Countertops Magazine Archive

Fabricator Profile: Lincoln Laminating

Lincoln Laminating was one of the first certified DuPont Corian fabricators and as such has done many non-traditional projects from solid surface, such as this bathroom which uses solid surface not only on the vanity, but also has cabinets and flooring made from solid surface.

Originally founded in 1962 by Ron Biloff as a cabinet and laminate countertop fabrication shop, Lincoln Laminating Inc., in Lincoln, Neb., has come a long way since. In 1970, the company became one of the first certified DuPont Corian fabricators in the country, and although the name stuck, in the mid-90s Biloff sold the laminate portion of the business and began specializing in solid surface countertops. 

In 2002, Bob and Alice Wiechert purchased Lincoln Laminating and worked to grow the business. Today the company employs 25 people and works in a variety of market segments, such as the commercial arena, which accounts for more than half of its business, as well as home centers, kitchen & bath dealers, retail sales, interior designers and homebuilders. The company also expanded its product offerings.

For instance, when the Wiecherts took over, the business was focused almost exclusively on the fabrication of solid surface, and only templating and installing granite and quartz surfacing, but now they fabricate any number of materials, including solid surface, quartz, granite and recycled glass products. 

With the growth of popularity of quartz surfacing, in 2010 Lincoln Laminating opened a stone shop at a second location and brought its hard surface fabrication in-house. This Caesarstone ‘Apple Martini’ colored island with the full drop down on the side illustrates the interesting applications the company has been involved with since.

The Company Today
“Today, we offer a wide variety of products and brands, and really enjoy experimenting with new ways to use solid surface,” said Adam Albee, operations manager. “As the popularity of quartz grew and the local market became more competitive, we saw the need to lower our cost of goods and so we started fabricating quartz and granite ourselves in 2010.  Most recently we have added a new engineered product to our offering called Tyvarian by Aztec Industries that I can best describe as a solid surface, high-definition laminate, cultured marble hybrid. The backsplash product has been an easy sell for us and really adds value for the customer. It is a nice piece of additional revenue for us that requires very little labor.” 

To accommodate the stone and quartz side of the business, Lincoln Laminating opened a second facility in Omaha, Neb., about 45 minutes away from their solid surface shop. This new facility houses their stone fabrication outfit. In addition to increasing the company’s product offering, this move also increased its footprint and the business now covers five states. “In 2013, on average, we went through about 26 slabs of granite and quartz and 80 sheets of solid surface per month,” said Albee. “Solid surface sales accounted for 71 percent of our total business in 2013.”

The company also strives to take advantage of modern technology, and utilizes a panel saw, CNC router, v-groover, shaper, bridge saw, thermoforming ovens, a CNC stone fabrication machine, a digital templating system, an inline polisher, overhead cranes, dust collection equipment and numerous other modern pieces of equipment. "We recognized that the logistical side of the business in the office could be more efficient as well,” said Bob Wiechert. “By investing in project management software from Sage and Zoom Integrated Products, we have been able to do more with less, and keep better control of expenses as sales vary from month to month.”

This backlit Corian vanity with the super shallow sink basin is another example of the unique work that Lincoln Laminating tackles.

The Company We Keep
Even the best equipment and utilizing top-notch software can only take you so far in an adverse economy. “We were able to make it through the great recession thanks to our mix of revenue sources,” explained Albee. “We had some commercial contracts in place, but like most fabricators, we had to reign in expenses and find ways to do more with less.”

One cut that Albee later found to be a mistake was membership in ISFA. “We were a charter member of ISFA and left a few years ago,” he said. “The decision was largely my own. We were cutting costs and at the time I didn’t feel like we were getting good value for the expense. Over the next couple of years, though, I learned a valuable lesson: The ability to connect with other fabricators who share your passion and face the same challenges is priceless.”

When Albee reached out to the industry, he found others were reaching back. “I was amazed at all of the valuable information people were willing to share that I could put to use in our business,” he explained. “I started interacting with ISFA members again and realized there is a goldmine of business knowledge within the ISFA community and we renewed our membership. As with all things, you get out what you put in. In hind-sight, the value was always there, I just wasn’t tapping into it. I can have one conversation, with one ISFA member, and more than cover the cost of membership.”

It’s this type of interaction that helped Lincoln Laminating hold on to its philosophy of continuous improvement, with the objective being less chaos and more profitability. Of course, perfection is always a moving target, but Albee feels like he is closing in on that most elusive of goals. 

Lincoln Laminating operates on a philosophy that takes “There’s always room for improvement,” and this is not only applied to the company’s processes but also shows in the way it takes advantage of modern technologies, such as this natural gas powered installation vehicle.

Managing Production Capacity
“It used to be our fabricators would come in the morning and ask, ‘What is the emergency today?’,” Albee recalled. “Some days they would be working until 8 o’clock at night to get stuff done that had to go out the next day. All of that has since gone away. Everything has calmed down and people are happy.”

What was the game changer for Albee? “Before making the changes there wasn’t necessarily a plan for each day, we just relied on people doing their part and, for the most part, it happened in a somewhat timely manner,” he said. ”We went from that to a more planned approach where everyone has a to-do list at the beginning of the day that tells them what they need to do and how long we budgeted for them to do that.”

Another example of the non-traditional designs the company handles can be seen in this project it completed in the breakroom of the TD Ameritrade headquarters.

A Daily Plan
That’s not to say that somebody has to write out a to-do list every day for each employee in the company, but it’s not that far from the actuality. “We spent a lot of time gathering data on different job attributes – edges, backsplash, sink cutouts, different colors,” he said. “We did time studies, shared information with other companies and figured out the calculations we could use. The end result is now we can predict very accurately before we do anything on a job how long it takes for each step of the production process. We schedule that out, which allows us to plan our production capacity far in advance.”

Customized Scheduling
Instead of working on a flat 10-day turnaround, for example, Lincoln Laminating now bases production and installation schedules on a well-defined set of metrics. “We found that as your business fluctuates – sometimes you need more employees, sometimes fewer – you can see it coming. And, depending on the type of job it is, whether it is stone or solid surface, or whether it is commercial or residential, we have templates set up. You click a button and it generates your to-do list. You make the calculations from your historical data on how long each step is going to take, and away you go.” 

Albee said it took about a year to go through all their processes and set them up in the computer. Conversely, getting buy-in from the guys in the shop went much quicker. “In the beginning I explained the process to them and told them they would be getting a new schedule every day,” he recalled. “They all looked at me like I was crazy. You could see they were thinking, ‘How can this guy in the office know how long it is going to take us to do something?’ It really only took about a month of working the system to see the results. Then I started hearing from them how nice it was because all of the chaos was gone.”  

In the end, Albee said the best words of advice he can offer is to “Never stop learning and surround yourself with successful people. Make time to step away from your business and reflect on what you’re doing and how you’re doing it. It can be hard to focus on improvements when you’re dealing with day to day challenges.”

This is a path that has served the company well for 52 years, and will no doubt continue to do so.

For more information on Lincoln Laminating, visit or contact Operations Manager Adam Albee at [email protected] or by phone at (402) 434-6009.

About the Authors
Russ Lee is the former executive director of ISFA and past editor of Solid Surface magazine, as well as a former fabricator.

Editor Kevin Cole can be reached at [email protected].