Last year Global Stone, Inc. celebrated its tenth anniversary: ten years of growth through innovation, operational excellence, and commitment to customer satisfaction. Global Stone founders Dan Nelson and Renato Fuchs spoke with Construction in Focus about the company’s growth and what makes it so successful.
Global Stone, Inc. (GSI) is a natural stone and tile subcontractor specializing in high-end commercial projects. The company offers a wide range of services including customized sourcing and production, stone and tile installation, interior and exterior cladding, panelization, countertop fabrication and installation, pool decking, and more. Global Stone lives up to its name, with offices in Vineyard, Utah, and Honolulu, Hawaii, and projects located in the US, Mexico, Honduras, Peru, Chile, and Fiji.
Dan Nelson and Renato Fuchs founded GSI in 2005 with extensive experience in residential construction and a desire to pursue a career in commercial construction. Nelson’s background in stone sourcing and cutting, combined with Fuchs’ expertise in operations management and general contracting, resulted in the firm’s emphasis on procurement and operational excellence. Under their leadership, GSI has grown into the successful, international business it is today.
GSI’s first project was the Honua Kai Resort in Maui, for which the company performed floor leveling, floor and wall tiling, and installation of wall features. It sourced custom tile as well as unique stone from Brazil for the $22 million project that spanned nearly three years and included two buildings. The company’s staff quickly grew to more than 150 employees to fulfill the needs of the project. In the years since the company’s founding, GSI has grown twenty to forty percent each year, completing dozens of successful projects in North and South America.
In that first project, Nelson and Fuchs discovered their company’s niche: turnkey service. GSI provides full service from sourcing and manufacturing through to installation and finishing. It works closely with architects, developers, contractors, and project owners; partnership and cooperation are an integral part of GSI’s business strategy.
The company prides itself on its relationships with vendors around the world. With a focus on value engineering, the company strives to offer high-quality materials and services at competitive prices. “Ultimately, we have an obligation to give true value to our customers,” says Nelson. GSI’s staff is dedicated to customer satisfaction.
As Nelson and Fuchs shared the factors that drive GSI, innovation and constant improvement are recurring themes in the story of the company’s success. GSI works toward operational excellence, emphasizing processes and structures to guide every step of the company’s projects. “We look at the business differently, I think, than your typical marble and tile contractor,” Nelson says. GSI is focused on discovering better and faster ways of working and offers unmatched flexibility and innovation.
GSI’s project management technologies give the company a competitive edge in bidding on contracts and managing projects. Utilizing a combination of Procore, On Center Software, and custom project-tracking software, GSI closely monitors the status of each of its projects. It forecasts progress at every step and proactively addresses potential issues. “We know what every single worker is doing,” Nelson explains. The company also uses these tools to acquire information for estimating and managing project finances to ensure that projects stay on budget. “We’re proud of that, because very few people do that, not even general contractors,” Fuchs notes.
In an industry that faces a shortage of skilled labor, GSI’s team of highly-skilled workers stands out. Through aggressive and selective recruiting efforts, the company attracts top-notch employees. The company’s staff includes a mix of experienced industry veterans and new talent, including interns from the construction management programs at nearby Brigham Young University and Utah Valley University. Innovation and excellence are central to the company’s culture.
Because of GSI’s dedication to high-quality materials, proactive project management, and industry-leading talent, the company has been selected to work on an array of high-profile projects. The company was contracted to work on the expansion of the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific and partnered with the Army Corps of Engineers on the project, which presented a unique challenge: domestically sourcing stone to match the stone used in the original construction of the monuments. GSI procured travertine that matched the original stone, which was used to erect two new stone pavilions to honor those who served in the Vietnam War. “It wasn’t a big project, but it was really gratifying,” Fuchs says.
GSI has also done work on many temples around the world for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. The company recently completed work on the restoration of the Provo City Center Temple in Provo, Utah, which was rebuilt following a fire that destroyed most of the historic building. GSI sourced and installed the interior tile and stone, including unique baseboards, wainscots, and an elaborate baptistery. The company also completed work on the construction of a new temple in Tijuana, Mexico, which features beautiful interior and exterior tile and ornate stonework. “The temples are something that we’re quite proud of. They’re very intricate, and they demand the most workmanship of anything we do,” Nelson states.
The pride that GSI takes in its work has fostered a strong reputation within the LDS community for quality and workmanship. The company is currently working on two LDS temples in Idaho as well as one in Concepción, Chile, for which it sourced unique limestones and marbles from Europe.
In 2015 GSI was recognized for its work on the restoration of the Rainbow Tower at the Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach Resort when it won the Grand Prize in the 2015 Coverings Installation & Design Awards. The tower’s iconic rainbow mural, which stretches 286 feet high, is comprised of more than 31,000 custom-designed tiles that were installed by GSI. “Each individual tile was labeled and numbered and had a place to go,” Nelson explains. Nelson and Fuchs are extremely proud of the company’s role in restoring this Hawaiian landmark.
GSI recently completed another project in Hawaii, outfitting the exclusive Four Seasons Resort in Lanai with high-end stone and tile throughout the property. Working on the small island of Lanai presented many logistical challenges in sourcing, transporting, and staffing the project, and GSI enthusiastically tackled these. GSI’s project engineers carefully plan the logistics of each project and develop solutions to ensure efficiency at every step.
Looking to the future, Global Stone anticipates continued growth and international expansion, with partnerships and innovation at the heart of its strategy. The company hopes to continue its relationship with the LDS community and provide high-quality workmanship on temples around the world. It also plans to expand its work on luxury resorts into the Caribbean and beyond.
Through ongoing investment in technology and talent, GSI will continue to provide innovative solutions for stone and tile sourcing and installation. “We don’t necessarily need to grow in huge numbers,” Nelson says, “but we’re focused on growing smart and having partnerships with good contractors, good developers, good architects, and designers – people who really want to work with a company that’s willing to work outside the box.” Above all, GSI remains committed to client satisfaction.