There are two things Scott Murphy has learned from a lifetime in the granite and marble business:
- You must be willing to change in order to survive and,
- Quality always wins out.
“When I opened Dream Stone in 2000 I would have told you point blank that I would never work for the prices I am getting now,” Murphy says.
“Ten years ago Uba Tuba was going for $65 per sq ft in our area. Now there are guys doing it in Denver for $25 per sq ft installed. They have driven prices so far down, how do you ever get them back up?”
Well, maybe you don’t.
If They Pay, We’ll Go Anywhere
But, that hasn’t stopped Murphy. His company, Dream Stone Marble & Granite in Longmont, Colorado, has responded to the downward pressure on prices by diversifying its product offering, expanding its market area and focusing on high-end clients who appreciate the kind of quality Dream Stone is able to deliver.
“We work everywhere in the state of Colorado and we ship some of our jobs all over the country,” Murphy says. “We do a lot of work for Sears Home Improvement. We do work for flooring companies. We do some big millwork companies. We work for stainless steel companies, as well as custom home builders and even Harry the Homeowner, who walks in off of the street. All of our business is pretty much word of mouth.”
And there’s more. Dream Stone has also partnered with a company in Arkansas to manufacture custom shower systems under the brand name Salita Shower Systems And, Dream Stone utilizes its two, five-axis and one, four-axis CNCs to do custom stone carving, as well as one-off prototypes for millwork houses. “Bring me some wood and I’ll make anything you want,” quips Murphy.
Taking The High Road
Of course, the company also pursues more traditional countertop business, getting down and dirty with competitors who think the only way to land a job is to lower their prices. Murphy says that almost always results in lower quality and bad service, a game which Dream Stone refuses to play. “We recently brought on a big builder that was told by his fabrication company they didn’t pay enough to get a good job,” he says. “I don’t get that.”
Nor, does he understand why some stone importers in his market have decided to sell slabs directly to homeowners. “The homeowner builds himself an A-frame and buys the slab at an inflated price from the importer,” Murphy explains. “If the homeowner has a fabricator, the importer gives the fabricator a kickback. So, now the fabricator is not paying for any material, he is just getting paid for labor, and he is fabricating the slab in the customer’s garage. So what happens if the slab gets broken? Who is responsible – the homeowner or the fabricator?”
In some ways, it’s like the Wild West all over again. But Murphy, who is an experienced fabricator with a reputation for delivering quality product, is quick on the draw. “We still do a lot of the high-end work,” he says. “I am known for the high-end. That will always be there. At any given time we could have a high-end job going as well as 20 tract homes. I don’t even know how you could survive as a granite fabrication company today without some kind of diversification.”
Want to know more? At Moraware, we make software for countertop fabricators. CounterGo is countertop drawing, layout, 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.