Initially recognized for its laminate and wood products, Holstein, IA-based VT Industries is now a leading producer of quartz and natural stone countertops in the southern California market
Founded in 1956 by Roger Clausen, VT Industries remains a family-owned business — now under the leadership of its third generation. While the Holstein, IA-based company holds true to the same core values originally instilled by its founder, it also has grown and diversified since its origin. In addition to being a leading manufacturer of laminate countertops and wood doors, VT Industries also is a large producer of natural stone and quartz countertops. The company opened its facility in La Mirada, CA, five years ago, which houses its stone production and operates under a lean manufacturing system.
The California facility was established as a mass-produced quartz operation — with 95% of its products being engineered quartz surfacing. To ensure that the 130,000-square-foot plant runs as efficiently as possible, a lean manufacturing system was implemented. A large board is positioned in the facility where workers can easily view it, and it illustrates what needs improvement.
The focal point of the fully automated plant, which operates two shifts six days a week, is a Breton vertical computerized warehouse. The company receives 200 slabs weekly and maintains 2,000 slabs in house.
VT Industries’ stone division outputs 7,000 square feet of stone per week. The Breton storage system can hold up to approximately 200 slabs at a time and provides a sense of security — preventing the risk of a slab getting broken.
The company relies on its line-up of state-of-the-art machinery for its production process. The facility is equipped with two Breton Combicut disk and waterjet cutting centers. Each machine can cut up to 1,400 square feet of material per day. At any time, there is a job waiting to go.
Additionally, there are two Omega straight edge polishers, which are ideal for mass production. Each machine uses Terminator polishing pads.
Two CNC stoneworking centers — each with a dual table — are also in place. “The nice thing about these machines is there is minimal downtime,” said Production Manager Isaac Lastra, adding the CNC machines are used for abstract shaping and custom work. “We started with one and bought a second one at the beginning of  because we were growing.”
Each CNC stoneworking center is programmed by the company’s CAD department. They can produce 13 different edges and use ADI tooling — supplied by GranQuartz — and Blick vacuum pods from Blick Industries of Laguna Beach, CA.
The plant also includes a water recycling system from Water Treatment Solutions of Hampton, NH. “We recycle 98% of our water every day,” said Lastra. A KMT waterjet from KMT of Baxter Springs, KS, as well as a Breton EasyEdge vertical edge polisher, are also utilized in the production process. Tools and accessories are mainly supplied by GranQuartz, and the company also purchases blades and polishing pads from Pietra Diamond of Anaheim, CA.
Recently, VT Industries started fabricating Dekton by Cosentino. The company is the only certified in its area for Home Depot. VT Industries worked closely with an engineer from Spain. “It took five or six jobs to get Dekton down,” said Lastra. “It cuts four times slower [than natural stone].”
According to the company, 98% of Dekton projects have a mitered edge. As a result, a Breton Speedycut CNC bridge saw is used specifically for cutting and mitering Dekton. The machine is equipped with Terminator blades from Continental D.I.A. of San Carlos, CA.
Because of its lean manufacturing system, VT Industries is starting to pick up more commercial work. At the time of Stone World’s visit, the company was working on a project for Amazon in Seattle, WA, and 17 corner desks for Terminal B at LAX airport in Los Angeles, CA.
VT Industries’ California location has 90 employees, including seven installation teams. For templating, LT-55 Laser Templators — both two and three dimensional — from Laser Products Industries in Romeoville, IL, are used. “We started doing a lot of commercial work, which required the three-dimensional [Templator],” explained Lastra.
Quality control is extremely important to the company. “Every [stone piece] receives a label to show customers that it has been inspected,” said Lastra. In addition to its stone fabrication facility, VT Industries has a facility in northern California, which is used for storage. “We send roughly 1,500 to 2,000 square feet [of material] every other day,” explained Lastra.
The company’s market is the entire state of California. It is contracted with all Home Depot stores, except in San Diego and Orange County. Additionally, the company ships material to Hawaii and Alaska.
By: Jennifer Adams
Article originally appear on StoneWorld.com