Ephrata-area countertop company eyes more room
A custom countertop fabricator in northern Lancaster County is poised for expansion nearly a decade after it was founded.
Ray and Kim Roux, the owners of CounterTek, are taking steps to improve work flow and find additional space for their company, which employs 49 people and has annual sales of about $5.8 million.
Housed in a 40,000-square-foot facility in East Cocalico Township, CounterTek makes custom laminate, cultured marble, solid surface countertops and postform countertops, a pre-formed laminated countertop that can be cut to customer specifications.
Some changes already have been made.
In December CounterTek shifted its postform division from a 1,500-square foot space to a vacant 4,000-square-foot area and added new equipment, such as a rolling conveyor, vacuum lift system, cutting station and horizontal edge sander.
CounterTek purchases postform in 10-foot to 12-foot lengths from an Indiana company, then cuts and assembles it — adding cutouts, sinks and other custom details for customers. Ray Roux said the new space allows the company to produce 750 square feet per day, up from 150 square feet in the old space.
The company also plans to shift from a plywood countertop template to a digital template. Roux said accuracy is the same, but digital templates take less time.
But that is only one facet of an overall expansion.
Another touches on the production of laminate and cultured marble, which represents the majority of CounterTek’s business, Roux said, adding that they are made using different processes.
“When you’re working with laminate there’s a lot of dust,” he said. “Cultured marble is cast in molds and is polished so there’s a nice shine. Dust would adhere to the surface and detract from the shine. So we have separate work areas for these products. But we really need to improve the flow and capacity of the cultured marble area and that means more space.”
The couple is pondering the best way to get that space.
Ray Roux said CounterTek’s facility has maxed out the footprint on its nearly 6-acre lot, so any expansion would have to be ertical.
Another option under consideration is moving one line to a separate location, either in Berks or Lancaster county. Nearly three-quarters of CounterTek’s 49 employees live in Berks County and commute to the East Cocalico Township facility, which is near the Lancaster-Berks county line.
Backsplashes to business owner
Kim and Ray Roux had years of experience in the countertop industry before starting CounterTek in 2010. And in a sense, they came full circle — CounterTek’s headquarters and manufacturing facility is where Ray got his start in the industry nearly three decades ago with a company called LamTech.
“My first job in countertops was making the backsplash,” he said. “I worked my way up through sales and was vice president.”
Kim Roux worked for the same company as a materials buyer and customer service representative. But LamTech was acquired in 2006 by private equity firm Kildare Enterprises, Ray said.
LamTech kept its name, but some production moved to Chambersburg, and the couple followed. Ray oversaw manufacturing at both plants and said he divided his time between them.
“That meant a lot of driving, about four hours a day, which kept me away from my family,” he said.
He said when the Great Recession impacted the business, he decided the time was right to follow his dream and become an entrepreneur.
“We had faith and a lot of things fell into place for us,” Kim said.
The Ephrata-area building was vacant after LamTech closed it in December 2009. Plus the couple wanted to return to the Lancaster-Berks area to be near family.
CounterTek opened Jan. 1, 2010 with four employees, including Ray and Kim. Shortly afterward, the couple sought funding through the Lancaster-based nonprofit lender Community First Fund to help finance new equipment, inventory and working capital.
With a $100,000 loan from Community First, CounterTek grew quickly and brought nearly two dozen jobs to the area by the end of its first year.
Daniel Beck, a vice president and senior lender at Community First, described Ray Roux as a “true entrepreneur.”
“He was clear in what he wanted to create and had experience in the industry,” Beck said. “Ray and Kim were also focused on creating quality jobs and a good working atmosphere for their employees; they believe the better your employees are treated, the better they will work.”
Beck also pointed out that Ray is a graduate of the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses program, which Beck called a great tool for startup businesses.
The company was one of eight Lancaster companies to make Inc. magazine’s annual list of the nation’s 5,000 fastest-growing privately held companies in 2016.
Ray Roux noted that the company sponsors a local baseball team and donates funds to a different local charity every quarter, among other community endeavors.
The company also donates profits from the sale of a cultured marble countertop color they’ve named Lakota to the Lakota Native American tribe. Kim Roux said she learned about the Lakota’s need for financial support from a “20/20” segment in 2011 about the Pine Ridge reservation in South Dakota.