Experience Counts For A Lot

Article By: Paul Long
Photos By: Josh Triggs

The way Jason Singer sees it, experience counts for a lot. Singer, the owner of Berkeley County-based CounterTop Solutions, estimated that he and his employees have remodeled more than 1,000 kitchens during the last 20 years, and he believes that’s something that potential customers might want to take into consideration.

“We’re proud of the fact we’ve built a place you really should see before you complete your project,” he said recently, “even if you go with someone else.”

Singer grew up in the kitchen and bath business. For many years, parents owned a showroom called Innerspace in Hagerstown Md. He left the area for awhile and explored other aspects of the construction business before returning to this area and opening CounterTop Solutions in Hagerstown in 2005. He has worked extensively in both the residential and commercial building sectors.

“I’ve been lucky to have the skills to work with my hands,” said Singer, adding that he sees himself as more of an entrepreneur these days, and he has been trying to branch out into other things. Every now and then, though, it feels good to handle the work himself.

In December 2016, he relocated his business to the Eastern Panhandle, opening the Earth Art Slab Studio and Granite Factory at 286 Langston Blvd. near Spring Mills. At approximately the same time, he launched a new showroom, the Earth Art Slab Studio, at 2625 Valley Ave. in Winchester. Earth Art is CounterTop Solutions’ particular brand of stone, Singer explained.

“We wanted to bring up the retail portion of our business,” Singer said, explaining that CounterTop Solutions has been focusing more on retail kitchens since 2013, when it opened a retail showroom in Williamsport, Md. It was at that time that Singer and his staff began photographing slabs on a green screen, an important advancement in the design process.

Moving to West Virginia made sense from a location standpoint, according to Singer. While Berkeley County’s population is substantially smaller than that of Washington County, Md., Singer’s market is centered along the Interstate 81 corridor, and his proximity to I-70 is also a bonus.

CounterTop Solutions serves customers in Pennsylvania, Maryland, West Virginia and Virginia as well as Washington, D.C. Its residential coverage area runs from Harrisburg, Pa., to the north; Harrisonburg, Va., to the south; Deep Creek, Md., to the west and Frederick, Md., to the east.

The company also has commercial clients in Baltimore, Washington and several communities in northern Virginia.

As a general rule, Singer said, CounterTop Solutions will travel anywhere within a 100-mile radius of Berkeley County to work with a client. Occasionally, though, they will go further out.

Singer and his staff specialize in granite countertops but also handle kitchen and bath renovations as well as cabinetry and even outdoor kitchens. He estimates that about 60 percent of his projects are done with granite, about 30 percent with quartz and approximately 10 percent with other surfaces. Remnants and partial slabs of granite, marble, engineered stone, limestone and other materials are available for smaller projects.

CounterTop Solutions utilizes the latest in available technology to help design its projects, including a 3D project layout system that shows a customer exactly what his or her new kitchen will look like. Singer and his staff can work between slabs during the design process.

Customers can bring in their own measurements, or CounterTop Solutions employees can go out and handle the measuring themselves, using a process known as templating. This allows CounterTop Solutions to obtain accurate measurements without having to remove a customer’s existing countertops.

The new countertop is then built at the company’s production facility; with precise measurements available, the machine will then “know” where to cut the granite. The completed countertop is then transported to the customer’s home for installation. “Ultimately we want it to look good,” Singer said. “We want our customers to be happy.”

As part of the building process, CounterTop Solutions employees will add a coat of sealer that will make the countertop stain-resistant and maintenance-free. According to the company’s website, granitecountertopsolutions.com, the customer will most likely never need to reseal the granite.

During the economic recession of the past decade, Singer and his staff spent most of their time working on commercial projects such as schools and hospitals. When the recession faded, CounterTop Solutions was able to turn its focus toward residential projects.

“The economy is better,” Singer said,” so that helps our business.”

As CounterTop Solutions has grown, Singer has increased the size of his staff to handle the steadily increasing workload. He currently has 22 to 24 employees and expects to add a couple more in the coming months.

According to Singer, the biggest challenge his business faces is coordination and communication, but he has implemented steps to minimize any potential issues. CounterTop Solutions typically gets in touch with a salesperson within 24 hours and lets them know when to expect a project to be finished.

“We feel like we’ve got good procedures in place,” he said. “We want to grow the business to the point where we’re the most efficient we can be.”

While he’s focused on the present, Singer also has an eye on the future. He said he would like to add another showroom soon, while also getting stronger in the Winchester market.

According to its website, CounterTop Solutions focuses its efforts on both design and functionality. For Singer, that means educating customers on what will or won’t work from a practicality standpoint, whether granite or marble will work better with a particular project, and if any obstacles could potentially surface. Singer remembers one customer who was looking at a potential safety issue pertaining to how their range would interact with the materials around it.

“It’s our job to balance that (design and functionality),” he said. “Our goal is no surprises. We’ve been doing this for a long time. We’re really experienced. That helps.”

The Eastern Panhandle and the surrounding four-state region have seen considerable residential growth over the past decade or so, with new homes going up rapidly throughout the area.

But that increase hasn’t had much of an impact on business at CounterTop Solutions. Singer said a very small percentage of his business, perhaps 10 percent, comes from new residential construction. His typical customer is someone who has been in a home for several years and is looking to switch things up.

With that in mind, CounterTop Solutions recently changed its sales model to give its customers additional options. It now carries multiple bundles of granite slabs in a certain color. According to Singer, bundling the slabs makes the materials more affordable for the customer.

On its website, the company explains that the cost of the materials has nothing to do with their structural quality. Different grades of material will perform equally well in a customer’s kitchen.

CounterTop Solutions is currently offering a special package featuring zero percent financing for the first six months with credit approval. Longer financial options are available upon request.

The CounterTop Solutions facilities in Spring Mills and Winchester are open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 9 a.m. to noon on Saturdays. Additional hours are available by appointment. For more information, call 240-625-9055.

Author: Brian

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