It takes years to develop a rock-solid reputation, but Dave Hammerl, president of Stonecrafters, makes it look easy. Find out how this business has thrived for more than 25 years.
Dave Hammerl has discovered many paths to success as president of Stonecrafters, 430 W. Wegner Road, Lakemoor. But there’s one thing above all others that has helped this specialist in custom marble, granite and hard surfaces to stay in business for more than 25 years.
“You must take care of your customers,” he says. “You have to make sure you tell them the truth, and you have to tell them what you’re going to do and when you’re going to do it. If they’re happy with the work, and if they’re happy with their experience, they’ll tell a friend or two. But, if they’re mad, they’ll tell the whole world.”
To round out his customer service, Hammerl has also invested in top-of-the-line equipment, building a dedicated customer base, and hiring and training a top-notch staff.
“From the first time a customer asks us for help until they say goodbye, we want them to know that we are about them,” Hammerl says. “We care about their project and we want them to absolutely love working with our company. If they’re not happy with our service, we’re asking what we could’ve done differently or where we dropped the ball.”
Hammerl prides himself on providing top-notch customer service, so when customers inquire about a project, Hammerl and his team seek to respond quickly, sharing whatever knowledge and experience they can provide.
“We’re a medium-sized business that employs good, hard-working people,” he says. “Customers have written us plenty of good reviews because they love the way we take care of them and they love the end result. We take our jobs very, very seriously.”
Stonecrafters has a showroom filled with natural stone and quartz countertop products, as well as matching kitchen sinks, full wall fireplaces, and shower and tub surrounds, among other things. The elegant, brightly lit showroom displays the latest trends and designs, making it a resource for sizing up what’s available.
“Lighter and whiter quartz and light granites are all in and very popular right now,” Hammerl says. “We work with all of the latest and greatest styles, colors and materials.”
Stonecrafters carries more than 200 varieties of granite and quartz, each with its own benefits, design needs and aesthetic. Style and design are important, especially since Hammerl believes the countertop is the most important focal point.
“It’s kind of like the anchor of the whole kitchen, believe it or not,” he says. “You prepare your food on it, it holds the sink, it holds the faucet and it holds the cooktop. The countertop is one part of the kitchen that’s used over and over again.”
Hammerl encourages customers to visit Stonecrafters and handpick the very slab that’ll be used for their project.
“When I work with clients, I’ll usually give them a few samples to take home and digest,” Hammerl says. “I don’t force them into making a decision, because when you try to force people into making a decision, they typically shut down.”
Before he opened Stonecrafters in 1993, Hammerl ran a similar stone business with his father, Raymond, and his brother, Rick. The business was open for about three years before things started to change.
“My dad wanted to retire and my brother wanted to do something else, so that’s when I decided to open Stonecrafters,” Hammerl says.
Striking out on his own, Hammerl has separated himself from the competition through customer service, in his effort to make the customer experience memorable and positive.
Hammerl tries to ensure that customers are well-informed at the original estimate, during the stone selection process and throughout any follow-up appointments.
“We call two or three times after we measure, we call two or three times before installation, and we call two or three times after it’s done,” Hammerl says. “Sometimes, I feel like we pester them. But, it’s the excitement that we bring and the passion that we bring to the delivery and installation.”
Hammerl’s 14 dedicated workers are trained to value precision – an important consideration when preparing stone. He also wants to make sure his employees have the proper tools they need to successfully perform their job.
“We have some very skilled guys who take a lot of pride in what they do and how they do it,” Hammerl says. “Things are not just slapped together, loaded and shipped. Everyone has a great sense of pride in what they do.”
In recent years, employees at Stonecrafters have been trained to use numerous cutting-edge tools, most notably computer-aided design (CAD) and digital templating, which uses a laser to create precise measurements, accurate cuts and truly accurate installation dimensions.
“We put in all-digital, state-of-the-art equipment,” Hammerl says. “The time we spend on jobs and the lead times are down substantially because of the equipment that we have. Things are much more technological than they were 13 years ago.”
If anything, Hammerl wishes he had invested in technology sooner than he did.
“Not having the latest and greatest technology really held us back,” he says. “These days, we’re doing very, very well.”
Coupling technology with fabrication techniques has also helped the company to reduce mistakes, ensuring a job is done right the first time.
“The minute you make a mistake, you’ve got a big problem,” Hammerl says. “We double, triple and quadruple check everything that we do.”
CAD software and digital templating solve many issues, such as a crooked cut or incorrect measurements – both of which can happen easily when dealing with a home remodel. Digital templating, however, provides more accurate and reliable measurements because the computer is accounting for the exact conditions present.
“We’ve gotten more competitive and things have gotten a lot tighter, so you have to be super-efficient to keep your customers happy,” Hammerl says.
New equipment helps the fabrication team to cut and polish custom orders with more precision than in years past, which then further enhances the quality and efficiency related to production.
Looking forward, Hammerl says he doesn’t have any particular plans for the future, unless it involves working more efficiently and finding new ways to keep customers happy.
“The tools and technology that we’ve installed have made us jump three or four levels higher than most other companies out there right now,” he says. “We’ve received some great feedback, and customers love the work that we do. Communication and quality of work win every time.”