Few places in a living space can elicit that uncontrollable, authentic reaction of amazement from both homeowners and guests like a gleaming countertop can. There has—and always will be—something about the way the light above the kitchen sink strikes the glossy flecks or stone seams in a slab of grainy granite or an arctic white quartz that leaves us briefly in awe. With the increasing number of materials, styles and finishes available for residential and commercial spaces, it might seem like installing awe-inspiring tops is easier than ever. If you are like most, you understand the allure and impact a great countertop can have in a kitchen. And, like most, you wouldn’t call the process of choosing a material, color scheme or finish an easy one.
To help, we sat down with Mike Brockmeyer, the founder of a unique tile and stone material and service provider, to get the scoop on trending materials, color patterns and the ins-and-outs of all things countertop.
Regional Material Trends
Like most of the country, the region continues to pick quartz over granite and marble. Whites and greys are most popular. Quartz can look like a painting swatch because it features more color. Most quartz goes through a manufacturing process. Granite—a pure natural stone—is always unique to the home. Designers seek out the newest color patterns and finishes in either granite or quartz. Commercial facilities such as hotels see the value in great countertops and choose low maintenance granite or quartz.
The Local Advantage
From template to install, Brockmeyer’s team can have a countertop designed, cut-to-fit and installed in less than a week. Computer operated machines and robots are the future of countertops, according to Brockmeyer. His fabrication shop south of Grand Forks uses both, helping to speed-up the time associated with looking at slabs to admiring your tops in your kitchen.
Installation Is An Art
Quality installation jobs can be seen in the seams, edges and underlayment work. Brockmeyer is obsessed with quality. A sign made from granite at his store location features the company logo etched into the stone. But, the fancy and beautiful logoed slab isn’t prominently displayed anywhere because of a small issue with one letter that most would never notice.
East vs West vs Here
We are different from the East and West coast in our taste for countertops, Brockmeyer says. The coasts will install glass or porcelain countertops for $150 per square foot. People here like natural products. Granite is on the uptick here.
A tile-setter since 17, Mike Brockmeyer has experienced the evolution happening in tile and stone material, fabrication and techniques firsthand. Equipped with little more than an advanced skill-set from his time setting tile and stone, mentorship and support from local business owners and some basic tile-cutting tools, Brockmeyer has built a burgeoning business that is bringing impressive offerings and services to the region.
His storefront location feels like a granite and quartz art-themed gallery. Large slabs are hung in front of massive windows that in nearly every light draw your eye and make you want to brush your fingertips across a slab. “Having full pieces of stone on display has helped,” he says of showcasing his offerings. Whitewashed wood-look tile covers the floor and five feet across from his desk there is a massive dark-veined square of granite overtaking an entire wall. While his storefront site is stunning because of the material, his south-end fabrication shop is where the countertop magic happens. Two years ago, Brockmeyer acquired a shop allowing him to stock, cut and create countertops for residential and commercial clients. To date his team has worked on major apartment or hotel projects in the region that have required individual templates of more than 256 countertops per project. The team has also worked in the Minnesota communities of Bemidji and Rochester, along with other jobs in Arizona and Kansas City. “We are busy,” Brockmeyer says with a sigh, and a smile.
The goal for his Grand Forks location is to continue and showcase new products and offerings to the region while he invests in growth. Positions at his fabrication shop offer higher-paying options than other tile or stone related jobs, he says. Price still dominates many customer decisions, he says, but value and quality of work and material is a trait Brockmeyer obsesses over, and sees many new clients appreciating more and more. By controlling as much of the process—from material selection to fabrication to install—Brockmeyer believes the value he’s created in his business is akin to a shiny new countertop. It can be clearly seen and appreciated from all angles. G
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