Member Spotlight - Lycos
Member Since 2018

Many fabricators have learned the value of diversification in their operations, but Lycos took the idea in a significantly different direction than what may come to mind. The branching out of the company has put it in a somewhat uniquely successful position, but before examining how Lycos, Inc. took its business to a whole new level, an understanding of the company’s history is critical.

Building the Foundation
Owner Jon Taylor first came across solid surface in 2004 when he was installing countertops on a spec home he was building. Instantly intrigued, he decided to attend various fabrication training programs around the country to learn how to work with the material and learn more about the surfacing industry. Soon after, he was fabricating solid surface countertops for the residential market. When the housing market crashed in the mid-2000s, he decided he no longer wanted to work in residential. In 2007, he started Lycos, Inc.

“From my garage in Carson, Iowa, I started bidding public work and even went as far as knocking on people’s doors just trying to get my name out there,” said Taylor. “Eventually, that led to landing a huge deal to fabricate and install solid surface countertops for a large gas station chain across Iowa, Nebraska and Missouri. This deal really helped catapult Lycos and opened doors for us to start fabricating solid surface for nationally known franchises across the Midwest.”

Lycos focuses only on commercial work and provides in-house estimating, project management and installation to all clients interested in improving their space with solid surface. All of the company’s solid surface work is gained through public bidding with general contractors in the commercial arena.

Through the years, the company branched out into fast food and retail markets and then to service pretty much all other industries including healthcare, hospitality, education, government and office facilities. This led to the development of a solid reputation for the company, which in turn gave Taylor both the inspiration and the opportunity to branch out into other areas.

Branching Out
“In 2013, we decided to start offering finish carpentry services and broke Lycos, Inc., off into two divisions: Lycos Finish, for finish carpentry, and Lycos Manufacturing, for solid surface fabrication,” explained Taylor. “Lycos Finish initially started to help our solid surface installation lead-times, but quickly took off into its own entity, offering a full scope of installation services, including architectural woodwork, casework, accessories, doors and hardware.”

Both Lycos Finish and Lycos Manufacturing work across Nebraska and Iowa, primarily focused in Omaha, Kearney and Lincoln, Neb., as well as Des Moines, Iowa. However, the company has done work in Kansas, Missouri, South Dakota, Oklahoma, Minnesota and, most recently, New Mexico.

The synergies between Lycos Finish and Lycos Manufacturing later led to the launch of three additional companies that all align with its origins in solid surface fabrication. The three other companies, which operate as separate businesses, but work closely with Lycos, Inc., are Ruck Specialties, an interior construction specialties provider; Ruck Cabinet Doors, a cabinet door manufacturer; and Ruck Surfaces, a direct provider of granite and quartz cut-to-size countertops for multi-family communities.

“In the last five years, we have experienced tremendous growth,” said Taylor. “In 2014, we had five employees, and today, in 2019, we now have about 90 across all of the companies.”

Lycos and its sister companies currently have four locations, with its solid surface primarily being fabricated out of its 20,000-sq.- ft. manufacturing facility in Treynor, Iowa. However, to help with production flow, the company recently started fabricating solid surface out of its 25,000-sq.-ft. manufacturing facility in Omaha, Neb.

In addition to these two locations, the company also has a 50,000-sq.-ft. facility for its cabinet door manufacturing and a corporate office in Omaha that works as a headquarters for office staff to coordinate all of the operations.

Although Ruck Surfaces (www.rucksurfaces. com), which Taylor started in 2019, is a direct provider of quartz and granite materials primarily for apartments, assisted living facilities and other multifamily dwellings, it is a separate entity from Lycos Manufacturing, which works exclusively with solid surface, including most of the major brands, such as DuPont Corian, Formica Solid Surface, Wilsonart Solid Surface, LG HI-MACS and a variety of others. On average, the company fabricates between 3,000 and 4,000 sq. ft. of solid surface every month.

When it comes to its solid surface fabrication, Lycos relies on advanced technologies and high-end equipment from a variety of suppliers including Anderson America CNC Machines; an AXYZ CNC Router; Timesavers sanders; Powermatic cove shapers; Festool sanders; and a variety of equipment from The Pinske Edge, in addition to numerous other cutting and routing equipment required for high-quality fabrication. “With our equipment, we can heat, bend, thermoform and create seamless solid surface countertops, window sills, wall cladding and more,” explained Taylor. “We also have the capability to laser etch and engrave on the solid surface with our machinery.”

The Reasons behind the Expansions
“We were thinking of ways to be more efficient with our solid surface installs and noticed that our schedule was being delayed because we were waiting for casework to be set before we got on-site,” explained Taylor when asked about the reason behind Lycos Finish, the company’s first expansion. “So now, instead of waiting for another crew to install, we can get on-site sooner and install the casework and solid surface countertops at the same time. It ends up taking three weeks out of the schedule, making it more efficient for us and more accommodating for the general contractor’s schedule.” Since establishing it in 2013, Lycos Finish has taken off and has become one of the company’s most successful divisions and makes up about 50 percent of the total projects the company handles.

Ruck Specialties (www.ruckspecialties.com) was the next addition to the related business group and once again arose out of a need for better organization. “After starting Lycos Finish, we started to notice a few inefficiencies that were delaying us from getting on site and starting our installations,” explained Taylor. “A lot of specialty items – bathroom accessories, toilet partitions, lockers, display cases, etc. – that were supplied by brokers were not getting to the job on time. Or, they would be delivered too early and ended up being lost or misplaced, resulting in back charges. So, at the beginning of 2018, we decided to start Ruck Specialties, a direct supplier of Division 6, 7, 8, 10, 11, and 12 construction specialty products [wood and plastics; thermal and moisture protection; doors and windows; and other ‘specialties, equipment and furnishings’].”

Last but not least, Taylor founded Ruck Cabinet Doors (www.ruckdoors.com). “In March of 2019, I was on the hunt for new machinery and equipment and came across a cabinet manufacturer in Omaha that had recently shut down,” said Taylor. “When I found out more than 40 employees lost their jobs, I knew I needed to do something. I purchased the assets of the shop and hired back the employees who had been out of work for three weeks. We renamed it Ruck Cabinet Doors and have been fully operating since April, creating custom, made-to-order cabinet doors using high-grade select wood for cabinet shops, cabinet refacers and remodelers.”

When the company runs into a project that involves more than one of the companies, it aims to do negotiated work, which allows it to work directly with its clients and help identify potential problems before they occur, provide viable solutions, and create a smooth process from start to finish. Having all of these businesses that can work together in collaboration and cooperation to the benefit of Taylor’s client base provides numerous ways to improve output and add value, but managing and coordinating all of the various arms also has its downsides.

“With all these companies and services, it can leave a lot of room for error,” explained Taylor when asked about potential negatives. “That’s why hiring the best employees and creating the right positions is crucial for me. I need trustworthy people in place who understand the industry, take initiative and help wherever and however they can. There are a lot of moving parts and sometimes fires that need to be put out, and it makes it a lot easier when I have people I can rely on to help me.”

Now and the Future
Looking at trends, Lycos reports noticing a rise in solid surface products in the healthcare sector because of its antibacterial quality. “Our integral sinks and backsplashes are high demand – they’re seamless and don’t support the growth of mold, mildew, or bacteria, which makes them perfect for healthcare facilities,” said Taylor. “In the business sector, we are seeing a continuous rise in waterfall legs and solid surface wall cladding for an aesthetically pleasing addition to any space. When it comes to color palettes, gray and white are our most popular.”

As for what separates Lycos from its competition, its vertical integration as a one-stop shop for its customers is no doubt a big selling point. “With all of our companies, we can simplify projects for our clients,” explained Taylor. “Instead of them hiring a different subcontractor for each part of a given project, we are here to handle it all. They know we’re all working together, and our companies are constantly collaborating and communicating with each other. They can trust us with scheduling, coordinating, planning and problem-solving all aspects of a project. On top of that, we are known for our service, transparent communication, flexible scheduling and quick lead times.”

Certainly everything didn’t just fall into place for the company. It took a lot of time, effort and hard work on the part of everyone involved, including Taylor and those who had earned his trust and proven their competencies. He explained that at the root of the company’s success is the question, “How can we make our clients’ lives easier?” When that is the focus of the business, it leads to innovation and the discovery of new ways of approaching the industry to help solve customers’ largest problems. And that is something the business tries to instill in all of its employees and feels that this type of forward thinking not only improves the industry, but is also where great ideas begin.

“Through the years I’ve realized communication is key for success,” reiterated Taylor. “Communicating with your client, communicating with your vendors, communicating with your employees and making sure everyone is on the same page is critical. So many problems can be solved simply by planning and being open and transparent about the good things, and more importantly, the challenges establish trust and builds relationships.”

When asked what guidance he might offer to others in the surfacing fabrication industry, Taylor replied, “My advice would be to invest in good drafting and engineering teams. Invest in the machinery that reduces your liability and workers’ compensation. Focus first on service, and second on business profitability, because people will always gravitate toward good service, not the price.”

When all is said and done, Taylor has built a diverse group of companies that solves problems within the construction industry. “Whatever the problem may be, we are here to solve it,” he said.” From solid surface to various other installation, we are here to make, create, design and do whatever we need to help the contractors.”

And it is for this reason, the company is poised to continue to grow, seek out new challenges and face the future with a confidence and group of competencies that set it up to forge a solid path forward.

For more information about Lycos, visit www. lycosfinish.com, call (866) 573-6861 or email [email protected]