First they took a risk by hitching their star to a brand new product and moving to a different country. After that, picking up stakes once again for a move from Minnesota to Wisconsin seemed a minor challenge to Axel and Carmina Mendez.
“Axel and I moved from Mexico City in 1999 to Minnesota because we were offered the opportunity to pioneer this new product called Silestone,” recalls Carmina Mendez. “Nobody knew what quartz was at the time. It wasn’t in any of the showrooms. Granite was still out of reach for most people, which meant we were competing against Corian and solid surface.”
The Mendezes didn’t have a fabrication facility, so their prime focus in Minnesota was on selling and installing Silestone. In 2002, a fabrication distributorship became available in Wisconsin and it was offered to Axel and Carmina.
“Axel started looking for the perfect place in Wisconsin,” Carmina says. “We found Fond Du Lac, which is a small community in the middle of the state. It’s one hour from Madison, Green Bay and all the bigger areas. We started servicing kitchen and bath dealers and builders. Then we got the Home Depot and Lowe’s accounts.”
Today, AMC Countertops offers all types of hard surfaces, including quartz and natural stone. “We call ourselves The Specialists in Quartz Surfaces,” Carmina explains. “Our experience and comprehensive offering in quartz sets us apart. We offer a good chunk of granite, but quartz is our big product. Silestone opened the door for us, and we have expanded from there.”
AMC Countertops employs about 35 people and includes the entire state of Wisconsin as its market area. The company has three in-house installation crews and, due to the geographic spread of the state, has added six more installation crews as sub-contractors.
“We had such a volume of orders this spring that our lead times got out of hand,” Carmina says. “We decided that was not acceptable, so we added more installers. But they had to be good. We have enough volume for 15 crews, but we just want the good ones.”
Automation And Social Media
As the company grows it has automated more of its systems, including adding technology in the shop as well as in the front office.
“Having JobTracker is an essential part of our growth,” explains Carmina. “It’s our bible. Axel loves to show it to everyone. They ask him for some kind of numbers, or a report, and he says, ‘Oh, I can give you that because it’s right here in our system.’ We use it for inventory, sales reports, tracking which designers sell more than others, which brands we sell more of, how much per day we invoice, etc.”
Local community is important to the folks at AMC Countertops, which they demonstrate, in part, through support of the United Way and Habitat for Humanity through product donations. Carmina also reaches out to the community through social media. “Facebook has brought us some local customers,” Carmina says. “It has had an impact in the community. People tell us they saw us on our Facebook page and that is why they contacted us. It takes a lot of time, but it is a lot of fun.”
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.