Commercial stone contractor excels in residential fabrication
Based in Alexandria, VA, R. Bratti Associates, Inc. has a long legacy as one of the nation’s premiere stone contractors - having supplied stone for some of the country’s most honored landmarks - and it is now in its fourth generation of leadership. But in addition to its distinction in this sector, the company has developed a fabrication shop that has become a top fabricator of custom residential stonework in the region.
The roots of the company were established by Almano Tozzini and Oswaldo Bratti, and they ultimately passed the operation company along to son, Peter Bratti, who in turn passed it to his son, Ronald Bratti. Today, the company has been turned over to the fourth generation, with Michael Bratti serving as President.
Residential fabricationThe stone fabrication shop at R. Bratti Associates began as a means to fix or adjust the commercial stonework coming in from overseas. Over time, the company gradually moved into residential fabrication work - first for friends and associates, and then on a larger scale. As the scope of the fabrication work grew, the company named Bob Blanchard as Vice President of the fabrication division. “We were doing maybe one job a week in the very beginning, and I was developing relationships to help that grow. The rest of the time, we were working on tile jobs and doing other work for the company,” Blanchard said, adding he had built his career as a tilesetter. “I started as a young man, and I was always impressed by the way [the Bratti family] approached things over the years. I really took a lot from that,” Blanchard said. “Ronald Bratti was one of the smartest men I ever met. His wife, Joan Bratti, was also very instrumental in everything.”
Customers include kitchen/bath designers, interior designers and custom home remodelers. “We don’t do production work, and there isn’t a lot of basic straight work,” explained Blanchard. “We are usually working with very high-end clients, and they are requesting a high level of custom work. We also don’t work much with commodity stones.”
A Nuova Omec radial arm polisher is in place for surface finishing, and Marmoelettromeccanica Master 3500 edging units are also used for edge processing.
Material is maneuvered using two boom cranes, which are equipped with Manzelli lifters.
Although the shop is equipped with modern machinery, Blanchard stressed that the quality of its workers is the critical element of the process. “It’s all pretty labor intensive. The city of Alexandria has a lot of classic, 100- and 200-year-old houses, and we do a lot of work for those clients. In addition to granite, they’re using materials like white marble from Italy, and we’ve also been using some of the domestic white marbles.”
Among the advanced fabrication work taking place in the shop, R. Bratti Associates has become a specialist in producing laminated radius islands. It has also seen an increase in requests for countertops with a honed finish. “Our radial arm polisher sometimes runs 16 hours per day just for that type of work,” Blanchard said. “It can also fix scratches in the polished slabs.”
In addition to kitchen countertops, the shop fabricates a range of residential stonework. Finished work includes custom slab showers, vanities, fireplaces and other architectural stonework. “We’re doing 20 or 30 jobs per week,” Blanchard said. “But that could be any combination of work. It could be 15 to 20 kitchens and then maybe five to 10 vanities or fireplaces.” Typically, kitchen countertop projects include 60 to 75 square feet of finished surface area, and most of the company’s work is in the remodeling sector. To continue building relationships in the marketplace, the company is involved in both the National Kitchen and Bath Association (NKBA) as well as the National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI).
In addition to fabricating material for residences in the Washington Metropolitan area, R. Bratti Associates processes and installs stone for homes as far south as Virginia Beach, VA, and north of Baltimore, MD. “We often do the vacation homes for clients,” Blanchard said. “Many times, we’ve already done the primary residence. We have a discerning client base, and it helps to have a history with the homeowner.”
Sidebar: R. Bratti Associates, Inc. (residential fabrication division)Alexandria, VA
Type of work: kitchen countertops, bathrooms, fireplaces and other architectural stonework in natural stone and quartz surfacing
Machinery: Odyssey II CNC stoneworking center and Yukon II bridge saw from Park Industries of St. Cloud, MN; GMM Tecna 36 bridge from Italy, serviced by Salem Stone of Winston-Salem, NC; Nuova Omec radial arm polisher from Italy; Master 3500 portable edging units from Marmoelettromeccanica of Italy; two boom cranes equipped with Manzelli lifters; two Stealth arm digitizers, currently serviced by Touchstone Instruments of Plaistow, NH
Number of Employees: 20 to 25
Production Rate: 20 to 30 projects per week, including countertops as well as other stonework