- THE MAGAZINE
- CSTD MAGAZINE
Based in Livermore, CA, Sosa Granite and Marble is a family business focused on providing high-quality products and customer service to its clients. The company was founded by company President Mario Sosa, Sr. 23 years ago, and today Mario Sosa, Jr. serves as the company’s Vice President. Together, the father-and-son team concentrates its efforts on running a successful fabrication operation that serves the San Francisco Bay area and Northern California.
“I have been in the industry for 34 years,” said Mario Sosa, Sr. “I was lucky, because you are only as good as who teaches you. I worked for a company in Richmond, [CA]. The owners were Old World Italians. They were artists in what they were doing. I learned from them.”
Earlier in his career, Sosa also worked for a company that only did kitchens. “I went in as a subcontractor,” he said. “I learned quickly that you can’t mess around.”
Sosa went on to say that because of the experience he learned from doing kitchens, 19 years ago he developed a system to replace a countertop in one day. “We measure the countertop and then the day of the install, we tear out the tile, fix the plywood and install the new countertop,” he said. “That was a big spurt of our growth. There was no competition. Now companies are trying to catch that.”
|The Tecna 36 bridge saw from GMM of Italy is in place to cut slabs.|
Sosa Granite & Marble operates out of a 53,000-square-foot building, which includes a fabrication area, slab storage space, showroom and offices. The workshop is complete with a full lineup of state-of-the-art machinery.
Among Sosa’s long-time investments are two Montresor Lara 80-S2 line polishers serviced by Salem Stone of Winston-Salem, NC. “I bought these 15 years ago,” he said. “They are the best thing I ever did as a fabricator. We talked to people before buying it. It’s true; you’re only as good as your tools and machines.”
The shop also houses a CMS/Brembana Maxima CNC stoneworking center with dual tables. “I have had the CNC for six years,” said Sosa. “The reality is that CMS is number one in my book. Their customer support is great. [Also], having the correct operator is everything.”
At the time of Stone World’s visit, plans were in the works to purchase a second Maxima CNC. The new one, which arrived this past December, has one table.
The CNC is equipped with vacuum pods from Blick Industries of Laguna Beach, CA. “Blick vacuum pods are the best,” said Sosa. “They save us a lot of time. You don’t have to set up as many pods.”
A GMM Rotex 39 bridge saw is also used for fabricating countertops.
For blades and tooling, Sosa Granite and Marble exclusively uses the Terminator brand from Continental DIA Diamond Products of San Carlos, CA. “We had tried all the other ones, and then Continental came in and said, ‘Mario, we can bring your CNC to a polish,’” he explained. “We had only used Terminator blades [before this]. They came in and set up, and they brought in a specialist. I wasn’t sold, so I said, ‘Show me.’ I purposely picked a tough piece - a 2¼-inch bullnose. To my surprise, it was 100% polished. I believe in their tools, and I am picky.”
Additional machinery includes a Tecna 36 and Rotex 39 bridge saws - both from GMM of Italy and serviced through Salem Stone. “When I first got started, I got the wrong saw,” said Sosa. “As soon as I could, I researched the best saw in the world, and it’s GMM.”
An EnviroSystem from Water Treatment Technologies of Hampton, NH, is in place to recycle water used during the production process. Additionally, Sosa brought in an air flow specialist to help design an air duct in the work area.
“We believe in dry grinding when laminating,” explained Sosa. As a result, the shop includes a designated area for this process, and the air duct system is used to filter the dust from the air.
Slabs are maneuvered around the shop with ATA vacuum lifters, and the company purchases its hand tools and accessories from National Abrasives of San Leandro, CA.
The production process
Currently, the company employs 55 workers in the shop as well as 11 office employees, including Sosa’s daughter Marissa, who is head of accounting. It also has five install crews for granite and four for tile. A total of 95% of Sosa Granite and Marble’s production is for residential projects, while the other 5% is commercial work.
At the time of Stone World’s visit, the company was averaging 25 to 30 kitchens per week. “It used to be 55 a week,” said Sosa. “2010 has been a little better than 2009. Our biggest hit was in 2008. Our main focus right now is still kitchens.”
A total of 98% of production is in granite and 1% is in other stone varieties as well as 1% in quartz. The company maintains a large slab inventory with over 100 colors in stock.
“As things grew, we started stocking material,” explained Sosa. “We have taken a backseat right now on importing due to the economy. We [bring in] material from local distributors.”
According to Sosa, the company’s inventory includes a wide selection of exotics. “Some things we can’t keep in stock,” he said. “Typhoon Bordeaux is one of the hottest sellers right now. Capella granite from Brazil is another one.”
Marketing its products
To illustrate its capabilities to its customers, Sosa Granite and Marble has a showroom with finished examples of its work. “We wanted to focus on one nice bathroom and one nice kitchen to show what we can do,” explained Sosa.
The showroom includes a bathroom vignette complete with a shower stall with bookmatched marble slabs and large framed photos of completed kitchen projects line some of the walls. Additionally, there is a room dedicated to porcelain tile and one for edge treatments.
“It’s all about educating,” said Sosa, as he demonstrated how the end of the countertop can be removed and replaced with different pieces that have varying edge finishes. “It allows people to get a perspective of what we are doing.”
The company has also expanded their services to offer hardwood floors and sinks. “One of the biggest bottlenecks was waiting on sinks,” said Sosa. “We started carrying our own. We decided not to sell faucets, though, because there is little profit and because of the timeline.” Additionally, the company is starting to sell cabinetry.
Another way that Sosa Granite and Marble promotes its work and educates its customers is by holding training seminars in a room it has dedicated for this purpose. According to Sosa, Home Depot has held seminars at its facility, and the company has also hosted its own presentations to architecture firms, kitchen and bath dealers, and contractors.
“We give PowerPoint presentations about the company and what we do,” explained Sosa. “We give them a tour of the factory. They see everything.”
Sosa Granite and Marble: Livermore, CA
Type of work: primarily residential
Machinery: two Montresor Lara 80-S2 line polishers serviced by Salem Stone of Winston-Salem, NC, a Maxima CNC stoneworking center with dual tables from CMS/Brembana of Caledonia, MI; vacuum pods from Blick Industries of Laguna Beach, CA; Terminator blades and tooling from Continental DIA Diamond Products of San Carlos, CA; a Tecna 36 and Rotex 39 bridge saws - both from GMM of Italy and serviced through Salem Stone; an EnviroSystem from Water Treatment Technologies of Hampton, NH; ATA vacuum lifters; hand tools and accessories from National Abrasives of San Leandro, CA
Number of employees: 70
Production rate: 25 to 30 kitchens per week