Case Studies

Stone Source LLC

Relationships with World Recognized Suppliers and Unmatched Quality That's Set in Stone

From natural stone to porcelain tile, ceramics to glass, engineered stone to wood, Stone Source LLC (Stone Source) carefully selects only the best-in-class materials from every corner of the world through a network of elite supplier relationships. “That’s part of the value we bring to our customers,” explains Joe MacIsaac, president of Stone Source. “The demand for some of the more famous natural stones is so high that suppliers don’t like to sell to just anybody. We have exclusive relationships with the world’s best quarries and that’s a huge advantage for our clients, because they know we’re sure to have the product they want and need in stock.”

Transforming an Existing Sales Channel for Early Involvement

Stone Source has been delivering the finest quality products since 1985 when the company’s founders first introduced natural stone and porcelain tile into the architecturally specified materials realm. “There’s an interesting story around how Stone Source was founded,” explains MacIsaac. “The concept of the architecturally specified materials sales channel has been around for a long time. Most materials are commodities: cement, ceiling, glass, brick and other building products for example, but then there are more specialized items, such as textiles, furniture, lighting and acoustical walls or ceilings, which are not commodities in the same sense. “

MacIsaac goes on to note that each item goes through a unique sales channel, and then comes together as an entire finished package. “Stone Source’s founders were familiar with this sales channel,” he continues. “So they took a product that had not typically been in the architecturally specified channel and started to treat it like it was carpet or lighting or textiles. This approach gave architects and designers the opportunity to be selective when choosing their building materials. They then had the opportunity to communicate with builders and installers how they wanted the materials to look in the finished project.”

Utilizing an existing business model and introducing these specialty products in a project’s infancy rather than later in the game allowed Stone Source to carve out a unique niche and competitive advantage early on. “That was what was transformative for this business,” adds MacIsaac. “Stone Source brought in the involvement and awareness of a client and architect from the beginning, so while the contractor would still buy directly from us, the aesthetic was already chosen as a planned part of the design process. Other stone companies didn’t have the same architectural sales force.”

Today, Stone Source maintains a staff of 40 architectural sales representatives, delivering the same service that improves communication and the end result. “If you think about a commercial building lobby, the floors and the walls are going to be the most visible part of a project other than the exterior,” notes MacIsaac. “It makes much more sense to select products through the cooperation of the architect and client then for a subcontractor to have to determine at the end of the job which materials would look best.”

According to MacIsaac, contractors, developers and construction professionals are an integral part of the design and building process; therefore, Stone Source took additional measures. “Particularly over the last few years, we have worked to respond to the evolving needs of this group,” MacIsaac continues. “We’ve changed our credit terms, particularly with those with whom we’ve had a successful working relationship. We’ve nearly doubled our inventory of popular products, which gives subcontractors the ability to obtain materials when the project schedule is tight.”

Additionally, the company has established strong partnerships with many contractors and builders around the country. “We’ve been able to remove some of the risk for this audience,” MacIsaac says. “Due to our established relationships with suppliers and our experience in this industry, we’re able to have a better sense of which materials will arrive on time, and which are likely to be delayed due to holiday schedules, manufacturer closings, weather and so on. We also have access to a premium grade of materials from the quarries with whom we work, so we can obtain a superior selection. This allows the contractor to obtain these goods through us, and helps ensure that the product that appears in the final project is most similar to the item selected by the architect or designer. Our selection process and quality control is what helps set our contractor and builder partners up for success and ultimately helps minimize surprises in the installation.”

Sourcing the Right Expertise

Once Stone Source established itself in the architecturally specified channel, the company needed someone with specific expertise and MacIsaac was just the man for the job. “Stone Source held focus groups with customers in different locations to research which companies representing architecturally specified products had the best representation and why,” shares MacIsaac. “The company in which they saw such excellence was Knoll Inc. [Knoll], a design firm that produces office systems, seating, files, storage, tables, desks, textiles and accessories for the office, home and higher education.”

After 22 years of experience with Knoll, Stone Source recruited MacIsaac for his precise industry knowledge in 2011. “After six or seven different roles at Knoll, I was the current president when Stone Source approached me,” he reveals. “They were looking for someone with top-tier architectural sales experience.”

Now with MacIsaac at the helm, Stone Source serves architects, developers and general contractors in the commercial and residential markets nationwide. The company remains New York City-based with approximately 160 employees and showrooms spanning from Washington, D.C., to Boston, Chicago to Dallas and Los Angeles to New Jersey.

“We have some form of representation in almost all states,” notes MacIsaac. “Each showroom is centrally located in each city so we are more accessible for our clients.”

Direct, Exclusive Relationships

Stone Source works directly with architects, developers and general contractors in everything from large-scale commercial jobs, such as lobbies and floors to small-scale residential kitchens and bathrooms. “We serve a range of markets and different sized projects,” reveals MacIsaac. “We do direct business with corporate end-users and retail stores that want the same material in multiple locations to maintain brand identity, as well as multiunit housing projects and apartment rentals.”

MacIsaac says it takes a specific kind of team to install the products Stone Source offers, so the company has established a network of relationships with many companies in the trade. “We spend a lot of time working with general contractors, architects and subcontractors to develop a relationship,” he adds.

Stone Source also has exclusive relationships with some of the world’s best stone quarries and manufacturers. “The demand for certain materials is often so high that suppliers won’t sell to just anyone,” explains MacIsaac. “We have well-established relationships with these companies and they know that at the end of the year, when it comes to rare or high-demand materials, we’re going to buy everything they produce, which is a huge advantage for our customers.”

The company works hand-in-hand with Ceramic Del Conca U.S.A. Inc. (Del Conca), a premier manufacturer of Italian ceramic surfaces. “We are proud of our association with Stone Source,” shares Juan F. Molina, general manager of sales and marketing for Del Conca. “Over the years, we have collaborated with them on many projects and their professionalism, expertise and creative approach to the process has insured success and a satisfied customer. Stone Source remains a leader in the industry.”

The Best-of-the-Best from the World Over

As an industry-leader, Stone Source continues to land significant, ultra-high-end projects. “We just completed a lobby for one of the top pharmaceutical companies in the world at their headquarters in New Jersey,” recounts MacIsaac. “The job included unique gray Italian sandstone and it was absolutely stunning.”

The company has also supplied materials for big-name retailers throughout the U.S. and specifically, Manhattan. “We’ve recently completed some exquisite ultra-high-end $10 to $15 million residential apartment renovations,” details MacIsaac.

When it comes to tracking down the specialty materials for luxury renovations, MacIsaac says the global market offers a world of premium choices. “There’s natural stone all over the world, so there’s really no limit to where it can come from,” he explains. “Over the last 20 years, it’s now safer to source from China, India and Brazil. We’re seeing great new materials from all over, including central Europe to South America. There’s also a great deal of quality domestic stone in Vermont and New York.”

No matter the source, the company remains committed to high quality standards. “Stone Source has procurement people on staff and independent procurement abroad and we are the pickiest buyers,” ensures MacIsaac.

After 28 years in operation as the trend-setting fashion designers of the natural stone, ceramics and porcelain tile industry, Stone Source LLC remains a trusted, longstanding name in the business, baked by exclusive relationships and world renowned quality.

Published on: July 9, 2014

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