More than 30 years ago, Nat Polito left a comfortable job to pursue an entre-preneurial opportunity that would soon see him as the sole proprietor of a premium marble, granite, quartz and exotic stone provider in Ottawa, Canada. Building the company from the ground up, Polito was heartened by the idea that with each step, he was creating a legacy for his family — and for his employees. Today, Polito shares the Vesta Marble reins with his son, Bruno. Polito’s daughter, Margot, has also joined the company in a supporting role. Together, they are leading the company and its growing staff into a new era of innovation and possibility, designed to secure the company’s future for generations to come.
Vesta Marble was built on a foundation of hard work, placing significant value on talent and contribution, mutual respect and on delivering on a promise of quality. Bruno Polito began working at Vesta as soon as he was old enough to do so and absorbed his father’s guiding principles. As head of production, the younger Polito has been able to expand upon his father’s foundation, taking the company in a more digital and environmentally conscious direction. With Bruno Polito poised to learn from and eventually succeed his dad — the time was right to expand, both their physical space and their product offering, and so the company is now located in a brand new state-of-the-art facility, which includes a customer accessible showroom.
Over time, Vesta Marble has never lost sight of its focus on providing products and services that customers depend on. The company, which focuses on work in thegreater Ottawa area, provides homeowners and builders with countertops of all types, interior and exterior stonework, stone facings, fireplaces, custom furniture, flooring, backsplashes and associated fixtures, such as plumbing. With designers on staff, services include assisting clients in making stone-related choices. Production capacity for dimensional stone is approximately 750 square feet in an eight-hour shift. To house the offices, showroom and expanding manufacturing under one roof, Vesta Marble set up in a 50,000-square-foot facility, where manufacturing and handling use the bulk of space. This also includes a 7,000-square-foot showroom space. Polito employs approximately 40 people, and excluding exceptional peak periods, he has chosen to function with a single daytime shift. He also has five of his own installation crews. The company has the capacity to complete 75 kitchens per shift, per week, with an average size for a kitchen countertop being approximately 50 square feet.
In addition to private residences, Vesta Marble offers a full scope of services, including work for large developments such as SOHO Champagne (approximately 175 units) and PlazaIV (approximately 234 units). The company also recently completed a boutique-area, 101-unit complex called Waterstreet Condo. It is currently working on the exterior cladding, interior stairs and lobby walls of the Andaz Hotel.
“With projects ranging from large to small, we run the gamut,” said Polito. “We created a dovetail shower with an invisible drain system hiding under the spaced floor slab slats. On a very small scale, but requiring precise work, we are creating the cut out for the stone pieces surrounding the metal Space Agency Logo inlay.”
Becoming a digital shop
Over the last few years, the company has made an effort to transform the manual environment into a digitized production. “This has entailed an elaborate research project and keeping up to date continues to be an exploration,” explained Bruno Polito. “Trade fairs such as Marmomacc in Verona, Italy, and TISE and Coverings in the U.S. have been great places to carry out our research and remain invaluable to us as we continue to improve our operations. Transforming from a bench operation to mechanization, we have made substantial investments in Park [Industries] machinery [of St. Cloud, MN.] Part of the decision to go with this American company was the ease and speed of access to parts and service, which is an important maintenance factor. Our first large purchase in automation was a Titan CNC router that required us to expand fabrication space and set up a new shop separately from the showroom space.”
Although a third Park Industries Titan was the latest addition to the line-up of fabrication equipment, it was the previous purchase of a Fusion CNC saw/waterjet which altered Vesta’s production line. Polito credits it with increasing daily output potential by allowing the Titans to concentrate on shaping and polishing stone, while the Fusion takes over the major cutting duties. The company also uses a Yukon II bridge saw and Fastback edge finisher, which minimize physical efforts in getting products to the hand-finishing tables for last touch ups and inspections. “Every stone shop needs a good forklift and stone clamp,” explained Polito. “Quickly removing and loading heavy and delicate loads became crucial when purchasing our first Titan. Purchasing our first mechanical vacuum lifter to improve handling the stone onto, off and in between machines was an impactful determination. We now use two such lift systems and are pleased with both the Manzelli and the Anver. These lifters with the integral ceiling beam track system installed in our new facility are vital to a quicker and more flexible production.” The company is also planning for a green wall in the fabrication area, to naturally improve the air and feel of the working space.
For tooling and accessories, Polito uses Tyrolit and ADI, distributed through GranQuartz. Additionally, to deal with many new slabs a week, tracking slabs and pieces is essential to maximize time and minimize waste. The company has a Pathfinder with Slabsmith software developed by Northwood Designs, Inc. in Antwerp, NY. “By capturing true color and dimensions with specialized software, Pathfinder/Slabsmith allows us to examine, track and layout slabs without having to continually physically handle them,” said Polito.
Vesta Marble purchased their first digitized templating machine in 2008. “Our initial experience was with the LT-55, which allowed us to have a fully functional templator, independently submitting layouts within one week of the first training session,” explained Polito. This equipment improved the speed with which we can get templated products into fabrication. The CAD information is transformed into digital drawings, which are transferred directly to the shop programmer.”
Like any company, Polito and his team face its share of challenges. He notes that the ever increasing improvements through machinery, better tooling and methods is a constant effort he has to make in addressing the same challenge everyone is facing — ensuring sufficient, proficient manpower. He is also committed to water recycling as part of an initial move away from the dusty dry finishing to automated and wet equipment and tooling. This move provides a cleaner working environment, and the investment in water recycling was part of his business commitment to the environment. As a result, the company has a water recycling system from Water Treatment Solutions of Hampton, NH.
As he looks to the future, Polito is thinking in both the short and long term. “As part of our short-term goals, we plan on expanding outside our regional market,” he explained. “As a medium-term goal, we are working on manuals and training programs to establish and support a more stable and competent workforce in a revolving labor force environment. Part of the company’s longer-range goal is adding three-dimensional capacity of a 5-axis CNC, adding a whole new dimension to our operations.”
By: Sara Garafalo
Article originally appear on StoneWorld.com