The Creation of Cambria
[Cambria Processing Facility]
Story by Tracy Nicholson
Portrait and showroom photography by Dan Francis Photography, product and facility photography provided by Cambria
Recently, we were invited to tour the Cambria Processing Facility located in Le Sueur, Minn. This is the mothership of the renowned countertops and the only facility in the world that produces their stunning array of slabs. Like many great ventures in the Midwest, Cambria's technology began as a novel idea and grew with family, grit and community support. Entrepreneurial-minded dairy creamery owners, Stan and Mark Davis, had found perfection in merging cutting-edge technology, hand-crafted skill and natural quartz. To find out more about the vision that's redefined countertops, we sat down with Cambria's local expert and interior designer, Rebecca D'Heilly.
From Creameries to Cambri
If you've ever wondered what a processing facility that serves a worldwide demand looks like, just ask Bismarck-based D'Heilly. With nearly every tour she hosts to their Minnesota facility, she also might treat you to a Twins game with VIP access to the Champion's Club and Row A seats behind home plate.
When the Davis family's Minnesota-based dairy creameries led to the formation of Davisco Foods International, they would eventually grow to become an international leader in the dairy industry. With each step forward, their entrepreneurial spirit was piqued with the new opportunities. In the late 90s, a chance to acquire a cutting-edge technology would reinvent countertop design, and prove to be one of their family's greatest legacies. Just as their dairy operations thrived within their home state, Cambria is proudly based in Minnesota, but widely recognized for quality around the world.
Ask the Expert: Cambria's Rebecca D'Heilly
8 things you need to know about Cambria
With Cambria releasing an array of new countertop designs throughout the year, we caught up with D'Heilly at one of their approved install partners - inside Fabricators Unlimited's showroom in Downtown Fargo. Walking between massive slabs of Cambria, D'Heilly gave us a few insider tips on countertop trends for 2019 and explained the technology, concept and quality that homeowners have come to rely on.
As an interior designer and local expert for Cambria, D'Heilly will tell you that timeless whites have hit a hot streak. "Designs like Brittanicca™, Swanbridge™, Torquay™ and Ella™ are the classic whites that have been dominating the market for some time, but warmer and darker tones are coming back as well," said D'Heilly. "Brittanicca™ and Ella™ are part of the Marble Collection™ which offers the elegance of marble without the long-term maintenance."
Backlit, Bold & Brilliant
Beyond white's varied designs and textures, D'Heilly has already seen a few unexpected trends in the new year with boldly patterned backsplashes, mixing materials, and dark and moody kitchens. Cambria even has an option specifically designed for a cleaner and whiter backlit countertop, modern Mattes, bold colors, speckled and subtle, metallic veining, or sparkling and dramatic. Virtually, anything you can imagine, they can create.
Getting Creative with Cambria
To demonstrate how their extraordinary designs intermingle, D'Heilly gathered a handful of designer favorites and a few bold pops of color and texture to demonstrate how each design can work together to pull color tones and elevate a kitchen's design. Some of Cambria's boldest patterns have been custom designed in team colors, like the U.S. Bank Stadium encompassing 14,000 square feet and including 11 custom countertop designs. Need your own custom color or design? Cambria is more than happy to create it. Also, all of their designs have a coordinating design within the collections; these are available on their website.
How many new designs does Cambria introduce each year? Well, there's no simple answer; D'Heilly said it all depends on consumer demand, testing and inspiration. "There are some designs and finishes I saw when I first started with Cambria six-years ago that still haven’t been released; either they're not quite ready or consumer demand went in a different direction. But, we also put a lot of emphasis on where trends will go and we love to push the envelope. We take a lot of inspiration from nature, art and culture," said D'Heilly.
Summer Kath, Executive Vice President of Business Development and Design, along with Cambria's research and development team, travels the globe to source inspiration to maintain a continuous pipeline of new design innovations. "They are responsible for translating consumer's existing and unmet wants and needs into product development, keeping Cambria at the forefront of what’s new and next," said D'Heilly.
Zac Thompson, branch manager of Fabricators Unlimited, designed this stunning Cambria Harlech stone and wood-grain, laminate stacked display for a past home show.
Keeping Business Local
Cambria's Processing Facility, located in Le Sueur, Minn., is the only facility in the world that produces the slabs. "We do this for consistency and product control," said D'Heilly. "The FabShop in Belle Plaine, Minn., fabricates all material installed in the tri-state area (N.D., S.D. and Minn.). Each slab goes through an extensive process of formulation, production, polishing, testing and fabrication, with a focus on perfection. We aim for product performance and customer experience. By having these two locations locally, we’re able to ensure this. Our Customer Care Center is also located in Belle Plaine." Cambria typically produces 12 feet per minute of slab and ships an astonishing 2,500 square feet a day.
Customizing your Cambria
D'Heilly works closely with local professionals, including designers, builders, retailers and architects who design the layout of the product. "Once the job is ready, our install partners template on-site and create an Auto/CAD file with either digital or laser templating systems. It’s very technical and fascinating," said D'Heilly. "This equipment can detect the slightest adjustment in an existing wall so when that Auto/CAD program is relayed into our CNC machine, the material output should fit perfectly into the existing space."
"I have the luxury of working with extremely talented professionals that love to think outside of the box. It really shows how talented North Dakota is when I share an install photo internally and receive multiple phone calls and emails from coworkers in other markets, asking for more information and photos. Just because we’re predominately a rural market doesn’t mean we’re not creative."
For D'Heilly, the most inspirational part of working for Cambria is not only what happens behind the scenes, but also the emphasis on community. One of Cambria’s philanthropic projects is Camp Cambria. This is an annual week-long summer camp that focuses on juvenile arthritis. “Camp Cambria started in Minnesota but has expanded its outreach every summer. We’ve had North Dakota campers the past two summers, and both years I’ve been stopped on the street by multiple parents.
They're excited to tell me that their children attended this camp and explain the impact it made on his/her life and the support their child received on overcoming adversity," said D'Heilly. "It’s moments like that, when we’re caught off-guard, and hear the heartfelt thank you of a parent. That moment isn’t about deadlines, training or product sales, but knowing you represent a company that had a positive impact on that family’s life. That day is a great day."
Find Cambria's Collections
Download the Cambria app on your iPhone to browse every design, right at your fingertips, or check out one of the many showrooms located right here in the Midwest. Download Cambria’s AR app as well, to envision Cambria designs in your own spaces. In a simple three-step process, the app enables users to virtually map their own countertops (and other surfaces) and overlay any of Cambria’s many designs, replacing the existing surfaces with the virtual designs. To find the nearest showroom and see samples in-person, simply contact D'Heilly and she'll direct you to their local install partners, designers or cabinetry retailers who have access to the collections. Interested in taking a plant tour? Call 1-866-CAMBRIA or contact D'Heilly directly for weekly tour schedules.
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It's interesting to know that each slab of Cambria countertops would be undergoing extensive processes that would perfect the material. With that in mind, it would be a great option to choose this kind of material for my kitchen. It would probably ensure that my countertops would last for a long time and even reach the next generation after my kids.
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