Owner David Palmer may have started with mud baths in his backyard at the age of 7, but now that address is home to a world wide stone and tile business, famous among Florida's most elite residents. Since the company's founding in 1984, 23 years ago, Palmer Marble & Tile of West Palm Beach, Fla., has worked on projects in Japan, Africa, Saudi Arabia and even in the Sistine Chapel.
Palmer Marble & Tile completes its high-end residential and commercial work in Florida's priciest locations and at any given time, might be working on three to five mansions for customers that include movie stars, music celebrities, sports heroes and Wall Street moguls. Most recently, it completed a two-year $2.8 million custom stone contract for upscale architect/interior designer Susan Robinson in Sailfish Point. The 11,000-sq.-ft. residential project included bathrooms, walls and staircases, plus a pool and pool deck.
Like many successful fabrication businesses, PMT started in a small backyard shop with only three employees and, 23 years later, grew to 46 craftsmen — six in the shop and 40 in the field. It specializes in all types of fabrication and installation of glass tiles, mosaics, granite, marble and limestone, and is well known for its enticing glass-tiled pools, performing all of their own installations and restorations.
"We've had a great run here," Palmer said. "The kitchens aren't like they used to be. There's more money out there and they're spending more. We've been very fortunate to do some very challenging, interesting things."
All Palmer Marble & Tile kitchens are customized for the consumer and usually take four to five slabs. Recently, however, Palmer's kitchen jobs are fairly large and have used nine to 12 slabs of granite on a project. These kitchens are all full backsplashes, noted Palmer, with full islands. All tops are L tops and there are no mitered corners or pieces with most tops measuring 110 to 120 in. by 63 in. Palmer's most popular surface is granite because of the sizability advantages it reportedly has over engineered stone. Granite, because it's a natural stone, can be quarried in larger pieces than the standard sizes of its man-made counterpart.
Not Your Average Shop
Palmer doesn't put all of his eggs into one basket. His shop works with multiple design and tile mediums and has the ability to produce tile displays (most popularly glass tiled pools), and work with natural and engineered stone — even metals — to create his famous designs that continue to build and enhance his reputation among the elite. Along with an increased offering in his product line, which allows him to fulfill almost every client need, he has also diversified his business operations.
Palmer Marble and Tile Inc. includes Stone Technology Distributors, DPAL flooring systems and PMT waterjet cutting services. Stone Technology Distributors was established in 1995 by Palmer when he found himself continually frustrated with what he considered a lack of creativity and motivation of existing stone trade distributors. Stone Tech is a distributor for many national manufacturers such as C-Cure, Protectowrap, Miracle Sealants, Barwalt and Mapei. Stone Tech also assists many major companies in research and development. Because Palmer is a stone and tile professional, he knows the products he uses and is able to provide a guarantee that other distributors can't, allowing him to maximize on that business diversification.
DPAL flooring systems is Palmer's perfected flooring installation and finish system with diamond tooling. As an industry professional, he's able to capitalize on a service that he's already been using for years. Palmer also now has his own waterjet machining center and no longer needs to purchase time on someone else's jet. This has allowed him to be able to sell his own knowledge of waterjetting not only to stone and tile professionals, but also in the area of rubber, aluminum, steel and plastic.
Along with the growth of employees, businesses and consumers, Palmer has also felt the impact of technological growth in his shop. In 1984 Palmer was running a saw and a straight edge, doing everything by hand. The shop has seen other gantry saws and edge machines in place since 1984. Then, about seven years ago, PMT decided to increase its productivity further with a customized high-rail gantry waterjet system, manufactured by Jet Edge, which uses Mastercam CAD/CAM software.