The word innovation has been so overused in recent years that it has been devalued, the business world has lost sight of its true meaning. Fact is, it requires unparalleled creativity, craftsmanship, passion and perfectionism to merit being called innovative and to gain recognition for other attributes associated with the entrepreneurial spirit.
Crystalstone, a brand of quartz surfaces made of Sri Lanka’s very own quartz, is a stellar example of authentic innovation. It is the ag-bearer of Ruhunu Lanka Minerals, a wholly owned subsidiary of CeyQuartz.
In this wide-ranging and candid interview, Mr. A F M Farook, Chief Operating Ocer (COO) of CeyQuartz, shares the story of how the Crystalstone brand was born. He also reveals how Crystalstone revolutionized the way quartz worktops, tabletops, as well as kitchen, pantry, and bathroom countertops, plus ooring and other upscale accessories are adding aesthetic appeal and functional value to the modern living space.
World-class research and development is the mission-critical cornerstone of our success globally. Our processor and exporter of Sri Lankan quartz since the late 1970s. We have been the front-runner in this business for nearly 30 years! In this time, we amassed Sri Lanka is blessed with vast reserves of natural, high-quality quartz. As the premier exporter of quartz, we saw the growing demand for high-grade quartz slabs and surfaces in developed international markets. Surprisingly, despite the country’s abundance of top-quality quartz, Sri Lanka was not supplying the end product to the global markets. In efect, the country was missing a huge opportunity.
So, in 2016 we created the Crystalstone brand to make world-class quartz surfaces under a distinctive Sri Lankan brand to serve both local and international markets. That was a key turning point. Since then, we have made rapid progress in a very short time-span in terms of penetrating both local and overseas markets that have shown strong demand for quartz-based products.
CeyQuartz is a trusted name in the local mining and minerals processing industry. It has been exporting Sri Lankan quartz to international markets long before the introduction of Crystalstone. Could you tell us about Crystalstone from the moment of its creation to its rise to market dominance?
CeyQuartz has earned a gilded reputation as a miner,Quartz surfaces are impervious to the hazards of everyday use, spills or harsh household cleaners, thanks to its crystalline structure and chemical inertness. As a result, quartz countertops need only an occasional cleanup to retain their pristine condition and will continue to do so even after years of use. Quartz is non-porous, so there is practically zero water absorption. This in turn means that microbes cannot replicate themselves in these surfaces.
These properties make it the perfect material for a wide range of surface types. If you need more reasons to choose quartz surfaces, it is also considered to have healing properties and has a positive energy compared to other stones, according to alternative / holistic medical practitioners.
As mentioned earlier, we have mined and processed quartz for more than a quarter century, and are currently the only dedicated manufacturer of highquality quartz surfaces in Sri Lanka. Our ability to create a wide and versatile range of designs customizable to suit any surface or interior is purely the result of our hard-earned expertise in the trade.
How do Crystalstone surfaces make their way from the mines through the factory to the showroom? What processes, standards and practices have you put in place to ensure that you oer a world-class product to the customer?
Our main raw material processing plant is located in Sri Lanka’s quartz-rich region of Naula, and over 275 professionally-trained employees are engaged in the process of manufacturing our products there. Our plant in Bentota, where the end product that reaches our customers is manufactured, currently employs 75 persons. Customer demand keeps them busy.
Being fully vertically integrated – from mining to raw materials processing to end product, gives us an exceptional degree of control over quality. Also, being a supplier to international markets, we are committed to sustainability and the environment, hence our plants are certied with ISO9001:2015 and ISO 14001:2015 accreditations.
How does quartz stand out as unique in relation to other alternatives such as marble and granite? And how does the Crystalstone brand infuse those values and attributes into the product?
Quartz is one of Earth’s toughest, most resilient, and naturally occurring minerals. The reason why quartz surfaces stand out in relation to lesser alternatives is the design exibility it oters the critical triad of customer, interior designer, and builder. Quartz oters countless other advantages over traditional materials such as granite, marble and tiles, especially when used for countertops and similar types of surfaces. For example, quartz is famously stain and scratch-resistant, only diamonds are harder than Quartz.
meticulous Research and Development unit makes all the creativity and innovation possible whilst maintaining the highest international standards. Being the premier supplier of Sri Lankan quartz products to the world, we take pride in representing our country. We also understand the responsibility that comes with it. Hence our emphasis on R&D.
How big is your current footprint in the local and international markets? What direction are you heading in, and can you share your strategic plans for global expansion?
In terms of local market presence, we have taken steps to increase our presence across dierent regions in the past two years. A few months ago, we launched our agship studio at 496, Nawala Road, Koswatta Junction, Rajagiriya, to spearhead this expansion eort. This was followed by another showroom in Kurunegala, and two more are scheduled to open in Galle and Jana in the near future. Stay tuned.
Additionally, while raising awareness about the desirability of quartz in the local market, we have launched a strategic initiative to increase brand visibility and top-of-mind recall globally.
To that end, we have appointed Home Stone Designs (HSD), a company with years of experience in real estate and interior design, as our agent to represent and promote the Crystalstone brand in the United States. In fact, we are evaluating options to acquire retail space in Los Angeles to enlarge our footprint in the U.S. Recent exploratory forays into Singapore, the Maldives and the United Arab Emirates have resulted in positive feedback. Conversions are imminent.
We are also assessing the potential for expansion into Australia and the United Kingdom, and are testing attractive new oerings developed by our R&D team. In a nutshell, we are a 100% Sri Lankan brand with global ambitions. We nurture dreams of dominating international markets with highly-valued upscale quartz products, while satisfying local customers with the best value for their money. Our passion and commitment to this cause are evident. Hence, we are both optimistic and condent of achieving our goals and creating the future we have envisioned for ourselves.