RE-EMERGING U.S. STONE INDUSTRY: Optimizing the showroom experience
To feed its modern fabrication plant in Franklin Park, IL, Chicago Granite & Marble, Inc. has taken point-of-purchase merchandising to a premium level. The company's three â€œStone Habitatâ€ design centers - located throughout the Chicagoland area - have been conceived to inspire homeowners to use stone beyond kitchen countertops.
According to Anik Narula, CEO of Chicago Granite & Marble, the goal of the Stone Habitat locations is to encourage homeowners to consider innovative and unique possibilities for using stone in their residences. â€œWe saw that there was a vacuum in the market,â€ he said. â€œConsumers were not seeing how they can use stone in their own habitats.â€
At the Stone Habitat in Mundelein, designs also run the gamut from the moment one enters the showroom. A classic Tuscan kitchen vignette - with Noce, Gold and Cream travertine as well as Kashmir Gold granite slabs - stands at the front of the showroom to entice visitors as well as passers-by. And at the main entrance to the showroom, a large spa - featuring detailed mosaics and Blue Bahia slabs - stands as an example of premium high-end stone use.
When choosing slab materials at the Stone Habitat locations, consumers can select from three different collections - starting with the â€œClassicâ€ line and moving up to the â€œPremiumâ€ line and finally the â€œEliteâ€ line. When presented this way, people move up to the higher-end materials more than half the time, the company reports. In addition to natural slab materials, Chicago Granite & Marble has also begun fabricating some Quarella engineered stone, although it only represents a small portion of its overall work.
In addition to residential work, the company also works on commercial projects, which comprise 40% of overall business. Very often, these projects are multi-unit high-rises in the Chicago area, with 10 to 14 units per floor. At the time of Stone World's visit to the facility, 1,100 condominium units were signed up for fabrication. Typical project sizes for multi-unit commercial projects tends to be 45 to 55 square feet per kitchen, although some penthouse projects are well over 100 square feet.
Customer Fulfillment CenterEquipment in Chicago Granite & Marble's shop includes three bridge saws, a Marmo Meccanica HTO/1B from Marmo Machinery USA, a Park Industries Cougar and a third saw from Antonino Mantello. Slabs are loaded onto the saws using Manzanelli vacuum lifters from GranQuartz as well as vacuum lifters from Wood's Powr Grip, which are affixed to overhead cranes.
Dust from the grinding process is collected with a Ghines Idrodos dust suction wall, purchased from GranQuartz, and the dust is removed from the shop with exhaust fans. Additionally, the water is treated with a GranQuartz Diarex Cyclone, which allows the shop to use recycled water for 70% of its operations.
The latest development for Chicago Granite & Marble is a complete redesign of its Stone Habitat location in Naperville, which was finished earlier this year.