Oldcastle Goes Below the Surface

Atlanta, GA — The longest journey begins with a single step, a Taoist phrase goes. Rick Smith took that first step when he opened the doors to Custom Surfaces over 25 years ago, according to Mellisa Hill, v.p./sales and marketing for Oldcastle Surfaces, the company which purchased Custom Surfaces in 2001 and has continued its expansion.

"We now have six locations servicing the southeastern U.S.," she notes. This includes a recently remodeled Atlanta headquarters and a Nashville showroom scheduled to be finished in early 2011.

Flexibility

According to Hill, Oldcastle Surfaces' chief strength lies in its flexibility, with the fully integrated template-fabricate-design company able to handle a diversity of projects.

That diversity helped the company survive during the economic downturn, since Oldcastle services not only different market segments (from residential jobs to military and health care projects), but also different client needs within each segment.

For instance, Hill explains: "Our residential segment includes interior designers, remodeling companies and custom builders as well as our large home center partners."

Service & Selection

Hill believes that great service and selection are key differentiators for her firm. She states: "We are able to work with our customers to create not just a countertop but an environment that can be enjoyed. We work with the materials we offer to produce both vertical and horizontal applications, and can go one step further to fabricate designs that pull everything together on the job site. We also have project managers and customer service representatives who are knowledgeable and follow projects through the entire process."

According to Hill, Oldcastle Surfaces offers a "package deal" with services beyond what the average surface shop provides.

"[The customer] can come to Oldcastle Surfaces and pick out granite, sinks, faucets and tile. We will coordinate the delivery, the plumbing connection and the tile installation," she says. "We also have remnant pieces available at discounted rates and a precut vanity program to supply a low-cost option for every room."

Oldcastle stocks a large inventory of granite at each of its facilities and works closely with its vendor partners. The company stocks Corian and Zodiaq from DuPont, as well as Cosentino and LG products and several other popular solid surface and quartz products.

"We are a Kohler showroom and offer Kohler faucets and sinks as an upgrade from our branded sinks and tile backsplashes through two local suppliers," she says.

Each of the firm's locations has a showroom, with the largest in Atlanta and Savannah. Each of these features a live kitchen. The Atlanta showroom also has a bar application in the live kitchen that showcases the use of different material thicknesses.

Marketing Plan

Marketing is another important part of the firm's success. Hill notes: "We run ads in the newspaper when there are special events and we also hand out flyers in well populated areas, host training classes for our customers and reward customers for referrals."

Oldcastle is a member of ISFA, and has hosted events in its showrooms. Each facility also holds ‘lunch-and-learns' with their customers on a regular basis "to not only train our clients on our products, but also to let them get a hands-on experience," she states.

Hill believes valuing industry partnerships is an important part of staying ahead.

She concludes: "Working directly with our designers has given us insight into what the next big thing is in the design world. This helps us prepare for and start to market these upcoming changes."

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