At first glance, one might think it a lofty goal to become the biggest and best stone fabricator in one’s market area. But for Val Raskin and Natella Jolia, owners of Stone Spirit in Orlando, Florida, it’s more than an aspiration; it’s part of their business strategy.
“Because of the bad economy, many big companies had to shut their doors in our area,” explains Val,
“which means that when a large project comes up there aren’t a lot of companies around who can handle it, both from a quality standpoint and within the required timeframe. We are one of the few who can. Smaller companies wouldn’t be able to compete with us in that environment; they don’t have the financial strength, nor do they have the ability to complete a large project in a short period of time.”
That’s not to say Stone Spirit coasted right through the Great Recession. It was a tough period for everyone. “We were barely making it,” Val recalls. “Now we are buying machinery and hiring people, and we are going to a second shift to keep up with the demand. We are doing more now than we ever did and we are very excited about that.”
Technology And Customer Service
But focusing on volume doesn’t mean the company, which began business in 2003, sacrifices the level of quality it delivers on a project.
“We have invested – and continue to invest – in the latest technology,” Val continues. “But we also work with the Big Box stores. We have learned from them the importance of delivering the best quality product and customer service every time. I think quality is where we are different. Our focus is to have the best possible quality product every time, all the time.”
Which is one reason Stone Spirit opted to qualify for accreditation by the Marble Institute of America (MIA), a process which involves rigorously going through every aspect of stone fabrication/installation, including examining and improving its business practices and establishing a safe environment for its workers and customers.
A Two Year Process
“We are the only MIA accredited company in Florida,” Val explains. “It was a two-year process. We had to invest in certain equipment to qualify. We brought in OSHA to certify that we complied with their safety standards. We took an exhaustive exam. Finally, the MIA sent out someone to inspect our facility, visit some of our jobs and certify that we had successfully completed all of the necessary requirements. It was tough, but worth it because it is part of our strategy for growth without sacrificing quality.”
All of Stone Spirit’s machines are digital. The company uses Proliner for digital templating and Slab Smith software for digital layouts, which customers can view and approve from the comfort of their homes via email. After layout approval, the job is sent to a GMM CNC saw that cuts out the material to extremely close tolerances. An Intermac CNC then finishes the edges and other shapes. Stone Spirit utilizes a Sasso Mechanica TE Experience inline polisher, with a finishing rate of one linear foot of edging per minute, which is equivalent to 15 -20 experienced fabricators working at high speed. Moraware software is used to manage the projects, improve accuracy and minimize mistakes.
Quality doesn’t come cheap, and Stone Spirit, while not the least expensive provider in the Orlando area, isn’t the most expensive, either. In order to better control the cost of materials, the company began importing its stone from all over the world. “We kind of found our niche with people who want quality and don’t mind paying a little more for that,” says Raskin. “By importing our stone we get better material at a price a little higher than the distributors, but less than what other fabricators would have to pay.”
Want to know more? At Moraware, we make software for countertop fabricators. CounterGo is countertop drawing and estimating software. JobTracker is scheduling software that helps you eliminate the time you waste looking for job folders. RemnantSwap is a free place to buy and sell granite remnants with fabricators near you.