“I moved to the U.S. 14 years ago,” said Machicao. “I went to Texas and opened a fashion studio. At the same time, a friend of mine told me he was opening a granite company. I had no clue what it was, but he hired me instantly. It was Bench Mark Stone of Houston. I worked in sales.
“It was funny because I didn’t realize that the granite business involved a lot of design,” Machicao went on to say. “When I found out, I was very happy. It was a lot like using fabrics. I fell in love with all of the colors and patterns of the stone.”
After working in sales for a while, Machicao asked to do measurements. “Soon I was designing kitchens,” he said. “I designed the edging and created the backsplashes. I liked to do things different. Instead of doing a 4-inch backsplash, I sometimes did one that was 6 inches. I also love doing window seating.”
Machicao lived in Texas for two years before moving to South Carolina and opening up his own fabrication shop. “I came here for vacation and totally fell in love,” he said. “I started with two guys from Houston. We worked in a garage that was in an industrial area. There were only one or two companies in the whole area at the time. It was the perfect place at the perfect time for me to start the business. The company started to grow and grow.”
Today, Metropolitan Marble & Granite operates out of a 3,000-square-foot facility with a staff of 13. The shop is managed by Javier Villanueva, who Machicao describes as his “right-hand man.”
With the majority of the company’s work being custom residential projects, an assortment of hand tools are used in the production process. A total of seven Makita hand tools as well as a Flex grinder are among the equipment utilized in fabrication — all supplied by Russell Smith of Stroup Supply Co. of Kannapolis, NC. The Flex grinder is used for ogee edges, according to Machiao. Additionally, a model 800A rail saw from Vic International of Knoxville, TN, is in place.
On average, the shop produces five to six jobs a week, with kitchens typically measuring 60 to 80 square feet. “We used to do 10 to 12 before the economy,” said Machicao, explaining that despite the drop, his business has still managed to remain successful through the economic downturn.
According to Machicao, the company maintains an extensive slab inventory on site to allow options for its customers. “People use a lot of remnants, too,” he said. “They are great for fireplaces and vanities.”
While 80% of Metropolitan Marble & Granite’s work is residential, the other 20% is commercial. “I work with all the builders in the area,” said Machicao, adding that he is a member of the Home Builders Association. “I love my work because I take so much pride in it. I don’t compromise my projects. I am very recession conscious, but I am not going to give away my granite.”
Machicao also contributes a successful business to quality customer service. “I am very customer service oriented,” he said. “I always go the extra mile with my customers. I often give them suggestions as to what color to use for the tile on the floors or walls, and sometimes even give suggestions on window treatments.”
Metropolitan Marble & Granite’s market includes South Carolina, North Carolina and Atlanta, GA, as well as the mountains of Tennessee. “I have a ski house there because I love to ski,” said Machicao. “A lot of my neighbors have become customers.”
Additionally, the company also does work for many homes in the New York/New Jersey area. “I have a partnership with a company in New Jersey,” said Machicao. “We can fabricate and install from there.”
Bridging fashion and stone
Born in Peru, Luis Carlos Machicao is recognized internationally for his high-end fashion designs that have been described by mainstream media as “classic with a touch of avant-garde.” It is his passion for design and the runway that landed him in the U.S. more than a decade ago. Machicao has presented his collections in cities such as Houston and Austin, TX; San Francisco, CA; Miami, FL; Charlotte, NC; and now, showing his latest Spring-Summer 2011 collection at New York’s fashion week this fall.
Recently, Machicao was featured in Southern Living magazine for his unique talent that combines both fashion and stone design. A photo shoot was held at Metropolitan Marble & Granite’s fabrication shop, which included model Alessia Andrade posing in Machicao originals in the midst of stone slabs.
Machicao explains that he has a passion for both fabric and stone, and it is his love of design that drives him to produce innovative custom-made products in both arenas.
Metropolitan Marble & Granite LLC
Rock Hill, SC
Type of work: 80% residential, 20% commercial
Machinery: seven Makita hand tools and a Flex grinder — all supplied by Stroup Supply Co. of Kannapolis, NC, an 800A rail saw from Vic International of Knoxville, TN
Number of employees: 13
Production rate: 5 to 6 jobs per week, kitchens range from 60 to 80 square feet