Producing stone kitchens, bathrooms and furnishings

March 3, 2003
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Like many professionals in the trade, Rocco Barocco began working in the stone industry as a tilesetter, starting at the age of 19. He was introduced to the trade by his father, who learned the craft in his native Italy. Today, the Barocco family tradition of stoneworking continues at Barocco Marble & Granite, which he runs with his wife, Rita.

The company has a fabricating shop in Chestnut Ridge, NY, and a showroom in nearby Nanuet, NY. Its location allows it easy access to the upscale markets of Rockland and Westchester Counties in New York as well as Bergen County in New Jersey. Feeding the consumer demands of this area, Barocco Marble & Granite fabricates countertops for kitchens and bathrooms as well as fireplaces and furnishings, such as tops for antique tables and "farmhouse style" sinks.

The primary piece of cutting equipment is a Sierra bridge saw from Park Industries, which was recommended to Barocco Marble & Granite by a local distributor in the area.

The machine is designed to handle material up to 2 3/4 inches thick with the blade in the vertical position, and it utilizes a 14-inch diameter blade for granite or a 16-inch diameter blade for marble.

The Park Sierra is designed with a 10-horsepower motor, and it provides 12 feet, 2 inches of motion. This allows a full slab to be cut on the machine and reduces slab positioning time. The machine also allows for step cutting and vertical blade positioning, and a bridge miter of 0 to 47 degrees with hard stops allows accurate sawing of a quirk miter or a feather miter without the need for jigs.

To enhance operation, the machine features a laser light on the bridge, and a pendant control with a 15-foot cable enables a single operator the ability to directionally control the saw's powered motions within the gantry rails.

Once the cutting operations are complete, the workpieces move to the edging area, where a portable Ghines Sector is used to fabricate a complete selection of edges, based on the request of the client.

Most of the countertops are cut from 1 1/4-inch granite and marble, and the company also cuts backsplashes and custom tile patterns for floors and walls.

With a total of seven employees, Barocco Marble & Granite cuts an average of six to eight projects per week, although the production rate depends on the size and complexity of the jobs being processed. The company stocks some material, but they typically order what they need from local distributors on a project-by-project basis.

Although some of the employees are able to execute a range of tasks, there are some specialists as well. "We have one worker who is great at fabricating stone for undermounted sinks," Rita Barocco explained, adding that the company tries to hire workers who have some background in natural stone. Typically, it takes a few months before a new employee can work completely unsupervised, and up to a year before they are proficient.

According to Rita Barocco, the company's client base is an even mix of homeowners and kitchen and bath designers. She explained that her background in interior design gives her the aptitude to satisfy the needs of both of these client types. Still, she said that "having the customer get what they want" is the biggest challenge of the job. To optimize customer satisfaction, the company's policy is for customers to hand-pick their own slabs. "It's really the only way to do it right," she said. "You just can't rely on a small sample."

Because many of the company's clients are homeowners, running the company is essentially a seven-day-per-week operation. But even with the demands of the current client base, the owners have found time to expand the business by opening Barocco Tiles adjacent to its stone showroom. This operation serves the tile needs of the same client base, with a complete range of ceramic tile varieties from around the world.

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