For a business to truly thrive there must be a problem to solve. Here is the problem as we see it.
The Problem: When you renovate a bathroom you stand to lose 30% of your investment! That’s because the Tile and Stone industry has sold a bill of goods to consumers, telling them that they can expect to get a 70% return on their investment when they renovate a bathroom. It is so engraved you hear it on TV and read it in magazines. It is an incredible illusion. Possibly one of the greatest marketing illusions of all time. No one ever questioned it. Until now!
What that really means is that you’re losing 30% of the investment in your refinished bathroom! The industry has created this situation to maximize their profits, by getting consumers to think a refinished bathroom is a good investment. (A loss of 30-50% is a good investment!) It has worked bathrooms are the #1 most renovated room in houses. What consumers don’t understand is they could be getting a better ROI (Return On Investment).
The Solution: An improved ROI. How about a 100% Return on your Investment. Do some work yourself and maybe even an additional 30% GAIN. How? By using TheBuilderDepot.com. (The Only Google Trusted Store that sells matching marble collections).
We have built efficiencies into our business model (or removed all the inefficiencies of others), saving the customer money by paring down our costs. We have streamlined our supply chain, labor costs, and other areas so we can offer the best product quality, selection, and service for the price. We’re determined to turn your bathroom renovation from a loss to a gain!
Note: Bathroom is the #1 most renovated room in the house. There are 111 Million Single family homes going by the 2014 Census of the USA.
There we have it, a problem and a solution. Now we just need to move a few things around and reinvent the way the consumer receives the product removing every cost in this supply chain disaster. Except for Quality of Product and Service. If we do this correctly we will grow organically (so no money on marketing).
This is a different model it provides people with profit on what for most is their largest investment. Their home. Below explains the plan and lays out some of the pictures and the journey that has taken us from the Garage to turning us into a successful operation in the natural stone industry. Today with over 2 million square feet of Carrara stocked in Georgia. Sales in 2009 zero, zip, nothing! To date sales well into eight figures and the growth is triple digits each year. To the spring of 2016 the top of Yahoo Small Business “Start” a blog dedicated to helping people “Start their own American Dream”.
The problem is solved the market is responding. The customer review below says it all, he was going to have to pay $18,400. Better quality product from us for $5,400. I think you get the point.
What is vital to this incredible business model and one that can save you thousands is that you are involved (this is not buying a T-Shirt from Gap). You have a part in this as well.
Everything you do contact us and “demand free shipping” or “ask us to install your marble” or “carry it personally to the 17th floor”. People yell these demands down the phone! These are “Unreasonable demands”. This business model is not aimed at unreasonable people. It is aimed at the 70% of people that recognize a great deal and agree the system is broken. They hire professional installers, they are involved. If you want “Free Shipping (which does not exist, UPS profits are published and 2015 was a record year, UPS does not do ‘anything’ for free, so companies who offer Free shipping build it into the product cost, please tell me you do not believe it actually exists? It can technically but that is for promotions or trying to break into new markets).
Companies take a $7.00 Square Foot product sell it for $11.000 and say “Yippee Free Shipping”, nope you just well and truly overpaid on 200 square feet by about $550.00. It is the retailer who is saying “Yippee” trust me, if companies are pushing “Free Shipping on paid ads on TV. It is not free”. Please THINK ABOUT IT! We have select free shipping items, they are priced as such to create market penetration, so we are taking almost just above cost to grow market share, it is not permanent. Here is the Select list.
Again our business model is not aimed at everyone. The Tile and Stone industry is $50bn we are not aiming for 100% of it. Just reasonable consumers that are willing to work with us, a partnership. They hire a professional installer. That do not hire your brother-in-laws, cousin’s best friend to do the install while you fly back to New Jersey without even looking at a box. Read the FAQ’s and top mistakes made by others. Gain knowledge for yourself by reading the install guide. Please note the install guide is not for the installer, he is qualified and trained by the Marble Institute of America, it is for you, so you know more and can ask some “Test” questions.
If you need help, what your 3×6″ tile cut with a water-jet finished edge and every tile looking identical (then you probably need porcelain), but if you are “unreasonable”. Then please go to Walker Zanger, Ann Sacks or any High end boutique retailer that offers full service. They will be more than happy to sit you down and do absolutely everything for you. You need not lift a finger. But you will pay for it. About 4-5 times as much.
If we work together we have the best product quality, price, selection and service. What we do not have is an army of people at your beck and call, as that increases cost which is unfair to reasonable people like the person in the Google review below, who saved a fortune. Together is the only way this works. Together and understanding. Or we simply reserve the right to suggest you buy locally.
“We are not looking for sales. Just happy customers that understands our business model”.
About The Builder Depot
“Simplify the supply chain, improve product quality, carry no debt, operate on low margins, lower costs with a no a no frills marketing strategy. Then bring this value to our customers so they can add what would have been lost profit into the value of their own home or business. Give the power back to the customer. Completely disrupt what has been well over half a century of inefficient supply to the end user!” David Shearn Jan 2009.
A lot of academics and Business schools would say this paragraph above is impossible. I believe and please any English teacher or journalist correct me is an oxymoron. You cannot offer all of this without impacting one aspect. So you cannot have Low Price, Quality, Value, Quick Shipping and Service. One must be surrendered to achieve the others. But academics also thought Fedex Paper by George W Smith at Yale in 1965 was unrealistic as well. I believe this model is possible but it takes working together our customers with us for the saving to work, we work together! Particularly on the natural stone.
All we need customers to do is read. Read the Terms of Sale and our FAQ’s and particularly the top 10 mistakes people make. If we work together the impossible is possible. But it really does need the final step our customers. We have gone to the trouble of removing every conceivable cost from the supply chain (even debt, debt is a cost to many businesses we have none and that cost is not passed on through our products, that cost can be 8.5% or higher). We need are customers help on the last step, maybe you have a counter you are matching Carrara to, or need a particular look, then these are things we should talk about. (We do not know the look of the countertop you purchased if we are not sent a picture).
If we work together instead of viewing a bathroom remodel as a going to loose 30% (as the industry has created) to a ‘gain 30% on the value of your home‘. Together we can change an industry from a consumers loss to a consumers gain in property value. The impact on America would be incredible. A home underwater by $5K could be above water. Risk of foreclosure lower.
I never could understand an industry that was created around “buy our product have it installed and once you have done so do not expect 100% return on your investment”. Yet people have believed this for decades and decades. We want to change this and we will give it a go 🙂
The Number one asked question of 2015 was simple “How are your products so cheap”, so we created a video to try and help people skip the essay of information below.
The video does a good job considering we had to get it in under 2 mins (that is just how long they can be these days apparently) if you have just a little longer, take a look at this Google review below (we are a Google trusted store) from a fellow customer. He took time to write a review and explain what the result was. In short allowing us to understand that all this really is starting to become worth it, what started out as a challenge has now become reality. People really are adding value back into their homes.
Now into the detail: Welcome to The Builder Depot located in beautiful Alpharetta, Georgia. Since we began in 2008 (which seems a lifetime ago, with the speed of the world today) The Builder Depot has grown to record eight-figure sales revenues. Passionate about finding the highest quality of Carrara, Calacatta, Metal Mosaics, Glass Tiles along with many natural stone floor and wall coverings TDB (that’s short for The Builder Depot and not To Be Decided 🙂 ) has become one of the largest supplier of Carrara in North America. With additional offices in Europe we work directly with quarries and manufactures around the globe. Our premium natural stone floor and wall coverings you can find in a high end boutique specialty tile stores but sold online via TBD for a fraction of the cost. We exceed industry standards (according to these customers) for quality and service and provide our customers with the largest selection of premium products in various styles and formats.
What do we do? We focus on specific market categories one area at a time until we become the largest buyer in that market sector. The primary purpose of this is to gain complete control over quality. It is our huge buying power that keeps our quality at levels not ever seen before at an incredible price point. We do not sell cheap products but premium natural stone, glass tiles, metal mosaics and more. It is the cost effective running of our business that guarantees such variety, quality and pricing cannot be matched by any retailer. Take the time to order a sample, review our full range of field tile and mosaics and online blog showing current lots and new products. The lowest price with superior quality and reliable service, you will get complete satisfaction from online to your front door.
How are the prices so low? This was a really common question 5 years ago but not so common now as consumers have become used to the lower prices that the internet offers. However still worth answering, I will try to be brief which is not easy considering how many areas of business and economics this question touches on. Companies hate the word cheap, well not companies but marketing execs, they like inexpensive or good value – no matter what we call it the question is still the same. How can we sell a product for 50-60% lower than everyone else and because of that is it inferior?
First lets remove the “cheap” issue with an example. Our brick metal 1.5″ x 3″ we sell for $14.95SF boutique retailers sell for $50SF. Metal has a high “price feel” to it, it looks expensive and is relatively new so retailers will charge what they can (marketing 101 if it looks expensive make it expensive). But the reality is this is not the case while it is not as cheap as ceramic technology has driven down the production costs of stainless steel mosaics. Additionally traditional boutique retailers have 2-3 steps in their supply chain each one adding 50% so very quickly the price goes up. We ship directly from the factory to our warehouse then ship out direct to the consumer, we skip 3 steps in the supply chain and pass the savings along to you. This explains how we can sell for $15.00SF.
Now quality (related to cheap) – here is brick metal mosaic product installed in a $2m house click here to see. Cheap does not get installed by professional architect firms. (This is one of many examples we have). Then there is our marble. Italian Carrara and Calacatta Gold the best we can import. We import direct (strategy #1) missing out 3 steps in the supply chain our competitors the ‘boutique tile and stone retailers‘ have to suffer. Why do they have to suffer an inefficient supply chain? Because a retailer cannot buy 28 pallets of 6×12″ Italian Carrara at a time – he does not have the ‘wholesale’ sales to support it. We import direct and then ship onto you. Big savings. Big savings we pass along to you.
We do make a profit but no where near the same as a tile store. We do not need as much profit because we operate a low cost business (Strategy #2). No frills marketing is our mantra pictures taken with a iPhone = no advertising cost. We are in magazines and on DIY network but we do not pay for this we are such good value (or cheap) that our customers want to tell their friends, TV shows wants to tell their viewers and magazines their readers. We operate with minimal staff, so minimal that answering the phone can be sometimes be a challenge (sorry I know that can be frustrating). I could go on but you get the idea.
Direct import, minimal operational costs and premium products (word of mouth is our marketing). Certainly the products themselves are not cheap (inferior) we just offer a really, really good deal. So good we understand the skepticism. To help alleviate the skepticism you can buy a sample to check it out for yourself or look at the reviews online from eBay and Amazon. We are proud of our business model this economy needed something new and we offer just that. We receive a constant stream of happy emails from our customers who create a fabulous bathroom buying $4K worth of marble and adding $15K in value back into their home price.
We are probably one of the few online products that offer an instant profit once purchased and installed. I hope I answered the question and did not go off on too many tangents. If I failed please let me know firstname.lastname@example.org if you liked it please let my boss know email@example.com. Thank you 🙂
Our Story. As with everything there is a story. David (it is now me writing this) back in 2005 I was hired by a European manufacturer of tile and natural stone. The distribution network of retailers was vast. The accounts exceptionally high end premium boutique tile and stone retailers. The new position required me to cut costs and increase sales to change the company I was now in charge of from a profit to a loss. Upon visiting many of our retailer accounts (our customers) I soon realized that even though our prices to the retailers were reasonable the markups from the retailers (our customer) to the contractors or to the consumer were
ridiculous huge, in some cases well over 800%. I tried reducing the price to these retailers (our customers) to stimulate sales growth and it was pointless they did not consider value for their customers and would not pass on the savings. It was, I suppose the preverbal gravy train for these retailers.
The product irrespective of the cost had a perceived high price and these retailers (any retailer) perception is everything and if you can charge someone $5,000 for items that cost just $50.00 they will do it as they are in business to make money. Especially if the consumer perceives the product to be “expensive”. In fact in that scenario for the retailer you have the “perfect storm”. Perceived high product price and actual low product cost. What made things worse (for the end user) was each retailer seemed to respect each others territorial boundaries (even though they are supposed to be competitors) and did not actively cross state lines to compete on jobs, clearly not wanting to rock the boat or start any form of a price war. This system had been running for decades. A sort of Carrara Cartel was in place (which is rather amusing considering where Carrara is from).
Any consumer trying to go around the system in the early years by going direct to a contractor was fruitless. The contractor was already in cahoots with the retailer. He would get a “kick-back” for bring consumers to specific retailers. So the retailers really, really tied this market up. They had the poor consumer covered from every angle (the contractor issue is still in effect, so if your contractor is determined you buy from a specific retailer, their is a reason. A commission incentive reason, who is paying for that? YOU!!)
This of course is terrible for the consumer (it really was the internet that we have to thank for leveling the playing field). Another observation when visiting these retailers ‘no prices on the display boards’ they did not put prices on their products. The sample boards (or concept boards as they are known) looked incredible but there was not a sticker price in sight. Why? Because people would faint seeing a Carrara Basketweave priced for $60.00/SF and leave (but remember this was 2005). This part I did not like. I thought the pricing should be upfront, not make people fall in love with the product then hit them with a huge price tag. Or perhaps I did not understand and this was a “if you have to ask” time, you know the phrase “if you have to ask then you cannot afford it.” I loathed that expression. “If I am asking it is because I am supposed to be a customer”. Everyone remembers the Pretty Women part when she is turned away in the shops on Beverly Hills Drive (right…. anyone? Perhaps I should not admit to having seen it). That is how the retailers were in 2005. They really did act this way. Amazing I thought “just like the movies”. I actually feel uncomfortable in here, and I was a 28 year Executive Vice President (yes, I moved fast in the earlier years).
In fact you would not get to even see or hear a price until you were sat down with coffee and the sales process had started. Probably due to the number of people fainting when they hear the 200 square feet of Hexagon floor they needed would cost them $8K and that was just for the mosaic, another $8K was needed to design the layout and then even more cost to install it. But it could be argued by the savvy sales associate that this would add $40K in value to your home, so the cost was a flush, or maybe loose 10 or 20%, 30% at worse. That was 2005!
Back to the company I was trying to make work; we made some progress into new markets but then 2008 the financial collapse hit (Dun Dun Da!) and it hit the new construction/housing/remodeling market like an out of control bulldozer. The effect was devastating. Most businesses particularly those in distribution are dependent on sales to keep cash flowing, they are dependent on their customers to pay within the terms, as they have to pay suppliers within the terms to keep the cycle going. With sales stopping almost instantly the effects were disastrous. Our USA operation closed. So the company I ran stopped, shut and ended. Many retailers were acquired and many went under as well. I still remember coming home. That feeling walking into my house and seeing my family (and of course my son was not even one year old). Fantastic! Best day ever.
I loved the Carrara products, the mosaics, the tiles, trims and if marketed differently I recognized the opportunity. But the opportunity required an entirely new approach. Everything about the sale of Carrara marble or premium boutique tile products needed an overhaul. I wanted to reinvent the process. I wanted the business to carry no debt (so it could not be collapsed so easily in a downturn and in time if the business grew it would be shielded from downturns, as debt could not be the issue for the collapse. Equally I needed to run my game plan and debt always comes with strings attached and debt is a cost to a business), I wanted upfront prices, no frills marketing strategy, super low cost business model (work out of garage low) and incredible quality all for a fraction of the cost that the very same products were sold for in 2005. I wanted to take the existing out of control, high cost cartel style over priced business model and do everything opposite, take the profits from the few and give it to those who are actually buying the product. Instead of a product that was bought with the impression of a 30% loss, perhaps we could make it a 30% profit. A win-win (not a bad saying first heard it when I came to America in 2000).
Armed with my knowledge of Italian suppliers who were now looking for new customers as they too were hurting having lost so many (many retailers closed in 2008). I cashed in my 401K, according to my financial advisor at the “stupidest” possible moment (as you know the end of 2008 was not a great time to get out of the stock market). But banks were going bust, not lending money, especially to a dot com idea, a dot com idea in the remodeling construction industry (they would have laughed and laughed hard ). However with my 401k now in cash and some small amount of savings in the bank, I wired all the cash to Italy (in Euros) to get the best possible price for a container of Carrara marble. Talk about nerve racking. That was everything. All in. The die was cast (Alea iacta est).
First Dock worker was a little slower than expected 🙂
It was a hard time 2008/09 you just had to work and work hard to look after your family. We never once looked towards the Government for assistance (On reflection perhaps I was too busy, too passionate. I believed the system was broken and I could help people get better value and quality. Value they needed for their own homes or products to support designers and retailers at a lower cost).
Weeks went by as Italy started the production of my order. That gave me time for Phase II. Creating a vehicle to sell this Carrara. With my then self taught eCommerce skills I created The Builder Depot “MarkI” and to save costs yet again, I did it myself. The product arrived and sales were not great. The website was not great. I did not have a warehouse and had to ship the product from my garage. My garage was my warehouse. The garage warehouse kept going for 12 months. The business grew, UPS ground orders were shipping from my front door and what was once a couple of boxes eventually took over the entire front of my house and inside my house (a few letters from the HOA were received) soon we had to move and the move was to a storage lockup. I still had to keep the costs as low as possible. A warehouse would add cost, sure it would have been easier but I did not want that cost at this point.
Where UPS ground orders for mosaics shipped. You can even see the stroller to the far left. I have another picture of my son climbing over the boxes with a pacifier in his mouth. Life! It is real. People really do start from the beginning with very, very little. (Beans and Rice again for dinner).
I needed to keep as much cash to buy as much product at the highest quality. Buying product with cash and not using terms resulted in two things #1 Better Quality and #2 Lower prices. Every business needs cash and the Italians were no different. I had inadvertently stumbled onto another unique selling proposition (USP). Buy stock with cash, no terms. Suppliers love this. Everyone loves cash. You get the first choices, the best stone and quarries really look after you and we pass that onto our customers. (Equally it fits with the plan that I wanted a business built on a foundation that would not collapse in a market downturn. Carrying no debt achieved this). Now I had a company (well business out of my home) where people could work and feel safe our long term customers, contractors, builders and retailers know we are here to stay and able to stick with them through good and tough times.
The quality created the sales. Word of mouth grew the business. By March 2010 I had lost 30Lbs (which I needed to anyway) and got in shape, lifting marble is an incredible workout. I had not only created my own company but also my own gym, Yay! Granted it opened at 5am and did not close until 2am on many occasions but what a work out it was/is. Georgia gets hot! It was an experience like no other. A few months later due to increasing sales volume we opened a warehouse location.
As we have grown we stuck with the same principles, a sort of “Declaration of Corporate Responsibility”. While the founder is alive it can still be added or changed (so comments are welcome):
- Pay cash for product, no credit terms and no debt. This makes suppliers work harder to keep you happy (as they have very few cash customers) which is transferred through quality.
- Low costs. Do more with less.
- No frills marketing strategy. Invest everything in the quality. Not on fancy marketing.
- Affordable prices for everyone, retailer, contractor, distributor or consumer. One price for all. (Sounds like the Musketeers).
- Empower others making the dreams and goals of others that work for you in your team your priority. Be selfless and there is no end to what can be achieved.
- Never sell. Just provide information. Let the customer decide. Provide pictures but ultimately never sell we are not sales people.
- Product pictures that are real, always. Pictures with iPhone’s. Not pictures in clinical photoshoot studios that are photoshopped to perfection with beautiful people draped over the marble/products. Just take the picture in the warehouse. What we picture is what we ship.
- Social Responsibility, give back to the community. We do in many ways. For a local school in 2017 we will give two checks from our company one to the Valedictorian and another who is decided by our Charitable Board (headed by Stephen who was also a Math Teacher, in a previous capacity). The employees will decide and an employee will present the check. It helps show your effort and work is more than that, you are changing lives.
- Executives, Managers stay on the front line. We want to remain as integrated as possible. So everyday our people who are ready to answer questions can walk out of the door and look at the product. Take a picture. No ivory towers. Remain integrated. Complete control over quality.
- Be a Google Trusted Store. There are many review systems and companies cherry pick reviews. They have people call up and ask “how was the experience?” if the response is positive they send a review email. Only Google trusted stores offers a 100% upfront review process. Look at the competition any online competitor, why are they not Google trusted. Many are big. Talk about transparency but it is “talk”. No reality of transparency (yes this is us calling the competition to do better, it helps the industry, or please move out of the way). If you advertise on Google, then why are you not a Google trusted store? That is my question. But it is okay, I already know the answer. Because you cannot control the reviews or delete them.
- Finally “KBO”. We are trying to change an industry. It will not be easy. So as one great Englishman once said frequently “KBO”.
We are a classic USA garage start-up. I suppose “The American Dream”. Today we are one of the fastest growing privately owned companies in the USA with a high eight-figure turnover, we feature on the top of Yahoo Small Business. An office in Europe to work directly with Italian quarries on the same time zone and most importantly great employees which is the lifeblood of any organization. Sure 2008/09 was a painful time. Everyone in my family helped, I could not have done it without them.
Nothing exceptional was done here, we just did what America was founded on and hundreds of Americans have done before us. Dug in and worked Hard! I hope this explains the story. It was not easy, there were some really dark days and we are always learning but on reflection it was/is an incredible experience.
Is this first Quality? (I am not sure if people still sell 2nd quality anymore, I think that was more of a 2000 thing). However to answer the question. Yes! All products sold by The Builder Depot are first quality. Order a sample and compare it against any high end tile store and you will find the quality identical if not better and at a cost that is significantly less. But don’t just take our word for it look at our positive independent reviews from I believe everywhere now. The Builder Depot works hard to keep customers happy and we are completely transparent and upfront in everything we do. In fact we are the only only Google Trusted Store that sells Carrara marble collections (as of April 4th 2016).
We know distributors hate us as we are upsetting decades of price control (but our customers love us!). We can adapt almost instantly to changing market conditions, provide feedback of real time data to factories and quarries of the ‘best selling products’. This data is invaluable and leads to a consumer driven not corporate driven business model. The Builder Depot is driven by quality our people are driven to do more with less (cost control) interacting with our customers our partners with humility and a passion for excellence.
Years later: As we slowly moved into our first suite years later. It was an uncomfortable choice as the lease on even a small 3,300 Foot warehouse/Offices with one loading dock was more than three times my mortgage. That is not easy to sign up for with a family but with the HOA and increasing truck issues something had to be done.
People ask me even today what is the biggest difference today? “I can park my car in the Garage again 🙂 and no more letters from HOA”.
Seven Years later. This is the same start-up garage. Same shelves in the very back for kids pool stuff and I suppose just “stuff”. Space for cars now. Seven years gone by and the picture minus product stacked up, is the same. Amazing how time flies.
Our Warehouse – Spring 2014
This road is one of my favorites. You cannot get the full idea from this picture. I am leaning out of my car at the stop sign (so safe). This road is a half a mile of beautiful trees either side of the road. In the summer it forms a shaded canopy. When riding bikes it is such a relief in the summer to get this shade.
5910 Shiloh Road East, Alpharetta, GA. The Builder Depot is located in what was Shiloh Farms. A horse farm. The area we work in is beautiful, really is pretty with all the different colored trees in spring. We chose this location for a few reasons. #1. It is safe. Employees can have their families drop by, bring them lunch. Have a picnic. #2. Our employees do not have to fight traffic to get downtown, while the traditional warehouse location is South Atlanta, Fulton Industrial we chose North, GA which has a number of health benefits, the obvious one is the traffic.
There are other reasons but these are close the top. In short we wanted to work in a place that you would feel safe. Where customers picking up product would feel safe. Work surroundings are an important part of employee moral, it transfers into every area of business. Working in the countryside/suburbs of Georgia does not automatically make a perfect business but for the people that work at The Builder Depot it is a step in the right direction. In summer when the canopy of trees is complete I will take some more pictures. Our customers are from all over the world so I wanted to create this blog to give everyone an idea of where we work and where the product ships from. Any questions as always please let us know firstname.lastname@example.org.
Same road 3 weeks later the tree canopy is complete
You can now see (April 25th – 3 wks after the pictures above how much the tree canopy has grown. It is great in Summer a real break from the heat streaming into the car. Just wait a little in the shade and your car can cool down ten degrees in seconds. The trees are just spectacular. This is just my trusty iPhone taking this image but the quality is excellent.
Birds eye view of location and directions
And Finally…. Best of Houzz.com two years running!
What a great way to start 2015 with an email from Houzz.com. We are one of the recipients selected from 25 million monthly users to win the Best of Houzz ‘Service’ award for 2015 (which is awesome to say the least and can be added to the one we won in 2014!).
We are thrilled to be recognized and it goes to the heart of who we are ‘Service’. The natural stone with which we work with requires exceptional quality control from quarry to shipping out to the customer. Assisting customers on the phone, with pictures, samples and advice are a just few ways in which we go beyond the usual click and ship ecommerce business. You can read the full press release here. A big thank you to Houzz and to all our followers.
Coming up on our 8th Year and now it is time to grow again….
We need more loading docks. We need to move but where? Then looking out over the back dock it became clear….. behind us! It will be the least disruptive move for everyone.
This is the look of the new facility with each collection having its own loading dock. More importantly jobs, jobs, jobs! Perhaps my most favorite part of the business creating employment. Good jobs, double min wage just for the guys working on the front line. Good Healthcare coverage. People before profits. We are a team and paid as such.
We are one of UPS freight’s latest accounts north of Atlanta shipping huge volumes every day. But it is the 1,000’s of percent growth that is interesting. As you can draw a line and know how big this will become. Building the future is exciting for everyone to be apart of.
The new facility will be built over a two phases. Phase one will be a complete building with 15 loading docks and offices this will be an investment of just over $4m. As a business we need this up and running we can get new product shipped (we stock over 2 million square feet in Fulton Industrial (downtown ATL as of Nov 2015 probably 3 million by 2017). New products sitting downtown we cannot fit in our current Alpharetta location and we cannot put online, so they are just sitting there. Moving has become essential.
Where to move was a tough choice; clearly Buford or even Fulton Industrial has space and it is amazingly affordable. But do the employees want to move and work there? That was a definite ” NO”. The employees want to stay where they are. So as a business what do you do? This is my view product quality, price, service are linked to people, the people that work at the company. So as a company we stay local and invest in our people by giving them location that avoids downtown traffic.
Phase two will be about improving the aesthetics. Creating a showroom for our products. But not your typical showroom. We will catalogue the lots and iPads will allow consumers to see the lots from a comfy chair and with narrowing down the hundreds of options we can find the look they want. Adding to the ascetics on the front off the building and looking after our operation. A place people will be proud to work at and family members will be happy to bring lunch. You want the mothers and fathers that work here for their Children to be proud of them, for what they have accomplished and they should be.
Most importantly an outside kitchen with 2 built in grills for the Friday cookout for everyone. None of this will have any impact on the product price (so customers please do not worry). This is simply about investing in people. Ensuring this is a place people want to work. A Happy place.
Do you realize people spend 8 hours a day working away from their families, 40 hours a week, if you deduct sleeping it is the majority of your life! They need a place where they want to come to work. Where they are not exhausted by a 2 hour battle against traffic! Where they can invite their families for a cookout.
It is our hope….. it will encourage more people to want to work for us, better skilled people and drive the business forwards by attracting the best talent. That in turn should be reflected in the Google Trusted Store reviews if we keep this model.
IMHO we need to change the way companies are run. People before profits. And why not? Change the rules, tired of the quarterly results, monthly results, just be the best we can be and enjoy the journey not the goals.
No debt as we have always done since 2008. So people will have a job and are not impacted by Governments or external factors (as much as possible). We will always put the customer first but our people second a secure a job/career (call it what you will) for life is the goal. Just like in the good old days, my father worked for one company for 25 years. That security creates less stress and less stress does equal a happier home. Their children will do better at school. Around the cycle goes. It is not difficult. It should not be difficult. To breed contentment.
Could this be written better? Of course it could, a Marketing/PR company could do it. But then that would be another cost, another cost the consumer would have to pay through the product (every cost in a company has to be covered through the product). So instead it is ‘real’, mistakes and all. If anyone can help us with some grammatical corrections I would be grateful 🙂 as we always are. No one is perfect, I can admit it, I am not!
It is not a question of cost all this can be done with next to nothing cost. A free grill from ULINE (I know it is not really free if I could I would have said, “skip the grill I will pay for that myself can you lower your costs for our customers”), some Sausages and buns a bit of time and effort and everyone can eat together for very little. A great way to spend a Friday as the weather cools down in GA. This guy works 10+hours a day, you may have spoken to him on the phone. He is busy. But to take the time to cook for people that is leadership.
New Building & New Website for 2016.
With the construction of a single company warehouse of over 50,000 Square Feet (this is just a fulfillment fed from a 250,000SF warehouse in Atlanta) in the Meadows Alpharetta since 2004 it also seemed fitting to redo the website as well.
So please do not be surprised the black on the site will disappear (which will make no sense to anyone reading this in 2016) but all of us will still look the same albeit a little older.
Our old website running from 2011 to January 2016
The new website needs to add more of us, who we are and how we have grown so quickly. More clarity, better search and so on to manage the growing number of over 2,000 products. We really also need to explain more how we have become the largest supplier of white marble in the USA. Lot and lots of help, that is how 🙂
From people like Alan Shearn who has managed over 1 million square feet of warehouse space and thousands of employees, to focus on lean distribution supply chains and adding value which in turn allows us to pass onto customers (instead of just smiling and banking the profits but passing them along to our customers) it is our hope that goes to some way explaining why our incredible glass tile is $9.95 a Square Foot and Free Shipping (valid thru April 2016).
$9.95 a Square Foot Glass Tile Mosaic in 3×6″, 4×8″ and 4×12″ along with trims. Trims are what drives me crazy so many companies bring in the product but how do you finish the job, you need matching trims.(Prices valid until April 2016).
Incredible product. What is more incredible is I (David), see me above took this with my iPhone. The idea is ‘Zero’ costs as much as possible as all costs must be paid through the product (eventually) so I use my iPhone. Instead of paying a photo agency or company. Costs, costs and costs reduce them all and save people (our customers) money. Oh yes, no editor, writer or any skills whatsoever in literature so again many apologizes. But that would cost money as well. And that is a “No-No”.
Companies can pay hundreds of thousands of dollars to be advertised in big print Magazines. This cost is recovered by charging consumers more money (essentially you are paying for their marketing dept. and their choices). In my opinion would you have like to pay $11.75 a square foot for Carrara Hexagon or $40.00 a square foot for Carrara Hexagon? Both come from Tuscany Italy. Except one has decided to spend millions on advertising. For me….. I did not agree to the advertising deal. I was not consulted. So why should I have to pay for these/their choices? So In our business model you do not. You can buy the same Italian marble without all the costs. Or you can buy it with the costs.
Do you know who said “I would like to pay $40 more for the exact same product?” No one that is who 🙂
The other day I did the math, my iPhone is over 5 years old, but still look at the quality of the picture. Incredible (I know a real photographer would laugh and say it is not, but I think it is not bad, especially if it allows me to keep the price at $9.95SF and Free Shipping for another year 🙂
So not the best writing skills, pictures getting better (even with an iPhone I have learned a lot), have help with logistics what are my skills? Dreaming. Perseverance. I believe in America and amazing things can be done with really hard-work and time. I care for others. I care about making a better system to help people add value back to their homes. I enjoy reading the feedback from our customers.
But we work hard, really hard. As no one knows what is coming and when. When the next boom or bust. But that seems to be the way things go, so for us we just work as hard as possible. “Make hay while the sun shines”.
“Work like 2008 is round the corner” – David Shearn 2015
Incase you would just rather watch, I understand. So we made a 2015 year end Video. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to everyone!
New Building for 2017
This is a plan in the making for a couple of years. Now it is well on it’s way to being completed on or before the end of this year.
1st of August 2016 it was just a flat empty lot.
23rd of August 2016 the slab started.
September 15th 2016 up went the Steel
Now last week of Sept 2017 we are working on the layout of the offices. For new employees and existing.
This building will be the largest Boutique Tile & Stone fulfillment center in the USA with fifteen loading docks.
But that is not what I like most about it. What I like most about this building is the way we have designed it. It is designed so we can move out and easily and turn it into fifteen small individual office condominiums by simply adding sheetrock and offices desired by the tenant.
My plan or our plan as a company is to lease these out in some cases at no charge. The concept is to give small businesses a starting place. Cost is a killer when you start out, every company seems to stick it to the “new guy”. It happened to me, it puts a lot of stress on you and leads to endless sleepless nights. This in turn puts stress on the family. Finances are the #1 reason for breaking up of families in the USA. If we can turn these into fifteen new “American Dreams” small businesses. They will hire people and the growth of our business will continue through new companies. New companies just being given that extra support when they need it. At the start!
Banks show wonderful commercials about how they want to be your best friend in business, but not one bank helped me in 2008 they would not even let me open a business deposit account (I did eventually find one). They did not offer a single solution, no introductions to another freight company to help lower shipping costs. All the bank wanted to know was….. “how much do you want to invest in a 401K” or “how much money can you keep with us”. Every question benefited their bank. They had no longer term vision. This is what I want to change. Give small businesses a chance when they are most vulnerable. Then we are leaving a legacy of change. People before profits.
February 2017 almost finished!