Case Studies

Avanti Marble & Granite, Inc.

Integrity a top priority in the stone business

After working in the stone business for almost 15 years, Bill Werder decided to start his own company. In 1997 Avanti Marble & Granite was established and operated out of Werder’s home. Located in Frederick, Maryland, Werder would build Avanti into a high-end supplier of quality marble and stone to the residential and commercial markets.

Upon graduating from college, Werder was unclear of what his career choice would be. The first job Werder accepted was with a tile company where he became educated in the industry. “That was where I learned the distribution business,” says Werder. “Eventually I was hired by a stone company which gave me the opportunity to travel around the country and learn the stone business.”

With a strong entrepreneurial spirit, Werder would take advantage of an opportunity to become a partner with a stone distribution company. “My partner was from Italy and had all the contacts overseas,” says Werder. “I had all the local contacts and distribution knowledge.” The two partners tapped into each other’s expertise and operated a successful stone distribution company. Eventually, Werder would be bought out by his partner, which opened the door for the launch of Avanti.

Avanti Marble & Granite, Inc.

A humble beginning

As the sole employee for the first two years of Avanti’s existence, Werder worked out of his home and exceeded his own expectations. “I was hoping to do $300,000 in sales,” says Werder, “The first year we did $850,000.” Werder would hire his first employee in 1999, and as the company grew in volume, so did the staff. “I hired a salesman in 1999 and the company just kept growing.” Avanti continued to grow so much that in 2005 Werder built a 26,000 square-foot facility as the company’s headquarters.

In the beginning, Avanti’s niche market was focused on the commercial sector, using stone that had been cut to size in Italy. “We did a lot of elevator lobbies, and multiple level office buildings,” Werder explains. “We’ve also done about 35 Cheesecake Factory restaurants around the country.”

The service and quality that Avanti provides is prevalent in a project the company completed in 2010. “The client was very particular in what he was looking for so I actually went overseas in search of the products for this design,” says Werder “I was sending him pictures of materials so we could custom design the work that was going into his home. Money was not an issue for this client and the materials alone came to about $250,000.”

Werder notes this project as one of the most rewarding jobs as he was given the opportunity to express his passion and knowledge for the industry. “It was great to have the client trust me and my eye for stone,” says Werder. “The project was profitable and rewarding. We were able to meet the client’s needs and I was able to travel around the world and use my contacts to make the client’s dream a reality.”

Credit where credit is due

Through the success of his company, Werder credits his employees and loyal customers for the longevity of Avanti. “I’ve been really humbled lately by my employees,” says Werder. “If it wasn’t for the key people on my staff and our loyal customers, we wouldn’t be here.”

Running a company presents many challenges and one common obstacle is management style. Placing employees in positions where they will succeed and help the company to thrive is often the most important decision a business owner will make throughout a career. “Every day when I wake up in the morning I know that in order for the company to reach the next level it can’t be about me,” Werder explains. “I have learned what I do well and what I don’t do well. It’s important to place the right people in positions where their skills are stronger than mine.”

With an optimistic outlook on the economy and the industry, Werder is anticipating further growth for Avanti. The company maintains a reputation based on quality and service, which has established Avanti as a destination point for clients. “My goal is to remain a solid brand in the stone business,” says Werder. “The word ‘Avanti’ means moving forward and we plan to continue that with our quality products and unmatched service.”

As the company moves forward, diversification is a priority for Werder as well. In the residential market, Werder predicts a fair amount of homeowners choosing to remodel as opposed to purchasing new homes. “In this industry you have to be able to adjust to the market,” says Werder. “Our time to differentiate is now and as long as we do it correctly we’ll be fine.”

While the company is prepared for diversification, the values instilled since Avanti began will carry the business into the future. With the focus on service and quality, Avanti Marble & Granite Inc. will continue to be a destination for clients seeking marble and granite services.

Published on: July 8, 2015

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