The digital edge

Solid Solutions Inc. has found a way to bridge the hands-on, physical world of countertop manufacturing with the digital age.

Since 2000, the Vancouver company has done 100 percent of its countertop template cuts with a digital router. The larger-than-life piece of equipment takes its directions from Alphacam, a computer-aided design and manufacturing software.

“It’s an intimidating piece of machinery,” said Solid Solutions’ president Scott Curtis. “If you make a mistake, it doesn’t care. It keeps going.”

The company fabricates and installs solid surface countertops using materials from brands like Corian and LG Hi-Macs along with custom laminate, quartz and other stone materials.

The company makes and installs 45 to 65 counters each month, mostly for residential kitchens and bathrooms. Residential remodelers make up the largest percentage of its clientele, but the company also does jobs for condominiums and retail stores and is about install counters for the child development center at Nike’s Beaverton campus.

Curtis speculates technology like the digital router will become the industry standard, but not for some time. The industry is somewhat averse to computer technology, he said. But that’s fine with him because it gives Solid Solutions a competitive edge. The digital router slices about eight man hours off each job. And its templates can be referenced and revised for years to come.

“We like the high-tech stuff,” he said. “If you’ve got the right people to do it, it’s a very good way to go.”

It cost $125,000 to get the router up and running. That’s a big investment, but it’s paying off. Solid Solutions saw revenue of $1.7 million in 2007, which was nearly the same as 2006, even with a slowing economy. And though winter is typically slow, Curtis said the year has started strong.

That’s an improvement from five years ago, when the company was losing about $50,000 annually. When Curtis came on board in 2000, the company had 16 employees and its production rates were half what they are today.

“I started cutting the dead weight,” Curtis said. “We’ve written off all the losses to the company. We have become a profitable entity.”

Solid Solutions was founded in 1992 by the late Donald Curtis, Scott Curtis’ father. Scott Curtis came to the company after 15 years with Cronin wholesale flooring distribution in Portland, and a short time with Hewlett-Packard. He planned to work briefly at Solid Solutions, but in three weeks his father was training him to run the 7,500-square-foot factory, office and showroom. Donald Curtis retired in 2003, and now Scott Curtis owns the company with his mother, Barbara Curtis.   

“What lured me here was that (router),” Scott Curtis said. “It’s basically a big toy.”

Solid Solutions Inc.

Scott Curtis, President, Barbara Curtis, CEO

2700 N.E. Burton Rd, Suite B, Vancouver


Charity Thompson can be reached at

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