Each month, the MIA profiles an employee from one of our member companies. This month, we welcome Evan Cohen of Quality Marble & Granite in Ontario, CA to the Cutting Edge profile page.
Q: What is your role at Quality Marble & Granite?
A: My role at Quality Marble & Granite...well, yard worker, janitor, salesman, receptionist, bookkeeper, manager, visionary or anything else it takes to operate the day to day business. My formal title, however, is president.
Q: What exactly does Quality Marble & Granite do?
A: Quality Marble & Granite does many things including the importation and distribution of “quality” stone products from around the world. We have built great relationships and reputations worldwide. While never losing sight of integrity, we focus on offering our customers the utmost quality of service and products, which has allowed the company to grow by leaps and bounds even through the most difficult time of the economic downturn.
We have been focusing on our local market since inception and have since then provided first class service and products for the hospitality industry. With our quality control personnel who have adopted our standards for the highest quality possible, we have been able to offer our clients a seamless and simple way to beautify their projects. With our abundant resources around the world, we have access to the most difficult products to find and the most complex products that can be made to any specification.
Q: How did you become interested in the stone industry?
A: My background and experience would never lead you to think that I would be in the stone industry, however, I have always enjoyed architecture, design and natural resources. After graduating college at The University of Denver, I tried a few different types of jobs, all of which were centered on customer service. With this experience and my interest, natural stone pretty much fell into my lap. I know it sounds a little crazy, but every container we receive, every project we deliver, I feel as though it is like opening up a present and being breathless at the beauty of what lies before me. It has become more than a business to me, it has become my passion.
Q: Can you describe how the economy has affected the stone industry since you started in the business?
A: I feel that I started Quality Marble & Granite at a very good time in the economy. The boom that was happening allowed me to grow, however, I was not growing too fast, so during the downfall of the economy, we were in a strong position and were still growing by double and triple digits even during the toughest times.
The economy as a whole has affected every industry for the most part. But I feel there are hidden opportunities in every industry that must be captured and utilized in order to make it through those times.
Q: What is the outlook for the next 12 months, are you seeing signs of improvement?
A: My outlook is always positive. I have to remain positive to keep the energy and excitement there every single day. As for everyone else, I believe that this boost that we have recently experienced can be the jumpstart that is needed to get everyone back on the right track. I am seeing improvements in my company and I am hearing positive feedback from many of my customers and acquaintances in the industry. I do believe that this positive attitude will result in positive growth.
Q: In your opinion, what is next in kitchen and bath design…what is the next hot trend?
A: Although we are not involved in the installation of kitchens, I have noticed many designs that are catching on more now than ever before. I have noticed a trend of light colored stones, primarily white, that are being used. We have seen lots of schist stones entering the market, which are extremely popular with the customers, but not so much with the fabricators. I have noticed a lot more creativity in the use of different textures as well as using more than 1 color stone and cabinet in a kitchen area.
Q: So how many employees do you have at Quality Marble & Granite?
A: We currently have 12 employees here at Quality Marble & Granite and are expecting to add a new salesperson and bookkeeper to our staff this May.
Q: Any new materials you are bringing in that you are excited about?
A: One material I would like to put the spotlight on is White Macaubas Quartzite. We have been bringing this material to our market in a cross cut pattern, which has allowed our customers looking for Marble to use a material with a similar look, but with a much more durable and easy to maintain finish.
Q: Any new machines or techniques that other MIA members need to check out?
A: I do not work with machines or techniques other than safety techniques. We take safety very seriously and have utilized the MIA “Safe Stone Slab Handling” video for every single person at Quality Marble & Granite. This video has been shown to everyone so they are aware of how dangerous our industry is, as well as, how to properly handle materials. It is everyone’s responsibility to keep their eyes open for any situations that go against our safe slab handling procedures.
Q: Can you describe your experiences with the MIA?
A: I have been a member of the MIA since 2009 and have built a great relationship with the Institute that promotes and assists with the natural stone industry. The MIA has some of the best resources, which have helped my company grow, while staying on top of current events and best operation practices. Our company is safer, operates smoother, and has more knowledge because of the resources made available through the MIA.
Q: What is next for Quality Marble & Granite?
A: Quality Marble & Granite is still what I call in its infancy stage. Although we are doing phenomenal business, our goals are similar to what many of the large companies visualize, and our path for reaching those goals are laid out. We thrive on the value of honesty, integrity, and customer service. Quality Marble & Granite will be continuing on the path of success, and not to be just another supplier to the industry; but we plan to help make the changes that the natural stone industry needs in order to remain the premier surface product in the world.