In September of 2006, Jose Lima founded Art’s of Stone in New Milford, CT, with five different colors of natural stone slabs available. Today, the company has 110 colors of stone in its stockyard, and it has grown from doing a single kitchen per week to a current production rate of four kitchens per week.
Equipment in the shop includes a GMM Eura automated bridge saw from Italy, which was purchased through Salem Stone of Winston-Salem, NC. This 20-horsepower, programmable saw features a tilting head and can accommodate blades up to 625 mm in size. “Dave Cosentino of Salem was very helpful in helping us select this saw,” Lima said, adding that GMM sent technicians from Italy to assist with the training.
Other machinery includes a Ghines Systar from Italy, also purchased through Salem Stone. This unit is considered to be a multifunction workcenter that lies midway between CNC and portable manual machines. The Systar works on some of the most frequent fabrication jobs, such as shaping and polishing internal and external contours, and it can also cut holes, sink cutouts and recess drains, grooves and slots on edges.
Tooling used in the shop is supplied by Stone Boss of Woodside, NY, which regularly runs trucks through the area, and material is transported around the facility using a forklift from TCM Manufacturing USA, Inc.
The company’s product mix is a combination of standard materials and exotics such as Blue Bahia, Blue Eyes and shades of onyx. In addition to kitchen countertops, Art’s of Stone fabricates stone for architectural elements such as fireplaces and balconies as well as exterior kitchens and patios.
Lima, who is originally from Brazil, imports some material directly from his home country, and he also buys from area distributors such as Rock Solid International of Mt. Vernon, NY. The company is operated as a family business, with Lima’s wife and daughter also on staff. When Lima is traveling, he is still able to view the facility through an Everfocus camera system, which can be accessed online using a laptop computer.
In all, Art’s of Stone has seven employees, including the members of the Lima family. “They are all from Brazil, and they know the business,” Lima said. “We have all been here since the beginning, and we are very tied together. Everyone has a key to the shop, and we are all very organized.”
In addition to offering stone products, Art’s of Stone distributes sinks for its customers, and it has several displays of Revere sinks in its showroom. Also, the company has a collaboration with Vision Kitchens -- also on the premises -- that allows customers to select their cabinets at the same location.
Sales and marketingApproximately 50% of the work completed at Art’s of Stone is remodeling work, while the other half is new construction. The company sells primarily to contractors and homeowners, and the company’s sales area covers the Fairfield, Litchfield, Hartford and New Haven Counties in Connecticut as well as Westchester, Dutchess and Putnam Counties in New York. “Things look very promising because even though the [housing] market is slow, we are rolling,” Lima said, adding that kitchen sizes are typically in the 50- to 60-square-foot range, although some jobs have topped 180 square feet. “We work in some pretty wealthy areas. We recently completed a job for an international opera singer.”
In part, Lima credit’s his company’s success to its high-profile location on U.S. Route 7/Route 202 in New Milford. “Over 35,000 cars pass our building every day,” he said. “We don’t do any advertising. It is all word of mouth. New Milford is in a phase of growth. Remodeling is continuing, and lots of new construction is booked.”
In addition to residential work, the company has also been involved in some light commercial work, including several projects in the Healthcare sector. In general, the typical turnaround for a project is three to seven days.
Since the beginning, one goal at Art’s of Stone has been to involve the customer in the process. “When our customers visit here, they have the opportunity to design their own kitchen,” Lima said. “They choose the material. They position the templates on the slab. We are not just selling stone, but an experience and a feeling. We want our customers to tell their friends, ‘We love our kitchen, and we created it ourselves.’ “ In just one example of this, Lima pointed to a residential project completed in Greenwich, CT, where a customer selected large, book-matched onyx slabs to create a one-of-a-kind fireplace.
Art's of Stone
New Milford, CTType of work: New and remodeling work in the residential sector, including countertops, fireplaces, patios and outdoor barbecues; light commercial work
Machinery: GMM Eura bridge saw and a Ghines Systar stoneworking center, both purchased from Salem Stone of Winston-Salem, NC; a forklift from TCM Manufacturing USA, Inc.; tooling from Stone Boss Industries of Woodside, NY
Number of employees: 7
Production Rate: 4 kitchens per week, in addition to other architectural pieces and commercial work