After an intense study of the natural resources in Coahuila, Mexico, Marble Design was founded in 1999 as a quarrier and fabricator of the region's attractive travertine deposits. And since its foundation, the company -- which fabricates tiles, slabs, cut-to-size pieces, mosaics, sinks and other specialty items -- has targeted the U.S. as a key export market.

The travertine quarried by Marble Design can be found in several deposits within the Coahuila region, and its reserves have been confirmed for several decades. According to the company, the marble travertine is a sedimentary, calcareous, compact or porous rock that is originated by the precipitation of calcium carbonate -- taking dissolution from the calcareous waters of the region.

The quarrying operation is extensive, as workers are extracting stone from several layers of the deposit simultaneously. Diamond wire saws are the primary piece of quarrying equipment in the process, which often involves pulling massive sections of stones from the quarry face. These sections are then further cut into blocks that are transported to the fabrication plant. The quarry site is 8 acres in size, with reserves for a 30-year period. With a monthly volume of nearly 1,800 cubic meters of first quality blocks, Marble Design reports that it is self-sufficient in the supply of raw material.

With the quarry operation established, Marble Design needed a strategic location for its fabrication plant. Ultimately, it decided on the rural community of "La Union" of Torreon, Coahuila. This community, which provides much of the labor force for the factory, is well located with easy and quick access to the main highways.

The plant currently has a workforce of 300 employees, and it is equipped with modern equipment from Italy. The process for producing tiles begins on a Pedrini blockcutter, which cuts the blocks into billets (stone strips). These billets are then automatically removed from the blockcutter and delivered to a full-scale Pedrini tile line, which can produce a range of tile sizes. Cut-to-size work also relies on machinery from Pedrini, including state-of-the-art bridge sawing equipment.

Marble Design's slab production facility is equally advanced, with automated machinery for loading and unloading the slabs from the line. Slabs are produced in thicknesses of both 3¿and 1 1¿inches.

Other equipment at the factory includes automatic filling machines, a sandblasting machine, a pantograph, various cranes and an extensive system for water treatment and recycling.

The production of mosaics relies on both modern technology as well as the skill of the workers. Marble Design operates a fully automated line for cutting, drying, and gluing borders and moldings as well as mesh-mounted mosaics. However, certain mosaic patterns still require the human touch, and they are assembled by hand.

The skill of Marble Design's workers are also evident in the handworking area, where cut-to-size pieces and specialty items such as kitchen countertops, vanities, fireplaces and solid stone sinks are finished. These products come in a broad range of finishes, sizes, colors and shapes, based on requirements of their customers. Stone varieties supplied by Marble Design include Paredon, Peach, Mocha, Chocolate and Gold travertines as well as Desert Gold and Black Monterrey marble.

With everything in place, Marble Design has a production capacity in excess of 60 containers per month, which represents 48,000 square meters of material. In the U.S., the company is represented by Marble Design USA, Inc., of Boulder, CO.