The year 1977 will always be a special year,” said Spiro Xenos, owner of Acropolis Custom Marble and Granite, Inc. in St. Louis, MO, with his wife Anna. “It’s the year that I came from my homeland, Greece, to the U.S. It’s also when I started to establish my name in the Midwest as a Master Marble Craftsman/Artist.”
The fabricator, who presently operates a flourishing stone fabrication operation, went on to say that he first developed an interest in working with stone when he was a young child. “It started when I was nine years old in Greece - surrounded by beautiful temples and ruins - that my love for marble and natural stone came about,” he explained.
Upon his initial arrival in the U.S., Xenos went to work for another stone fabricator. “After I was asked to sign a non-compete for 10 years within a radius of St. Louis, I decided to start fabricating on my own,” he said. “In 1992, Anna and I decided to start our own business, Acropolis Custom Marble and Granite, Inc.”
Today, the company operates out of an approximate 20,000-square-foot facility - producing between 25 to 30 kitchens a week. “We are currently working at 40% capacity,” said Xenos. “We operate one shift now, but we are building up our sales force to try to get production at 80% of capacity - allowing nearly 100% reliability and achieving a profit margin that will allow us to roll with the punches of the bigger guys.”
Equipment in the shop consists of a Denver Skema Logic 180 bridge saw, two Denver Quota CNC machines, two Denver Quasar Tech automatic edge-polishing machines and a SlurryClean™ water recycling system - all supplied by VIC International of Knoxville, TN. Additional machinery includes a bridge saw and 5RP Sink Station, which were both supplied by Sawing Systems of Knoxville, TN, as well as two Oma routers, two Allen data graph printers for on-site template printing and a bridge saw from Regent Stone Products of Virginia Beach, VA.
“Everything but the Regent saw was purchased within the last eight months,” said Xenos. “Our new CNC machines produce nearly invisible seams - based on application - and this technology produces no wavy edges, as can occur when done by hand tools. CNC technology is actually helpful in dropping our pricing down tremendously on value-added options such as edge upgrades, more difficult sink cutouts and odd-shaped pieces. This has allowed us to close on a greater percentage of pre-existing leads, which has led to a 25% increase in sales in six months.”
In addition to the 11 shop workers, Acropolis Custom Marble and Granite, Inc. employs five installation crews - each comprised of a crew leader and an assistant. “We use two LT 55 Precision Laser Templators [from Laser Products Industries Inc. of Romeoville, IL],” said Xenos. “On-jobsite laser measurement is another great time and money saving feature. Our people measure the work to be done using laser instruments, and these measurements are stored in their laptops. This allows them to forward this information to the CNC machine while on route to another destination. The shop can then begin the CNC cutting on the customer’s order. We can make extremely accurate jobsite measurements, cut stone very precisely and have the material available for faster installation.”
Residential work comprises about 50% of the company’s market, while another 45% consists of builders, remodels and “Big Box” stores, and 5% is commercial jobs. “We [typically work] about a 100-mile radius of St. Louis, but we will go anywhere,” said Xenos.
When talking about Acropolis Custom Marble and Granite, Inc.’s short-term goals, Xenos wants his company to provide the best possible pricing to all markets. “We want to focus on direct sales by building a larger sales force and allowing them to use our competitive edge over the competition, as it pertains to our newly automated shop and convenient retail locations,” he said. “We also want to continue a proven and effective advertising strategy, which has helped us tap into the higher-end retail market.”
Additionally, the company hopes to open a showroom and small fabrication shop in Kansas City, MO, within the next year, as well as two more showrooms in Jefferson City, MO, and Springfield, IL. “Eventually, we want to utilize our automated equipment for mass-produced items, which we can ship anywhere in the U.S. and Canada - also utilizing the relationships that we have established with ‘Big Box’ stores,” said Xenos.