In 1998 Jonathan Vanasse and his wife started a small countertop fabrication business in their garage in Stanstead, Quebec, fabricating only granite with power tools. He started off with two employees and a dream. His idea was to quit his regular fabrication job and try to capture enough business to install one countertop a week. His dream became a reality, and not long after he hired Daniel Lagueux as sales director.
Lagueux recalled when he first began working for Granit Design they used a push saw to cut the granite and a system of pulleys to manipulate it.
“When Jonathan started off, he had one countertop a week,” said Lagueux. “Then two countertops a week came in and so on and so forth. Then he landed a big contract in New Hampshire. A guy had faith in Jonathan and he went from one or two countertops a month to one or two countertops a week.”
This work kept him very busy and led to enough cash flow to grow his business. Seven years later Granit Design recently built a 20,000-sq.-ft. facility with a satellite office in New Hampshire for its U.S. business. It employs 44 people and runs two shifts to keep up with demand. In 2005 the company fabricated and installed 88,000 sq. ft. of countertop and earned Silestone’s Company of the Year for North America, selected from a field of more than 125 distributors. In its new, modern facility, the company increased its capacity from 550 sq. ft. a day to approximately 1,200 sq. ft. and has recently added solid surface to its product lineup.
So how did it get from there to here? Lagueux will tell you it took a little luck and a lot of hard work as well as a goal to be THE place for quality countertops in the company’s coverage area (which includes Quebec, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, and Maine).
“About six years ago we got into Silestone,” said Lagueux, “and that’s when everything started to explode in our business.”
Lagueux said the company first decided to offer engineered stone as a tool to develop its granite business. “We figured if we had a product other than granite we could get into other doors,” he explained. “We kept with that mentality for the first couple of years we had quartz surfacing until we realized that it was a very good product and the profit margin was excellent.”
After that, Granit Design started to promote its e-stone product and now it outsells granite. The company currently does about 4 percent of its business in soapstone, 40 percent of its business in granite and the remaining 56 percent in quartz surfacing.
And now, the company is working the solid surface angle.
Solid Surface Enter, Stage Right
“We’ve always seen solid surface as our competition, but we’ve had our eyes on solid surface fabrication for the past three or four years because we knew there was some decent money in it,” explained Lagueux. “We know that the reason why solid surface fabricators were going into stone these days was because of the demand for it, but they also had the cash flow because they made decent money in the 1990s in the solid surface market.”