EVERETT - Travis Collins and Rodney Bair were working as stone fabricators and artists for a company in Rockville, Md., and driving back and forth every day to their Everett homes.
"We did some research to see if there was a call for this kind of business. We were certain there was a need for this type of work. We were young enough and decided to take the leap," Bair said.
B.C. Stone was born in April 1993 in a two-car garage behind Bair's mother-in-law's house on West Main Street.
Mirror photo by J.D. Cavrich
Lonnie Decker programs a water jet machine that will cut out a granite kitchen countertop with water.
After three months, it moved to an old body shop building at First and Water streets and remained there until October 2001 when it moved to the Everett Industrial Park.
The company started with two employees and has grown to about 65 today. First-year gross revenues were about $150,000. In 2012, the company's gross revenues had grown to $10 million.
The company, which specializes in making kitchen countertops, soon will get national exposure. It has been selected to appear in an episode of the television show "World's Greatest." The date and network will be announced in July.
"World's Greatest," now in its seventh season, is a 30-minute show dedicated to highlighting companies, products, places and people.
Gordon Freeman, executive producer of "World's Greatest," produced by How2Media, calls B.C. Stone, a dominant player in the stonework marketplace.
"They are creative, reliable, knowledgeable and honest. Creating some of the most beautiful countertops and stonework in the marketplace, B.C. Stone continues to grow and innovate. We think their story will be meaningful as well as entertaining and interesting to our viewers," Freeman said.
Production manager Josh Kessler said companies are selected for the show based on "what they bring to the table."
"They are an outstanding company. Here is a company that gives back to the community and brings great work to the community, clients and customers," Kessler said. "We have strict requirements of how we choose companies."
The show's executive board and creative team work together to find companies to feature on the show.
"The associate producers take a list of companies, research these companies and whittle them down. We also want to see what other people say about them," Kessler said.
"We call clients to talk about them. We have to determine if the juice is worth the squeeze," Kessler said.
Show officials contacted the Marble Institute of America, of which B.C. Stone is a member, for suggestions about major players in the stone countertop industry.
Spokesman Garen Distelhorst said it was no surprise B.C. Stone was selected to appear on the show.
"As one of only 60 MIA-accredited natural stone fabricators, they are among the best the stone industry has to offer with respect to safety, craftsmanship, business practices, integrity and customer service," Distelhorst said. "B.C. Stone is a company that carries the flag for the entire industry."
Owners role models
Bette Slayton, president of the Bedford County Development Association, said B.C. Stone plays a big role in the county.
"Bedford County benefits from B.C. Stone everyday. In addition to the jobs they've created and their significant investments, they are role models for every budding entrepreneur in the region," Slayton said. "B.C. Stone is the perfect example of local folks who have demonstrated talent and tenacity. Travis and Rodney worked hard, took smart risks and, as a result of their efforts, built a world class company."
B.C. Stone will receive a three-minute segment on the show which will have two national airings - possibly Aug. 5 and Aug. 12 - and also will be on the World's Greatest website, Kessler said.
World's Greatest will announce in July when and on what network the program will be aired, Kessler said.
B.C. Stone makes more than kitchen countertops.
"We also do fireplaces, tub decks and vanity decks. The latest craze is making countertops for outdoor kitchens. We also do commercial work for office buildings, hospitals and casinos. We do countertops and bar tops in the interior of office buildings," Bair said.
The stone used to make the countertops is purchased from wholesalers, who import the stone from other countries such as Indonesia, Brazil and Italy.
The stone is brought in 6-by-10-foot pieces and is then fabricated into countertops.
"We are turning out 14 complete kitchens a day," Collins said.
The majority of the products are sold wholesale to contractors, cabinet shops or designers.
"It is difficult to sell directly to a customer in Pittsburgh. If he is in Everett or Altoona, if they call and make an appointment, we will sell them a countertop," Bair said.
B.C. Stone works with local companies like CabinetTree and Showcase Kitchens.
Most of their business is conducted within a three-hour radius of Everett.
Collins admitted he is amazed by the growth of the company.
"I don't think anyone could have anticipated this, but we had visions of going beyond the two of us," he said. "It is amazing how far it has come."
Exposure should help
The appearance on the show should be beneficial to the company.
"They get what they put into it. We want them to draw as much attention as they can to their company. We try to help with marketing efforts and show them ways to draw attention to their company," Kessler said. "They are the bigger part of it. They are the architects, and we are the construction crew."
"I think it is a great marketing tool, hopefully it will differentiate us from the rest of our market. We hope this will lead to more business," Collins said.
Collins said he is optimistic about the future of the company.
"I see the market for what we do continuing to grow," Collins said. "It is up to the economy. It seemed like the real estate slump was never going to end. We ride the construction industry. We were 80 percent new construction before 2008 and since then over 80 percent remodel."
Mirror Staff Writer Walt Frank is at 946-7467.