Setting a high standard
October 12, 2006
Walking through Artelye Marble & Granite's main facility in Beltsville, MD, overhead signs within the shop boldly display three words: â€œService,â€ â€œQualityâ€ and â€œCraftsmanship.â€ And upon closer examination of the operation, it is clear that these signs are not merely decoration, as the company places a great deal of priority on quality and efficiency - even as it continues to grow at a rapid pace.
Artelye Marble & Granite, which is owned by Josh Yoltay and Serhat Akin, began fabricating stone in 2001, and since that time, business has grown dramatically. In addition to the main plant and headquarters in Beltsville, Artelye has established Virginia branches in Richmond and Manassas. Production stands at 750 square feet per day in Beltsville, with an additional 400 square feet in Richmond and 250 square feet in Manassas.
The company's principals learned fabrication from the ground up, and they developed an understanding of the nuances involved in the process. Over the course of the workday, it is not at all uncommon to see one of the owners helping a crew maneuver a slab or position a workpiece in the shop. Yoltay explained that when the company was first established in 2001, it had only nine workers, with Yoltay supervising the production and Akin in charge of installation. â€œWe know where we came from,â€ Yoltay said. â€œWe don't think anyone is below us.â€
Install teams have three members, which is necessary because the company prefers to fabricate countertops with larger pieces and less seams. Akin explained that the seams are not placed directly at the corners. Instead, the piece turns the corner and is flat for two inches, and a seam is created perpendicular to the workpiece. â€œThen you know the corner will be perfect,â€ he said.
When an installation team is assigned a project, it typically remains on site for the entire day. Artelye has nine teams working in the field, and they are broken down in to â€œBlueâ€ and â€œRedâ€ divisions, with one roving supervisor for each division to travel from job to job. Installation crew members all wear clothing with the company logo as well as photo identification with their name and title to make interaction with the homeowner as smooth as possible.
The company works with hard templates, which the customer signs to ensure that all parties have the same expectations of the finished product.
Artelye Marble & Granite has both commercial and residential departments, and commercial sales, which are supervised by Cindy Russell, comprise 65% of overall business. In the commercial sector, the company works with large-scale homebuilders such as Pulte Homes as well as high-rise developers. Clients have included high-profile entities such as the Smithsonian Institute, the FBI Headquarters, Richmond University, the University of Rochester as well as a range of government work.
Artelye's clients do not, however, include Big Box retailers such as Home Depot and Lowes. This fits into the company's philosophy not to let any one client account for more than 15% of overall sales. â€œWe want to provide equal service to everyone,â€ Yoltay said. â€œThat's what we hope sets us apart.â€
In all, the Beltsville location has 74 employees, including 19 in the shop - five dry polishers, five wet polishers, three sawyers, two CNC operators, one maintenance worker, two helpers and a foreman, Ali Sarikaya. The Beltsville staff total also includes 27 workers in the field, plus two supervisors, as well as 26 people working in administration and sales, including the owners. In Manassas, the company has eight employees, and the Richmond location also has eight employees.
With a high volume of material being processed, Artelye directly imports containers of stone from overseas, and it brings in material from countries such as China, Spain, Taiwan, Italy, Brazil and India. In all, the company keeps an inventory of 100 natural stone varieties in stock, including exotic materials such as onyx, and it also fabricates several quartz stone varieties. Customers come to the company's slab showroom to hand select all of the slabs to be used for a job, and the space was carefully set up with ample lighting and an open layout so clients could effectively peruse the inventory.
Artelye also has a new user-friendly showroom with samples and vignettes, so potential customers can get a better understanding of the finished material. It has also developed a video on CD-ROM for consumers that essentially serves as a â€œGranite 101â€ course for homeowners - helping them understand quarrying, slab production, templating, fabrication and installation. It also distributes a Marble Institute of America brochure on care and cleaning of natural stone surfaces to ensure the long-term success of completed projects.
Requests for quotes received before 4 p.m. are answered the same day, and the plant has a typical turnaround time of one week.
The fabricating plantIn the Beltsville location, the primary piece of machinery is a Northwood 138 CNC stoneworking center, which is used for all varieties of profiled edges. The unit works over the course of two shifts, making it the only piece of machinery that runs more than one shift.
The Northwood machine features the company's StoneVision software, which automatically optimizes toolpaths to minimize the number of tool changes needed, and the StoneLaser pod/part location system. It also has a 32-tool position automatic tool changer, which can handle four complete sets of profiles with additional space for finger bits, drills and other pieces.
In selecting a CNC machine, Yoltay researched the range of equipment in the marketplace, and he cited the quality of the Northwood's components as well as its laser system. He also said the lower table made it easier to load and unload workpieces. The CNC unit works with tooling from Tyrolit Vincent and Stone Boss, and workpieces are positioned on pods from Blick Industries.
Other equipment in use at the Beltsville shop includes a GMM Eura bridge saw from Salem Stone, which is an automatic, programmable bridge saw that can accommodate blades up to 625 mm in diameter. Sawing is also completed with two Marmo Meccanica bridge saws from Marmo Machinery USA. These include the HTO-1B, a heavy-duty, 20-hp programmable saw, and the HTO-1/0, which is also programmable and has a 12.5-hp motor. Backsplashes are processed on a Marmo Meccanica LCV 711M edging machine, and Marmoelettromeccanica Master 3500 portable routers from Regent Stone Products are also used for edgework.
To make sure there is no downtime in the shop, it utilizes two Kaeser ASD 30 compressors. The units typically work simultaneously, but either can accommodate the needs of the shop by itself if one goes down.
The plant supervisor's office is located in an area where he can supervise all stages of production, and scheduling is planned up to four weeks in advance using a computer program that was written in house. In all, the Beltsville location fabricates around 55 custom kitchens per week, in addition to commercial work. The production and installation schedules of the Manassas and Richmond locations are linked on the same computer system, and there are also camera links between the facilities.
In addition to working to have the shop running as efficiently as possible, the owners of Artelye Marble & Granite have been fastidious with regard to health and safety. In fact, the owners are so confident in their safety conscientiousness, that they recently invited OSHA on a voluntary inspection of their facility. Moreover, they are applying to OSHA's â€œSharpâ€ program, wherein they will be considered a model facility that is no longer subject to random inspections.
Artelye Marble & GraniteArtelye Marble & Granite
Type of work: custom kitchen countertops and commercial projects
Machinery: Northwood 138 CNC stoneworking center from Northwood Machine Manufacturing Co. of Louisville, KY, equipped with tooling from Tyrolit Vincent of Italy and Stone Boss of Woodside, NY, as well as pods from Blick Industries of Laguna Beach, CA; GMM Eura bridge saw from Salem Stone of Winston-Salem, NC; Marmo Meccanica HTO-1B and the HTO-1/0 bridge saws from Marmo Machinery USA of Southfield, MI; Marmo Meccanica LCV 711M edging machine from Marmo Machinery USA; Marmoelettromeccanica Master 3500 portable routers from Regent Stone Products of Virginia Beach, VA; two ASD 30 compressors from Kaeser Compressors Inc. of Fredericksburg, VA
Number of Employees: 74 in Beltsville, with an additional eight in Manassas and eight in Richmond
Production Rate: 750 square feet per day in Beltsville, with an additional 400 square feet in Richmond and 250 square feet in Manassas