Nearly 10 years ago, Jeremy Werthan made the decision to leave his career as an investment banker and start a venture as a stone fabricator. He opened the doors to Werthan Granite in Nashville, TN, in April of 2002 and has slowly grown the company to a mid-sized shop that primarily caters to the high-end residential market.
“I started going to trade shows,” Werthan went on to say. “Originally, I started on the premise of importing blanks - sort of retrofitting [material] into houses. That didn’t work, but in the meantime, I went to Coverings and bought all the equipment that I needed from Park Industries in 2002.”
Expanding the shopIn the early days, Werthan Granite’s shop encompassed 10,000 square feet and was equipped with only a Sierra bridge saw and Pro-Edge III automatic edge shaper and polisher - both from Park Industries of St. Cloud, MN. “When we got the Pro-Edge III, we were the only ones in town with an inline polishing machine,” said Werthan. “It was very high tech. We used it all the time.”
According to the fabricator, the RoboCut could not have come at a more perfect time. “We needed it right away,” he said. “We had a condo project, and we were fabricating the whole thing here in our shop.”
The company caters to a market throughout Tennessee and parts of Kentucky. “We service Jackson to Crossville and Bowling Green, [KY] to Huntsville,” said Werthan. And to better service its customers, the company built a showroom in 2008. Material is purchased from companies such as G&L Marble, Inc., Natural Stone Distributors, Nashville Granite & Marble, OHM International, Inc. and Triton Stone. Werthan’s brother owns Werthan Tile, a retail/wholesaler of tile in the mid-Tennessee area, and the two refer back and forth to each other, according to Werthan.
Riding out the downturnEven though Werthan Granite has successfully expanded in recent years, like everyone else, it has been affected by the recession. Business is down about 50%, according to Werthan. “For the long term, I’d like to get the cash-flow system going and pick up sales and secure things,” he said. “Right now I have my head down, and I am trudging along.”
“This is the way I sell my company,” Werthan went on to say. “I will tell a builder when we are doing condos that we are human so we are going to screw up. How we handle it is what is important. I’m very candid. I think the more honest you are, it comes around and helps you in the end.”
Sidebar: Werthan GraniteNashville, TN
Type of work: primarily residential, some commercial
Machinery: a RoboCut from USGRobotics of Barrington, IL, which utilizes a waterjet pump and cutting nozzle from KMT Waterjet Systems of Baxter Springs, KS; a Sierra bridge saw and a Pro-Edge III automatic edge shaper and polisher - both from Park Industries of St. Cloud, MN; a Flying Flat from Sasso Meccanica for backsplashes and a Sasso Experience TE straight polisher, which are serviced by SassoAmerica of St. Louis, MO; a Proliner from Prodim USA of Vero Beach, FL; Manzelli vacuum lifters from GranQuartz of Tucker, GA; a Gorbel crane system; tools and accessories from Braxton-Bragg of Knoxville, TN; GranQuartz; and Keystone Tools Co. of Commerce, CA
Number of Employees: 25
Production Rate: 15 to 20 jobs per week