Most consumers tend to buy a product based on the product’s merits and will generally not appreciate the product for the journey it has made. To fully appreciate granite countertops, it is important to note the number of parties involved in bringing a natural work of art to your kitchen or bathroom. This journey involves numerous participants such as the landowner, quarry operation, trucking companies, ocean freight & logistics personnel, country customs officials, an export company, an import company, a stocking distributor, a fabricator, a contractor, and maybe even an interior designer! Since granite counters reside in the earth, the material must be brought to the surface.
Before this can be done, a geological company first determines where the granite resides. Once it is located, the quarry owner must negotiate the rights to lease the land from the owner or to share in the profits once the granite is discovered and unearthed. It is rarely the case that the landowner and quarry operator are the same individuals. Typically, they are both located in the same country as legal expertise and maneuvering is important. Once the chunks of the earth are brought to the surface, they are machined into workable slabs. The quarry owner can perform this operation or may sometimes outsource the function to a machine shop capable of the conversion process.
The next step is for the granite counters to be sorted by color, grain, and general effects. Similar slabs of the stone will be purposely paired so that homeowners with larger kitchens, bathrooms, or even flooring can keep a consistent look throughout. Once sorted, the pieces are then loaded into a container to prepare for exporting to another country. The exporter is sometimes an independent businessman that purchases from the quarry. In turn, the exporter will sell the container load of materials to an importer in another country. Prior to shipping, he must obtain clearance from his country’s customs officials. Once cleared, it is loaded on a steamship and headed for its destination country. In the destination country, the customs officials must approve the imported granite counters. These counters will remain in their shipping container and sent via truck to the importing company. Typically this importing company will be referred to as a stocking distributor.
These companies need large lots of land where they can easily show their inventory. These stocking distributors serve to feed the vast number of kitchen and bath dealers in their geography. A kitchen and bath dealer will purchase granite counters from the stocking distributor and proceed to deliver the items to a fabricator. It is the fabricator’s job to machine the materials to the specifications of a homeowner or the homeowner’s interior designer. Finally, at the end of the cycle, a contractor will be responsible for the proper installation of both the countertops and the associated faucets, sinks, and even cabinetry. As consumers, we simply see the last and final step but it’s important to note how many participants were involved in assuring the granite counters were delivered in a timely fashion and to our satisfaction.