Stone World

Following a dream

April 2, 2012
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Originally from Wroclaw, Poland, Robert Krolikiewicz has built a successful life for himself in the U.S., but it didn’t come without its share of struggles. He first immigrated to Chicago when he was in his early twenties. With the English language being a challenge, he enrolled in English classes and took a job cleaning stores to earn a living. After some time, Krolikiewicz left the city and migrated to Florida after remembering a postcard his father once sent while visiting there. Once settled, he founded International Artistic Stone in Sarasota, FL, in 1999 — a full-service stone fabrication shop offering an elite palette of natural stone and quartz materials.

“I came from a small world and landed in the immigration department in the middle of Chicago,” explained Krolikiewicz. “I cleaned stores for five to six months and then I said, ‘I can’t do this anymore.’ “

Motivated to take advantage of the “Land of Opportunity,” Krolikiewicz set out to fulfill his creative side. He was encouraged by his wife, Irini, to open his own stone fabrication business. “As the company has grown, we have branched out to include a broad range of products and services, with a focus on limestone,” he said. “Our master craftsmen start from large blocks of limestone and carve out columns, balusters, fireplaces, ornamental carvings, door and window trims, pool coping, exterior elevations, sculptures, outdoor tables and benches, stone reliefs, and much more. In addition, we continue to offer our countertop service in natural stone and quartz materials — specializing in unique finishes and inspired edge treatments.”

Krolikiewicz explained that the art of hand craftsmanship is in his genes. “My grandpa was a blacksmith in Poland,” he said. “I have a background in tooling. We are artistic people. It is how we breathe here.”

International Artistic Stone operates out of a 15,000-square-foot covered facility on an acre of land. “We are a very customized shop — a one-shift company with six carvers,” said Krolikiewicz. “We are like a family. We try to produce very special products. I don’t consider us a big production line; that’s not for me. I think that is always commercialized and tough to get top dollar.”

Among the equipment in the fabrication facility is a Luna 740 edge polisher from Montresor of Italy, an Astra table saw with an 18-inch blade, a GMM 150 Roto automatic bridge lathe that is used for circular products such as columns, fountains and banisters, two Promech® computerized bridge saws — one with a 36-inch and the other with a 56-inch blade, a Promech 3000 computerized 10-foot blade saw, a Promech split face machine splitter with a 50-ton capacity, a flat surface polisher and a router for completing edge details.

Primarily, International Artistic Stone caters to the high-end Floridian residential market, but it also does some customized work for commercial projects throughout the U.S. “Recently we worked on a very unique project — a Chinese park,” said Krolikiewicz. “We had three truckloads [of limestone] from Indiana delivered in one month.”

According to Krolikiewicz, the company mostly uses a buff-colored limestone for many of its projects. “It is a different variation of lots of creams,” he said. “Our customers in Florida are very specific. We buy Silverdale limestone up in the Kansas area. It’s really good for fountains. People like it.”

While the majority of International Artistic Stone’s inventory is blocks, the company does stock slabs for its customers to view. Krolikiewicz and his staff take pride in their precision work. “I like challenges,” he said. “I like to try something that is not easy to do. We have a saying in our shop: ‘If something is very hard to do, we do it in up to 45 minutes. If you need a miracle to fix something, you wait three days.’

“All of my employees always challenge themselves,” he went on to say. “I’ve been doing this a minimum of 10 to 12 years, and there was only one time where I said to a customer that I can’t do it.”

SIDEBAR

International Artistic Stone

Sarasota, FL

Type of work:primarily customized high-end residential work as well as some commercial applications

Machinery:a Luna 740 edge polisher and a 150 Roto automatic bridge lathe — both from GMM of Italy; an Astra table saw with an 18-inch blade; two computerized bridge saws — one with a 36-inch and the other with a 56-inch blade, a Promech® 3000 computerized 10-foot blade saw and a split face machine splitter with a 50-ton capacity — all from Promech®; a flat surface polisher and a router for completing edge details

     Number of Employees:six carvers