Asian Producer Expands its Market
October 3, 2008
With eight factories in China, 19 quarries worldwide and sales offices around the world (including three in the U.S.), Best Cheer Stone Group has developed into one of the largest stone suppliers in the world. Over the past few years, the company has undergone a number of expansion initiatives, including increased exports to the U.S. market.
Since inception in 1994, Best Cheer has utilized a vertically integrated business model to expand the company’s global reach to over 50 countries. In all, the company has over 4,500 employees, and it offers over 600 types of stone to customers throughout the world. Best Cheer employs its own block inspectors throughout the world, allowing it to offer a large range of material.
Best Cheer came to the U.S. in April of 2003 with the purchase of Rowan Granite Quarry, Inc. in Salisbury, NC, producer of Solar White granite. “We have been purchasing from the well-known quarries throughout the U.S. and abroad for many years prior,” stated the company. “We have increased sales of raw blocks in the U.S. with the acquisition.”
On the import side, Best Cheer’s U.S. operations began with Rowan Stone, Inc., a small warehouse in Elberton, GA, in January 2005 (now known as Best Cheer Stone, Inc.). Later, the company moved into the large properties formerly owned by Georgia Stone - also in Elberton - and occupying 130,000 square feet of indoor warehouse space and 165 acres of land. Sherry Gibson serves as General Manager of this facility. “Having such a huge property centrally located between Atlanta, GA, and Charlotte, NC, enables us to have a high distributorship that can easily service the Southeast,” stated the company. “We now have expanded directly into Charlotte as well.”
On the West Coast, the company opened a location on “Tile Mile” in Anaheim, CA - also with 130,000 square feet of warehouse space. “We employ all local staff there, as well as in our other U.S. locations,” stated the company.
Materials offered by Best Cheer Stone Group include granite and marble slabs, prefabricated pieces, landscape materials, mosaics, travertine, slate, soapstone and cut-to-size products.
“Cut-to-size projects are becoming a major part of our sales in the U.S.,” explained a statement from Best Cheer Group. “Being able to offer our fabricators the opportunity to have us completely cut stone for projects such as hotels, for example, enables the large or small fabricator to be very competitive in a competitive industry. If time allows, we can do the complete cut-to-size job. If not, or if they prefer, they can use our prefabs. We have supplied many major projects in the U.S. as well as throughout the world.”
Among the product expansions at Best Cheer Stone Group, the company is offering prefabricated countertops (“prefabs”) for shops in the U.S. “We started our warehouse in Anaheim with the prefab program,” said Fabian Canche, Sales Manager in the Anaheim location. “We stock $6 million in inventory in this location alone.”
Tops are available in sizes of 110 x 26 inches and 98 x 26 inches with a 1 ½-inch bullnose on the front edge and one side. Large islands are also available with a 1 ½-inch bullnose on four sides and measurements of 98 x 36/42 inches and 110 x 36/42 inches.
Canche explained that most of its prefab products are sold to fabricators and installers. “You still need the fabricator and installer,” he said. “You need to trim the backs and the sides, and it’s not like homeowners are going to pick up the slab, do the sink cut-out and install the material.”
By offering prefabricated countertops, Canche said that stone products are being introduced into “mid-level” housing markets. “This allows fabricators to increase business by going after a new market that wouldn’t be using stone otherwise,” he said. “With the U.S. warehouses, we can work on a tight timeframe. We are doing prefabs in basic materials as well as exotics.” Best Cheer reports that despite the slowdown in the U.S. housing market, the company has been able to increase its business through the sales of prefab materials.
According to Canche, the prefabs are made to fit standard American kitchen cabinets and bathroom vanities, and they are processed in China using advanced stoneworking technology from Italy, including CNC technology and resin treatment.
Prefab countertops are available in over 120 colors in Anaheim, and the group has over 500 materials for selection in its three U.S. warehouses. “If the customer cannot find the prefab color or size to fit their kitchen project, they can select from slabs as well,” according to Best Cheer. “We have just started this program in our Eastern location, concentrating on - but not limited to - the 3-cm availability. We strive to grow this program to the same growth as our West Coast location.”
In all, Best Cheer Group has invested $10 million in U.S. operations over the past five years, and it has seen considerable growth in employment. “We will remain committed and to our primary customer - the fabricator - who is the backbone of our industry,” stated the company.