Founded in 1963 by Don Mitnick, CCS Stone, Inc. of Moonachie, NJ, is a family operated business, which has continually transitioned over the years to stay on top. But perhaps the company’s most significant transformation was not the result of a well-planned business strategy, but forced by the hand of Mother Nature.
With its 40,000-square-foot facility located not far from the Hackensack River and the Meadowlands — not only the home of MetLife stadium, but also vast wetlands — CCS Stone was an unfortunate target of flood waters that raged from two consecutive storms – “Tropical Storm Irene” and “Superstorm Sandy.” While Irene hit in August of 2011 and caused relatively minor damage, the fierce effects of the perfect “100-year storm” a year later, wreaked havoc on the company’s property as well as the surrounding area.
“With Irene, we had a couple of inches of flood water,” said Jonathan Mitnick, who runs the day-to-day operation of CCS Stone with his brothers Bryan and Corey. “A year later, we got hit with what they called the ‘100-year storm.’ We didn’t expect Sandy to be a big rain event, but the surge pushed the water up the Hackensack River. We had 2 feet of water, and we couldn’t get to the area for three days.”
Mitnick explained it was a difficult time for everyone. While he and his brothers worried about the damage done to their business facility, their first concern was the safety of their family. “What was important was to get fuel for our cars and electricity in our houses” he said. “We were worrying about caring for our families —, children, parents and grandparents. We didn’t get to the flooded building for three days.
“The power had come back so we had cameras that allowed us to see our building remotely,” Mitnick went on to say. “It looked like a river ran through it. The water could have been contaminated. That was a concern.”
The clean-up was completed in a couple of weeks, according to Mitnick. “The water drained out and then we cleared the muck out to see what was going on,” he said. “We were trying to assemble some order of business. Most of our customers in the area were dealing with the effects of the hurricane too. With the power outages and fuel shortage, the health and safety of our family and friends was the priority”
In turbulent times such as this, Mitnick said he and his family realized the importance of at least having a place to sleep. “We weren’t looking for sympathy,” he explained. “[After the initial cleanup], we then looked at our coverage to see what it means to have Federal-regulated flood insurance.”
Turning a new corner
While CCS Stone experienced these trying times, the family took a positive attitude and seized this opportunity to improve upon its business and infrastructure. “We were able to recover and make a safe environment to work,” said Mitnick. “We made improvements. Our business focus changed over the years, and this allowed us to create a flow and workplace for the way we do business now. We didn’t have the resources before.”
When the company originally started, it was solely an importer of natural stone. “About 20 years ago, we decided that being an importer was not enough, we should go into fabrication too,” said Mitnick. “The advances in diamond technology and granite processing really escalated things. We felt the role of an importer was being diminished and undermined. A lot of people came on the scene.”
Through the years, CCS Stone has maintained the philosophy that change is good. For the past 14 years, the company has been the exclusive supplier of Glassos® Crystal White and Glassos® Nano White slabs and tiles. Additionally, a few months ago, it received its Dekton certification. “We are glad we did it,” said Mitnick. “We want to diversify by offering alternative materials. Porcelain slabs are becoming popular.”
During its rebuild of the past three years, CCS Stone has once again redirected its efforts to grow its business further. “We only sell to the trade professionals,” explained Mitnick. “This includes stone fabricators, other stone companies, architects, builders, etc. We always look for the professional to be involved in our work. We are not project managers. We are a component of a project.
“We realize a lot of business today is consumer driven,” Mitnick went on to say. “We take the time to educate [the trade professionals’ consumers]. We want them to go to their trade professional and say, ‘I want this product from this company.’”
As one of the original members of the Marble Institute of America (MIA) and the first fabrication shop in New Jersey to become MIA accredited, CCS Stone credits the association with helping it grow and prosper. “Networking through the MIA has enabled me to sit shoulder to shoulder with top people in the industry,” explained Mitnick. “I owe a lot to the MIA. It taught me a great deal, and I give back. Even during the time we were dealing with Sandy, I was volunteering to give safety seminars at trade shows and local MIA events.”
According to Mitnick, becoming an MIA-accredited company was an overall benefit for CCS Stone. “Accreditation is a great thing,” he said. “People challenge you all the time — whether it is a small or large project. Accreditation taught me a lot. I realized there is a difference in what our industry considers proficient. The MIA is great because it is creating an environment for the stone industry professional to learn and grow.”
A proficient shop
To meet the demand of its flourishing business, CCS Stone runs an efficient fabrication facility. After the water damage, certain components had to be replaced. “Transformers had burned out because they were underwater,” said Mitnick. “We learned to elevate new transformers and sensitive wiring. We had to replace some electrical components of the machines. Our forklifts were wiped out and materials like marble and limestone were damaged.
For the most part though, all of the machinery stayed intact. The shop is equipped with six overhead cranes, a GMM Techna and a GMM Euro bridge saw, a Ravelli Teorema CNC machine, a radial arm polisher, a Farenese miter machine and a machine that produces the company’s proprietary Satin Texture finish for Glassos. Additionally, there is a Ghines Idrodos dry dust collector and hand tools and accessories are primarily purchased from Braxton-Bragg of Knoxville, TN, and GranQuartz, based in Tucker, GA.
“The CNC is not always used in a conventional sense,” explained Mitnick. “It’s more for milling to create shapes and custom profiles. [Also], I was talked into the mitering machine years ago, and not a day goes by that I don’t use it.”
Mitnick went on to share how CCS Stone enjoys the challenge of unique and sometimes more difficult projects. At the time of Stone World’s visit, the company was producing high-end conference table tops for a Fortune 500 company, custom stone tables for an upscale showroom in Manhattan and a hot tub for an affluent residence in the Hamptons. Moreover, the company was working on a Glassos project in Spain. “For us to have our hands in different things helps us to remain buoyant.”
CCS Stone values the skill and loyalty of its 20 employees, and as a result, takes measures to communicate this with them. Renovating its facility provided an opportunity for the company to build a break room in the shop, as well as redo bathrooms, including the truckers’ restroom — all furnished in stone. “We took some of our stock and the materials left from projects and other remnants and utilized them,” said Mitnick.
The renovation also allowed CCS Stone to design a new showroom. “We wanted to have a space, but didn’t want to anticipate what the customer wants by showing them applications,” explained Mitnick. “We want our customers to come with their own ideas. We want them to come into a very open environment. It’s a room dedicated to viewing stone.”
The showroom includes a conference room, which allows trade professionals to bring their clients in to discuss ideas. Mitnick also explained that the space doubles as an area to host educational seminars, including the New York/Metro MIA Geology event July 2015 and a Silicosis and Safety event planned for October 2016.
“Some businesses have to decide what they want to bring into their companies,” said Mitnick. “For us, we love what we do. We grew up with stone, and we want to preserve the use of stone. We not only sell materials, but fabricate too, so we understand the product and can answer those questions.
“There is so much more to being in a community and sharing,” Mitnick continued. “It’s not ‘old school’ like my father’s generation where they didn’t share ideas to improve the image of the stone industry. It’s important that the culture is preserved through trade shows, industry events and staying active in your association. Where else can you go and talk about stone?”
CCS Stone, Inc.
Type of Work: custom commercial and residential projects
Machinery:a GMM Techna and a GMM Euro bridge saw, a Ravelli Teorema CNC machine, a radial arm polisher, a Farnese miter machine, a proprietary satin texture machine for Glassos, a Ghines Idrodos dust collector, and hand tools, routers and accessories from Braxton-Bragg of Knoxville, TN, and GranQuartz, based in Tucker, GA.
Number of Employees: 20