Fueled by a passion for stone
September 1, 2006
Photos by Michael Reis
With more than 30 years of experience in the kitchen and bath design industry, Ray Krok was confident that he possessed the necessary skills to run his own stone fabrication shop. Working side by side with his son, Brian, Krok considered all aspects of starting a new company - including critical factors such as location and equipment - before opening House of Stone in Monroe, NY. The business, which has been in operation for almost a year and half, is flourishing, and plans for expansion are already underway.
â€œI have been in the kitchen and bath design business since 1970, and I have always loved granite and stone,â€ said Krok. â€œThis is something that I wanted to do for several years.â€
Krok explained that once the decision was made to start the fabrication business, he began scouting out an ideal location. â€œI moved to Orange County, [NY], six years ago,â€ he said. â€œIt's a great area. I'm a city boy, so this is as far north [of New York City] as I will go.â€
Initially, Krok thought about renting a facility, but then decided that buying property and building his own shop would be his best option. â€œIt took a little over a year to put the building up,â€ he said, adding that the facility sits on 5 acres and encompasses about 6,000 square feet of space. Additionally, there is a 2,500-square-foot yard for slab displays and storage.
The shop, which is managed by Brian Krok, includes six full-time workers. â€œMy son Brian is a viable part of this business,â€ said Krok. â€œHe is really focused. [Also], all of the workers learned the trade in Europe and then came over here. I stress to everyone that quality is the most important thing to me. They know the standards. There is nothing they can't do.â€
Equipping the shopWhen it came time to buy machinery, Krok and his son did their homework before making a purchase. In the end, they went through Regent Stone Products for all their equipment as well as tools and accessories. â€œWe did some research, and they're willing to help,â€ said Krok.
Brian Krok added that he attended Regent's fabrication training school at their facility in Virginia Beach, VA. â€œThey are the best guys,â€ he said. â€œI was certified in quartz surfacing.â€
Among the equipment that Regent supplied to House of Stone is an America bridge saw, two Marmoelettromeccanica Master routers - versions 2800 and 3500, and six Alpha air polishers. Additionally, the company uses Tenax abrasives and gives each of its customers a Bellinzoni stone care kit, both supplied by Regent.
Currently, the company produces between eight to 10 kitchens a week, with the average size measuring between 50 and 60 square feet. Ray Krok explained that his company works with a number of area builders and remodelers as well as kitchen and bath design centers. â€œWe work in a 50-plus-mile radius,â€ he said.
House of Stone's market spans from Rockland and Orange counties in New York to areas of Connecticut and New Jersey. It also extends as far east as Long Island, NY. The company employs its own two-man installation crew, which uses luan plywood for templating.
Material selectionAccording to Krok, his company maintains an inventory of approximately 30 to 40 slabs. â€œIt's really about displaying and providing a convenience for our customers,â€ he said, adding that he purchases material from several local distributors. â€œWe basically work with Dente [Trading Co., Inc. of Cedar Grove, NJ]. We go down every month or so and make our selections.â€
If customers do not find a stone that they like at House of Stone, then the fabricator sends them to Dente's facility. â€œThey really have a nice selection of stones,â€ said Brian Krok. â€œThey always have something new.â€
When it comes to building a successful stone fabrication business, the Kroks believe that customer service is crucial. â€œIt's all about the people,â€ said Ray Krok. â€œYou should put your best foot forward.â€
Producing high-quality work is also at the top of their list. â€œIt's all about quality workmanship,â€ said Ray Krok. â€œI know the market value of products. We are going to be fair. There is always someone less expensive, but there is a reason for it.â€
To further make the experience convenient for its customers, House of Stone also sells sinks to go with the custom-fabricated countertops. Among the sinks in the company's inventory is one that is made of 80% granite from Blanco America.
According to Ray Krok, the company has had nothing but satisfied customers, including several high-profile celebrities who have homes in the area. At the time of Stone World's visit, a Jacuzzi top was being fabricated out of Coastal Green granite for a Soap Opera star.
â€œEveryone that we have done business with recommends us,â€ he said. â€œIt gives the business validity. I tell Brian that your word is your bond. To me, that is what your business is about. It's a passion I have. I absolutely love it.â€
House of Stone: Monroe, NYType of work: production home and remodel kitchens as well as customized pieces such as fireplaces and tub surrounds
Machinery: an America bridge saw, two Marmoelettromeccanica Master routers - versions 2800 and 3500, and six Alpha air polishers supplied by Regent Stone Products of Virginia Beach ,VA
Number of Employees: six full-time workers in the fabrication shop; one two-man installation crew
Production Rate: between eight to 10 kitchens a week, with the average size measuring between 50 and 60 square feet