Striving to beat the competition

May 1, 2005
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Since being founded in 1960, Marcolini Marmi S.p.A. of Grezzana, Verona, Italy, has faced increasing competition -- from Italian stoneworking firms as well emerging companies overseas. But over the years, the company has remained successful by emphasizing quality and searching the globe for new, interesting materials.

“Our biggest challenge is international competition,” explained owner Gianluca Marcolini, who added that they have met this challenge in a variety of ways. When sourcing stone, the firm has its own affiliated block trading company, PNS Italia, which was acquired in 2000. This company has stockyards in Carrara and Verona, and it supplies blocks for Marcolini as well as La Ponte Marmi, which joined the organization in 1974 and works exclusively in granite.

By maintaining a common channel for purchasing within the group, Marcolini can carefully monitor the quality of the blocks it purchases, and it also has increased buying power and can gain exclusives from certain quarries.

All material is brought into the company in block form. “We don't broker finished products,” Marcolini said, adding that everything sold by the company is processed in-house.

Marcolini Marmi works an even mix of marble and granite, and it also works with a broad range of exotic stones such as onyx and Blue Sodalite. Through its contacts and purchasing power, the company is able to inventory large slabs of Blue Sodalite, and it has 15,000 square feet of this material in stock.

Production facilities

The Marcolini Marmi production facilities include multiple workshops, and the layout is so large that a golf cart is occasionally used to get from place to place. During the tile production process, blocks are cut into “billets” (strips) on one of four Pedrini blockcutters, each of which are equipped with 60 cutting discs. For standard tile production, the billets are 1 1⁄2 inch thick, and they are then cut horizontally and calibrated and polished to the required surface finish and thickness. Marcolini operates a total of three complete Pedrini tile lines for marble, ranging from one year old to five years old. The company also has Breton machinery for granite tile production, and it operates five granite tile lines in all. Tile boxes are stamped with the material name and the number of the block it came from to keep organization and tracking at an optimum level.

For slab production, Marcolini has polishing equipment from Breton, and it also has equipment for mass production of resin-treated slabs. Marcolini explained that the resin plant was one of the first of its kind in Italy.

Cut-to-size work is processed with a broad range of equipment, and some of the latest investments include a Pedrini M940 bridge saw and an Intermac Master Stone CNC stoneworking center.

Sales and marketing

Marcolini Marmi has developed a new slab warehouse that serves as a gallery for customers to peruse the material in an open, bright environment. Slabs are neatly arranged and classified to make it easier for customers to make their selection.

For clients who do not visit the facility in person, Marcolini also has an online purchasing outlet at www.marcolini.it where inventory is updated twice a day. Customers can browse an extensive inventory of slabs. All of the relevant information about each material is recorded and displayed online, including the size and availability as well as a photo of each slab.

Marcolini is very export-minded, and half of the company's production is shipped to the U.S. market. The remaining production is exported to countries within Europe, particularly to the growing markets in Northern and Eastern Europe. The firm also sells to clients within Italy.

In all, Marcolini has 80 employees working in production and 30 in the offices. Production stands at approximately 54,000 square feet per day, including slabs, tiles and cut-to-size work. Slabs represent the greatest part of production, but it has also made innovations in tile production as well as cut-to-size work. Architectural projects have included hotels and commercial office towers in New York and Texas, among other locations, and the company recently fabricated custom stonework in Rojo Alicante and Carrara White marble for the Metro Rail Station in Moscow, Russia.

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