Case Studies

Roca USA Inc.

A trusted international brand looks to U.S. expansion

After almost a century in business, The Roca Group (Roca), the parent company of Roca USA Inc. (Roca USA), has become an established worldwide leader in manufacturing, distributing and marketing of high quality ceramic and porcelain under its three brands: Roca, Incepa and United States Ceramic Tile. Based in Barcelona, the family-owned Spanish company has built an international business network, spanning more than 80 countries with 75 operational factories.

Compañía Roca Radiadores, S.A. was founded in 1917 by the Roca brothers who originally manufactured cast-iron radiators. As the company quickly grew, the brothers initiated expansion programs to widen Roca’s product range.

The global standard

In 1980, Roca began producing wall and floor ceramic tiles. The ceramic plant, located near Castellón, Spain, was built in 1998, serving as the most advanced in the ceramic tile sector. In 1999, Roca opened the first fully automatic warehouse in the ceramic industry in Spain.

But long before the tile boom, Roca entered the bathroom décor market in 1925 with the introduction of the first cast-iron baths. Roca has been an international leader in bathroom products since, but the bathroom niche is still up and coming for the company in the U.S.

“Globally, Roca is like the equivalent to Kohler in the U.S.; we’re a major player in bathroom products,” compares Jorge Torres, CEO and managing director of Roca USA. “Currently in the U.S., we exist as mainly a tile supplier, but our core business worldwide is in the bathroom arena.”

Roca’s North American entity, Roca USA, entered the U.S. market in 1999 when the company purchased Swiss conglomerate Laufen. “In the U.S., we now supply tile across the country with six warehouses nationwide,” notes Torres. “Our main office is in Miami, but we have locations from Houston to Los Angeles, Chicago to Virginia and New York to New Jersey.”

“We started the New Jersey location four years ago and it’s been a great success for Roca USA,” he adds. “New York and Miami are our top two markets, but we are growing in every region.”

Roca USA Inc.

A three-channel approach

Roca USA now has over 120 U.S. employees driving high-quality products through three distribution channels. “We supply home centers, such as Home Depot, also retailers and traditional distributors,” explains Torres. “The third channel is directed to supply projects typically in the case of larger commercial and residential projects.”

But no matter the customer, Torres says quality control is paramount. “Quality control is our top priority and we try to be as efficient as we can and stay lean so we can offer the best prices for every channel, every customer,” he assures.

Sometimes those customers are nationwide chains, such as Target, Starbucks, Taco Bell, Five Guys Burgers and many more. “We work with many national brands, because our products range is extensive and offers solutions for all types of uses, from rustic elements to the high resistance floor tiles for commercial purposes,” explains Torres.

Diverse product range

Roca USA has also carved a niche in the hospitality sector, working with clients, such as the Doubletree by Hilton Miami, the Radisson Blue Hotel Infiniti Restaurant in Chicago, the Marriot Hotel at Union Square in San Francisco, as well as several Best Western Hotels and a range of others.

“One of our most standout projects is our work at the Marlin’s Stadium in Miami,” reveals Torres. “We supplied polished 12-by-24-inch white porcelain tile for the brand new VIP suites. We also worked at the Indiana Colts Stadium in 2010.”

The last frontier

Torres admits years passed have not been completely smooth sailing for Roca USA. “Before the economic downturn, we had a network of retail stores,” he recounts. “We had to let go of that channel of distribution, because the overhead was too much. We had to downsize and focus on the most profitable parts through 2006 to 2009. Fortunately, builders are building again and the construction market is back up; we got through the rough patch.”

As the economy picks up and more new construction gets underway, Torres says the opportunity for Roca’s world-class bathroom supplies – toilets, bathtubs, shower enclosures, faucets, vanities and more – is real.

“We’re in the midst of doing important market research, so it’s not there yet, but we hope it’s coming soon,” he shares. “We think there’s huge potential for the bathroom brand, because we’re already the leader in Europe, India, Brazil, Russia and one of three in the top tiers around the rest of the world; the last frontier for Roca is North America.”

A trusted international name for nearly a century, The Roca Group looks to conquer the last frontier in North America with Roca USA Inc. leading the charge.

Published on: April 6, 2015

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