Adapting for continued success
January 6, 2010
With the aid of advanced technology, Francois Hope, the owner of GMG Stone, Inc. in San Diego, CA, has flourished - even in a down economy. To better position itself in the current market, the company has in recent times been focusing on custom work and has explored the expansion of its product line.
Already familiar with the stone industry, Hope followed in his parents’ footsteps by starting his own company in 1993, which included two employees and himself. Evolving through the years, gaining additional employees and moving to bigger facilities, the company now has 30 employees and its facility contains a complete line of state-of-the-art machinery, which Hope has strategically invested in since starting the businesss.
Five years ago, Hope ran two shifts, producing 30 to 40 kitchens a day in a facility that sits on 2.5 acres. As a mass producer, the company started with machinery from Park Industries of St. Cloud, MN. “We were the first client they had in San Diego,” said Hope. “We went to [the Coverings trade show in] Miami and bought a saw.” Currently, GMG has three Cougar bridgesaws from Park.
From there, Hope explained the company sought machinery that would improve the overall quality of its products. “We went to Italy and met with Breton,” he said. “We ended up buying a [Contourbreton NC 350 computer numerically controlled stoneworking center], and an Intermac Master Stone CNC [stoneworking center] to do vanities.”
Hope most recently added a Breton NC 260 stoneworking center to his shop. “We already knew it would help with the bigger pieces in kitchens,” he explained. “Since we had the other Breton CNC, we were comfortable with the purchase of the 260 for larger products and countertops.”
Additionally, GMG has a Spider FR 700 PC bridge saw from Breton, a Marmo Meccanica polisher for edging and a Comandulli Synthesis for bullnose work and large production jobs. Stone is also processed on a waterjet from Flow International Corp. of Kent, WA, which Hope says gives the company an edge. “We’re able to do a lot of jobs other companies cannot do, such as intricate cuts, names, signs, working with medals, slab signs in stone and other specializing techniques,” he said.
Hope further explained that the waterjet will hopefully advance the company’s work with quartz, specifically CaesarStone quartz surfacing. “We’ve made a commitment to work with quartz,” he said. “You need to be a certified fabricator with the right equipment, design and skill. A company like CaesarStone gives warranties.”
And for more intricate detailed work, GMG’s main supplier for tooling is Hard Rock Tool of Anaheim, CA. “We trust the quality they deliver. Tools are the complement to the work, but a lot has to do with the worker,” said Hope, adding that his employees specialize in custom work and are taught the “GMG way,” which means superior quality.
Combating the market
At a time when the more attractive solution for clients may be to go to the cheapest dealer, Hope explained that his biggest obstacle is educating customers that a computerized machine will produce a better quality product. “A lot of people can produce for cheaper, but convincing that a cheaper product is not the best job they’re going to get is a challenge,” he said. “We have to condition people that a good job will always last longer. The key to stone and quartz is being able to lay out the product. Once you lay out and install it, how’s the product going to come out - the finishes, etc? It’s about being able to be innovative and creative, and at the same time explain to people that if you hire the least expensive, you’re not going to be delivered quality.”
Hope is also looking to bring stone into a green mindset. “We’re already using a lot of the products out there that are already cut,” he explained. “Instead of having to buy new materials, we’re trying to reuse materials that already exist, like leftover or throwaway materials.”
GMG is currently working on several remodels and high-end tract work, along with venturing into furniture lines. “We have been doing furniture for designers,” said Hope. “We have been looking at new lines with quartz and CaesarStone where we are going to be designing laptop vanities, counters and more.”
Sidebar: GMG Stone, Inc.San Diego, CA
Type of work: custom work with stone and quartz surfacing
Machinery: three Cougar bridge saws from Park Industries of St. Cloud, MN; a waterjet from Flow International Corp. of Kent, WA; an Intermac Master Stone CNC stoneworking center from Intermac of Italy; a Contourbreton NC 350 computer numerically controlled stoneworking center, a Contourbreton NC 260 stoneworking center and a Spider FR 700 PC bridge saw- all from Breton S.p.A of Italy; a Marmo Meccanica backsplash polisher from Marmo Meccanica of Italy; a Synthesis automated edger from Comandulli Construzioni Meccaniche Srl of Italy; and tools and accessories from Hard Rock Tool of Anaheim, CA