Cambria...You're gonna love it!
Updated: Jul 18, 2019
Recently I had the pleasure of sitting down with Summer Kath, EVP of Business Development of Cambria, a family owned, American made company headquartered in Minnesota. They are US producers of engineered quartz surfaces. Interestingly, that’s not how they started out. Read on to see what an amazing story the Davis brothers and this company has…
LD: The Cambria ‘timeline’ is beyond impressive. How a company goes from butter to countertops (and more) is so intriguing! Although I found the change to be quite a leap, kind of like a surgeon to a lawyer, there must be similarities between the two industries…can you enlighten us?
SK: Three generations and more than 70 years ago Stan Davis started in the butter business. From butter came cheese, which also created whey protein by-products, which in the mid-1970’s was considered junk! Stan’s son, Mark saw an opportunity, so with his entrepreneurial spirit, he took what his father started and turned it into a global business providing process cheese, whey proteinand other food ingredientsto some of the largest companies in the world. They became one of the largest suppliers of cheese to Kraft Foods, as a highlight. This spirit runs strong through the Davis blood line. In 2000, the Davis family again finding opportunity presenting itself, purchased equipment to manufacture quartz counter tops. Armed with good midwestern work ethics, Marty Davis entered this unknown industry with an eagerness and excitement to create the best product in the industry, just as they had with their cheeses.
LD: American made. I am a patriot, so when Cambria was introduced to me a few years ago I was quite drawn to the company. In today’s globalized market what are some of the challenges your company faces in staying truly “American Made”?
SK: Part of the continual commitment to “American Made” comes from the purchase of the equipment. It came with the exclusivity of having the product made in the USA. Still more importantly the commitment to be an American made product comes from Marty Davis’s desire to remain a luxury brand. To never compromise quality and service. So many other quartz companies have outsourced product to China, resulting in less than remarkable product and cheapening the brand. Cambria is committed to luxury and will not compromise that. It comes with a price, but we are pledged to the quality and brand. Bottom line is we will not make excuses for our product or price, instead we will continue to elevate the brand.
LD: Makes sense … the way I see Cambria is it’s parallel to the McLaren of the auto industry. McLaren isn’t introducing a more affordable division of their brand like BMW did with the 3 series. McLaren is committed to their brand and clientele, and will not compromise price, quality, or service to ‘afford’ another division of clients. Yes?
LD: Cambria is definitely a fashion-forward company. Other quartz manufacturers approach marketing, and even their design, in a safe traditional manner. What was the inspiration for the Legend of Cambria? Talk about turning the industry on its head!
SK: The Legend of Cambria is the story of the land that inspires Cambria. It showcases everything the company stands for, strength and leadership. It is also a stunning display of what the brand is, heroic, sexy, and ready to entertain. The feeling and the experience in watching the film is perfectly aligned with how Cambria does everything, we call it “Cambria Style”.
LD: Go big or go home?
SK: Even more than that, the film was shot in Ireland. Filming took six weeks and then months of production. This experience couldn’t have happened without some of the most talented film producers and actors in the industry. The film incorporates much of the Welsh history, which is the Davis Family roots. The Welsh way is one that values integrity and quality. It also fosters inspiration…which is exactly the story and experience you have when you watch the film.
LD: Admittedly I was disappointed at the end of the film, only because I wanted more! Speaking of fashion-forward, it wasn’t until I followed the timeline on your Legacy web page that I discovered the Cambria Store! I was stunned to find more than just sampling for purchase…there is apparel and great accessories too! The Mer Sea Travel Wrap is one of my favorites! What was the inspiration behind clothing from a quartz company?
SK: It started as promotional items as gifts for clients to drive home the brand with the Cambria Crest incorporated into the design. It was so well received it evolved into much more. To continue this idea we’re considering the introduction of more apparel and even furnishings.
LD: Cambria’s line is quite extensive. How many total patterns are there and what are the top five best sellers?
SK: Cambria has over 150 designs in the line today. Different areas have different top sellers but pretty consistently our top ten are made up of white marble patterns.
LD: Does Cambria discontinue or retire designs?
SK: We really don’t. While we may not market a design, we can certainly still make it for a client.
LD: So, if a client decides to add onto a kitchen, for example 5 even 10 years from now, they can get the same product?
SK: We are committed to our clients. We will create the product again for them.
LD: Wow … that is amazing! Tell me who is Marty Davis? Family, hobbies, favorite ice cream (I mean seriously he must have a favorite ice cream; they were in the dairy business!) Our readers would love a glimpse of the man behind the company.
SK: Well after 16 years working with Marty, I feel I can speak to the man he is! Marty is a private man. He is hardworking, contrary to what people may think when seeing the history of the Cambria company, he had to work for everything he has. His dad didn’t give him anything. He is outgoing, articulate, visionary, his midwestern values run deep, and his work ethic is why he is the success he is today. Marty can go from cowboy boots to black tie attire and be completely comfortable in both. He loves Patronne with Fresca and is always 5 steps ahead of everyone else’s way of thinking. He is brilliant. Although that’s not to say he doesn’t receive other opinions, ideas, and thoughts with an open mind, he absolutely does. He surrounds himself with intelligent, wise,and “lived-in” legends from all walks of life who bring him new and old tried and true perspectives that keep him inspired and always moving forward, fast! In fact, one of his favorite sayings is– “fail, forward, fast”!
LD: He sounds like a wonderful man to work for. I’ve often found those who practice philanthropy experience great success. Camp Cambria for juvenile arthritis appears to be a beautiful example of this. Why juvenile arthritis? Is there a personal connection?
SK: Marty and his wife, Anne, attended a fundraiser for Juvenile Arthritis with a dear friend, Justin Morneau. At this event, Marty spoke with many parents who discussed their challenges and disappointment with not having a camp in
Minnesota, like the camp in Wisconsin, for children who suffer from the disease can escape to for a bit. Marty was so touched by the stories and the needs, on the way home from the event, he told his wife that he wanted to open a camp for these kids and call it Camp Cambria. Six months later Camp Cambria was born– fail forward fast! Marty also was the mastermind behind the yearly concerts to raise funds for Camp Cambria, which is often referred to as ‘Camp Normal’ by the families that attend. These amazing concerts on Lake Minnetonka have drawn the likes of Big & Rich, Steven Tyler, Zac Brown Band, and Lynyrd Skynyrd. They’ve raised over $7 million so far. I guess we just like to say we do it “Cambria Style”.
LD: The Cambria story is nothing short of amazing. I can’t even imagine what is next for Cambria. Any teasers you can share with us?
SK: We are constantly working towards perfecting our product and expanding our brand awareness. We want to become the source that luxury designers, like yourself, think of first when approaching a project. Cambria will continue to be forward thinking and an industry leader in the quartz market. With that said, we are currently working on some very exciting new products. I can share that we are looking to create material that can be back lit, which is so exciting! This will open another realm of possibilities for our luxury designers.
LD: Summer, that’s amazing, I can barely contain my excitement…I feel very special to have a little insight on what Cambria is working on! Lastly, I find quotes very inspirational. They are hung around our studios, pop up on our social media pages, and in every newsletter we send out. Typically, I like to close these interviews by asking what quote inspires the principal of the company? I’ve enjoyed my interview with you Summer, it is clear you are as passionate about Cambria as an owner. So, I’d like to mix this up a bit and ask you … what quote inspires you?
SK: Why thanks Lisa, I’ve enjoyed our time together also! I don’t even have to think for a second what that quote would be … “I don’t want to be right, I want to get it right”. You see, that quote is exactly how Cambria was built. It is how Marty has run this company and what he expects from all who work with him. He’s instilled this mantra in myself and others, and I not only truly believe it, but I also live it.
LD: Summer, I’m so looking forward to what is on the horizon for Cambria. Thank you for sharing so much with LDD and our followers!