Ask Mario Ferreira of StoneTek Creative Solutions in New Bedford, MA what makes his company successful and you will hear what has become practically the mantra in this industry: “Quality, and exceptional customer service.” But don’t stop listening, because there’s more, much more, that Ferreira is ready to share.
“I am a strong believer in promoting good behavior, good habits and in doing good for this industry,” he says. “It’s about being professional with our customers, with our employees and with our competitors.”
“When I came into this industry,” he continues, “it seemed that many people saw each other as enemies and evil competition. About three years ago a few of us started an informal alliance of fabricators that were interested in meeting on a monthly basis and discussing various topics affecting our industry. It was about fabricators helping each other to become better. Although the group no longer exists in the same form as before, some of us still interact and share ideas for good practices.”
There are plenty of obvious reasons why fabricators should strive for what Ferreira calls “good behavior,” such as it leads to increased profits, better organization and happy customers. But, he says it goes much deeper than that. For starters, following good practices positions a company, not only for growth, but for the right kind of growth.
“I believe we are really in the infancy of what this industry can become,” Ferreira says. “There are new opportunities on the horizon with new products and new technologies that will open up different vertical markets for stone fabricators not even dreamed of today. But it will happen only for those companies who have invested in good practices, who have the right technology and the right people in place to take advantage of those opportunities.”
High Volume – And Profitable
StoneTek’s in the top three stone fabricators in New England, employs 39 people and services 247 kitchen/bath dealers across Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut. The company processes up to 600 sq ft of material per day and has five full-time installation crews on the road. The shop is fully automated and imports about 60% of its slabs from countries like Brazil, India, Italy and Spain. Roughly 75% of its business comes from kitchen/bath dealers, and the rest is mostly commercial.
“But, it’s profitable commercial work,” he says. “We don’t get involved with the nickel and dime projects. We’re not that kind of company. We command a much higher value for our work. We are a premium, quality –oriented company and we do a lot of high-end work.”
StoneTek’s custom projects are found in places like metropolitan Boston, Nantucket, Cape Cod, The Vineyards and East Greenwich. Most of this work comes from word-of-mouth sources and is typically installed in multi-million dollar homes.
“Success in this business is about so much more than lowering prices to meet the competition. I feel strongly it’s about having the right vision,” says Ferreira. “It’s about building for the future. If a company doesn’t make the investments in good practices and standards they are missing a big opportunity. They are not really seeing the true potential of what this business can represent to them.”
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