Building a showroom to allure the elite residential market
Til-Mar Designs of Philadelphia, PA, has experienced several transformations since it first opened for business in 1996. Owned by the father-and-son team of Thomas Giordano Sr. and Thomas Giordano Jr., the company initially concentrated its efforts on tile sales and installation. The business then expanded nearly four years ago, when the owners decided that it would be more productive to fabricate their own countertops rather than relying on subcontractors. Approximately a year and a half ago, Til-Mar Designs once again transitioned by opening its 2,000-square-foot showroom to place added focus on homeowners.
When Stone World first wrote about Til-Mar Designs in April 2005, the company had carved a niche for itself by catering to builders and the commercial sector - particularly contractors doing residential remodels. Today, while contract work remains a staple of the company’s customer base, it also relies on referrals.
“We do a lot of remodels,” said Thomas Giordano Jr. “We also still do some commercial jobs. The showroom was built to establish ourselves for walk-ins. We work mostly by appointment.”
Giordano explained that Til-Mar Designs works very closely with its customers to develop a kitchen design that best fits their needs. On average, kitchen sizes range from 35 to 50 square feet, which is typical of the geographical area.
The showroom features a number of stone tile displays as well as ones for CaesarStone and DuPont Zodiaq® quartz surfaces. “We do about 60% natural stone and 40% quartz,” explained Giordano. “We became an authorized Zodiaq dealer. A lot of architects are specifying quartz. We definitely make money with it - especially in the commercial sector.”
Additionally, Til-Mar Designs has become an authorized dealer of Daltile OneTM Quartz Surfaces. “It’s a nice ‘in-between’ to Zodiaq and CaesarStone,” said Giordano. The company also sells a large amount of natural stone. “We do anything from exotics to ‘Level One’ [stone], depending on what our customers want,” he explained, adding that they also stock sinks and some kitchen faucets.
Between planning and construction, it took about a year and a half until the showroom was up and running. “We were trying to get more retail customers, and we wanted to build a showroom because it is hard to sell by imagination,” said Giordano. “We used to sell kitchens from magazine [pictures]. Now we have new software to help with visualization. Having a showroom makes it easier to make a sale. We are really trying to establish market presence.”
As an extension of the showroom, Til-Mar Designs also recently established a 3,000-square-foot slab storage area where customers can view various selections. “We keep about 40 colors [in stock],” said Giordano. “With some material, we work off consignment, and some we purchase. You really have to think about what you are storing and what’s going to sell.”
The shopIn recent years, Til-Mar Designs has expanded from five to 10 workers in its fabrication shop, which encompasses a 1,800-square-foot space. The company relies on a Sheng Da ZDCQ-400 bridge saw for cutting, which it purchased through Granite City Tool of Waite Park, MN. Additional equipment includes a Magnum dust collection unit from GranQuartz of Tucker, GA, a Dia-Pro portable router and Makita hand polishers for finishing work - also from Granite City Tool. Most recently, the company purchased a radial arm polisher from Midas Stone Machinery, Inc. of Elk Grove Village, IL, which is used for polishing the inside edges of sink holes.
On average, Til-Mar Designs processes six to 10 kitchens per week. The shop runs one shift, and it has one installation crew that is responsible for both templating and installations.
The machines in the shop are set up in sequential order for ease of workflow, and there is an open bay at the far end where trucks pick up the finished products for delivery. “We put an overhead crane in so that we can move pieces down the line and get them in the truck,” said Giordano.
Primarily, Til-Mar Designs caters to the Philadelphia market and the suburbs in the area. “Typically, we are getting larger kitchens in [southern] New Jersey,” said Giordano. And in addition to custom work, the company has started to import some pre-fabricated blanks from China, and it also does commercial tile. “We try to keep a good mix,” said the fabricator.
When looking ahead to the future, Giordano says that he and his father hope to further expand the shop to include an area for finished pieces. Also, plans are being considered for a water treatment system.