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Bill Yaszick, owner of Countertops by Superior, takes some time out of his busy day to chat in his Woonsocket showroom as he prepares to close his business after 20 years.

WOONSOCKET — William R. Yasick sits low in an office swivel chair, his head cocked slightly to the side as he searches for the best way to explain the situation.

“I’m seeing double right now,” he says matter-of-factly.

And so the founder of Countertops by Superior gently eases into a conversation about the struggles with health that have caused him to initiate the phaseout of the longtime kitchen design business located at 840 Cumberland Hill Road. Specializing in custom, stone countertops, the business will continue to take orders through Thanksgiving, as long as the company can fulfill them, but beyond that, says Yasick, it’s over. There are no relatives waiting in the wings to take it over, and it’s not for sale.

Yasick knows – or thinks he knows – why his vision is impaired. After multiple surgeries to address a broken blood vessel and a detached retina on his right eye, that’s the condition in which he’s found himself.

But that’s just his right eye. Doctors have since determined that there is some sort of mass pressing on the optic nerve behind his left eye. In a week or so, the New England Eye Center at Tufts University Medical School is expecting him for a round of diagnostics to find out more.

A reedy man with silvery hair and a glint in his eye, Yasick has always worked with another health yoke around his neck that most people don’t notice. He suffers from Crohn’s Disease, a chronic condition characterized by a smorgasbord of symptoms that can be life-changing – inflammation of the digestive tract, abdominal pain, diarrhea, fatigue, weight loss and even malnutrition.

“It’s not an easy disease to have when you’re on the road a lot,” says Yasick with deliberate understatement.

Despite the challenges posed by the condition, Yasick was able to carry on because he loved his job. A onetime manufacturing plant manager in the metal fabricating and plating industries, Yasick said he had a chance to take over a countertop installation company from an associate in Worcester and never looked back. That was over 20 years ago.

A native of Millville who now lives in nearby Bellingham, Yasick said he moved the business to Woonsocket and fell in love with the creative side of matching up his customers with the right granite tops for their new kitchens and renovations.

“I love designing things,” said Yasick. “Even though I wasn’t working with may hands, I loved it.”

The business took off. Yasick says Countertops by Superior fabricated and installed 500 countertops a year, with customers all over southern New England. All the countertops were cut and polished at the company’s 16,000-square-foot home base in East Woonsocket, where 10 workers were employed full time – including seven in the workshop, the rest in the showroom.

Anyone who visited Countertops by Superior during the last few years probably met Yasick’s mother, Marge Yasick, who was a story all on her own. She didn’t start working at the business until she was 90 years old, after retiring from her previous position.

Marge Yasick had been employed as a food service worker for 44 years at Bryant University. The day after she retired, she started a new job at Countertops by Superior.

From her first day at the business until her death at the age of 93 in May 2018, Marge Yasick worked six days a week as the official “greeter” at Countertops by Superior, her son says. Her specialty was being friendly.

Yasick’s wife, Donna, did the bookkeeping for Countertops by Superior. But even if all the employees weren’t relatives, the workplace still had a family feel, says Yasick.

Yasick, 65, had been planning to retire a year or two from now, but he says with the emergence of new health concerns, it’s time to push up the deadline and shift his focus.

Announcing his plans to his workers was difficult, but that’s what he did, on Thursday morning, says Yasick.

He’s set in motion what he calls “a controlled shutdown” of the business that’s designed to give his employees a chance to make plans and wind down the customer base. If he wanted to, Yasick says, he could try to sell the business – it’s vibrant, after all – but he fears it would sap too much of his energy at a time when it’s likely needed elsewhere.

“To market it for sale, to drag it out, people might want me to stay on board, to be the face of the company,” he says. “I’m not sure I want to do that.”

Customers who are waiting for orders to be completed might be worried, but Yasick promises that all “will be made whole, one way or another,” before the doors close for good, perhaps before December.

While Yasick’s prognosis remains uncertain, he says this latest round of medical introspection – no matter how it turns out – will have no impact on his decision to close Countertops by Superior. Even if he gets a clean bill of health from Tufts, he’s leaving the business, and it’s leaving with him.

“I’m not going to change my mind,” he says.

Follow Russ Olivo on Twitter @russolivo

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