POST FALLS, Idaho - They started by selling carpet from the back of a car throughout Idaho and Montana. But now, 40 years later Great Floors provides carpet and flooring from Seattle to Boise and anywhere in between.
But in North Idaho, Great Floors also manufactures another kind of product in Post Falls.
For years, Great Floors had serviced granite counter tops for its builders by outsourcing the work to other local fabricators.
Then about a decade ago, that changed.
"We decided to take control of it ourselves and build our own manufacturing plant to service those customers, so we had control of the sale and the process," said Mike Nelson, Vice President of commercial and builder sales.
It's 23,000 square foot facility and all of the high tech equipment inside it was a big investment, but a very good one.
“Its allowed us to service our customers better, offer lower price points and expanded offerings to them" said Nelson.
Today, Great Floors has about 25 employees at its fabrication facility who produce about 4,000-5,000 square feet of counter tops per month.
Nelson said "that's about anywhere from 80 to 100 kitchens a month. So, you know, a good week, they're doing 25 kitchens or so."
The process starts with customers coming in and looking at samples in the showroom, or choosing from these 1,500 pound slabs of stone which come from every corner of the globe.
"They come from Brazil, Sri Lanka, Italy, China” explained Nelson.
Once the material is chosen, the slab is picked up and brought into the fabrication facility for templating at the layout station where the template is digitized with the help of lasers.
“They want to make sure that the flow of the stone is continuous and that the graining is continuous so that it looks right in the home. And they also want to maximize their yields."
Next, the slab is placed on the bridge saw where all of the straight line cuts are made.
From there, it heads to the inline polisher for edging and polishing.
“You start with a very rough grit and work to a fine grit. And that's what puts the sheen and the finish on the actual stone itself."
Then, Great Floors' CNC machine will make all of the intricate cuts.
Among those, Nelson says, "the inside corners, the sink cutouts, the polish cutouts for undermount sinks."
But the countertop isn't finished until its been hand tooled with a polisher.
"The machine just can't have the finesse and touch that a person can, and that critical eye."
Mike says 70% of its volume in granite and stone fabrication is in new construction homes.
“The other 30% is retail and a little bit of commercial."
And if the housing market continues to rebound, Great Floors expects to do a great amount of business in the years to come.
“Our production's up this year. We'll probably be double what it was during the downturn."
So maybe next time you think of Great Floors, you'll think of countertops as well.