Coming full circle
Linda and Steve Stelmaszyk originally founded the company in 1980, mostly doing tile for high-end bathrooms, and that ultimately led them into the stone business. “By the early 1990s, we got more involved in kitchens,” Linda Stelmaszyk said. “We had been doing some work with local fabricators, but then we decided to do our own fabrication. By 1995, we occupied 21,000 square feet.”
Over the years, the company added machinery and staff as it went along. “We really rode the construction wave, and we were up to 48 people when we sold the company in 2005.”
Upon selling Westwood Tile & Stone, the Stelmaszyks settled into retirement and enjoyed sailing in the Caribbean. A few years later, however, they were drawn back into the industry.
“The business wasn’t doing well after we left, and they closed up shop on November 1, 2010,” Stelmaszyk said. “We tried to buy it back from the bank, and we wanted to keep it running. There was an auction in December, and we had to bid on everything piece by piece. We got back most of the equipment, except for some cranes and some hand tools.
But even though the Stelmaszyks were able to reacquire much of their original equipment, quite a bit of work had to be done before they could become operational. “Once the dust settled, we were left with a shop that was in shambles and a market share that went elsewhere. The equipment was filled with sludge,” Stelmaszyk said. “Three months later, by spring of 2011, we got it back together. Little by little, we hired people back, and we started visiting our old clients. We also hired Steve Armandi as our Vice President of Sales, who had a strong history in the business in our region, along with Richard Holmes, Vice President/General Manager. The bank wanted us to buy the name, so we changed it, which was probably a good thing because the reputation was compromised. From an industry standpoint, we were a start-up, but we financed the whole thing ourselves.”
Inside the shop
Stoneshop operates in the existing 14,000-square-foot facility. Equipment used for cutting includes two GMM Tecna 36 bridge saws as well as a Flow waterjet. For complex projects, the machines are sometimes used in conjunction with one another, as workpieces are first cut to size on the bridge saw, and then intricate shapes such as arcs are done on the waterjet.
A Park Pro Edge III is used for processing the edges for long straight runs, while Marmoelettromeccanica Master portable routers are used for edges of more complex shapes.
Additionally, Alpha hand polishers are used for finishing, and mitered edge work is getting more popular among the company’s customers. Tooling in the shop comes from Diamant-D, Stone Boss and Regent Stone Products.
Today, Stoneshop has a total of 22 employees, including everyone in the shop/showroom as well as templaters and installers. The weekly production rate varies, depending on the type of work being done, but on average, the company fabricates and installs between eight to 10 projects per week, including many multi-room complex projects. “We are doing many kitchens measuring 60 to 85 feet, with multiple slabs, and we are seeing a steady increase in orders,” Stelmaszyk said. “We are doing multiple vanities in a house, and we are also doing more outside barbecues, tables and custom baths. With the Internet, customers have very specific ideas of what they want.”
Large islands have become a specialty, and the company has a boom truck for installations. “Recently, we completed an island with our exclusive “invisaseam” weighing more than 1,600 pounds, which would have created a logistical nightmare without the boom truck,” Stelmaszyk said.
Most of Stoneshop’s work is residential, with 60 to 70% coming through kitchen and bath dealers. The company works in Southern New Jersey as well as Philadelphia, Atlantic City, Northern New Jersey, parts of Maryland and the Jersey Shore, and the bulk of current projects are remodels. “I doubt that we will see a big resurgence on new houses,” Stelmaszyk said. “We aren’t doing tract homes. We are doing some work with builders, but mostly upgrades.”
Speaking on challenges, Stelmaszyk said that it is a company mission to inform and teach its clients. “We need to educate the customer about what they are buying,” she said.
Despite the still-rebounding economy, Stoneshop has seen an upswing in business in 2012. “This year, business has been really good,” Stelmaszyk said. “We are right where we need to be. We have a different mindset now. It is a different kind of success we want. We’ve got our reputation back and good people to run the company and we don’t have any debt. We haven’t changed our position or our premise; we still believe customers want a quality product from a company they can trust in the long run.”
Cherry Hill, NJ
Type of Work: Primarily residential remodels in natural stone and quartz surfacing
Machinery: Two GMM Tecna 36 bridge saws; a Flow waterjet; a Park Pro Edge III automated edger; Marmoelettromeccanica Master portable routers; Alpha hand polishers; tooling from Diamant-D, Stone Boss and Regent Stone Products
Number of Employees: 21
Production Rate: Between eight and 10 projects per week, on average, including many multi-room complex projects