A new owner is re-launching a Rochester countertop maker with a new name and the same staff.
Tom Pinske, a well-known figure in the Corian countertop industry, has purchased the facility and equipment formerly used by AFM Surfaces at 1233 Eastgate Drive S.E., near the Wicked Moose Bar & Grill.
Under the new name of Ultimate Surfaces, the company will continue to make stone, quartz and other types of countertops. Pinske has kept the former AFM's seven employees, including General Manager Tony Heintz.
The ownership change became official on May 21, when Pinske bought the facility for $495,000. He had leased it for some time before that.
Ultimate Surfaces is now a division of one of Pinske's three companies based in Plato, Minn. Pinske owns Plato Custom Concepts, which makes kitchen cabinets and Corian countertops for commercial construction projects. He also owns Pinske Edge and Pinske Power, which make specialized tools for the countertop industry. Many of those tools were invented by Pinske when he started working in the trade 26 years ago and couldn't find the tools he needed.
"Like my dad did when he couldn't find the right tool when he was building churches, banks and schools, I made what I needed," he says. "I started out making tops and ended up in the tool business."
Over the years, he has become famous for those tools and was inducted into the International Surface Fabricators Association Hall of Fame in 2003.
Tim Buechler, who started AFM in 1990, purchased and used many of those tools in Rochester. When AFM became available, it caught Pinske's attention.
"I don't do any engineered stone or quartz up here in Plato. I thought this was a good opportunity to get into the stone business without revamping things up here," he said. "I was looking to expand and this kind of fit with my plans."
Like many construction-related companies, AFM has faced difficulties in the past few years. While Buechler is no longer with the operation, Pinske thought what he built was worth polishing and re-launching. He particularly wanted to keep the current employees on the job.
“We love what we do and look forward to growing under Tom’s leadership," said Heintz, the general manager. "The skill and expertise he can bring us, and our customers, is incredible."