Since being sold two and a half years ago, Ideal Stones of Braganca Paulista, Sao Paulo, Brazil, has maintained a strong presence in the U.S. market. In addition to marketing itself at international trade fairs in Brazil and Italy, it can also be found exhibiting at American trade shows such as Coverings and ITSS.

The company was initially founded in 1992, and has been under the control of the Austria-based GIG Group since October 2002. It is heavily involved in the export market, as 90% of production is shipped overseas. The U.S. is the top export target, consuming 80% of imports, with the remainder going to Canada and Europe. Company Vice President Isabel Gamboa Gangl is heavily involved in the international aspect of the business, and she personally attends trade shows around the world.

Ideal's production facilities are located in a former brick production plant in Braganca Paulista, about two hours from the city of Sao Paulo, where the smokestack still stands and is actually part of the company logo. Overall production is over 85,000 square feet per month.

The company looks to bring in exclusive materials, and it also takes measures to ensure that it brings in top quality blocks. During the production process, blocks are cut into raw slabs on one of four gangsaws from Gaspari Menotti, which have 100 blades each and can process multiple blocks at one time.

All slabs that are exported to the U.S. and Canada are treated with resin products from Tenax, and the company has a drying unit to speed the curing process. When treating the slabs with resin, the material is first taken to a honed finished, and then the resin is applied. The slabs are then dried, and then the final polishing takes place on an 18-head polisher from Gaspari Menotti. Ideal is also adding a new polishing machine specifically to meet the demands of the export market.

Ideal's ownership group also owns four quarries, including sites for Jacaranda, White Kinawa, Candeias Green and Tropical Amazonas. In addition to processing blocks at its own facilities, Ideal exports blocks to Europe. It is also continually looking for new stone materials, such as Golden Forest Juparana, Crema Bordeaux and Delicatus.

Within the U.S., Ideal's sales are well spread out, and markets such as New York, Miami, California, the Southwest and Texas are among the best consumers. Stone is shipped from the Santos Port, which is only 120 miles from the factory. To ensure that the stone does not have any negative interaction with the wood packaging, it is first wrapped in plastic as an additional quality control measure.

Since the acquisition two and a half years ago, Ideal's owners have seen a 240% increase in sales, and the company is expecting growth of 100% for 2005.