Discover Marble & Granite beat the recession by becoming a large producer of quartz surfacing and investing in Robo SawJets
Since its beginnings in 2001, Discover Marble & Granite has slowly grown, but since the 2008 recession, it has seen a huge gain due to two reasons. In July 2003, Victor DeOliveira, company president, placed the company’s first order of quartz from Cambria and invested substantially into it. With business picking up, DeOliveira then made the decision to purchase a line-up of state-of-the-art fabrication equipment to establish an efficient production process.
“By 2006, we were moving a lot of material,” said DeOliveira. “We were one of the largest wholesalers of Cambria in the country. It took about two and a half years to get the ball rolling, but since then, it has really taken off for us. We are now known in the industry as a quartz supplier because of that commitment.”
According to DeOliveira, his business has gone from 30% quartz and 70% natural stone, to currently about 50% of each. In the next year or two, he can easily see Discover Marble & Granite going the other way to a 60-40 split, or even a 70-30 split. “It’s just the direction the market is going right now,” said DeOliveira. “The ability that the quartz companies have these days to come up with colors that follow trend is really helping them grow. They are also getting closer and closer to a natural stone look, but they can easily adapt and change to the design trends that are going on at a particular time.”
Discover Marble & Granite has three locations: Wallingford, CT; Fort Myers, FL; and Millbury, MA. The Fort Myers facility is managed by DeOliveira’s sister, Laury Contao, and her husband, both of which are partners in the business. Also, since the beginning of the company, DeOliveira’s wife, Cristina, has been the full-time director of operations in Massachusetts and has helped him build the business. In 2006, they opened an Orlando location, but later sold it to their former partner in that area. In the past year, the company has added 15 employees, bringing the companywide total to 160. “Our focus since day one has always been the wholesale side of business,” said DeOliveira. “We never really did any retail. It has always been about kitchen and bath. We work with Lowe’s, but we don’t do any Home Depot’s. It has
worked out pretty well for us. Early on, you had all these small fabricators trying to cater to both sides of the business, retail and wholesale.
“We knew we wouldn’t be successful with the kitchen and bath dealers unless we made a commitment to them to be strictly wholesale, and that’s what we did,” DeOliveira went on to say. “We’re going into our 15th year, and I’m a big believer of sticking to what works and what we have been doing all these years.”
Companywide, Discover Marble & Granite is producing 2,500 square feet a day. The Fort Myers location completes 15 kitchens a day, while Wallingford and Millbury, which Stone World recently visited, is outputting an excess of 40 kitchens a day, bringing the company total to 55 kitchens per day. The Fort Myers location is 12,000 square feet, the Connecticut location is 12,000 square feet and the Millbury location has a 18,000-square-foot shop, while the warehouse and showroom is another 24,000 square feet. The Connecticut and Florida locations run one shift, while Massachusetts runs two shifts, although the second one is strictly quartz manufacturing.
Discover Marble & Granite receives its CNC tooling and vacuum pods from GranQuartz, and it also uses Infinity Tools. The company has a total of 19 installation crews with 10 full-time templators. Additionally, it now has 11 LT-55 Templators from Laser Products of Romeoville, IL. The decision was made to go with digital templating in 2007 because of a certain machine they invested in.
Investing in technology
“When we went high tech, we went directly to the robots from Baca,” said DeOliveira. “We see the bridge saw as still a necessity in the business because you have smaller projects or backsplashes that you need to produce and don’t want to tie up a machine like a saw jet. We purchased our first two Robo SawJets [for the Millbury shop] in 2007 and 2008. Then, we added our third one from Baca Systems [of Auburn Hills, MI] in June 2014. We are currently placing our order for a fourth saw from Baca, which is going to be going down to Fort Myers in January.”
The Baca Robo SawJets have assisted Discover Marble & Granite in reducing their cost — helping them get through the difficult financial period. “We invested in them right before the recession,” said DeOliveira. “It allowed us to cut our costs and compete against those low-priced fabricators out there. Everything back then was about price, and to this day, we are still not at the same prices we were pre-recession levels. It’s one of those things that if we had not done it, I don’t know where we would’ve been. It allowed us to cut costs that much.
“We looked at the robot and the first thing I noticed was two steel boxes — no gantry, no ball screws next to a table, none of that sludge falling onto a ball screw or anything like that,” DeOliveira went on to explain. “It was cut and dry. You think of the robot as this high-tech machinery, but at the end of the day, all the technology in all the computers are hidden away. The machine is built to handle the environment of a stone shop. The machine has been very reliable. I know there are skeptics out there, and there are stories out there, but being an operator of the machines for over seven years now, I can truly say they are extremely reliable. We run our machines 20 hours a day. It has been that way with the exception of maybe 2009 and half of 2010. For a year and a half, we got rid of a second shift, but other than that, they work 20 hours of the day.”
When DeOliveira had been searching for a third machine, he looked at every possible one. “Luckily, the timing was perfect that Baca was just coming out with its latest version of the robot,” he said. “The limitation I had was the footprint of the space. I literally couldn’t fit anything else in that space besides the robot. We took out a bridge saw in a space that is 18 feet by 14 feet, and they were able to fit a dual-table robot in that space. There is no other machine that I know of that can fit in that space that could give me two cutting tables.”
In addition to the Robo SawJets, the line-up in Discover Marble & Granite Millbury shop includes two Intermac, a Master 33 and a Master 43 both located in Millbury, and two Breton CNC stoneworking centers. In the Fort Myers location, there is a CMS Speed 236 CNC machine and a Maxima TR, both from CMS Industries located in Bergamo, Italy. Additionally, one Matrix bridge saw in Millbury and two in Fort Myers, both purchased directly from Matrix; a Miter Splash and a Sasso Flying Flat backsplash machine from Sasso USA, located in Paletine, IL, used in the Millbury shop and a Sasso Flying Flat in the Fort Myers shop; and a water treatment system from Water Treatment Solutions in Hampton, NH, are in place.
Along with quartz, Discover Granite & Marble works with natural stone and has been attempting to work with different surfaces such as Dekton. “It’s different,” said DeOliveira. “There are some challenges I think that need to be worked out, but at the end of the day, there is still a demand for it. We are always looking for the next thing, so whatever comes up we are willing to try it.”
Discover Marble & Granite
Type of Work: Kitchen and bath, wholesale, natural stone and quartz surfacing
Machinery: three Robo SawJets from Baca Systems of Auburn Hills, MI; two Intermac CNC machines from Intermac of Pesaro, Italy; a Sasso Flying Flat edge polisher from Sasso USA in Palatine, IL; Matrix bridge saws; 11 LT-55 Laser Templators from Laser Products of Romeoville, IL; a water treatment system from Water Treatment Solutions in Hampton, NH; tools and accessories from GranQuartz
Number of Employees: 160 (between three locations)
Production Rate: 40 kitchens a day