When Lee Coles and Dougald Prentice met over a decade ago, they knew they had the makings of an ideal partnership. Crossing paths through suppliers at Lee’s then acrylic company, it wasn’t long before they found themselves embedded in the manufacturing world, halfway across the globe at Verona’s Marmomac. As always, the machinery on show held the promise of innovation and increased production potential, leaving an impression on the soon-to-be co-founders. On the shiny steel surfaces, they saw a future of high-quality, efficient Stone fabrication. Returning to Australia, they set up Ideal Stone and made that vision a tangible reality.
It was in 2007 that the green button on Ideal Stone’s operations was decisively pushed. Since then, an endless flow of tailored stone benchtops, vanities, and works in porcelain and ceramics, along with natural and synthetic stone have reached businesses, retail stores, and homes across the country.
“All of what we do is customised. We mainly work B2B, along with some retail – so if you’re looking to get a new kitchen for your house, you’d consult with your kitchen guy, who would then come to us. Say you wanted white walls and a cream benchtop; he’d work with you on the design and requirements, then come to us with the request. We’d go to your location, measure the benchtop up, and about two weeks later, it’s ready for installation. It takes about 10 working days to produce, with thickness, colour, and material all made to specifications”, Dougald explains.
In the beginning, it was just Lee, Dougald, one employee, and one CNC machine. Seeing almost immediate ROI on their investment, the duo set about scouring the market for new technological additions, with specific criteria in mind. Standards stay high to this day.
“Two things we look at when sourcing equipment is the quality of the machine and the backup service from the manufacturer. We could buy any machine we want, but it really depends on the backup service that you get, hence why we always buy through an Australian agent”, Lee tells me.
Thanks to a mashing of mutual connections, Ideal Stone met just the agent – Innovync’s Craig Haidley.
Following a series of negotiations, a CMS Brembana Idroline Waterjet entered their South Australian facility, blasting production to amplified success.
“We’ve been able to grow porcelain by 70-80% with the waterjet, and we have at least two porcelain jobs per week on average. Marble book matching is roughly 40% better with cutting on the waterjet, too. If we cut a 60mm rail to the benchtop, it matches perfectly”. The numbers effortlessly roll off Lee’s tongue.
As the technical head of the pair, his hands-on experience in manufacturing shows. While he no longer operates the machinery himself, the title of Director greatly benefits from the ground-up knowledge gained, giving him a useful sense of where his technological assets place the company within the stone sector.
“The waterjet has actually put us in front in a lot of areas now, which has been sensational,” he comments.
Naturally, the growth in production numbers and industry leaps seen at Ideal Stone’s start spilled over into growth in overall operations. From one CNC and one employee, the firm is now a well-oiled mechanism itself, with the perfect mix of man and machine collaborating on its premises.
“We have about 30 employees working for us, and produce about 30-40 benchtops per week…the waterjet has been helpful in our production, and we’ve had it around for a while”, Dougald reflects.
His degree in marketing gives him a unique perspective into the workings of the manufacturing world. Like all products, there’s more to advanced manufacturing than any machine alone can offer. The co-founder’s shrewd insights into what makes fabrication great hits upon the biggest differentiating factor in an overcrowded market like a hammer hitting the nail on its head.
“When you buy a machine, you also buy the service that comes with it. Innovync has been really great with service, and I’d say that’s what sets them apart from their competitors.”
The recently installed CMS Brembana Speed 24 MB 3 /4 axis is a testament to his words. Fulfilling the finer detail work of the firm’s production needs, the versatile working centre was fixed to the factory floor in April this year by the supplier’s expert technicians. They left behind a tool primed to mill, drill, and create almost anything the Stone duo could dream of.
Although several years had passed since Ideal Stone gained their first CMS Brembana machine, the occasional spare parts orders, support, and maintenance were transmitted between client and supplier. Little had changed with Innovync’s service from their first interaction, and Lee’s impression of the agent’s machinery and care had not in the least bit faded over time.
“Working with Innovync has been a very good experience. They’re always there to help if there’s an issue, and backup service has been excellent. Their after-sales service is just great,” he says.
By Tijana Trifunovich