Its classic entrepreneurial philosophy: find a need and then satisfy that need. Which, is exactly what Jason VanDyke did in 2003 when he opened a stone fabrication business in Waverly, New York, located on the border between New York and Pennsylvania.
“There was a real need here,” says Erika Molin, sales and marketing director for VanDyke’s company, Granite Works.
“Buffalo and Rochester are the two main cities in the area and they are two to three hours north of us. In Pennsylvania there are barely any other cities near us. There weren’t any cities that had a large fabrication firm, so there was a huge gap in the market.”
Growth Through Diversification
Granite Works set its sights on kitchen and bath dealers, who responded favorably to having a quality stone fabricator in their market area. It was a great beginning, but it didn’t end there. The company added solid surface and quartz surfacing to its product mix and was gearing up to diversify into the monument business when the last recession hit.
“It worked out amazingly well,” Molin says. “We were already getting into monuments when the downturn came. It turns out that people who are picking out a monument for a loved one really appreciate the same the amount of attention that someone buying a countertop would. It was a very easy transition for us.”
One of the things that helps give the monument side of the business exposure is the Granite Works facility is located near a busy highway, which means examples of monuments are clearly visible from the road. “Most funeral homes hand the family a picture book of sample monuments from which to choose their loved one’s memorial,” Molin explains. “We offer a more personalized service.”
Granite Works is an active supporter of the community, sponsoring two soccer teams and providing benches for the city’s baseball fields. The company actively participates in NKBA and FLHBA and is a member of the MIA. And Molin, it turns out, is even on board of directors of the Chamber of Commerce.
“We like to give back to the community where we can and, being on the Chamber’s board, it helps us identify new opportunities,” Mullen says. “We are interested in doing almost anything. If we hear something is going on we research the possibilities and decide if we can do it.”
And speaking of new opportunities, Granite Works is currently expanding into installing historical exterior cladding.
“It is a very interesting niche,” Molin says. “Most townships require that you stay within certain guidelines to insure that you maintain their historical relevance. Not only do the colors and materials have to be correct, but you would be more likely to do specific edges, keeping with the available technology at that time. Everything is rough cut. It’s a real craft that not everyone can do.”
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.