Making the jump to stone fabrication
Til-Mar Designs was started 10 years ago by a father and son team, specializing in tile sales and installation. With business thriving in the Philadelphia region, the company had steadily built a solid reputation and customer base. As a result, a decision was made about a year and a half ago to open a fabricating facility, which enables Til-Mar Designs to provide its clients with fast turnaround and better quality control.
â€œWe were doing granite countertops through a subcontractor,â€ said Thomas Giordano Jr., who owns Til-Mar Designs with his father, Thomas Giordano Sr. â€œIt came to a point that we didn't want to rely on anyone any more. We already had the work locked in, so it was a good time to make a leap.â€
The first major purchase by the company was a Sheng Da ZDCQ-400 bridge saw sold through Granite City Tool of Waite Park, MN. â€œWe had contacted [Granite City Tool] about a couple of different saws,â€ said Giordano. â€œThey informed us of a new one -- the Sheng Da ZDCQ-400. I was apprehensive at first, but it's a great saw. It's manufactured in China.â€
Giordano explained that his initial hesitation was due to concern over technical support. If Til-Mar Designs experienced any problems with the machine, he was worried how fast the response time would be. This, however, has not been an issue. The company has been very satisfied with the service Granite City Tool and the manufacturer have provided. â€œThe reason why we purchased what we did was that we wanted a good value for the money, but not outgrow it,â€ he said.
While waiting for the saw to arrive, Til-Mar Designs used a Blue Ripper, DiaPro router and Makita hand polishers for fabrication, which it also purchased from Granite City Tool. â€œOnce the shop was set up with the big bridge saw, it was more than fast enough.â€ In the future, Giordano hopes to purchase an edge polisher.
In addition to Giordano and his father, Til-Mar Designs consists of five shop workers, three administrative positions and three installers. The company operates one 10-hour shift a day, and has one lead installer to oversee all of the templating. On average, it fabricates approximately 35 kitchens a month.
â€œWe pretty much cover everything,â€ said Giordano, adding that the company does a significant amount of commercial work. â€œWe have carved a niche for ourselves. We cater to builders and the commercial end -- contractors doing residential remodels. We provide quick turnaround -- sometimes only a few days. When they really need it, we can provide that. When you are starting out like we are, you have to differentiate yourself -- especially in a saturated market.â€
According to Giordano, one of the most challenging aspects of making the switch to fabrication was setting up the new shop, which took about six months. â€œWe recently moved to a 10,000-square-foot space,â€ he said. â€œIt required a lot of labor to get the place ready. The saw came in several pieces. It was a little overwhelming to see your big purchase like that. Once it was up and running, it was great. We had the work. We really started with a leg up.â€
At this time, most of the company's material comes from independent stoneyards. â€œWe would like to start importing slabs,â€ said Giordano. â€œWe would like to make the turnaround time as short as possible. Directly importing containers from overseas would eliminate a lot of hassles.â€
Til-Mar Designs' primary focus is to continue to target the commercial sector. Currently, it is working on a large housing development in Philadelphia called the Reserve at Packer Park. â€œThese are upscale homes, and many customers select granite and stone tops,â€ said Giordano.
End boxTil-Mar Designs
Type of work: Countertops and vanities for builders and commercial contractors as well as some residential work
Machinery: Sheng Da ZDCQ-400 bridge saw, Blue Ripper, DiaPro router and Makita hand polishers, all from Granite City Tool
Production rate: Approximately 35 kitchens a month