Finding a niche in exotic stone
September 1, 2006
Since 1999, Stone Age Tile of Anaheim, CA, has been catering to the high-end market of Southern California. Specializing in exotic stones and upscale custom designs, the company has significantly expanded over the last several years. Its investment in state-of-the-art technology has further enhanced the quality of its work and boosted sales.
â€œIt was a good business to get in to,â€ said Hatem Hajali, found and owner of Stone Age. â€œI owned property on State College Blvd., which is known as 'Tile Mile.' I started with slabs, and then a design center.â€
In the beginning, the company only had five employees, but today it has grown to over 60, and includes a 20,000-square-foot fabrication shop as well as two design showrooms - measuring close to 12,000 square feet combined.
According to Larry Hajali, the owner's son, Stone Age Tile is a direct importer of stone from countries such as Italy, Brazil and India. â€œWe specialize in exotics,â€ he said. â€œIt works in our favor catering to the clients who are looking for something unique. With the housing values skyrocketing in California, and the re-financing boom, things have been great for us.â€
Investing in machineryOne of the keys to the company's success is its state-of-the-art fabrication facility, which sits on 3 acres of land. Machinery includes three bridge saws, two Brembana Maxima CNC machines supplied by CMS North America, Inc. of Caledonia, MI, and an Omax 80160 waterjet from Omax Corp. of Kent, WA. Tools and accessories are supplied by Hard Rock Tool of Anaheim, CA; Keystone Tools Co. of Commerce, CA; and Granitek Stone Tools.
According to Hatem Hajali, the CNC machines and waterjet were purchased within the last three years. â€œThe newest piece of equipment that we have is the Omax 80160 waterjet,â€ he said. â€œThis machine allows us to create intricate radius and design work, while also cutting kitchen countertops.
We can also save these designs via AutoCAD and incorporate them into future projects. [Additionally], we now make custom medallions and listellos, and work freely with metals and glass.â€
Stone Age Tile also considers itself innovative because about 70% of its countertops are 3 cm thick. â€œWe are one of the few fabricators in Southern California who have switched to 3 cm,â€ said Hajali.
â€œWe have the equipment to do it, and it's more efficient. Southern California being a predominantly 2 cm market motivates us to spend time with the homeowners and educate them on the benefits of using 3 cm granite.â€
For installation, the company employs 12 teams with two to three workers in each, depending on the size of the job. The company produces between 40 to 50 kitchens per week, and its market spans about a 150-mile radius, including San Diego and Santa Barbara. While the company still utilizes plastic and wooden templates, it is considering the purchase of laser templating devices, according to Hatem Hajali.
Primarily, the company's market is countertops and flooring for custom homes. â€œWe work with many designers and architects,â€ said Hatem Hajali. â€œWe are user-friendly. They come in with floor plans and their clients and sit with us.â€
To further serve its customers, Stone Age Tile maintains a stock of approximately 2,500 slabs. â€œWe don't like to send homeowners to other slab yards,â€ said Larry Hajali. â€œWe have more control over the product this way, and it is more cost effective.â€
Sidebar: Stone Age Tile: Anaheim, CAType of work: countertops and flooring for custom homes
Machinery: three bridge saws, two Brembana Maxima CNC machines supplied by CMS North America, Inc. of Caledonia, MI; an Omax 80160 waterjet supplied by Omax Corp. of Kent, WA; tools and accessories from Hard Rock Tool of Anaheim, CA; Keystone Tools Co. of Commerce, CA, and Granitek Stone Tools
Number of Employees: over 60, including 12 installation teams
Production: 40 to 50 kitchens per week