Fabricator How-to

Knowledge is power for Arch City Granite and Marble Inc.

As Arch City Granite and Marble Inc. of St. Louis, MO, increases its rate of productivity with advanced machinery, the company takes pride in sharing knowledge with its customers

November 1, 2013
Trans

Since its inception in St. Louis, MO, in 2005, Arch City Granite and Marble, Inc. has valued fabricating with the most up-to-date machinery and tooling. Of equal importance to the company, it has been keeping customers informed of what makes high-end fabrication possible. Now, with a second location opened in O’Fallon, MO, their goal is to establish themselves as a one-stop shop throughout the region.

The company’s original 10,000-square-foot St. Louis, MO, location is where all of the fabrication is done, and it also houses an office and showroom. Located 20 minutes away in O’Fallon, MO, is the prospering business’s new 10,000-square-foot stocking facility where homeowners can go to choose from more than 70 colors of granite and marble slabs.

“I personally visit MS International facilities in various parts of the U.S. to hand pick desirable slabs and stock them for homeowners to select,” said President and Owner Govi Reddy. “MS International Chicago and Cosmos Granite & Marble have been very helpful in this regard. Stocking stone helps me to compete against small low-price granite fabricators in my market area.” 

While the company’s focus is primarily on granite and marble, it also works with quartz surfacing, such as Caesarstone and Silestone, catering directly to homeowners in and around the St. Louis metropolitan area. The business supplies stonework within a 50- to 60-mile radius and goes even further for larger custom projects. It also installs stone countertops for a few custom home builders and remodeling contractors. More recently, it has done a number of countertops with Danby marble from Vermont. 

Keeping customers informed

Serving in his eighth year in the business, Reddy empowers his customers through the company’s informational website, which has recently been updated. The goal is to educate customers on the difference between low-end and high-end stone fabricators. “Low-price granite companies have always been a challenge,” said Reddy. “They advertise ridiculously low prices and give a false impression to first-time granite buyers.

“Reputed fabricators are educating their customers,” Reddy continued. “We are happy to see more and more homeowners are becoming aware of the quality standards that come with the realistic prices. This awareness is also spreading as more and more people are buying granite.”

Reddy likes to talk about the value of quality with his customers. “After having been in the stone industry [for some time], I can answer many customer questions based on the many experiences that I have had over the years,” he said. “My new website has a lot more information and it is much more user friendly. When you educate your customers properly, they already know what questions to ask you, and they can read quotes properly. I truly want to make my company the most customer friendly.”

Even before he started Arch City Granite, Reddy has increased his own education on the stone industry, especially on how cutting-edge technology can help companies prosper.

Setting up the shop

Prior to Reddy’s move to the U.S. in 1999, he was an accomplished businessman in India. Reddy wanted his two daughters to receive higher education in the U.S. Inspired by friends and family who were exporting stone to the U.S. and Europe, Reddy knew that he wanted to become a stone distributor.

Arch City Granite and Marble Inc.

St. Louis, MO (Fabrication shop and showroom)

O’ Fallon, MO (Slab warehouse)

Type of work: Countertop fabrication in natural stone and quartz surfacing

Technology: CMS/Brembana Antea CNC bridge saw and two CMS/Brembana Speed CNC stoneworking centers — all from CMS North America of Caledonia, MI; ADI tooling from GranQuartz of Tucker, GA; Flying Flat from Sasso Meccanica of Italy; jib cranes, equipped with Manzelli vacuum lifters from GranQuartz; water recycling system from Beckart Environmental of Kenosha, WI; Idrodos dust collection system from Ghines of Italy; Proliner digital templating system from Prodim USA of Fort Pierce, FL

Production Rate: 600 square feet a week (about eight to 10 projects); capacity to increase to about 1,200 square feet per week

Number of Employees: 12

He came to St. Louis, MO, in 1999, and has since been educating himself on the industry. Reddy started studying about the natural stone business by attending stone shows such as Coverings in Orlando, FL, from 2003 to 2005, and by studying all of the issues of Stone World that were published during that period. “A careful analysis of all case studies published in Stone World magazine gave me a lot of information I needed,” said Reddy. He established Arch City Granite in 2005, and became a full-fledged granite fabricator and installer in 2006.

A big part of Reddy’s education came from visiting his nephew, Venu Reddy of Deco Granite in Albany, NY. “My nephew was using digital template and CNC fabrication as early as 2004 — when there were not many CNC machines available at that time,” he said. “I visited him frequently to learn more about total digital fabrication. For three months, Venu trained Arch City’s main production employee at his shop in Albany, NY, on all aspects of CNC fabrication. That is why the very first kitchen Arch City Granite fabricated and installed was measured with digital template and fabricated on a CNC machine.”

Govi Reddy gets to see Arch City Granite’s first fabricated kitchen often because it is installed in his niece’s home in St. Louis. “It is a perfectly done kitchen, and it amazes me every time I see it because it was my first installed kitchen,” he said. “It is like the feeling of a surgeon when he sees his healthy patient roaming around on whom he performed his first ever surgery.”

Fabricating operations

The company has continued to make great strides in way of fabrication technology. The prospering business recently invested in a Proliner Digital template machine from Prodim. “After purchasing the Proliner, we are able to do as many as six templates a day,” Reddy said. “The results are accurate, and we are able to measure many complex countertops with ease. The Proliner allows us to extend the overhangs, make the rounded corners and draw the custom shapes desired by homeowners while at their home.

“The needed digital file is then ready for our CNC machines to fabricate,” Reddy continued. “Proliner is easy to learn, and we trained two of our employees in no time.”

After getting the measurements, all fabrication is done in the company’s St. Louis shop. Arch City fabricates with a CMS/Brembana Antea CNC bridge saw and two CMS/Brembana Speed 3 CNC stoneworking centers — all of which were supplied by CMS North America of Caledonia, MI. Both CNC routers are equipped with ADI tooling from GranQuartz to complete high quality edging and intricate designs; one CMS/Brembana CNC Speed 3 Machine was purchased during Arch City’s first year of production in 2006, and the second CMS/Brembana CNC Speed 3 Machine was purchased in 2012.

For flat edge polishing, the company utilizes a Flying Flat from Sasso Meccanica. Material is maneuvered using jib cranes, which are equipped with Manzelli vacuum lifters from GranQuartz.

As it grew, Arch City Granite and Marble needed to double its water treatment capacity. “This was needed because of the addition of our second CNC machine,” said Reddy. “We do all wet polishing with clean recycled water.” The company’s water recycling system is from Beckart Environmental of Kenosha, WI.”

The company is also environmentally conscientious beyond water recycling. “If dust is produced, it gets collected in our Ghines Idrodos dust collection system,” added Reddy.

Since theirs is totally CNC production, their machine operators are cross trained on all pieces of equipment. (They have specialists for hand fabrication and for installation.)

Overall, Reddy has been able to appreciate a faster turnaround rate from measurement to installation. “With the purchase of our second CNC machine and by investing in the Prodim Proliner machine, Arch City Granite is able to capture new business because of a faster turnaround,” said Reddy. “The Prodim Proliner is more expensive than other digital template machines we considered, but it is well worth it in the long run.”

Equipped with a highly digitalized fabrication shop, Reddy looks hopefully to a positive future for his company. “We do about 600 square feet a week; about eight to ten projects a week,” said Reddy. “We have capacity to increase to about 1,200 square feet a week. We are on the right track to achieve it. We have 12 employees in all. We need a few more to reach that target production.”          

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