In 1984 Phil DeCaro was making a living working out of his home building cabinetry when he was approached by Corian Distributor Dolan & Traynor, who asked if he was interested in fabricating a relatively new material — Corian. Little did DeCaro know that throwing his hat into this ring would lead him to the helm of a multimillion dollar commercial fabrication business.
DeCaro went to DuPont's training facility in 1985 and shortly after founded Eagle Fabrication Inc., one of the first Corian fabrication shops in New Jersey. He opened a small shop "part time" while continuing to work his full-time cabinetry job. In the beginning, he sold '-in. Corian vanity tops to plumbing wholesalers, producing two kitchens and four vanities per week. DeCaro soon began solid surface fabrication fulltime, and by 1991 it was necessary to move to a larger shop in South River, N.J. However, after expanding into commercial work in 1997, Eagle Fabrication had to again find a larger facility.
Keyport, N.J., became its new home. That facility, which continues to house Eagle, has more than 16,000 sq. ft. and $500,000 in state-of-the-art equipment and inventory. Now with more than 30 employees, Eagle Fabrication's projects are largely commercial and it has worked on projects across the nation, but mainly in New Jersey and the New York City metropolitan area.
So how did Eagle go from a few residential countertops a week to a sizable commercial operation? Time, planning and old-fashioned hard work.
The Transition Takes Time
Moving from residential into commercial work should not be taken lightly nor expected overnight. Like all positive change, it takes time to properly transition.
"Part of getting into the commercial side of things is building relationships," explained DeCaro. "You have to develop them one at a time."
He named a number of groups it is important to know to make a successful move to the commercial marketplace. Among them are estimators at commercial millwork houses, architects, designers, general contractors and subcontractors in other areas.
"You have to go to their jobsites and their meetings and call them constantly to get an opportunity to meet them," said DeCaro. "It's like anything else. You have to sell yourself first."
He said that getting to know architects is a tough job. "Architects have to know who you are to even take your call. To get some credibility they need to know you've been around awhile," explained DeCaro. "If you can make them look good one time, though, they're usually pretty good after that, but it's tough to get that first chance."