About 10 miles south of New Orleans in Chalmett, LA, Quality Stone and Flooring recently established itself as a custom fabricator that covers New Orleans and its surrounding areas. The owners, Danny Dardar and Tony Goutierrez, began the business after Dardar approached Goutierrez with a proposal for a new company. The pair work well together - as they split the work based upon the strengths each has for running the business. While Dardar's background in installing and fabricating covers the production side of the company, Goutierrez specializes in sales and estimates.
â€œMy grandfather was a mason in Sicily, and I followed in his footsteps,â€ said Dardar. â€œTony and I had spoken, and we decided it was time to open a stone business. We were tired of working for other people.â€
As they build their young company, the owners of Quality Stone and Flooring have focused on the installation of stone kitchen and bathroom countertops, walls, floors and custom accessories. The owners were pleasantly surprised with the response to their new venture. â€œWe are probably doing about 13 to 14 kitchens a week, and we have only been open for less than four months,â€ said Goutierrez. â€œWe really went slow in the beginning. We could have gone faster, but we called it Quality Stone because we wanted to produce quality work. Still, our production is increasing.â€
The primary pieces of equipment at the facility are both from Matrix Stone Products - a Sebring gantry saw and the Daytona XL edge profiler. â€œWe bought the Sebring gantry saw about [in the Fall of 2003], and we just bought the edging profiler [in early 2004],â€ said Goutierrez. â€œI saw a need for it. We bought an inexpensive hand router, and I could see it wasn't working. I then did some research on new machinery and approached my partner with it. Even though it was going to be costly, it would be worth it. We need good machinery. That is something you need in this business - there are no ifs, ands or buts. These investments have actually increased work and given a better end product. What the profile machine does is creates a flawless product. If you are going to be in this business, you've got to be in it right.â€
Quality Stone initially began with older equipment, but quickly decided to upgrade. â€œWhen we saw the newer model of the Matrix Sebring gantry saw in Stone World, we decided to give it a shot,â€ said Dardar. â€œOnce we started using it and saw how much better it was than the one we used to have, we knew there was no question that the edge profiler was going be the same way. We wound up giving the Daytona XL edge profiler a shot as well, and it wound up being all that the magazine wrote it up to be. We are definitely pleased with the product - it was well worth it.â€
Both the Matrix edge polisher and saw that Quality Stone purchased have only been positive for their fabrication process. â€œWe like the edger for full bull-noses, and we get nothing but compliments on it. It's a really good product - we really have nothing bad to say about it. Everything about has been really helpful, including the fact that it is really easy and simple to run. The Matrix saw is just as good. It is also easy to run; there is nothing really complicated about it.â€
The facility also contains a range of other hand equipment and tooling, including Ghines routers, Makita grinders, DeWalt grinders and other angle grinders as well as Alpha Professional Tools air machines for polishing and Alpha Professional Tools pads. â€œThey [Alpha Professional Tools] have a really good product,â€ explained Dardar. â€œRight now we are trying all different kinds of cutters, polishers and edgers,â€ said Goutierrez. â€œWe have been experimenting with some new stuff that came out, mostly with products from VIC International.â€
As the company flourishes, the owners continue to look to the future for growth. â€œWe are getting ready to expand to the north shore, which is about 35 miles away - business is increasing that much,â€ explained Goutierrez.
Machinery and marketing are not the only elements that make a new company work. The workers are important as well. â€œThe staff includes any where from 4 to 10 employees at a time,â€ said Goutierrez. â€œDanny does most of the installing and fabricating and works the saws, along with another one of our workers, Danny's cousin, Jared Dardar, who works the edging machine. He also specialized as a fabricator, and has been [working in a fabricating shop] for about 10 or 12 years.
â€œWe hire our employees mostly by word of mouth - generally by hearing about someone looking for a job. We train the employees in the shop first, and then if they are doing a good job we send them out in the field. Installing is actually harder than fabricating - it is an art. We really are looking for someone that can do the work seamlessly.â€
Recently, Quality Stone and Flooring has been adding more elements to its market. â€œWe are beginning to pick up commercial jobs,â€ said Goutierrez. â€œFor example, we are doing vanities in hotels as well as vanities and kitchen countertops in condominiums. We are also doing a lot of extra double-laminated work.â€
End boxQuality Stone and Flooring
Type of work: Kitchen countertops, commercial work
Machinery: Matrix Sebring gantry saw, Matrix Daytona XL edge profiler, Ghines routers, Makita grinders, DeWalt grinders, air machines and pads from Alpha Professional Tools
Number of employees: 10
Production rate: 13 to 14 kitchens per week