Making a bold transition
November 1, 2009
After making a name for Abruzzi Stone & Flooring as a high-end stone fabricator in the Philadelphia, PA, region, Anthony DiGuglielmo greatly expanded his company’s scope with the formation of Stone Design Works, a high-end showroom in Cherry Hill, NJ, serving the Philadelphia region and beyond.
For DiGuglielmo, who has been in the business for 25 years, the move meant making a transition to importing finished products and operating a large showroom - while also continuing slab fabrication. “We wanted to create a one-stop shop,” explained DiGuglielmo. “When the economy went bad, our contractor work was becoming less and less, so we decided that we needed to have a showroom.”
The “Stone Design Works by Abruzzi Stone & Flooring” showroom, which celebrated its Grand Opening in September, highlights stone materials from around the world, including stone in tile and slab format as well as finished countertops in a range of vignettes - in traditional styles as well as modern designs.
In addition to countertops in stone and CaesarStone quartz surfacing, the showroom includes displays of porcelain and ceramic tile as well as hand-made stone sinks and tubs from Turkey. It also features examples of cabinetry in modern and classic designs as well as stone fireplaces, shower walls, cladding and many other architectural applications.
Also of note, the Stone Design Works showroom has a range of finished glass products, including wall tiles as well as glass featuring custom photos and material implemented with gold-leaf elements. “We are specializing in unique finishes, and this is just another example of this,” DiGuglielmo said. “We want to show materials and products that people can’t find anywhere else. I can’t remember the last time I sold a piece of Ubatuba or New Venetian Gold granite.”
DiGuglielmo conceived a unique way to showcase the stone sinks, which ties them back to their natural roots. “We brought in a full-sized boulder of Scabas travertine,” he said, adding that it was brought in by a well-known supplier in the area. “We wanted to show people the origins where they came from.”
The showroom also has a fully functional Tuscan kitchen, which helps the showroom host various design events, such as continuing education sessions for architects and interior designers.
In addition to housing the Stone Design Works showroom, the building houses L.J. DiCicco Builders, a full-service design/build firm that has been operating in the region since 1994. Meanwhile, the second floor of the building is occupied by U.S. Supply Co., Inc., featuring a flagship showroom for Kohler and displays of Grohe, Moen and other brands - integrated with natural stone products from Abruzzi Stone & Flooring. In all, the facility has 9,000 square feet of space. It also features a large warehouse/storage area, where 45 to 60 colors of stone slabs will be showcased indoors, and an additional 35 colors will be displayed outdoors.
To assist with the design, the company hired an architecture firm from the area, PDK Architects of Collingswood, NJ, which has completed a range of high-end retail projects in the region. Throughout the process, DiGuglielmo worked tirelessly to see his vision come to reality. “I was here seven days a week from January to Easter,” he said during Stone World’s visit to the showroom. “I studied some high-end showrooms, but I knew it wasn’t going to be a typical showroom. We wanted to create a place where our clients could have their customers come here and pick everything out. Once people saw what we were doing, they really got on board. Also, we wanted something on a higher scale, but we also wanted to keep our mid-level customers. We created a special area just for contractors.”
In terms of fabrication, Abruzzi Stone & Flooring processes material at its shop in Philadelphia, PA, which was established seven years ago. The primary piece of equipment is an Express bridge saw from Regent Machine Corp. of Virginia Beach, VA, and most of the edgework is done by hand. “I just believe in doing the finishing by hand,” said DiGuglielmo, who added that the company’s level of complex work is better suited for a skilled craftsman than an automated machine. “Right now, we are still buying a lot of local material, and we expect to be transitioning to more European material as the showroom gets off the ground.”
The company has five people working in the shop, and four on the road. In addition to countertops, work crews install flooring, walls and other stone applications. “We are doing about 10 kitchens per week as well as tile installations,” DiGuglielmo said. “We keep our tile crews and slab crews separate, but we can cross-train as needed.”
“Business has been picking up, and some people have come back on,” DiGuglielmo said. “We actually had the best July we’ve ever had. Right now, we are still buying a lot of material from local suppliers, but we expect to be bringing in more from Europe as the showroom gets off the ground.”
Speaking on trends, DiGuglielmo noted an increase in demand for outdoor kitchens. “They’ve become really popular, especially for second homes and beach houses,” he said. “We’re working with different types of cabinets and pavers for these jobs.”
The company’s sales region goes well beyond the Philadelphia area, as it completes projects throughout Delaware, all New Jersey Shore Points and locations as far away as Pittsburgh, PA, and New York.