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Putting quartz in the luxury kitchen spotlight

Arik Tendler, CEO and president of Cambria-California
Arik Tendler, CEO and president of Cambria-California, stands over a bathroom vanity with the company’s Torquay quartz surface at the Kohler Experience Center in West Hollywood.
(Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)

For Arik Tendler, growing up in a family of stone fabricators and entrepreneurs meant everyone worked. At 5 years old, you’re cleaning the floors. At 10, you’re assisting the professional stone fabricators with simple drilling, and by 15, cutting and installing stone.

Decades later, Tendler graduated to spearhead Caesarstone’s entry into the U.S. market in 1999 (his family was the first fabricator for Caesarstone in Israel, where the quartz-surface company started). And he continues to draw on that early, hands-on education — what he calls his “biggest strength” — in his new role at countertop competitor Cambria as president and chief executive of Cambria-California, overseeing West Coast fabrication, distribution and sales.

“I’m 55, so I have 50 years’ experience in this business,” he said. “I’m one of the first fabricators to ever cut quartz and watch it quickly take over. I know what fabricators want. I’ve been a builder and know what clients are looking for from a professional side, not just the design side.”

Arik Tendler, CEO and president of Cambria-California
Arik Tendler with a kitchen display featuring the company’s Rosedale quartz surface at the Kohler Experience Center in West Hollywood.
(Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)
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With its headquarters in Le Sueur, Minn., parent company Cambria is the largest U.S.-based manufacturer of engineered quartz surface products, with 160 designs available.

Tendler said recent trends reveal a love for “the grayish zone — white to black and everything in between.” For more adventurous types, Cambria is also offering vibrant takes on some of its popular gray staples — such as Brittanicca Gold, a bold, warm version of its classic Brittanicca, one of the company’s biggest sellers.

Other trends he identified include less-ornate counter trim and simpler, flat-edge designs; matte over gloss finishes; more use of quartz as shower walls, fireplaces and backsplashes (sometimes spanning all the way to the ceiling); and waterfall islands with stone flowing over each side to the floor.

Cambria traces its roots to the family dairy business of Minnesotan Stan Davis, who started working as an apprentice making butter in 1936. Beginning in 2000, his son and grandsons branched out into quartz processing. In January, to celebrate that venture’s 20th anniversary, the company will launch 20 new surface designs.

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“We’re playing with warm grays, the black side of the gray palette and a very interesting blue,” Tendler said.

Cambria stonework in display kitchen at Kohler Experience Center
A display kitchen at the Kohler Experience Center features Cambria’s Highgate quartz surface.
(Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)

How did Cambria get its start as a family-run business?

One of my reasons for joining Cambria is its background — a family of entrepreneurs, American-made, 20 years in the business with tons of passion. That’s No. 1. You see it in the employees and the product itself. It started in the 1930s in the Minnesota area, and the Davis family bought Cambria at an auction in 2000. So in 2020, it’s going to be 20 years.

Why do you think quartz has increased in popularity as a luxury countertop?

It’s a perfect combination of the upsides of natural and man-made stone. It’s cold and heavy just like stone; zero porosity, which means almost zero maintenance; it’s durable and scratch-resistant with a lifetime warranty and looks like natural stone. Quartz took off in the ’80s and it’s still No. 1 by far. It took over granite, marble, laminate — you name it. It’s one of the hardest minerals after diamonds, so there’s no need to seal it, and in order to scratch it you really have to abuse it.

Arik Tendler, CEO and president of Cambria-California
Arik Tendler, CEO and president of Cambria-California, called quartz “a perfect combination of the upsides of natural and man-made stone.”
(Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)

Can you tell me about Cambria’s signature line of Life + Style tabletop products?

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These are the items that are not necessarily countertops, like a quartz cheese plate and coasters. I was amazed to see how people like it.

What about your kitchen and bath design planner?

You can find it online, but it’s also part of our bi-yearly Cambria Style magazine. It’s a tool to help you find the right solutions. If you’re going to redo your kitchen there are a ton of options out there, so we are here to help you plan.


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