Targeting the U.S. market with Italian travertine
May 1, 2006
As a leading supplier of Italian travertine, Fratelli Poggi runs an impressive operation at its base in Tivoli, Italy. The company, which has been in business since 1923 and is now under a third-generation ownership, owns and operates three quarries. And to further secure its place in the global market, it recently opened Poggi Brothers, Inc. USA in Tampa, FL, which is already showing encouraging signs of growth.
â€œWe want to be the biggest supplier of travertine,â€ said Denis Colledani, president of Poggi Brothers, Inc. USA, explaining that the U.S. office opened in August 2005. â€œWith the global market, we need to be present and someone that architects and designers can go to.â€
Presently, the primary markets for the U.S. office are Florida and Georgia, and a total of 50% of its sales is travertine. In addition to its own material, Poggi Brothers, Inc. USA is importing travertine from regions such as Mexico and Peru.
Quarrying in TivoliAnd because travertine comprises half of the company's business in the U.S., Fratelli Poggi is diligently working to meet market demand. One of the company's premium materials is Roman Classic travertine, which is used extensively in the U.S., according to Mauro Poggi, adding that one prominent project is the Ronald Reagan Federal Reserve Building.
Among Fratelli Poggi's travertine quarries is one that was opened in 1963. This quarry, which is currently about 50 meters deep, has about 12 to 15 years worth of material left, according to the company. Additionally, the original quarry that was purchased by Fratelli Poggi in 1923 was reopened three years ago, and it is about 40 meters deep.
At the time of Stone World's visit, quarry workers were taking down a bench at the original site. â€œWe don't use explosives because it will damage the stone and cause fractures,â€ said Poggi. â€œIt is costly [not to use dynamite], but pays off in the end.â€
To tilt the bank, a deep hole is first drilled with high-pressured hydraulic jacks. A steel wire with diamond studs is then inserted in the hole to cut the bank, which can weigh as much as 1,000 metric tons. The cutting is performed with a Fantini chainsaw.
After the bank of travertine has been tilted onto the ground, a careful technical evaluation of potential blocks is done using selection criteria based on structure and color, according to the company. Areas that break in the bench are not as good of a quality, because they are not as strong, explained Colledani, who added that benches come down at least once a week to open up different areas in the quarry.
The average size of a block measures approximately 11 x 6 feet. Each block of travertine can be cut in two ways - with the vein or against the vein, which is referred to as â€œcrosscut.â€ â€œIn Italy, everything was [originally] cut with the vein,â€ said Colledani. â€œCrosscut travertine became popular in the U.S. in the late '80s and early '90s.â€
In addition to its quarries, Fratelli Poggi runs a saw mill for cutting blocks as well as a full-scale fabrication facility. In total, it employs approximately 70 workers in Italy. Additionally, Poggi Brothers, Inc. USA currently has 12 workers. â€œIt is growing by the minute,â€ said Colledani, about the U.S. operation.