Mid-Atlantic fabricator adapts to the market
“In the last five years, we have seen a decrease in business from homebuilders, but an increase in renovations,” explained company owner Josh Yoltay, who founded the company with Serhat Akin. “Three years ago, we diversified and concentrated more on commercial work.”
Equipment in the shop includes two Northwood CNC stoneworking centers from Northwood Machine Manufacturing Co. of Louisville, KY; a SawJet combination bridge saw/waterjet from Northwood; two GMM Eura bridge saws from Salem Stone of Winston-Salem, NC; an EasyEdge for backsplashes from Breton of Italy; and various hand tools. Additionally, material is maneuvered around the shop using a Manzelli Exential lifter from GranQuartz.
Depending on the complexity of the job, workpieces are either cut on the GMM bridge saws or on the SawJet.
Investment in technology at the templating and programming end of the process has helped the company in both residential and commercial fabrication. “We are doing our templating with the Prodim Proliner, and we receive the data and photos from the job via e-mail,” said Luis Paz, the Measuring and Programming Manager for Artelye. The data is then cleaned up with AutoCAD, and a DXF file is created for the company’s computer-controlled machinery.
“It makes the process simple,” Paz said. “It really helps when the customer has changes, like adding more overhang on an island. They can see how it will look.”
On the commercial end, three-dimensional modeling software such as Google SketchUp helps the company process material for architectural elements like vertical stonework.
In addition to granite and marble, Artelye processes granite and marble as well as quartz surfacing products, such as Caesarstone, Silestone and Q from MSI.
The company’s service area includes all of Maryland, along with Washington, DC, Virginia, West Virginia, North Carolina, Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and lower New York.
Recently, the company completed the transfer of its branch operations from Richmond, VA, to its new regional office in Raleigh, NC, with the intention of better serving customers in that region. Overall, the company has 120 employees in the shop/showrooms and in the field.
Standing out among the competition
For Artelye, educating the consumer is an ongoing process, as it stresses quality and customer service. “Unfortunately, some organized large factories [in our region] could not survive and went out of business,” Yoltay said. “At first, I thought it was a very good opportunity that we would have more market share. But we never took into consideration that the competition will be replaced with ‘unregulated’ shops. By unregulated, I mean they cut stone in their backyard or [it is] a one-man operation, and everything from Workers Compensation to insurance and tax is questionable. You have to consider the overhead cost difference between these operations and those who follow the regulations. Unfortunately, there is no control system for it.
“One more issue is that anyone who can click an ad on the Internet becomes your direct competitor,” Yoltay continued. “Unfortunately, much of the public is not educated enough to know the difference when it comes to quality and craftsmanship. We are working on a project to develop Web sites named cheapkitchencoutertop.com and cheapgranitetop.com, and our goal is to collect pictures and testimonials from jobs which went down the hill in terms of quality and after-sale/installation service. The goal is to identify, explain and show the risks of working with unlicensed, cheap companies. Countertops have more value than only dollars-per-square-foot.”
The need for customer education is present on both the residential and the commercial levels. “Commercial accounts have the same expectations, with very low pricing, because there are low numbers floating within the market. Are those numbers realistic? Yes, they are if you don’t pay overtime to your employees, use commercial-grade material, etc. But this is not the way I want to run our business.”
In terms of resources for customer education, Yolay cited the Stone Fabricators Alliance (SFA) as a valuable source for sharing information with other fabricators.
|Artelye Marble & Granite|
Type of work: commercial and residential projects, renovation work
Machinery: two Northwood CNC stoneworking centers from Northwood Machine Manufacturing Co. of Louisville, KY; a SawJet combination bridge saw/waterjet from Northwood; two GMM Eura bridge saws from Salem Stone of Winston-Salem, NC; an EasyEdge for backsplashes from Breton of Italy; a Manzelli Exential lifter from GranQuartz
Number of Employees: 120