Ceramic Industry

Online Exclusive: Investing In Ceramics: StonePeak Ceramics Opens New U.S. Tile Plant

December 1, 2005

Earlier this year, Crossville, Tenn., celebrated the grand opening of a new 628,000-square-foot porcelain tile manufacturing facility operated by a new company - StonePeak Ceramics, Inc. The first American subsidiary of the Casterllerano, Italy-based Graniti Fiandre, StonePeak Ceramics eventually plans to produce 60 million square feet of tile per year and employ 150 people in Crossville.

"When we chose Crossville, we were welcomed with open arms," says Cristina Minozzi, president of StonePeak Ceramics. "We were impressed with the community's pro-business attitude and skilled workforce, and were enthusiastic about the facility's close proximity to our customers and materials used for production. We are committed to the American market for the long-term and, in so doing, are dedicated to being a good employer and citizen of Crossville."

Catering to the U.S. Market

StonePeak Ceramics began construction of its $50 million production facility in 2002, after recognizing a significant untapped market in the U.S. "The tile industry as a whole continues to experience significant growth in the U.S. That was a big incentive for us, in addition to overall market conditions - the favorable exchange rate of the dollar to the euro, the availability of reliable transportation and the low interest rates that continue to support the residential construction market. We wanted to bring Graniti Fiandre's knowledge and advanced technologies to the U.S.," explains Barrie Dekker, vice president of strategic sales.

While Graniti Fiandre has a worldwide reputation for producing high-quality porcelain ceramic tile, StonePeak Ceramics wanted to move beyond its parent company's product repertoire. "We are an independent company and are going after different markets in the U.S. than our parent company. We plan to cater to U.S. tastes, which include a strong demand for stone-look tile," says Dekker. "Even though the U.S. is getting much of its tile from imports, our domestic location will enable us to rapidly supply the market's needs. For example, instead of distributors waiting weeks for a shipment of tile from overseas, they can fill their orders through us in a matter of days. Our plant is built to be efficient and cost-effective for large runs of tile, but it is also flexible enough to allow us to offer a variety of different types of products as the market's needs change."

StonePeak Ceramics' "Limestone" tile in bone (left) and honey.

Competing to Win

The company, which exclusively produces glazed and unglazed porcelain tile, introduced four of its initial product lines in early May and three additional lines later in the summer, and other product lines are in the works. "We are using a number of innovative tile production technologies, including a controlled yet random method of ensuring that no two tiles we produce look exactly alike. This gives us a significant advantage in the stone-look market," says Dekker.

StonePeak Ceramics has also implemented several programs designed to benefit distributors and their customers, including a comprehensive logistics program to provide timely shipment of products at a cost-effective price and an online delivery tracking system to allow for real-time shipment monitoring. By August, the company had already signed distribution agreements with more than 30 distributors from around the country to sell StonePeak-branded products, and it planned to add several more distributor partners from various parts of the country by the end of the year.

"We want to win in the marketplace by providing superior products, good customer service, and timely shipments of products at competitive prices," she says.

For more information about StonePeak Ceramics, contact the company at (312) 335-0321 or visit www.stonepeakceramics.com.