Countertops Magazine Archive

Fabricator Profile: Surface Link

While most countertop and surfacing shops like to believe they are different than all of their peers, Surface Link Corporation can make that claim with an air of authority. Unlike other fabricators, Surface Link covers all of the United States and Canada, but more than that, they specialize exclusively in rework.

While the company is headquartered in Northern Virginia where it has its main operations center, it has remote offices in most U.S. states and Canadian provinces.

The company handles repairs, modifications and refinishing work in both residential and commercial settings. The spectrum of work performed ranges from the smallest chips and scratches all the way up to massive breaks and cracks and everything in between.

Solid Beginnings

Founder and company president John Vatis first got into the surfacing business in the ‘80s in the solid surface segment of the industry, and in 1988 he and a partner started a fabrication shop. In 1997, after nine years fabricating solid surface tops, Vatis sold his interest in the business and that same year founded Surface Link to concentrate solely on the repair of solid surface.


Surface Link was rooted in solid surface work, such as this before and after of a major repair.

In the beginning, he worked out of his SUV handling solid surface repairs for a few of the major surfacing manufacturers and a large distributor in the Washington, D.C., area. However, his business soon began to expand and he hired his first employee in 1999. The company now covers the entire contiguous United States and Canada, including the Maritime Provinces, and has more than 50 personnel consisting of operations staff and field technicians. 

Polishing and refinishing both in residential and commercial settings are part of the services offered by Surface Link.


No Material Left Unturned

Although the company’s roots are in solid surface, its arsenal of skills goes far beyond just one material. Over the years the company evolved from exclusively handling solid surface into inspecting, repairing and restoring quartz surfacing, granite and marble, as well as other specialty surfaces. “There is no premium surface that we shy away from,” explained Vatis. “We handle green surfaces, such as recycled glass, as well as concrete, stainless steel, copper, zinc and other specialty surfaces. They are all welcomed.”



The company expanded into repairing quartz surfacing in 2002, as shown in this before and after.

In 2002, the company first began taking on quartz surfacing repairs and in 2012 delved into granite and other natural stone as well as the variety of specialty surfaces. “Surfaces trend in and out over the years,” said Vatis. “It is our thought that to have a healthy business we must be able to work with any of the current surfaces and educate ourselves about any new surfaces that are coming on. It also is enjoyable. Working with new materials and learning new techniques is interesting. Our people love that aspect.” And the fact that the company’s headquarters has both a research and development shop and a training facility helps it to keep a handle on the latest materials and techniques. “The R&D shop is used for development of new repair techniques and tooling,” he explained. “If we haven’t repaired a particular surface, we will work with it in our shop and find a solution.”

Training to be the Best

The company is extremely picky about its technicians and spends a lot of time training everyone to ensure the best service. As such, the company has three in-house manufacturer-certified instructors for quartz surfacing and solid surface. At the Surface Link’s training center personal, hands-on training is required for all new technicians, as well as recurrent training for existing technicians. The company also offers training to fabricators wanting to get certified with a particular manufacturer or start their own businesses.

All of the company’s repair technicians are trained in-house by certified trainers and kept current through regular learning updates.

“Every technician has to have an incredible amount of knowledge and training in the repair field,” explained Vatis. “The knowledge any particular technician needs just to repair solid surface and quartz alone is staggering.” It is this training that keeps the company on the top of its game, which is key when handling warranty work for manufacturers and distributors – a large percentage of the business the company handles.

“It’s especially important that we provide the best service and value to manufacturers for their warranty work,” said Vatis. “Our technicians are incredibly talented. I am in awe sometimes.”

A Day in the Life

The importance the company places on training seems to have paid off, as during a typical month, Surface Link’s operations center fields between 500 and 800 requests for repair work. The center manages all calls, technical advisory services and sales. Once a job has been established, the center also takes care of the logistics and coordinating technicians in the field to handle each call. Then, a technician working out of a fully equipped truck goes into action, putting their restoration/repair capabilities to work. 

Keeping the hoppers full and the calls coming in requires a variety of sources. In addition to warranty work, Surface Link also gets non-warranty referrals for repair work from material manufacturers and distributors. “It is just as important to them to know that referred consumers are handled carefully and professionally, once again reflecting positively on their own brand,” said Vatis. “In addition, we perform inspections of high pressure laminate surfaces for one major manufacturer on a national scale.”

Plus the company is happy to work with other fabricators. “Repair referrals from other fabricators are also a primary source of business,” explained Vatis. “We work with and support fabricators all over North America; they refer repair work to us so that they can focus on new fabrication and installation. Our relationships with fabricators are important to us. We help them by providing a quality service that they can refer their customers to. They know that their customers are in good hands which reflects positively on their businesses.”

In addition to these professional referrals, the company does a good bit of direct sales business. This is brought in through marketing, traditional advertising and online lead sources, as well as word-of-mouth referrals. A lot of this retail business is countertop and sink refinishing and replacing existing sinks with updated models. Additionally the company repairs and refinishes baths and showers on a case-by-case basis.

On the retail side, currently it is about an 80/20 split with residential work dominating its commercial business. However, Vatis said the commercial market is picking up steadily for the company and he sees commercial work moving more toward half of the business in the near future.

In addition to solid workmanship, Vatis credits much of the company’s ability to keep the calls coming in is because of the people working at his main facility. “We have an amazing operations center staff that is knowledgeable and friendly,” he explained. “And that is a key component in maintaining all of these relationships.”

When asked about his philosophy for success, Vatis explains the “miser principle.” “It’s something I learned from a good friend who worked in this industry many years ago,” he said. “The miser principle is an acronym for ‘make it simple easy.’ We work really hard to make it simple and easy to do business with us.”

Making a Difference

Although quite a bit different than the typical fabrication outfit, this type of business is not without its benefits. There is generally less urgency and consequently less pressure. “In the fabrication business, there are the customers and the different trades all lined up, waiting for the installation to happen so they can do their part,” explained Vatis. “In the repair business, the countertop is already installed. There is less urgency and the atmosphere is more relaxed.”

However, there is also a downside. “We have to cover a large geographic area to make this business work,” he continued. “There aren’t many areas of the country that offer enough work to support a localized repair company.”

That means the company is always looking for opportunities for growth. However, Vatis makes sure that growth is slow and well managed. “If you don’t continue to grow, you stagnate and go away,” he said. “If you grow too fast, you lose your quality. So we try to continue to grow, but slowly.”

However, one of the same things that makes this sort of a unique business such a challenge, also brings rewards. “This type of work has been done on a national scale by very few people,” said Vatis. “Consequently, there are so many things to discover, invent and learn. All of us – our operations staff and our technicians – continually come up with new ideas, techniques and approaches. It keeps us all fresh and enthusiastic. Everyone in our company, to the person, says that they love this work. And this is a feel-good, people-helping business. We are the problem solvers, and that’s a great feeling at the end of the day.”

For more information, contact Surface Link Corporation at 4200 Lafayette Center Dr., Suite A, Chantilly, VA 20151, (800) 482-1774, [email protected]