Running like clockwork

April 2, 2003
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The appeal of Marble & Granite Fabricators, Inc. of Beltsville, MD, lies in the smooth efficiency of its operation. Working with a standard line-up of cutting and edging products, the company fabricates and installs high-end stonework for the Washington, DC, region and beyond.

The company is owned by the husband-and-wife team of Nick and Elda Cordone, who actually met because of their involvement in the stone industry. Nick was born and raised in Washington, DC, where he has always worked in the stone industry. He met Elda when she worked for a stone supplier in Italy, and she eventually relocated to the U.S., where she manages the stoneworking business.

Marble & Granite Fabricators, Inc. has been working in the Washington/Baltimore area for 30 years, having started in Rockville, MD, and then moving to its current location. The operation employs a total of 17 workers, and the fabricating shop is 22,000 square feet in size. Additionally, the company maintains 15,000 square feet of outdoor slab storage.

Starting with polished slabs, the company works with two saws, including a GSC-2001 bridge saw from Matrix Stone Products of Upland, CA, which was purchased last year. Nick Cordone explained that the company was comfortable with the Matrix ownership team and the ease of slab loading that the saw offered, adding that he felt it would be easy to get service if necessary.

During the production process, slabs are maneuvered around the shop with an overhead crane. "The overhead crane has been our savior," Cordone said, explaining that the crane is used to move slabs to the bridge saw. Once the slabs are at the saw, they are loaded onto the worktable with attachable steel beams that are a part of the Matrix saw's design. When a slab is ready to be processed, the beams are attached to the front of the worktable, which allows the piece to be easily tilted directly into place. The entire process only requires two workers, according to Cordone, one to work the overhead crane and another at the saw to maneuver the slab into place.

After the slabs are cut to size, the edges of the stone are processed with a Ghines Sector portable edging machine. Workers then use hand tools as needed to finish the process.

Currently, the company fabricates a total of 8 to 10 kitchens per week, specializing in high-end projects in Washington, Virginia and Maryland and as far north as Delaware. "We only do high-end work," Cordone said. "We don't worry about volume."

Based on Maryland regulations, Marble & Granite Fabricators, Inc. technically acts as a subcontractor, doing work for kitchen and bath dealers, architects and builders. But ultimately, the company has to satisfy the needs of the homeowners, which makes customer service a top priority. "We have to continually make sure that everything is on track and that things are on time," said Elda Cordone.

In addition to residential work, the company has been involved in commercial work as well. These have included hotels as well as prominent projects such as Union Station and the Restaurant at Kennedy Center in Washington, DC.

With so many new fabricators being established in the Washington/Baltimore region, Elda Cordone explained that customer service is more important than ever. "There are a lot of people starting companies, and once they start breaking slabs, that will end the success of their business," she said. "We've been fortunate that we've always had a good reputation."

Within the shop, the company has been able to retain its workers for the long-term. "We have been lucky to keep our employees," Elda Cordone said. "They're great, though. When we have to work extra shifts or on weekends, they come out every time, and they take pride in getting the job done." The company installs everything it cuts and vice versa. Workers do not, however, crossover between working in the shop and in the field. "We don't have our installers cutting stone," Nick Cordone said.

As entrepreneurs in several different businesses, the Cordones continually have an eye on expansion. They are planning to add space to their facility in Maryland, and they are also investing in a CNC stoneworking center. Additionally, they have plans to open a showroom and fabricating shop in Bergen County, NJ, later this year.

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