VIRGINIA BEACH, VA — After more than two decades that saw incredible growth in the stone fabrication sector — followed by difficult times in the world economy — Regent Stone Products of Virginia Beach, VA, remains a leader in the supply of technology for stone fabricators. Back in 1991, Regent was formed in an 800-square-foot office in Virginia with the idea to sell its own line of diamond blades to contractors. At that time, it also began selling other supplies for construction industry professionals. Now, more than 20 years later, it has become a fixture in the stone fabrication industry.

“It was primarily going to friends in construction and asking them what things they bought month to month,” explained Tim Siviter, founder of Regent. “We began to sell more and more stone fabricator tools after dealing with a couple of local stone contractors. In time, this helped to form the idea of the industry’s first 6- x 9-inch catalog to be direct marketed to the stone industry, and [we were] the first to offer the guaranteed lowest price — with 10% off name brand tools and ‘name brands for less’ strategies. Before then, it was standard to use manufacturers’ literature and punch holes and assemble binder type catalogs. Regent was the first to actually mass produce thousands of catalogs — sending them bulk using a mailing list and approaching the industry in a direct-marketing format. We now send out approximately 10,000 catalogs annually, with a current edition of 220 pages.”

Over the years, Regent became more and more involved in the stone industry. “The stone influence all started with a pack of Alpha pads sold to Superior Marble and Stone,” Siviter said. “Selling Alpha for less was also great inroad to getting new customers, because at the time Alpha Ceramica Pads were revolutionary for speed and using water tools for less dust. After that, Regent began accumulating more and more product lines to sell to the stone industry.

“Being a specialized industry, discounting was not a primary focus,” Siviter continued. “At one point, we had to stop sending out these catalogs because there where only three people in that 800-square-foot office to handle the phones. We started leasing the space next to it, and then the space next to that for another 3,200 square feet. Eventually, we had a 14,000-square-foot building, and then we added another 6,000 square feet next to it. The total became 20,000 square feet with 8,000 square feet of office space.

Along the way, Regent received some guidance from stone industry veterans. “Luck Stone was instrumental because they gave us a list of the products that they bought, and they taught us a lot about the industry,” Siviter said. “They are a first-class company and helped us young fellows get started.”

Eventually, Regent forged an alliance with Marmoelettromeccanica of Italy, introducing the Master 3000 portable router to the industry at a time when much of the edgework was being completed by master craftsmen, primarily from Italy, who still hand shaped and polished stone. “The machine quickly became very popular because it reduced a 32-hour job to four hours for edges such as a full bullnose,” Siviter said. “The company went from selling two to three Masters a month to selling over 40 a month — eventually selling thousands of units nationally.”

Siviter explained that the system helped expand the traditional number of edges available in the field. “[It was the] first to offer an unlimited variety of edge shapes to an industry that was used to only four or five doable shapes because of the difficulty to polish a complex edge after shaping it,” he said. “Marmoelettromeccanica’s system solved this using form wheels that were guaranteed not to deform, and Regent was responsible for introducing this to the U.S. Introducing perfect form technology patented from Marmoeletromeccanica really helped develop credibility in the industry, and most CNC polishing systems use this form of technology today. Regent was at the forefront of technology at critical times throughout its history, and has played a vital role in speeding up technology to where it is today.”

Additionally, Regent introduced a water recycling table. “Most shops were dry [at the time], and we designed and developed a table where the Master 3000 could be used,” Siviter said. “Eliminating dust in most shops was a significant development — although Alpha [was instrumental] before, and offered one of first products to do this by hand.”

Another milestone for the company was the introduction of stoneworking seminars. “Regent would invite fabricators for two-day seminars to teach them how to fabricate granite counters using this new portable technology,” Siviter said. “We leased warehouse space in other industrial parks just to offer these seminars for two days in a month.”

Regent also developed a full line of custom stone care chemicals, and it mass marketed the Hertron Prime Grind System for vitrification of stone floors. “We continued to add virtually every tool and supply needed for a granite kitchen fabricator as well as stone floor restorer — including a full line of heavy equipment through Regent Machine Corp.,” Siviter said. “The Regent I Store — — was also developed as an fully functional buying site.”