Home Grown Business:
Stone Tech Inc.
John Gibson and Tim Re
43 and 44
1491 Burlcrest Drive, Medford (one mile north of Costco on Highway 62)
This is one in a weekly series of profiles on locally owned and operated businesses in Southern Oregon.
What do you do and how long have you been doing it?
We started in 1991. We were the first stone fabrication shop in the valley. We fabricate and install natural stone, mostly granite kitchens. We also sell natural stone tiles and most recently we do custom laser etching on marble, granite, glass, aluminum and the like.
How long have you lived in the Rogue Valley?
John moved here from Sonoma County, Calif., when he was in grade school in 1967, and Tim moved here from Fremont, Calif., when he was a pre-teen, in 1971.
— Who inspired you to go into this line of work?
John was a tile-setter and Hector Marquis, owner of Oregon Tile and Marble, was one of his suppliers. He encouraged John to get into this business since no one else was doing it in Southern Oregon.
What decision or action would you change if you could do it again?
None. We've tried to re-invent the wheel a couple of times, but what didn't work we learned from. We've always thought things through so thoroughly before we jumped in. We recently bought a &
36;205,000 piece of machinery. It was something we've always wanted to do, but waited until the time was right.
What's the toughest business decision you've made?
There have been many. Every time we've bought a new piece of equipment or have moved to a bigger location, we wonder how we will pay for it. But afterward we wonder how we did without it. We just built a 15,000-square-foot building and bought a new computer-controlled milling machine. It was a tough decision, but we don't know how we'd keep up without them.
Who are your competitors?
There are about five shops in the Medford area and a couple more in Grants Pass. Some of them do mostly production or spec houses. We don't worry about them. We just try to do the most excellent work possible and give the best customer service. We do most of the higher-end homes, because John set tile for so many years and he's meticulous about specialty projects.
How do you define success for your business?
Steady growth without compromising customer service. The valley has helped us so much; with it growing, it makes us grow ' from remodels to new homes. We import most of our granite from Spain and Brazil. Every time you order a load from Spain, it can be &
36;15,000 to &
36;20,000 per load. It takes financial commitment, but that gives our customers a broader selection. When we order a container there are eight to 10 colors and there are eight, 6-foot-by-10-foot slabs per bundle. We stock around 30 colors and our customers get to come and hand-pick their slabs.
What are your goals?
Our shop was designed and built for efficiency and production. We have overhead cranes, vacuum handling system,
computer-controlled fabrication equipment, and a new laser etching machine. We should not have to expand for five to seven years.
What training or education did you need?
John was a tile-setter and Tim was a boat builder for Marlin Boats in White City. We are very good with our hands. Besides that, it's been a learn-as-you-go process.
What's your advice for budding entrepreneurs?
Strive to be the best. Always look for ways to improve what you do and do whatever it takes to make your customers happy. Word of mouth is your best advertisement.
To suggest an idea for this column, contact reporter Greg Stiles at 776-4463 or e-mail