Making its mark on the West Coast
November 1, 2008
Bill Kammerer and his father, Bob, had more than 20 years of experience in the stone and tile industry when they left their homes in Long Island, NY, in 1986 and traveled across country to start a new company, American Marble and Tile. The father-and-son team brought a strong work ethic with them and devoted their energy to establishing themselves as a reputable tile-setting business in San Diego, CA. Today, more than two decades later, the company - now known as American Marble - is comprised of over 110 employees and occupies a 40,000-square-foot stone fabrication facility and showroom that sits on 2 1/2 acres in Vista, CA.
“In the beginning, it was Bob, Bill and a few employees setting tile and trying to make their mark in the San Diego market,” explained Mark Sneller, the company’s Vice President of Sales and Marketing. “After a few years and a strong New York/East Coast-style work ethic, the company grew to include a few more employees and enough clientele to warrant a small showroom and adjacent fabrication warehouse. They were now making their mark not only installing tile, but also fabricating and installing natural stone slab countertops.”
Soon after, the company once again expanded to a larger showroom and fabrication shop in a more high-profile location. It also grew to include between 20 to 25 employees and several installation trucks. Additionally, American Marble and Tile increased its client base to include not only residential homeowners, but also general contractors, interior designers and commercial builders.
Another growth spurt came in 1995, when American Marble and Tile branched out to acquire another local marble and tile company, and it made the move to Oceanside, CA. “We picked up additional staff from the acquisition, a new location and officially changed the name to what we are known as today, American Marble,” said Sneller. “Whereas the early ‘90s were plagued with economic slowdown, and companies were struggling to stay afloat, they were a time for growth for American Marble.”
A final move came in 2002, when the company relocated to its state-of-the-art facility, which it still currently occupies. American Marble now services major commercial developers, nationally known homebuilders, architectural and design firms and residential homeowners.
“We are proud of what we have accomplished over the years,” said Company President Bill Kammerer, explaining that his father has since retired. “Each of our employees takes pride in the product we create, and we are pleased that many on our team have been around for the entire ride.”
The fabrication facilityAmerican Marble operates an efficient stoneworking facility with an impressive lineup of machinery. Leading this part of the operation is 18-year veteran and Production Manager, Karl Miethke. Equipment in the shop includes an Integrated Flying Bridge 6012 waterjet machine from Flow International Corp. of Kent, WA, three Jaguar bridge saws from Park Industries of St. Cloud, MN, a Comandulli Omega 100 slab polisher from Italy, a Marmo Meccanica LCV 711M edge polisher from Italy and an EnviroSystem water treatment system from Water Treatment Technologies of Hampton, NH. The newest machine to be added to the shop is an Intermac Master Stone 43 CNC stoneworking center from Intermac America of Charlotte, NC.
“The Intermac 43 CNC has increased our ability to manufacture complex ornate edge details, which has doubled the efficiency when doing work for hotels and high-rise condominium projects,” said Sneller.
Slabs are maneuvered around the shop with Dal Forno vacuum lifters attached to Elephant boom cranes. Additionally, hand tools and accessories are purchased from companies such as Granite City Tool Co. of Waite Park, MN; Hard Rock Tool of Anaheim, CA; Keystone Tools Co. of Commerce, CA; and Tool Depot of San Diego, CA.
With the state-of-the-art machinery in place at its fabrication shop, American Marble is capable of producing a broad range of products. “We fabricate and install natural stone, marble, quartzite, limestone, engineered and solid surface products - from exterior stone cladding, countertops and showers to virtually any specialty commercial and residential builder application,” said Miethke, adding that the company completes approximately 250 jobs on a monthly basis as well as additional miscellaneous commercial, institutional and healthcare projects.
The company purchases its material from several local distributors, including Arizona Tile, Bedrosians and Cosentino. In addition, the company works with quartz surfacing from CaesarStone. “We also have other direct buying sources in Asia and the U.S.,” said Sneller. “We typically do not inventory slabs for the public, although we do have a small remnant yard. Our typical inventory for ongoing jobs will range from 400 to 600 slabs, depending on the size of the projects in the backlog.”
A total of 65 workers are in the fabrication shop, and the company runs two separate shifts - with the capacity to operate three. Moreover, American Marble’s installation department consists of 36 employees who form between 14 to 18 crews.
While the company’s drafting team utilizes Polystyrene strips for templating, they also use digitized templating equipment, which includes two Prodim Proliners that were purchased from Blick Industries of Laguna Beach, CA, and a digitizing table. “This has allowed us to easily measure complex shapes accurately, transfer information to all CNC and waterjet equipment as well as generate specific job template files that can be stored and used again, if need be,” explained Sneller.
A diversified marketIn order to achieve continuous success in its fabrication business, Kammerer believes that it is important for American Marble to be diverse. “American Marble has always served the residential home sector, however, Bill had it in his sights that preparing his company’s future would include establishing American Marble’s adaptability to being able to serve many different market sectors,” said Sneller. “This would assist in stabilizing American Marble’s future no matter what the state of the economy. Markets such as casinos, education buildings, hospitals, hotels and high-rise commercial towers were always in his sights.”
With this philosophy in mind, Kammerer started developing key relationships with some of the prominent commercial contractors and developers in the San Diego region. “Looking back at the past 20 years, it’s plain to see just how American Marble’s determination to expand has helped us to be part of the new and improved San Diego skyline,” said Sneller. “The transition into the residential tower and multi-commercial sector now represents over 75% of the gross sales volume annually, with other markets like casinos, commercial offices and residential single-family homes making up the remainder of our annual income.”
Among some of the large-scale projects that the company has recently completed are: Marque at Park Place in Irvine, CA; The Grand Del Mar Resort in Del Mar, CA; Radiance, a residential high-rise in San Francisco, CA; Pachanga, Valley View & Viejas casinos in San Diego, CA and Riverside Counties, CA; Red Hawk Casino in Placerville, CA; a retail project for Planet Hollywood in Las Vegas, NV; Alta, Aria, Bayside, Electra, The Grande and Grand North at Santa Fe Place, The Legend, Park Place and Sapphire Tower, which are all residential high-rises that have been added to San Diego’s skyline.
“Our short-term goals are to continue to gain market share in our current region as well as future expansion to other regional states, establishing models similar to our current one here in Vista, CA,” said Sneller. “We are also looking to target some non-traditional markets.”
Kammerer and his team at American Marble also believe that it is important to give back to their local community with projects such as Habitat for Humanity and other charitable organizations. “We want to continue to do business smart and efficiently, while maintaining our trademark of ‘Quality, Service and Integrity,’ “ said Sneller.
Sidebar: American MarbleVista, CA
Type of work: single-family and residential high-rises; commercial work, including casinos and hotels
Machinery: an Integrated Flying Bridge 6012 waterjet machine from Flow International Corp. of Kent, WA; three Jaguar bridge saws from Park Industries of St. Cloud, MN; a Comandulli Omega 100 slab polisher from Italy; a Marmo Meccanica LCV 711M edge polisher from Italy; an EnviroSystem water treatment system from Water Treatment Technologies of Hampton, NH; an Intermac Master Stone 43 CNC stoneworking center from Intermac America of Charlotte, NC; Dal Forno vacuum lifters; Elephant boom cranes; hand tools and accessories from Granite City Tool Co. of Waite Park, MN; Hard Rock Tool of Anaheim, CA; Keystone Tools Co. of Commerce, CA and Tool Depot of San Diego, CA; two Prodim Proliners purchased from Blick Industries of Laguna Beach, CA
Number of Employees: more than 110 employees, including 65 in the fabrication shop and 36 in the installation department
Production Rate: approximately 250 jobs on a monthly basis as well as additional miscellaneous commercial, institutional and healthcare projects