour the matrix on. You can make a cultured marble bathtub by pouring matrix into a bathtub mold, a shower pan by pouring matrix into a shower pan mold, etc. You will see all the types, styles and designs of molds on the Molds page.
It is easy to clean since it has a smooth, non-porous surface. Simple non-abrasive cleaner is all that is needed to clean it and it will maintain its luster for years.
Choice of colors is another advantage. You can make any color your customer desires. Natural marble only comes in limited colors where ours is unlimited. Fiberglass and acrylic products come in even fewer colors and are only made in solid colors.
Manufactured marble is four times the tensile strength of natural marble making it less likely to break, crack or chip. Fiberglass or acrylic bathtubs and shower pans have a limited life span and the bottoms will crack after a period of time where our bathtubs and shower pans are there for a lifetime.
Our marble requires very little maintenance. Natural marble requires a sealer. Do you need more?
|Do you supply everything I need to set up my factory?|
|Yes. We will supply you with a
including Molds & Equipment.
We will train you how to produce the various formulas and most important, will always be there to provide support. There are also some manufacturing supplies such as tooling clay, pigments, double sided tape, etcetera that you will need. Some of these items may be found locally so you can make the determination during training, after you’ve learned what these items are, on what you may want to include in your Supply Package.
Some overseas factories also want us to include some items that we refer to as Shop Aids. This includes items like air hoses, rubber mallets, carpenter squares, hand sanders and other small tools that you will use in your factory and can probably find locally. Some have even asked us to include things like a compressor or circulating fans for the building.
You will learn what all of these are in your training class so you can make an educated decision on exactly what you want us to include in your container. You know better than us what is available to you locally and what is not. We will go out of our way to make sure you are supplied with everything you need to set up your factory and start producing quality products without a hitch and without delay. As far as raw materials, you will purchase them locally so you can reduce your manufacturing cost.
|What raw materials are used?|
|Crushed limestone, polyester resin, gel coat, pigments & catalyst.|
|What do I need in the way of a building structure? Type, location, size?|
The type of building doesn’t really matter and is probably going to be determined by local building standards. Steel, concrete, cement block, wood are all fine.
Since it is a factory, location is less important but having your factory away from residential and retail stores is preferred and will probably be less costly. Even if you sell Retail in addition to Wholesale using a showroom at your factory, people will come to you to buy factory direct.
The size of building you need will depend on the size of operation you intend on establishing and how fast you intend to grow. Installing a “manufacturing system” with multiple level mold storage racks will allow you to accommodate 4 to 5 times more molds and therefore produce considerably more product in your factory than a factory using a single level system or no manufacturing system at all. The best place to start is to determine what your investment and working capital is limited to and, if you have a building, it’s length and width.
|There are so many molds to choose from. How many and what molds should I start with?|
it depends on what your investment and working capital is limited to but it’s
especially important when you’re starting out to have enough molds and a big
enough variety of molds to sustain your business. We will be discussing molds throughout the week in training and
by the end of the week you will know exactly what molds you want to
select. Simply purchase a package
within your budget and on the last day of training we will make any changes you
want, deleting any molds you don’t want included in your package and adding
those molds that you do want.
In the information that we will be e-mailing you after you submit your information on the Contact Us page, we will include some Mold and Equipment Packages based on the information you provide. Every package will show how many Kilograms-Per-Day or Pounds-Per-Day it will produce so that is one but not the only thing to look at. We have no shortage of suggestions and ideas that we will be showing you in training. We like to see every factory have a well-rounded selection of molds to produce as many different products as possible. We’ll show you how one mold might serve the purpose of 2 or 3 molds so purchasing one mold as opposed to another will allow you to produce a wider variety of products. We’ll make some suggestions on molds that will produce some bath and kitchen products that other retail outlets don’t carry in your area. We’ll look at some ‘attention getters’ that will draw attention to your company along with some molds that will generate immediate cash flow and of course molds that have proven to be money makers in every market. You’ll also learn there are some products you can make on some forms you can produce locally.
|What types of products should I manufacture?|
The response to the last question pretty much addresses this but talk to some of your future customers and discuss what they are currently using and show them what you can do for them. Contractors and building supply stores can be very helpful in your mold selection. Talk to them about the products you will be producing and the benefits these products offer them and their customer. Discuss dimensions; show them some molds designs from the Molds pages. Ask them which products, styles and sizes they prefer and most often use. Look at a copy of their floor plans if they have one available. Show them the mold drawings on the Mold page so they can see some of the styles available. If this product is new to your area, show them the benefits of using this product, such as having an all-one-piece shower surround vs. tile that has all those grout lines. Explain how he benefits by a fast, easy and more beautiful installation.
|How can I determine how many units per day I can make on each of your mold packages?|
A more precise guide is to determine how many kilograms a day you can produce per day not how many units. What are you talking about when you say ‘units’? There is a big difference between making 20 soap dishes that weigh a total of 50 kilograms (110 LBS) and making 20 shower surrounds totaling 2,000 kilograms (4400 LBS).
Each package we send you will show you how many kilograms it’s capable of producing. If you’d like a breakdown of each package where it lists each mold, how many kilograms (LBS) it will produce, total daily, weekly and monthly production it will produce, let us know and we’ll e-mail it to you. On the Cash Flow Analysis Chart, you will see we used 27 kilogram and 60 pounds as an ‘average size unit’. That is a little less than a standard size 37" (94cm) vanity top.
|How many employees will I need?|
|That depends on several things, how many Kilograms-Per-Day you need to produce every day, the equipment you are using, the size and layout of your factory, the products you’re pouring and the pay scale you are offering your employees. On average, a factory with one of our manufacturing systems should be able to average between 800 and 1000 pounds (365-450 kg) per employee.|
|Why does the equipment allow me to produce more parts per day?|
|I think everyone will agree that you want to have as high of production as possible with as few employees as possible. The equipment plays the biggest role as it gives your factory organization and there is no lifting or shuffling around of molds. All the molds are on a roller track and can only take one path through the manufacturing process. The molds start out in the set up area, slide down the track to the spray booth, over to the vibrating table, into the storage rack to cure. They are then moved to the de-mold and finishing area before starting this sequence again. Without a manufacturing system you will have total chaos in your factory and will waste a lot of time and your employee’s energy shuffling molds around on carts. Lifting and shuffling molds around do not make you money. Producing marble does. If you are setting up in a small space it is especially important to include a manufacturing system that has multiple level mold storage racks. Without them, you are limited on the quantity of molds your factory is able to accommodate which limits production. If you are not able to start out with a conveyor system in the beginning, your first goal should be to include one in your manufacturing operation as soon as possible. Even in places with low labor costs, the equipment will increase your bottom line by producing more product with less labor and in less space.|
|Will you help lay out our factory?|
|Certainly. You will see a basic factory layout in every package we send you. A well thought out and laid out factory will make all the difference in the world. The engineer who does the manufacturing system layouts spends time in the factory almost daily so he knows the importance of and where he can save you and your employees a few steps throughout the manufacturing process. During training, he will get the specifics of your building and do a layout specifically for your building to maximize efficiency.|
|Are there things we need to keep in mind in regards to expansion when laying out the factory?|
|We know you will be expanding as your market grows so we always take that into consideration when we do your layout anyway. One of the big advantages of training in a working factory is going home with a good understanding of the equipment, knowing exactly what you need to start and what and how you can expand without having to totally re-draw you factory.|
|Do I really need a spray booth?|
|Absolutely! For the safety of you, your employees, your building and the environment, you will require a gel coat spray booth. Gel Coating is the first most important step in the manufacturing process.|
|Some places don’t stress equipment like you do on your website? Why?|
sure you have a budget that you need to stay within, in setting up your
factory. There should be a good balance
between molds and equipment. I know one
company that doesn’t sell equipment (other than a blender) because they sell
molds and think any equipment purchase will take about from your budget. I’ve seen a factory so overloaded with
equipment that so lacked in molds they were limited on what they could produce
for the market, which limits their production and bottom line. Molds are the backbone of your manufacturing
operation but you certainly need equipment to run the molds through the
manufacturing process. This is why
training in a working factory is so important.
You will be working with the equipment throughout the week and you will
know exactly what each piece of equipment is and what its function is, and
again, just as in mold selection, you will have the opportunity to make changes
to your equipment package after training when you can make an educated decision. We want to show you the big picture and make
recommendations and let you decide what you want included in your package, not
dictate to you what you need.
I have had people tell me that labor costs is cheap so they can hire more labor and spend less on equipment. Regardless of labor costs, having the right balance of equipment will still increase your bottom line and it’s all about the bottom line.
|If I want to set up a factory and can’t afford a complete manufacturing system, what are the basic equipment that I will need to produce?|
|I realize that some people already own a building and has little overhead costs and wants to simply start producing a few pieces a day. There are three things every factory will require; a blender to mix the matrix, a gel coat spray booth/exhaust to spray the gel coat and vibrating tables.|
|Are there any companies that sell the concept of establishing a new factory?|
|There are companies that sell molds and there are companies that sell equipment but there is nobody that will watch out for you and bundle everything together with your benefit in mind. We set up every factory as if it was going to be ours and give every new manufacturer every benefit possible.|
|Can I make any color of marble?|
|Absolutely, and this will be one of your big selling points. Most bath and kitchen shops only offer a limited assortment of colors but being the manufacturer you can offer an almost unlimited assortment of colors. Use this to your benefit.|
|Can I make any shape?|
|Your finished products will be an exact copy of the mold you are pouring on but some of the molds are versatile and will allow you to alter the size and shape of the product you want to produce. By using different shaped and flexible divider bars, templates and a combination of molds you can produce some very customized products and do some very unique installations. You can also use flexible marble where you can be very creative. All of these will allow you to manufacture products that your customer could never find anywhere else.|
|How many times can I pour my molds per day.|
How many times per day your molds can be poured has nothing to do with the molds themselves but on the work tempo of your employees. The molds are capable of being poured on as many times as you can turn them but a factory typically turns them one or two times per day. Some molds require more set up time than others and some molds don’t require any set up time at all. Some products you will want to cure more slowly while others you can cure faster to turn the mold faster. The temperature inside your factory is also a factor on how fast your marble cures and how fast you can get them off the mold. If your manufacturing system is in place and you and your employees are working efficiently, you can turn your molds a couple of times per day or possibly more. You would have a very successful business if you turned your molds only once a day.
|What happens if new construction slows down?|
|When new construction slows down remodeling construction picks up. Remodel jobs are usually more ‘custom’ where the mark-up is better than the new construction market so don’t overlook remodel projects. You may require a larger variety of mold styles and sizes in the remodeling market, but the bigger profit margins will allow you to invest in more mold styles.|
|Do you have a minimum mold package requirement?|
but you’ll want to have enough molds to produce enough product to sustain the business.
Some of your overhead costs will be the same regardless how many molds you have
or much you marble you produce. Having
molds to offer more types of products will move you in to other markets
therefore increasing your market share.
For example, if you only have vanity top molds you are limited to
selling only vanity tops. If you have
molds to manufacture other products that your same customers need anyway, like
bathtubs, shower pans, shower surrounds, soap dishes, etc., you’ll increase
your sales exponentially.
We find some individuals that want to manufacture a few select items and work it in conjunction with an existing, similar business, like a cabinet shop that wants to produce their own cultured marble, onyx or granite vanity tops or the shower/mirror company that wants to produce shower surrounds. for their existing customers.
|Is it hard to keep the molds in good working condition and what is the life expectancy of a mold?|
|As you will learn in training the physical steps to maintain or re-finish a mold is quite simple. You will see molds in the factory that have been in use for 20 years or longer so know that you will get a return on your molds many times over. If you instill discipline in your factory they will need minimal attention to produce beautiful products time after time, year after year. You’ve probably heard Benjamin Franklin’s quote, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure’. Did you hear about the guy in San Francisco that put over 600,000 miles on his 1988 Toyota, and is still driving it? That is what maintenance will do for you. Good mold maintenance will save you labor cost, keep your mold in production for many years and produce thousands of parts.|
|How big does my factory building need to be?|
|On the Contact Us page you will be asked (1) How much do you intend to invest in Molds, Equipment and Supplies?” (2) “Do you have a manufacturing space available?” (3) If so, what is the Square feet or Square Meter?” We will use the information you supply us to determine what size mold and equipment package to send you and it will show you what size manufacturing space you will need.|
|Can I buy my supplies locally?|
|We will e-mail you a Supply Package along with the mold and equipment package. Most of these supply items are not specific to this industry and may be available to you locally. There are a couple of items that may not be easy to find locally so we can double up on these when we ship your molds and equipment but we’ll go over these during training and you can make a decision at that time. I recommend buying a little of everything on this list so you’ll have a sample of each item when you start sourcing these items locally.|
|Why are there so many depth sizes of vanity top / counter top molds?|
|Here in the U.S.A., standard depth sizes are 17" 19" and 22", the most common being 22" (55.88 cm). The smaller vanity tops are often used in smaller apartments and in older apartment buildings in the inner city that are usually smaller. Kitchen counter tops are typically 25", (55 cm) but are sometimes used in bathrooms as well. There are a lot of options when it comes to making counter tops and we’ll discuss them all in training so you can make the best mold choice for your market. The choices basically comes down to versatility or a standard size speed mold.|
|Are there any environmental issues or hazardous waste?|
|I have been pushing green before green was king. The equipment will make you OSHA and EPA compliant. We will teach you how to calculate exactly how much matrix to mix to fill up the various molds so there will be no waste. You will be using polyester resin to manufacture your cultured marble products but it’s a common raw material in manufacturing and as long as you have the proper equipment, you will be safe and compliant.|
|Are you a franchise?|
|No, we are not so there are no franchise fees, royalties, or obligation to purchase raw materials or supplies from us. In fact, we help you in sourcing the closest source for raw materials locally. We are, though, always there to provide the technical support and supply you with anything you need in your every day manufacturing operation and with your future expansion.|
|Who will be my customers?|
|General contractors, home builders, building supply stores and architects will be you’re your biggest customers initially but there are a lot of niche businesses that can be big users of your product as well, such as furniture makers, restaurant supply wholesalers, etc. Even retail tile supply stores, who you may think of as a competitor, will become a great market for your product. Many tiles stores will carry your shower pans because many tile setters find tiling a shower floor to be very time consuming and unprofitable and prefer to simply drop in a shower pan and make their money tiling the walls. Tile stores can also be a market for your soap dishes, shampoo holders, shower seats and corner shelves. Don’t over look investing in a showroom and marketing retail where you can sell ‘factory direct’ and enjoy your biggest profit margins.|
|Where/How will I find my customers?|
|With the technology available to us today there are a ton of ways to get the word out about your new business. There are the old stand-bys such as direct snail mail advertisements, newspaper, radio, and TV ads, and many local newspapers will publish a free article about the new business in town and their Open House date. We have all seen how Facebook and Twitter has changed the world, especially in places that had little means to communicate outside their friend and business circles. There are a lot of online ‘opt-in’ sites to publish your company name, what you do and your contact information.|
|Can I expect to go home and make quality products after training?|
|Yes. The training class is a very practical step-by-step approach to manufacturing and when you go home you will be able to make products using all of the formulas. Every formula is discussed in detail and written on a board where everyone is encouraged to take notes. Then, we will go into the factory and manufacture the product we went over in a classroom environment. In addition to taking notes, everyone is welcome to take photos and video and as discussed before, we’re always here to answer your manufacturing questions when they arise in your factory.|
|Will I be capable of training my staff after my training?|
|With the knowledge you’ll gain in training in addition to your videos, photos and notes, you will be able to train others when you return home and set up your factory. When questions come up, I’m only an e-mail or a phone call away and I try to be very prompt in replying to e-mails.|
|Can you come to my factory to train my employees when I get it set up?|
|Some new manufacturers want us to come to supervise setting up the equipment and train their employees. Others are comfortable setting up the equipment using the detailed installation instructions you will be provided and simply have someone to come to their factory to train them and their staff. Let us know what your needs are and we will make it available to you. The most important thing is that you get your factory set up and an organization in place to start producing quality products and making money as soon as possible.|
|What are the electrical requirements in a factory?|
supply varies depending on where in the world your plant is located. Domestic (USA), Canada, Mexico, most of
Central America and the Carribbean, electricity is 60 Hz. Most other places, 50
Hz service is the most common. This is
why it’s important to let us know on the Contact Us form where you intend to
establish your factory so we can determine what motors we need to install on
Electricity is available in single phase or three phase. Single phase is available almost everywhere; in homes, offices, small industrial buildings, etc. Three phase is usually available in medium to large industrial buildings. It is much more economical to operate equipment on three phase (where possible) supply due to the higher voltage. For example, a small plant with a single mixer and spray booth would need about 40 Amp, 60 Hz, single phase service or about 13 amp, 60 Hz, three phase service. A larger fully equipped factory would require three phase electrical service to efficiently operate the production equipment. This would be something on the order of 45 Amp, 60 Hz service.
What size of compressor will I need?
|You will want a compressor capable of putting out a minimum of 125 cfm @ 60 psi. You can’t really buy a compressor ‘too big’ but at the same time there is no need to buy a bigger compressor than you require in your factory. You’ll want a compressor capable of supplying air for spraying gel coat, vibrating your tables and for buffers and sanders if you choose pneumatic over electric. We will discuss compressor detail requirements in training but if you want to learn more about compressors, Ingersoll Rand is a good source for information and has a page dedicated to determining what compressor is right for you. We’re not in the compressor business but if you’re overseas and want us to include one in your container we can certainly do that. One advantage of buying a compressor locally in your community is that your local company will probably carry spare parts for the unit they sell you and may offer a maintenance program in the deal.|
|Will I need a lot of storage space for my marble products?|
|You won’t be manufacturing products for inventory but instead manufacturing products you get orders for. They will be picked up or delivered when the order is completed. That said, you’ll notice on each factor layout drawing we recommend allowing some additional space in your factory for raw material and finished product storage. You may require some finished product storage because if, for example, you’re doing a large hotel or apartment project you may need to store some bathtubs, showers, vanity tops, etc., before the customer is ready for them. You will see some finished product storage ideas when you are in for training.|
|Do you have a standard training schedule that you follow?|
|I do but I also realize that not everybody has the same needs. We cover all the manufacturing principles and formulas that you see on the training page but just as your customer will require custom fit pieces, every training class is tailored to meet the needs of each manufacturer.|
What is the delivery time for molds and equipment?
|It varies but we strive to have a factory ready to ship in about 8 weeks. Shipping time will depend on what orders may be ahead of yours. If you are setting up your factory overseas and you’re targeting a particular start date, be sure to take into account ocean shipping times, the estimated time it will take to clear customs, transportation to your facility from the port, and equipment set up time. You can see an Implementation Schedule chart here.|
|Do you recommend a new factory also produce solid surface?|
|Cultured marble is easier to get started with since you basically take the finished product off the mold and it is more or less ready to install. Solid surface is a great product and has many applications and is something to consider adding to you line of products in the future.|
|Can I use the same equipment to produce solid surface?|
|You can produce solid surface using the same conveyor equipment, vibrating tables and mold storage racks but will require some additional equipment such as a vacuum blender, post cure oven and a gantry system. Solid surface manufacturing could easily be incorporated into your marble factory.|
|How long are the training classes?|
|Training classes are one week long but we can certainly extend a training class if necessary. The main objective is that you go home with the knowledge to produce excellent quality products.|
|What all is included in the training classes?|
|The training page goes into more detail and even that page cannot begin to list in detail everything that is included in a training class. After training you will receive a training manual that is chock full of everything you need to know to manufacture marble, onyx, granite, spray granite and the other formulas. It includes everything from safety to the environment, setting up the molds, gel coating, formulas, veining techniques and a whole lot more. Since training takes place in a working factory you will be working in a live factory just like the factory you will be setting up and operating at home.|
|Do most factories deliver their products?|
|Many factories do deliver because they see that offering delivery increases their sales. Some factories not only deliver their products but do installations as well. Some hire independent contractors to make deliveries and do installations. Some factories simply sell the product out the door for pick up by the customer.|
|How much marble can I produce in a day?|
|Each package we send you will show you the maximum pounds or kilograms per day it will produce. Every package is different because how much product you produce will depend on how many molds you have, how many employees you have and how organized you are. If you’d like a chart that breaks down the capacity of the package you’re looking at, let us know and we can e-mail it to you. This chart will list the quantity of each mold, how much each mold will produce pouring it two times per day, and the total pounds/kilograms you can pour per day, per week and per month with the molds in that package.|
|I am overseas. Will I be able to contact you easily if and when I have manufacturing questions?|
|If you have a computer or a phone you can reach us any time. Phone, e-mail and text messaging all work for us.|
|What are the biggest sellers for most factories?|
|Molds to produce the standard shower surrounds, vanity tops, bathtubs, and shower pans that we list on every package are always big sellers but in training we’ll be talking about molds throughout the week and will be offering a lot tips regarding best sellers, products that will generate quick cash flow and some unique items that will draw business from outside the bath and kitchen industry.|
|Do most factories use all of the formulas?|
|Experiment with them all in your factory. Test your market and concentrate on what makes you money. You may find you only use one or two of the formulas whereas another factory will offer more.|
|What are two tone sinks and are they hard to make?|
|The two tone sinks are a counter top of one color with a built-in bowl of a different color. They look like two separate pieces but are truly one piece with no joint. They are simple to make and are a unique item that you should promote because there won’t be anyone else who can make something like this in your market. Because of the uniqueness, you can demand a higher price for them even though they don’t require any additional time or raw materials. We always make one in training so you’ll learn the technique step-by-step.|
|I live in a small developing country. Do you think it’s feasible to marble factory?|
|Yes, of course! I’ve seen some markets overseas, which are even more lucrative than here in the U.S. Everybody needs these bathroom and kitchen building materials. Look around at what is on the market and the prices and compare that to what it would cost you to produce a similar product. There are some retail outlets in developing countries that are selling products for more than they sell here at a Home Depot or Lowe’s building supply stores. Supply and demand dictates price but many of those building materials are imported so there are added freight, breakage and import duties applied. By manufacturing locally you won’t have these added expenses.|
|I’m in a cold climate. Will this affect manufacturing?|
|Cooler weather will lengthen your cure time. You can add more catalyst/hardener to shorten your matrix cure time and adding a heat tunnel to your equipment package can cut your gel coat cure time in half or more, saving you a lot of time where you need it most.|