Leonardo Rapaj first started working with stone in his home country of Albania. He made his way through Greece, Italy, Switzerland and France, working with stone before finding his way to the U.S. In 2001, Leonardo’s Marble & Granite opened its doors in Farmington Hills, MI. The fabrication shop remained there for six years before moving to his current shop in Wixom, MI.
During his time in the States, Rapaj learned that he needed to invest in technology to do more detailed work. “Leonardo invested in a waterjet years ago,” said Vicki Plumaj, the company’s general manager. “He wanted the ability to cut logos, to do work that no one else wanted to do. We even had fabricators in the area coming to us for help on how to do something because we had the skill, technology and know-how.”
The company was also one of the first in the area to work with large-format porcelain. “Since no one else was doing it in our area, it was a learning experience,” said Plumaj. “We broke every slab at first. Eventually, we found Neolith and started to play with it and was able to work the material. That led to fabricators reaching out to us about it because they had clients and designers that wanted fabrication done on the material.”
Because Leonardo’s Marble & Granite has a desire to cut the latest materials and be able to do work that no one else can, they have invested in a variety of different machines and technology. The company has a 5-axis bridge saw from Marmo Meccanica, located in Pontiac, MI; a Sawjet from Northwood of Louisville, KY; and a Master 4000 CNC machine from Intermac in Charlotte, NC. The company also uses a LT-2D3D Templator from Laser Products Industries in Romeoville, IL, for templating. The machines are equipped with vacuum pods from Blick Industries in Laguna Beach, CA; blades from Terminator located in San Carlos, CA and Zenesis of Irvine, CA, and Italdiamant USA located in Elberton, GA. Carts and a seam setter are from Omni Cubed in Shingle Springs, CA, and the company receives its tooling from GranQuartz, based in Norcross, GA. They also use adhesives from Integra Adhesives, located in Abbotsford, British Columbia and sealers from Tenax USA in Charlotte, NC. Finally, the Leonardo’s Marble & Granite uses Stone Profit Systems located in Chicago, IL, Slabsmith located Antwerp, NY, and Alphacam to help run the business end of the company and keep track of inventory.
The company has four installation trucks, with eight installers, and a total of 35 employees.
During the recession, the unique skills the company possessed helped them through the tough time. “Like any other shop, we have gone through our ups and downs,” said Plumaj. “We expanded our shop, then during the recession we went through hard times but we didn’t lay off anyone. That’s something we are really proud of. We truly believe that we made it through because Leonardo likes to cut things that no one else likes to. We also like to work with other fabricators in the industry because that’s the way things used to be; everyone worked together to make the industry better and he believes in that.”
Leonardo’s Marble & Granite does mostly residential and new construction, and they are just starting to get into commercial. “We mostly work with all materials,” said Plumaj. “For us, quartzites have been on the rise and whites and grays are still the most popular colors. Now and again, we see a little bit more with warmer tones. Mont Blanc has been making a little bit of a comeback, as well as browns.
“As far as porcelain, we have done it on walls, exterior applications, floors, fireplaces, really anything,” Plumaj went onto say. “We recently did a showroom for a client all in porcelain. People are liking the marble looks for porcelain, and we are doing almost all miters with the material.”hr />
Leonardo’s Marble & Granite
Type of Work: Primarily residential
Machinery: A 5-axis bridge saw from Marmo Meccanica, Pontiac, MI; a Sawjet from Northwood, Louisville, KY; a Master 4000 CNC machine from Intermac, Charlotte, NC; a LT-2D3D Templator from Laser Products Industries in Romeoville, IL; vacuum pods from Blick Industries, Laguna Beach, CA; blades from Terminator, San Carlos, CA; Zenesis, Irvine, CA; and Italdiamant USA, Elberton, GA; carts and a seam setter from Omni Cubed, Shingle Springs, CA; tooling from GranQuartz, Norcross, GA; adhesives from Integra Adhesives, Abbotsford, British Columbia; and sealers from Tenax USA, Charlotte, NC
Number of Employees: 35