Expansion in Northern California

April 1, 2005
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Realizing the vast opportunities of working with both tile and stone, Kristen and Cory Phillips established Phillips Tile & Stone in 1999. Originally located in a 4,000-square-foot facility in the heart of Napa Valley, CA, the company was fueled by high-end residential homeowners, who were looking to update their kitchens and bathrooms with the modern look of stone and tile. Recently, to keep up with consumer demand, the couple relocated the business to a larger facility and purchased more equipment, which has allowed for a substantial increase in its production rate.

The husband and wife team started out in the tile business in 1992 when Cory worked as a tile-setter, and Kristen handled accounting and administrative roles. Seven years later, the couple realized the great potential for working with both stone and tile material.

“We got into the business because as a tile company, we needed granite and marble tiles bullnosed for our jobs,” said Kristen Phillips. “Using a Levi Tunisi bullnosing machine from Italy and the hand equipment we already had, we realized that we could fabricate stone as well. So we purchased a Teco 30 saw from Italy. The developers and builders we worked for like that we installed both tile and stone, eliminating the need for two subcontractors.”

As a result, Phillips Tile & Stone was formed in 1999. With three employees and little equipment, the company produced an average of one job a week.

In 2004, the couple moved their expanding company of 28 employees to a 24,000-square-foot facility in Fairfield, CA. Since the company is fairly young, the Phillips' have not experienced a lot of turnover as far as their employees are concerned. “A lot of our staff has grown as we've grown,” she said. “We all went through the training process together, and utilized the training that manufacturers of the equipment had to offer.”

The new location, which is located about 30 miles from the Napa Valley site, includes a tile warehouse, while the previous location is still used for office space and a showroom.

With this additional area, the company now has the room for newer, more innovative technology. The facility is equipped with two Park Industries bridge saws, two Park Industries Pro Edge II line machines and a Prussiani Oceania Elite CNC stoneworking center purchased from IGE Solutions of Jupiter, FL. The company purchases its diamond tooling from Pearl Abrasives Co. through Keystone of Los Angeles, CA, and Hard Rock Tool of Anaheim, CA. In addition, the company uses Edgemarc Stinger portable routers.

According to Kristen Phillips, production has greatly increased, and labor has been reduced as a result of the new technological investments. “One guy runs both Pro Edge machines,” she said. “He can load them and walk away to work on other things. The staff can do something else while the machines are working, which allows us to get more production out of the shop.” She also added that the CNC machine helps speed up the production of cladding as well.

“Interest rates have gone down, and the popularity of granite has gone up as a result of HGTV [Home and Garden TV network],” said Phillips. “A lot of people are coming in to remodel instead of picking up and moving like before.”

Phillips Tile & Stone now runs three installation crews who average a total of 15 jobs a week. The company's cliental is 90% residential and 10% commercial, and it mostly handles all natural stone, with the exception of porcelain and ceramic tile for the sake of its full-service showroom. While the company specializes in kitchen countertops, it also fabricates many high-end custom home elements for bathrooms, including shower walls, floors and vanities. In addition, since the company works with several builder development companies, such as Shea Homes, Standard Pacific, Centex and Taylor Woodrow, it handles a lot of projects for large residential track homes.

One of the most difficult things that the owners face on a daily basis is explaining to homeowners that they are not in control of the materials. “It's often challenging to educate homeowners that our materials are natural and not manmade,” Phillips said.

The additional factory space at the new location has also allowed the company to keep a stock inventory of 32 bundles of slabs in various colors and materials.

End box

Phillips Tile & Stone
Fairfield, CA

Type of work: kitchen countertops, bathroom vanities, shower walls and floors
Machinery: Levi Tunisi bullnosing machine, two Park Industries bridge saws, two Park Industries Pro Edge II line machines, Prussiani Oceania Elite CNC stoneworking center from IGE Solutions, Teco 30 saw, Edgemarc Stinger portable routers, Pearl Abrasives/Keystone diamond tooling, Hard Rock diamond tooling
Number of Employees: 28
Production Rate: 15 jobs a week

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