Driven to be at the top of the pack, Karen Roe of NSM Florida Enterprises (NSMOTIF) in Sanford, FL, has devoted time, energy and money, including the recent investment of a Baca Robo SawJet, to build a strong, reputable and efficient fabrication business.
Article written and featured in Stone World Magazine
For Karen Roe, owner of NSM Florida Enterprises (NSMOTIF) in Sanford, FL, it has been a series of stepping stones to achieve the level of success her stone fabrication business has reached today. Through hard work, determination and investment in technology, Roe has taken her company from only fabricating small custom projects to now receiving large commercial jobs. Among NSMOTIF’s most recent investments is a Robo saw jet from Baca Systems of Auburn Hills, MI, which has contributed to the efficiency and high-quality production of its shop.
“Every time I meet someone new, I get asked the same question, ‘How did I get into this business?’,” explained Roe. “Typically, my answer is the same; by accident like most of us. Although mine was slightly different; I had a story — a purpose.”
“I had worked for multimillionaires before,” Roe went on to say. “I had run television companies, ski resorts, media companies, PAC’s and worked for builders for many years. But this was different. I had invested my money into a fabrication company where I had started as an office and payroll assistant. The partners separated and I became the partner/investor. That’s when I realized that the partner I was left with was not an honest individual. I realized that I needed to exit this business partnership as soon as possible.”
Roe explained she had been working in the industry long enough to realize that one of the major issues that was missing in the stone industry was that most companies were not educating their customers and were not providing enough support by hand-holding their customers through the whole selection to installation process. “I learned through the years, some of these customers were spending their life savings on countertops and I aspired to strive to give my customers exactly what they needed and to make sure they knew before going into the process what to expect from the start,” she said. “That was half the battle; the expectation level being set and then the follow through. I wanted to create a company that had scrupulous values and that based its reputation on always doing what is best for the customer. Thus, became NSMOTIF. We began the business serving the Central Florida area and expanded throughout the state of Florida, at times being requested to do work out of state and even out of the country.”
“As I began this journey, I started out as a single mom recently divorced with not a penny in the bank but a dream and a prayer to make this successful,” Roe continued. “And one customer started it all for me. This customer was a young couple that believed in me, knew me and my abilities and how much I believed in changing the industry. I quickly became a minority certified company for the State of Florida. We completed their job and took all the profit and reinvested every penny back into the company. As I would sell a job, I would return to help my good friend fabricate and install it and go back out to sell some more. Many trips to jobsites were made in heels and dress pants, helping set the pieces and then off running to my next appointment.”
According to Roe, in the beginning funds were so tight that the company had to do everything manually, including templating, cutting and polishing every piece of stone by hand. “We transported the finished product with a used pickup truck,” she explained. “As I grew this business, I continued to invest all profits into buying more advanced digital systems which would curtail incidental mistakes and save time and make my company more efficient. My company started digital templating, and today I have one Proliner [from Prodim] and one LT-55 digital templating system [from Laser Products Industries]. Starting with retail customers with small vanities and kitchens, I grew to servicing builders, designers, and kitchen and bath companies until we finally closed our first commercial project in Central Florida. Today NSMOTIF still does some of the very same custom work, but now we have grown large enough to do huge projects for companies like Disney, Universal and Sea World.” The company has grown to now include eight installation trucks on the road, two vans and a template vehicle.
Investing in CNC technology
As NSMOTIF evolved, Roe realized it was necessary to add machinery, and as a result, searched for the best she could find that could fulfill her company’s needs. “Since we were doing mostly projects and production, we chose bridge saws and inline polishers; believing in paying for things we could afford and growing within our means,” she said. “As the years grew on, and continued to build, we hired like-minded team members that shared my same vision.” But even though the company grew to have three custom-made bridge saws, a Marmo Meccanica LTZ edge polisher and a Marmo Meccanica LCV 711 backsplash machine, the need for faster production and higher quality work became a must. “I started looking at different saw jets and remembered what I had previously learned from working in the industry with my former partner — I needed to be able to fabricate eight to 10 kitchens a day minimum and to meet the commercial demand,” said Roe. Now, fast forward nine years, and our demand has increased even more by taking on 31 Big Box stores to the line-up.
“I started to dive into more technological advanced machinery and speaking for the MIA about my experience and learning even more from fellow fabricators from around the world,” Roe went on to say. “After intensive research for about a year and half, I made the decision to purchase the Baca Robo saw jet. I compared the Baca’s competition that did some of the same work, but found the Baca system to be the faster and more reliable one. The company had the background knowledge of robotics and the potential to bring new technology to the industry that we have yet to see. They shared some of the same goals I had with my own company and wanted to be the most technologically advanced in the industry. The maintenance on the robot was proven to be the best in the market and their support exceptional.”
According to Roe, the Baca system has changed NSMOTIF’s bottom line for its business by bringing its waste factors as low as under 10% at times, speeding up its process time and helping the company reach the quality it has been attempting to reach for so long. “We have found that the process of digital templating to the finished product using digital technology leaves very little room for errors now,” she said.
Becoming a leader in the industry of kitchen and bath countertops
Roe explained that she became a certified CEU speaker for the Marble Institute of America+Building Stone Institute (MIA+BSI), as well as being recognized by Cosentino as a top 100 fabricator. Additionally, NSMOTIF is one of only two Accredited MIA fabricators in the Central Florida area and it was awarded the Sunshine State Safety Award through the voluntary OSHA inspection program that the company is committed to participating in annually. It was the first fabricator to ever be awarded a safety award like this in Florida.
“[Also], I was honored to be invited as a charter member of an exclusive group of international fabricators called the Rockheads — thinking man’s trade group,” explained Roe. “The council is comprised of only top executives/owners of high-volume stone fabrication shops. Rockheads leave the association work (accreditation, continuing education, charitable endeavors and legislative advocacy) to the industry associations and focus on raising the bar in the stone industry through best practices, business training and benchmarking. This was a game-changer for me; this was an opportunity to be a part of a group of people that shared that same desire for best practices and integrity that I had always had for my company and the industry.
“I always felt it was most important to involve myself as much as possible in the MIA + BSI and other associations that lead the industry,” Roe continued. “I needed to be at the top of my game. In March, I was a part of the delegate team that went to China with the MIA+BSI. We developed relationships with Chinese companies — both teaching how to do business in the U.S. and how we can do business in Asia. Bringing the two together with new memberships within the MIA+BSI. We currently import our own materials from all over the world and I travel to these countries making new relationships and building on old.”
Type of Work: residential, commercial and Big Box
Machinery: a Robo saw jet from Baca Systems of Auburn Hills, MI; three custom-made bridge saws, a Marmo Meccanica LTZ edge polisher and a Marmo Meccanica LCV 711 backsplash machine
Number of Employees: 43 (plus or minus depending on workload)
Production Rate: a minimum of eight to 10 kitchens per day