Running a high-volume fabrication operation
Alfonso Bertoni migrated to the U.S. in 1984, and since that time, he has worked to build a strong fabrication operation. Originally from Bergamo, Italy, Bertoni understands the correlation between top-of-the-line machinery and high-quality products. Keeping this philosophy in mind, he has equipped his shop in Fair Lawn, NJ, with a variety of Italian-made machinery that is a key component to his business, which continually produces a high volume of commercial work.
In addition to Industrial Consulting & Marketing, Inc. (ICM), Bertoni’s business sense also led him to establish two other successful enterprises. ICM is the mother company, and works out of the New Jersey location. The company provides fabrication services for large stone contractors. A second company is CNC Stone, LLC, a company for CNC stoneworking, which Bertoni operates in partnership with Maurizio D’Alessio. CNC Stone was started in 1998 in order to satisfy the local need for quality high-volume fabrication by means of CNC equipment. Keeping up with the latest tool and machinery technology has been essential to the successful operation of this aspect of the fabrication, said Bertoni. And thirdly, I&D Signature, LLC was developed in Xiamen, China with partner Dana Luo. This company has an agreement with ICM to assist with the fabrication of stone pieces for large-scale jobs. Two factories were contracted in China about four years ago.
According to Bertoni, I&D Signature has completed work for several casinos in Las Vegas. “A lot of times, we do jobs in China because the factory can handle the volume,” he said. “When it is very labor intensive, we do the work in China. Everything then comes through here so we can control the quality.” In regards to quality control, he even makes a point to read all of the architectural drawings for each project, no matter where it is being fabricated.
Bertoni, who works closely with his son, Alessio, went on to say that six years ago the structure of ICM changed. The company now only handles fabrication. Prior to that, it had been involved with installation as well.
Shop operationThe New Jersey facility, which totals about 60,000 square feet, includes several machines from Prussiani, including one Oceania Elite CNC work center for cutting marble, granite and other stone; an Energia Plus CNC work center, which is similar to an Oceania, but slightly shorter; and a Rabbit, which is an automatic sink hole CNC cutting and polishing machine. According to Bertoni, the Rabbit was a recent purchase and is used for kitchen and vanity tops.
Additional shop equipment includes two Pedrini Lux M920 bridge saws, high-speed cutting machines which feature advanced PLC controls and a highly accurate automatic rotating table, which allow for faster programming times and set-ups. The programming is also very user-friendly and can be done by operators with minimal training. The saw can also be used for profiling.
A Comandulli Omega polishing line is also utilized in the production process. Bertoni added that Comandulli is building a customized machine for ICM, which is scheduled to arrive this summer. Slabs are moved around the facility using boom cranes equipped with Dal Forno vacuum lifters, which were supplied by International Machine Corp. of Holbrook, NY.
“To keep up with the foreign market, you have to use [quality] machinery,” he said. “It’s more expensive, but worth it. You have to be able to trust the machines.” He also explained that he is very meticulous about the condition of the facility’s equipment, and has maintenance performed every six months.
Bertoni continued to say that he is fortunate to have Mirko Lorenzoni, a former Prussiani CNC specialist, on his staff, which includes 23 employees at the New Jersey location. “The pieces coming off the CNC don’t have to be touched because of [his skills],” he said.
Water in the shop is recycled with a system that ICM constructed itself. “We are proud that our shop is very clean,” said Bertoni. “Organization is the reason for our success.”
Large-scale productionWith its state-of-the-art equipment, ICM can produce approximately 30 kitchens - averaging between 45 to 58 square feet - per day. According to Bertoni, the largest job that he has worked on was a newly constructed apartment building in New York City, which consisted of 1,200 apartments. He also said that ICM does between 4,000 to 5,000 apartment unit renovations annually.
“To do this business, you have to have a totally different mentality than when working in [single-family] residential,” said Bertoni. “You are dealing with big companies and owners. Everything that our client asks, we can advise. I have experience in installation.”
In general, the types of material the company processes is determined by the specifications of each individual project. “Either we provide the material or the client does,” said Bertoni. “We always let our source know that we are only interested in fabrication. We have our own niche. We don’t compete with anyone. Americans need more companies like this.”
In addition to cutting natural stone, ICM is also a fabricator of CaesarStone, DuPont Zodiaq and Quarella. “It was interesting to me that DuPont was investigating from here to Washington, [DC], and we came up as the best,” said Bertoni. “I never expected to grow so much. We put a lot of money into it, but in the end, it is worth it because you have high-quality, high-end products.”