ATLANTA, GA - When describing David O'Neil and Randy Ruppel, it is certainly no stretch to call them both "Renaissance men."
After all, not only are they co-founders of the aptly named Renaissance Tile & Bath, but they have developed a business model based on diversity, offering a wide scope of design services that includes bath and kitchen design, custom mosaics and exterior architectural work, among others, to an equally wide scope of clients.
It's also a model that O'Neil and Ruppel have geared toward "providing the customer with an extraordinary shopping experience."
In fact, the two feel so strongly about creating an unforgettable experience that they even decided to showcase their various product offerings as the pieces of art they believe them to be – in distinctive, museum-themed showrooms.
O'Neil, who serves as vice president of the company, elaborates: "Our showroom concept is driven by displaying product as art. I believe this allows the customer to experience the product and develop an emotion prior to their selection – whether it's [an emotional reaction to] vignettes that showcase a kitchen or bath, or working showers that display multiple types of custom home spa choices."
O'Neil further believes that Renaissance's showroom designs and "depth of product" – which
includes lines from Country Floors, Kallista, Dornbracht and Ocean-side, as well as O'Neil and Ruppel's own tile line, Nest – enhance their clients' overall experience, as does a staff of customer-driven design consultants.
"In essence, we carry virtually any premium tile or bath product available in the marketplace today," O'Neil maintains.
And the firm's client base represents a diverse cross-section of domestic and international clients that encompasses interior designers, high-end residential custom builders and tile installers, as well as other tradespeople.
On The Map
Established in 1991, the firm now serves its primary clientele via four different locations: Atlanta, GA; Nashville, TN; Charlotte, NC; and Alexandria, VA. All feature showrooms that range in size from 3,000 sq. ft. to 8,000 sq. ft., depending on the market.
Confirming Renaissance Tile & Bath's overall concept and direction is the fact that the firm was cited by leading designers as one of the top 10 places to buy tile in the United States, based on a recent survey by a national consumer publication, O'Neil proudly notes.
However, he adds that Renaissance is not ready to rest on its laurels. "Our [ultimate] goal is to continue to focus on having clients visualize the impact of their choices based on their lifestyles," O'Neil explains.
Summarizing, he asserts that Renaissance Tile & Bath's "market position is created by the wide range of projects and materials that can be fulfilled [for] our customer base."
Elaborating on the decision to give their showrooms an overall museum feel, O'Neil says he and Ruppel consider many of the firm's product offerings to be pieces of art.
But while real museums usually offer a glimpse of the past, O'Neil quickly points out that each showroom offers a glimpse of the future of product and design.
To that end, "we have [multiple] working shower systems, kitchens and faucets, as well as bath vignettes," he describes.
Each showroom is also equipped with current technologies that further make them museums of the future, not the past. "We have various flat-screen TV monitors that allow us to access the Web and demonstrate to our clients how different product selections may impact the chosen materials they want," O'Neil points out.
"Technology is something we have been very cognizant of, and [we've] made sure to incorporate it into our showrooms. I believe that technology brings an added benefit to our clients, as well as to their [overall] shopping experience," adds O'Neil.
In The Service
Although Renaissance does not employ any CKDs or CBDs, O'Neil believes that the company's educated design consultants allow the firm to guide its client-ele through the entire process for any new-construction or remodeling project.
As he explains: "The majority of our design consultants have worked or are schooled in interiors, so they are able to either independently do design work with a client or partner with an interior designer because they understand the design process.
"So, whether it's a stone, tile or bath application, our design consultants can lead the client through the entire process, from design and product specification to installation," he continues.
In fact, O'Neil feels all of the Renaissance staff members bring various areas of expertise to the table, which has allowed the firm to work with clients stateside, and around the world, in places as diverse as Saudi Arabia, Aruba and England. He further believes that this has enabled Renaissance to take part in some unique and notable projects over the years.
"We certainly do our share of celebrity homes and unique applications of material – whether it's glass, metal or stone. And we are constantly rethinking the way we use material for our clients' projects," he says.
"Aesthetics may vary slightly from locale, but we are able to adjust to the clients' needs. Therefore, every one of our projects is unique in its own way, because our design consultants listen to clients and fulfill their design choices and needs," O'Neil points out.
However, whether the project is large or small, or whether it's for a celebrity or not, O'Neil believes that there is one thing that every designer should keep in mind. "The most important thing is having a clear understanding of each client's needs, and being able to provide that client with a variety of product choices and the expertise to meet those needs," he advises.
While word-of-mouth referrals drive a main portion of the company's business, O'Neil says that Renaissance Tile & Bath also makes a conscious effort to aggressively market itself through a variety of other avenues.
"We have attempted to brand ourselves regionally and nationally in magazines such as Veranda, Elle, Decor, Met Home and Southern Accents through advertising placements," he adds.
"We also work with trade associations such as ASID," he says.
To attract even more attention, quarterly events are held at each Renaissance showroom location to educate tradespeople about available product offerings or the design process, O'Neil concludes.
Renaissance Tile & Bath
At a Glance