Taking Advantage Of An Emerging Market

June 1, 2005
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Throughout the U.S., many regions are developing at rates seen never before. Homeowners are willing to commute longer distances in order to afford the house of their dreams, and this has led to solid growth in residential construction. One of these rapidly growing markets is Northern Virginia, where new housing developments are being built on a continual basis. Looking to take advantage of this situation, A&S Marble Granite, Inc. was established in Winchester, VA, in October of last year as a fabricator of residential countertops and other architectural elements.

A&S Manager Adivaldo Alves had worked in the stone industry in the Boston area for 17 years, and the Brazil native is working in partnership with one of his countrymen, Agnaldo de Souza, who is the president of the company. All of the material processed by A&S is imported from Brazil, and popular materials include standards such as Ubatuba, Butterfly and Santa Cecila, in addition to some more exotic granites. The company keeps a total of 300 slabs in stock, and it maintains an inventory of approximately 40 colors.

The first piece of equipment purchased by A&S was a Marmoelettromeccanica/Regent Storm bridge saw from Regent Stone Products of Virginia Beach, VA. The saw is a semi-automatic unit that features a rotating table with quick locking at 0, 45 and 90 degrees and manual lock at any degree. The saw also has laser beam alignment and a tilting head from 0 to 45 degrees. The Storm has a maximum blade diameter of 20 inches, and can handle a maximum cutting size of 12 x 12 feet and a maximum cutting thickness of 20 inches.

After the slabs are cut to size, standard edges are done using a Marmoelettromeccanica Master 3500 portable router, also purchased from Regent Stone Products. However, the company also added a larger machine for processing ogee edges, which was manufactured by Sul-Técnica of Brazil. Because it is still looking to establish a customer base in the region, A&S does not charge extra for ogee edgework, a policy that is supported by the addition of the ogee machine.

Stonework is finished with a variety of hand tools, and most of the tooling comes from Regent. A&S has a total of six workers, and production stands at approximately six kitchens per week, with a typical job size of 50 to 55 square feet. However, larger projects are becoming more frequent, and at the time of Stone World's visit to the company, A&S was working on two jobs both measuring over 75 square feet in size. In addition to kitchen countertops, the company processes vanities, fireplaces, showers, tub decks and other architectural pieces.

A&S uses Luan plywood for templates, and when delivering a job, it has two pickup trucks as well as a closed box truck. Alves said the closed truck is particularly useful in bad weather, and it also allows the workers to keep all of their tools with them in the truck at all times. Moreover, the truck serves as an advertisement to potential customers while it is on the road, as it is literally a mobile billboard.

The company's customer base includes Northern Virginia as well as Maryland and the Washington, DC, metropolitan area, and it sells to contractors as well as homeowners.

End box

A&S Marble Granite, Inc.
Winchester, VA

Type of work: Countertops; vanities; fireplaces; showers; tub decks and other architectural pieces
Machinery: Marmoelettromeccanica/Regent Storm bridge saw from Regent Stone Products; Marmoelettromeccanica Master 3500 portable router from Regent; ogee edge processing machine from Sul-Técnica
Production rate: 6 kitchens per week
Number of Employees: 6

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