Fabricator Case Study: Offering the complete kitchen package
February 1, 2007
With a background in both tilesetting and stone countertop fabrication and installation, Robert J. Arseneau (RJA) Tile & Stone of Lenoxdale, MA, is able to provide full-scale services for its client base, which covers the Berkshire Mountains region of Massachusetts.
Arseneau started in the stone fabrication business in 1990, and worked on a mix of residential and commercial work for 13 years. Ultimately, he went into business on his own as an installer, working with tile and an increasing amount of slab materials. “Most of my jobs required stone slabs, and the local shops couldn’t keep up with the work,” he explained.
As a result, Arseneau decided to open his own stone fabrication shop last year. Today, the company is fabricating and installing two kitchens per week, which generally includes the countertops as well as the floors, backsplash and other stonework. “We are one of the only companies in the area doing full-scale tile and stone work,” Arseneau said, adding that he is looking to double his production totals over the course of the year. The typical amount of slabwork in a kitchen project done by RJA is 50 to 70 square feet.
“We also, by virtue of our location, do a large amount of work in the resort hotel industry, which has continued to grow at an explosive rate,” he continued. “[One of] our latest projects was the new Spa at the Blantyre Resort here in the heart of the Berkshires. I have been in the fabrication business many years and know what it means to do quality work; it really pays off, especially in the resort business.”
On the residential side of the equation, much of RJA’s work - up to 90% - is for vacation homes, including many projects for New York City residents, who are only a few hours away. “Our major source of business is in new residential construction and remodel,” Arseneau said. “Our business mix is about 75% residential and 25% commercial. Almost all of our business comes by word of mouth from contractors, designers, decorators and architects.”
The workhorse of RJA’s shop is a Sebring gantry saw from Matrix Stone Products of Rancho Cucamonga, CA. The saw is equipped with tilt table for easy loading and unloading of the slabs. “I cannot say enough about this wonderful machine and the people who installed and trained my people,” he said. “The guys in my shop love it. We never turn it off, and it just goes on and on.”
In studying his bridge saw purchase, Arseneau said he did a fair amount of research on the Internet. “The Matrix saw seemed to have the right balance of price and performance.”
Edges are completed using a Marmoelettromeccancia Master 3500 portable router, which was purchased from Regent Stone Products of Virginia Beach, VA. Tooling is supplied by Regent as well as Braxton-Bragg of Knoxville, TN, and GranQuartz of Tucker, GA.
The company has a total of six employees, including Arseneau. Shop manager is John Carmon, a lifelong friend, who he has worked with in the past. In addition to opening the fabrication shop, RJA’s facility also includes a showroom with samples and examples of finished work, which Arseneau said was “an early priority” for the company. In addition to examples of natural stone, the showroom features ceramic tile and glass tile, which are commonly part of RJA’s kitchen projects.
The office is run by Arseneau’s sister, Debra Tort, and they explained that the Internet has been very useful in operating the company - especially when dealing with out-of-town clients. For example, at the time of Stone World’s visit to RJA, the company had just showcased some stone samples to a client who was overseas in London, England, and they were able to finalize their selections. Additionally, the company is able to provide useful information at its Web site: http://www.rjatileandstone.com.
Robert J. Arseneau (RJA) Tile & StoneType of work done: Kitchen countertops, fireplace, tile backsplashes and flooring
Machinery: Sebring gantry saw from Matrix Stone Products of Rancho Cucamonga, CA; Marmoelettromeccanica Master 3500 portable router from Regent Stone Products of Virginia Beach, VA; tooling from Regent Stone Products, Braxton-Bragg of Knoxville, TN, and GranQuartz of Tucker, GA
Number of employees: 6
Production rate: Two kitchens per week, including the countertops as well as the floors, backsplash and other stonework