At the heart of Quality Stone Concepts’ business is an appreciation for a team environment and sense of community. Owned by M. Ryan Culicerto, Terry J. McClaskey and Tony Pirrone, the Virginia Beach, VA-based fabrication company has widely transitioned since it was founded in 2007. Today, it serves both the residential and commercial markets and operates as a dual stone fabricator and cabinet supplier.
The three business partners had crossed paths in their previous careers, and each brought their experience into the business. “I was working in fabrication for 18 years prior,” said Pirrone. “I got to a point that I wanted to go into business myself after having started a tile contracting business in 1984. After a while, my business partner and I were also building houses. In 1990, I left that business and went to work for a local fabricator doing sales in 40 states and managing production.”
Quality Stone Concepts originated in a 600-square-foot garage storage, with the intent of bringing in pre-fabricated blanks. “As we got into the business, people wanted them cut down and we started putting in bowls,” explained Pirrone. “We were dragged into the fabrication business.”
Culicerto began working full-time for the company first, in April of 2007, followed by McClaskey in July of that same year. “Of course, the economy took a down turn and we were selling, at that time, a luxury commodity,” said Pirrone, adding he took the plunge in February of 2008. “We kept the profits low to make it enticing for people to buy, and keep the business afloat. We started knocking on people’s doors [to let them know about us.], making calls, talking to remodeling contractors and house flippers, to maintain a base of business.”
For the first year Quality Stone Concepts was in operation, it used a rail saw that it bought on eBay for $235. “The rails that we bought for it from Regent Stone Products cost us more than the saw!,” laughed Pirrone. “We were literally putting out full kitchens with it. The company then advanced to a small automatic saw, a Conbi 3000. “We had $14,000 in our account and bought the saw for $13,000. We gave it to Rayford, [our shop manager], for Christmas. Then we bought an Express 3800 bridge saw from Regent Stone Products, which we recently sold to a friendly competitor to help her business. Finally we started making money.”
Enlarging production space
Currently, Quality Stone Concepts works out of a 6,000-square-foot fabrication facility, which it took over in April of 2016. The showroom was complete that September. “Our building was originally built for the Chesapeake Brewing Company,” said Pirrone. “We first worked on the shop to get it operational.”
A month after the company was up and running in its new showroom and shop, Hurricane Sandy hit in October of 2016. “The flood waters came down and we had seven inches of water,” explained Pirrone. “That Monday, we started cleaning up and tearing out base board, sheetrock and cabinet toe kick. What could have been a disaster wasn’t too bad because all of us at Quality Stone Concepts came together, along with a local stone supplier loaning us turbo fans, to get us back on track.”
The company has a staff of 29, including the three owners. Pirrone explained that they started offering cabinets, because their customers kept asking for them.
“Every customer that comes in sees our process,” said Pirrone. “We educate them and explain what we do. We do the CAD drawings here. We have two LT-55 laser templators that are worth every dime, and we integrated Slabsmith into our process. Everything that comes in gets photographed. We then send a photo layout to the client of their countertops, that they approve before it is cut.”
Quality Stone Concepts’ shop includes a Fusion saw/waterjet, a Titan CNC stoneworking center and a Fastback edge polisher – all from Park Industries of St. Cloud, MN. “The shop is 100% dust-free,” said Pirrone. “Everything is cut and polished wet. We designed our own recycling system and recycle all of our water in industrial holding tanks with one cascading to another, as well as a filtration system.”
The majority of the company’s commercial work is apartment renovations. “We currently do not do hotels, however, we are being asked to do so, both in and out of our area,” said Pirrone. At the time of Stone World’s visit, the shop was working on four apartment jobs. “We also do larger residential projects,” he said. “We can typically cut four to five countertops a day.” Also during Stone World’s tour of the shop, the Titan was cutting pieces of Crema Marfil marble for a winding staircase. “Our equipment lets us do both simple and complicated work,” said Pirrone.
At this time, natural stone comprises 60% of the company’s work, while the other 40% is quartz. Quality Stone Concepts maintains more than 150 slabs in inventory and some 90 blanks for commercial work. The company imports a little of its material, but supports all the local slab vendors with a large amount of bundle purchases. It also sells a variety of quartz products, including MSI, Compac, Cambria, Viaterra, Silestone, LG Hausys and Technistone, which gives a 20-year material warranty to its customers.
“About 90% of our business is referral,” said Pirrone. “We are very techno savvy, and our reviews push our business. We give a five-year warranty on installation and no sink drop, which is transferrable only with our residential work.”
Quality Stone Concepts services for installations from the Outer Banks of North Carolina to as north as Williamsburg, VA, and the Eastern Shore of Virginia. “We try to keep within an hour-and-a-half distance,” said Pirrone. “Within this area there is plenty to do. We are starting to get more new residential building. Business has definitely been on an uptick. We will also fabricate and ship anywhere, having done several projects as far as the British Virgin Islands for repeat clients.
A business for the people
When spending time at Quality Stone Concepts, it becomes obvious that the culture revolves around teamwork, respect and loyalty. “We have fun and try to make it team-oriented here,” said Pirrone. “Like any small company, we do have our disagreements. We address them, resolve them and move on to improve.”
Giving back to its community is also a priority to Pirrone and his co-workers. “We are very community-oriented,” he said. “We participate in the community, sponsoring various charities. We recently received the Virginia Governor’s Volunteerism and Community Service Award Outstanding Small Business for our work over that last 10 years with the Virginia Beach School System.” Every two years, Quality Stone Concepts helps build a house, including donating all the cabinets and tops, and the profit from the sale of the house goes to fund teacher grants in Virginia Beach, through the Virginia Beach Education Foundation. The company also devotes time working with students from the local vocational technical school. “After the economy went south, we wanted to give to the local community,” explained Pirrone. “It’s something we are extremely passionate about. I found two great partners, and giving back to the community is important to all of us.”
Quality Stone Concepts
Virginia Beach, VA
Type of Work: Commercial and Residential
Machinery: a Fusion saw/waterjet, a Titan CNC stoneworking center and a Fastback edge polisher – all from Park Industries of St. Cloud, MN; Slabsmith software from Northwood Designs, Inc. of Antwerp, NY; two LT-55 laser templators from LPI of Romeoville, IL; tooling and accessories from Regent Stone Products of Virginia Beach, VA
Production Rate: four to five countertops a day, as well as several commercial projects
Number of Employees: 29