The shop has grown tremendously over the past decade, due in large part to its commitment to utlizing and learning the latest technology that the industry has to offer.
The 23,000-sq.-ft. facility (top) is located in the greater Des Moines area in Iowa, and houses a showroom as well as a slab yard (bottom) with a large selection of imported stones.
In uniting the shop’s technology under an AutoCAD umbrella, projects, like the one pictured here, are able to be completed using a single file from machine to machine in a turn-around time of three days from template to install.
The showroom demonstrates a number of distinctive options for consumers that were not as easily integrated before the shop’s technological growth.
From tile installations to reputable one-stop-shop, Renaissance Marble and Granite of Urbandale, Iowa, continues to charge forward, despite industry slowdowns, through its commitment to technology and teamwork.
Renaissance Marble and Granite was started in 1997 in downtown Des Moines, Iowa, by Pat Fisher, president. Within a couple months of the opening of the business, Pat’s brother, Jim Fisher, and sister, Chris Fisher, came onboard the new business venture. The business was primarily distributing, contracting and installing tile in the beginning, while also trying to recapture a part of the natural stone market that was becoming more popular at the time.
“After awhile we found that with the fabrication and all the tile, it spread us a little too thin,” said Pat Fisher. “We went in the direction we thought was going to give us the best future. At that time it was the granite fabrication. Once it took off, it just kept getting bigger and bigger for us. I think we made the right choice.”
After four years of being located in downtown Des Moines, Fisher decided the suburbs of Des Moines would be better suitable to grow the business to the next level. In 2001 Renaissance opened the doors to its newly relocated shop just outside of Des Moines in Urbandale, Iowa. The current facility is 23,000 sq. ft. situated on 4.25 acres of land. The move placed Renaissance closer to its product’s actual consumers, thus increasing the shop’s retail traffic.
“The original facility consisted of 8,000 sq. ft. and we were using every bit of that,” said Pat. “The move created an opportunity to expand the physical plant. We built the building on 4.25 acres, which gave us room for increased growth, and the rest is history.”
I THINK I CAN, I KNOW I CAN
The company has not only increased its physical presence since opening its doors in 1997, the family-owned business has also grown from three employees to more than 50 today, and the range of available products also continues to grow for Renaissance.
“I think at the time there was just an overall Renaissance in the granite industry,” said Pat in describing the shop’s original growth spurt. “Everybody getting into business at that time was experiencing significant growth.”
As business was growing, the shop tried to stay a step ahead of the rest in adding and upgrading the newest technologies with the idea of making the shop as efficient as possible. The shop also diversified its business dealings, working with consumers directly, builders, other fabrication facilities and eventually landing a number of national accounts.
“When the housing market slumped, we were still big in remodel work; we had commercial work and we had some national accounts,” said Pat about the recent events in the housing market, and the general slowdown in the industry. “We haven’t seen a noticeable drop-off in what we do even though the new housing starts are down in our area.”
In continuing to push forward, a personal philosophy of the business, Renaissance Marble and Granite currently offers granite, marble, engineered stone, onyx, travertine, limestone, slate and soapstone, and plans to add solid surface to its extensive list of choices this year.
“I think most business owners understand that you constantly have to move forward, and the minute you start to stand still is the day you start to go backward,” said Pat about adding solid surface to the shop’s lineup. “As we do more and more commercial work, we’re just trying to give the owners and general contractors more convenience and comfort by offering other products. It’s not a big stretch from what we presently do. All the way from the estimating through the fabrication process — it ties in, so it’s not like we’re reinventing something.”
THE AGE OF TECHNOLOGY
Staying on top of technology has given Renaissance a reputation for being the place to go to in Des Moines when you want countertops. Part of that comes from being able to turn around a project, from template to install, in as little as three days.
“Our real opportunity came when we started to embrace technology,” said Pat. “Technology in the form of CNC machines and waterjet cutting is all built around AutoCAD, and since adding those technologies, we’ve been moving in the direction of uniting the various systems under an AutoCAD umbrella.”
Fisher views technology as one of the leading reasons for Renaissance’s success in the market. “We were employing technologies that, at the time, were leading,” he said. “We were purchasing equipment to fabricate granite when most of our competition were still doing things by hand. As we were making moves, our competition was attempting to make the same kinds of moves — we had just done it at a faster rate and with a lot more commitment.”
From the beginning the shop had purchased straight-line edge polishers. When the shop and production outgrew those first polishers, the jump was made to sawing systems and line polishers. After that, CNC equipment was added to the mix and began the shop’s move to a more automated process. Since the addition of CNC equipment, sawing systems and waterjet technology have become integral in the shop’s automated fabrication processes. Most recently, the shop has begun to utilize laser templating, which reduces the jobs into just one necessary file to work with.
The shop efficiencies now? According to Fisher, “it’s huge.”