Austin Granite Tales: The Day the Big Saw Died

What would you do if the number one tool you need for your job bit the dust?Granite Saw Industrial Art

Which begs the question: what did WE do when that happened last week?

We have a big saw, a really big saw. A saw big enough to cut a slab of stone that is over 10 feet long.

We keep it in tip-top shape – clean, balanced and super-sharp. A poorly-maintained saw is dangerous – frighteningly so – and who wants or needs that kind of stress?

So when Honorato (owner) came and sat down in front of me in the office, his face masked with stress, I stopped mid-clatter on the keyboard and waited for him to speak.

Tick . . . tick . . . tick.

The saw was down, the guys were working on it, the cause of the problem was yet unknown.

Tick . . . tick . . . tick.

To Call or Not To Call

We sat and waited and contemplated the next steps. At what point do you make the call and re-schedule a week’s worth of kitchen countertop installations? When is the right time to alert clients, to strike the right balance between unecessary panic and necessary action?

We keep fairly close tabs on our client’s remodeling projects. We listen when they say it took them a week to schedule the plumber or that company is coming in from out of town for the weekend and several big dinner parties are planned.

We know that most of them are juggling lots of different trades and they are counting on us to get their granite kitchen counters installed between when the floors are done and the tile guy shows up to do the backsplash.

We even known when the Broker’s tour is coming through to pre-view a home right before it goes on the market that weekend.

Tick . . . tick . . tick.

Down, But Not Out

An update – the saw could be fixed, but the time to fix it was still unknown.

I studied the schedule, triaging the installations scheduled for the next day – which counters had already been cut, which ones were in fab (getting edge-profiles), which ones were on the polishing tables.

We usually cut material several days in advance of the scheduled installation. The ebb and flow of the work through the shop is a careful dance that takes into consideration the skill sets of the guys, the best teams for installing certain types of jobs, the delivery schedules of the granite yards that bring us slabs in the morning or the afternoon.

Sometimes we have a job done days in advance, and sometimes the counters are still being polished as the truck is being loaded for the day’s appointments.

Honorato runs a tight ship and keeps everything humming, despite the inevitable hiccups in the process. He knows his guys, he know his tools, he knows what can and can’t be done, and how long it is likely to take. He doesn’t like to sit still, getting restless when things slow down for even a moment.

Yet here he was, sitting silent and still in the office. Jumping into the mix in the shop would only add stress on the guy repairing the saw. Letting him work without a hovering boss was the surest way to get the saw back up as fast as possible.

In the end, the saw was down for a few hours, but in a shop that runs as tight as ours, a few hours is HUGE.

We didn’t call clients or raise the alarm, having determined the cut-off time at which we would be unable to recover the schedule. The guys stayed late, the roar of the saw and the hum of the polishing tools filled the evening air. The warm glow of the shop lights leaked out from under the big garage doors late into the night.

And early the next morning, the guys were back loading the truck, the saw was cutting the day’s scheduled orders, and the office phone was ringing off the hook.

Just another day in the biz.

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