It’s hard to imagine a more fast-paced and demanding market than high-end residential construction/renovation in Boston.Most of these customers are in the financial services industry, they travel a lot and don’t have a lot of time, but they generally have a very good idea of what they want. And they expect the best.
Consequently, they rely heavily on design/build firms to handle all the details for their dream project.
That’s a situation made to order for United Marble Fabricators, which specializes in custom stone for the high-end residential market. “Our focus is with high-end builders,” says John Kilfoyle, one of the partners of United Marble Fabricators in charge of business development.
“We try to demonstrate the benefits of letting us partner with their architecture and design teams as early on in the project as possible. That gives us the chance to manage the scope of stone and tile throughout the entire house. We help with material selection, sourcing and procurement of slabs, all the way through to fabrication and installation. We bundle that with the tile installation for an entire project, which lets us take the stone and tile package off the list of headaches for the builder.”
The Boston Design Center
Because UMF’s focus is so narrow, it allows them to concentrate completely on satisfying the needs of their customers. From a marketing perspective one way they do that is by having a presence in the Boston Design Center.
“We are the only fabricator in the building,” says Kilfoyle. “There are several tile showrooms, but we are the only ones displaying any type of exotic edge work or material that is hard to find. The architecture/design community likes the fact that they can push the boundaries with stone, maybe even beyond what they knew they ever could. We want to be a resource for those projects and to become involved early on in the design process.”
Part and parcel of taking responsibility for all the stone and tile work in a project is being responsive to the needs of the tile setter. Sometimes that means producing needed parts literally overnight.
“There are a handful of high-end tile installers that use our shop for their jambs or shower seats,” explains Kilfoyle. “Anytime, there is a stone piece they need for their project they will come here. It’s because of our turnaround time. They feed us so much repeat business that it benefits us to leave some space in the schedule to accommodate them. We know they will be looking for their parts, and we know if we don’t produce them fast enough they will go somewhere else.”
Thinking like a tile setter comes easy to company founder, Tom Kilfoyle, because that is where he has his roots. Prior to establishing United Marble Fabricators 25 years ago, Kilfoyle was a tile setter for 10 years. That kind of experience is one of the reasons the company is able to provide stonework and tile setting as a total package with confidence for such a discriminating clientele.
Small And Flexible
One would think such flexibility would require an automated shop stuffed to the gills with lots of motivated people. The company does have a Northwood 138-EDS CNC, and it does rely heavily on the skills of its craftsmen, but they do it with a total of seven people in the shop. “It’s small by design,” says John Kilfoyle. “That is because the customers we serve really need a lot of attention and their projects are very detailed. By growing too large we would lose the capacity to handle that amount of detail. It has worked out quite well for us.”
United Marble Fabricators uses JobTracker to schedule each of its stone and tile field crews daily, as well as housing production orders for all of its projects. This function allows UMF employees to access exact job information from anywhere in the world. “I can be on-site at a Cape Cod project,” says Kilfoyle, “and review the shop drawings with my client on my iPad through Moraware”.
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.