Here’s something for you to get your head around: One of the largest surfacing companies in North America has six divisions in the Southeast yet, in reality, is just a very small cog in an enormous worldwide machine. That machine, CRH plc, employs 76,000 people in 35 countries and boasts more than €18.5 billion in sales.
The face of CRH in the Americas is Oldcastle, which supplies such products as masonry, brick, building envelope products, precast, ready mixed concrete, cement, lawn and garden materials, hardscaping materials, aggregates, asphalt paving – and customer interior decorative surfacing.
“We are unique within Oldcastle because we not only custom fabricate our offering we install it. Most Oldcastle companies make a quality construction product for others to install.” Mell Hill, Vice President of Residential Sales and Marketing for Oldcastle Surfaces, which is headquartered in Atlanta, GA.
In addition to Atlanta, Oldcastle has full service fabrication facilities in Savannah, GA; Winston Salem, NC; Birmingham, AL; Nashville, TN; and Greenville, SC. “We limit the market area to within three hours of each location,” Hill explains. “And, as we grow, we are looking at additional cities in which to expand.”
Just A Good Ol’ Boy
Before Oldcastle Surfaces, there was Custom Surfaces, the heart and soul of which was Rick Smith. “Rick was one of the very first Certified Corian fabricators in the country,” Hill says. “In the beginning he worked out of the back of a pickup truck – measuring, fabricating and installing Corian countertops all in the same day. His strategy was to involve himself heavily in the kitchen and bath market. He went to all the events and stayed active. He’s very good at making connections. Really, Rick is just a good old boy.”
As the company grew it expanded into areas beyond the kitchen and bath market. “When Brian Gahagan came on board they grew the commercial segment,” Hill explains. “Then they grew the production builder segment and established our tripod approach – dealer, commercial and residential. When we moved into our current building in 1998, we got into stone.”
Today, Oldcastle Surfaces fabricates and installs granite, marble, quartz, wood, solid surface, recycled materials and specialty products throughout the Southeast. Hill says the company still follows a slightly modified tripod approach divided among the commercial, home center and residential segments. “Each of the segments stays pretty much about a third of our sales in all six of our locations,” she says. “It fluctuates a little percentage-wise, but never more than 7%.”
Looking For Opportunities
Hill says a major strategy for growth is by opening and/or acquiring fabrication facilities in new cities. Another is through innovation and exclusivity. “We are always looking at new and innovative products,” she explains.
“For instance, we have exclusive rights in the Southeast to ForzaStone travertine and marble wall panels. The commercial segment is using it for elevators; residential is using it for shower walls, splash and knee wall kick plates. We try to find products that will fit both the residential and commercial segments, so that we have the opportunity to grow everywhere. You can only get ForzaStone here in the Southeast through Oldcastle right now. We sell as a distributor to anyone, or we sell it as an installed product. We like things that are exclusive, it gives us an edge and opens doors.”
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