A model business for slab fabrication
November 18, 2006
Teamwork has proven the key to success for Mike and Kathy Simonelli of US Granite in Sacramento, CA. The husband and wife team, who first met as teenagers, launched their slab fabrication business in November 2002. After experiencing pleasing results for several years, the owners recently opened a second fabrication shop in Reno, NV, and they have plans to set up a third location in Los Banos, CA, by the spring of 2007.
â€œMike started in tile at the age of 15 years old, and we met at the age of 17,â€ said Kathy Simonelli, co-owner of US Granite. â€œAt the age of 21 - after my persistent 'study classes' - Mike passed his C54 license and became a tile contractor. He began fabricating slabs in 1992.â€
Ten years later, the couple decided to form their own company. Since opening three and a half years ago, US Granite has expanded to a new facility about a year ago. â€œOur main focus was custom homeowners, kitchen and bath dealers, etc.,â€ explained Simonelli. â€œDue to [the need for] quality and on-time delivery, our main focus is now production builders, custom home contractors, retail flooring and design center outlets. We now have a good market share of all segments of the slab fabrication industry.â€
Slab productionUS Granite concentrates on the production of natural stone, quartz and Corian slabs. The company produces approximately 250 kitchens per month.
The 22,000-square-foot facility in Sacramento houses a range of state-of-the-art machinery from Park Industries, including a Pro Edge III automatic edge machine, two Sierra bridge saws, a Fastback flat edge polishing machine, a Velocity decorative edge shaper and polisher, and a Destiny dual-spindle CNC Stonecenter. Additionally, the fabrication shop is equipped with a water filtration system from Water Treatment Technologies and a waterjet from Flow International.
According to Simonelli, the Park Fastback was the most recent addition to the shop. â€œIt has reduced our number of hand polisher employees and polishing pads,â€ she said. â€œ[Also], it increased our speed in production of backsplashes.â€
The Reno facility measures 22,000 square feet, and is equipped with the same machinery as the Sacramento location.
In total, the shop in Sacramento employs 40 workers. The company runs two shifts - one day and one night. In addition, it has 11 install crews.
While US Granite's installation teams still use Luan plywood strips for templating, the company has also invested in digitizing equipment. â€œWe can produce a piece without tear out, re-templating or downtime to the homeowner,â€ said Simonelli.
Marketing effortsWith a second fabrication operation in place, US Granite will be able to further concentrate its sales efforts on production and custom-home builders as well as carpet and flooring outlets. Currently, a total of 70% of the company's business is natural stone, 20% quartz and 10% Corian, according to Simonelli.
US Granite has also fabricated products for several high-profile projects such as the Governor's Mansion in California for Arnold Shwarzenegger. When looking to the future, the company's owners hope to continue the path to success they are presently following. â€œOur goal is to stay consistent and produce quality without schedule compromise,â€ said Simonelli.
Type of work: slab fabrication for production and custom-home builders as well as carpet and flooring outlets
Machinery: A Pro Edge III automatic edge machine, two Sierra bridge saws, a Fastback flat edge polishing machine, a Velocity decorative edge shaper and polisher, and a Destiny dual-spindle CNC Stonecenter - all from Park Industries; a water filtration system from Water Treatment Technologies; and a waterjet from Flow International (all equipment in both Sacramento, CA, and Reno, NV, locations)
Number of Employees: 40 (Sacramento, CA, location)
Production Rate: 250 kitchens per month (all materials)