Sylmar Technology | Solid as a rock

Sylmar Technology has introduced what it claims is an industry first – a solid surface worktop with veining to replicate marble

29 Oct, 19

Sylmar Technology has introduced what it claims is an industry first – a solid surface worktop with veining to replicate marble. Managing director Peter Holt explains how creating markets has always been at the heart of the business

Sylmar Technology Solid as a rock


At Hafele’s annual Studio Partner Awards, Sylmar Technology unveiled natural stone-effects to its Minerva solid surface brand – Travertine Haze, Silver Haze and Concrete Haze.

But taking centre-stage was its signature décor Calcutta White, claimed to be an industry first as it features veining to resemble marble.

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Managing director of Sylmar Technology Peter Holt comments: “Two years’ ago, what we wanted wasn’t possible in solid surfaces.

“We saw the trend shift towards striking veining flowing throughout the surfaces, the desire for materials to be influenced by the natural world, the lure of marble and paler tone to complement decors within the modern home and we had a vision to create this as a solid surface.”

He continues: “We are proud to announce what I believe to be an industry first; we have successfully created a Calcutta marble design in a solid surface worktop.”

And Holt believes it will challenge quartz sales: “When we look at Calcutta White, quartz manufacturers have had that for a long time and it’s still very aspirational. We think this is going to open the market to a wider audience.”

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Signature décor of the Minerva solid surface worktop brand is claimed to be an industry first, featuring veining to resemble marble

Sheet to worktop

Creating a niche in the worktop market is nothing new for the company. which was established in 1987 by former MD of Waterline Mike Lawrence.

Then it was a distributor of solid surface sheet material Avonite from America. In fact, that’s where the company got its name – a street in LA called Sylmar Boulevard.

Laminate worktop manufacturer Orama Holdings acquired the business and its then sales and marketing director Peter Holt looked for an opportunity to create higher value worktops.

He explains his thoughts at the time: “If you could give a product to a kitchen installer they could fit and add value to the overall kitchen proposition and to the consumer with a product that delivers better than laminate –there was a real opportunity in the market.”

It resulted in the launch of Maia, nearly 20 years ago, which features a chipboard core and solid surface covering and which is still part of its portfolio today.

Then, it required a change in mind-set of the kitchen and bathroom industry, as Holt confesses: “It went into MFI and independent retail but we struggled to get it into distribution.

“That was because they were used to selling laminate worktops for £70 and we came along with a worktop that was £300. They shied away from it. Things have changed. We work with distributors now.”

And Peter Holt explains why it continues to be popular: “It gives you a seamless joint, is non-porous and repairable. You fit it like a laminate worksurface – so the kitchen fitter understands it – and create a solid surface worktop at a fraction of the cost.”

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Made from solid surface measuring 25mm thick, the surface face and edges are factory machined and polished by hand, such as Concrete Haze


Building the brands

In 2006, Orama Holdings was sold to ITW Wilsonart and Sylmar Technology was hived out of the business by three former Orama directors, including Peter Holt.

It gave the company the opportunity to further explore the solid surface worktop market. Recognising the continuing trend for consumers wanting higher value surfacing, the company went on to introduce the Minerva brand in 2013.

Based upon a 25mm solid surface worktop, the Minerva brand also features sink modules, breakfast bars, upstands and splashbacks.

“The mix of overall spend on a kitchen has changed and people will spend more on worksurfaces and appliances than they ever have done before”, exclaims Holt.

Now wholly owned by Holt, the business introduced Metris 18 months ago, to further increase its market share.

A slim version of Minerva, measuring just 15mm thick, Metris offers just four decors. “If you want to go into solid surface, it’s a cost-effective solution. We offered it to an alternative range of distributors and it gives us the opportunity to open up into other channels without diluting our Minerva offering”, explains Holt

And the company isn’t standing still as it now has plans to revamp its existing solid surface bathroom wall panelling.

Holt adds: “We are going to remodel the range and look at new decors. We believe new products we put into Minerva will translate into bathrooms, particularly those which are grey.”

Sylmar Technology Solid as a rock 3

Designed to be easier to fit than natural stone materials, the solid surface Minerva (shown in Silver Haze) offers imperceptible joints

Broad customer base

All of which helps meets the needs of its wide and growing customer base, which includes independent kitchen and bathroom retailers, DIY brands, bathroom furniture manufacturers as well as marine and hospitality sectors.

Holt explains: “Our customer base ranges from luxury yacht manufacturers like Sunseeker to distributors like Hafele.

“We produce the worksurfaces for Burbidge and Bathroom Brands ranges of bathroom furniture.”

In fact, its surfacing can be even be found in Carluccio’s restaurants and has been specified for a L’Oreal counter in Harrods.

While on first impression it may seem its worktops are omnipresent, Holt counters: “It’s important we don’t over distribute and are selective with the customers we work with. We want to protect our customers. We want to add value in the supply chain.”

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As well as worktops, the Minerva brand offers sink modules, breakfast bars, upstands and splashbacks, shown here in Travertine Haze

Mirroring car heroes

And its success is reflected in the growth of the company. Based in Derbyshire, Sylmar Technology spans 37,000sqft, has a separate site for its home distribution business and employs over 100 people.

“We believe we’re 30% of the market in solid surface”, explains Holt. He continues: “Despite difficult trading conditions we’ve grown. Last year we achieved £14million and our plan is to exceed that. This year our budget will be £15million.”

Certainly, Holt sets high levels of expectations for Sylmar Technology, as “you never get a second chance to make a first impression and that’s really important for me – both as a businessperson and as a business.”

And he has a a vision to echo his car industry heroes. “I used two organisations as visionary businesses that we would like to aspire to. Maclaren, as  founder Ron Dennis is well-known for having an eye for detail and the belief coming second is to be the first of the losers, and the other one was Elon Musk and at the time Tesla.

“He started from nothing and had a vision to create change and really put his marque on an industry he has passion about.”

And it seems the company is on its way to achieving its vision of perfection as it has already been presented FIRA Gold Accreditation and expects to achieve ISO 140001 this year.

Although pleased with the business progress, Holt has no plans to stand still, as he concludes: “We have evolved as a business and I am very proud to say we are continuing to do so, through reviewing our own products, whilst developing and researching new decors and maintaining excellent customer service.”