Spotlight: Argo Tile and Stone
We look forward to spotlighting companies with inspirational stories and services that we work with. This month, Contractors Direct sat down with California-based Sal Azzolino of Argo Tile and Stone to learn more about his services, inspirations and family history in the business. The company specializes in custom tile and slab installations in the Bay Area, including utilizing state-of-the-art 3D software to design customers’ kitchens, bathrooms and other rooms with their material selections. Sal utilizes his extensive knowledge in traditional techniques as well as tile setting technology for projects ranging from new construction to remodeling.
How did the company start?
Argo Tile and Stone was established in 2016. Using design software and lots of knowledge and experience, we are able to take customers’ designs and make kitchen and bath remodeling affordable and stylish. But we already have a long-lasting family tradition of quality tile, stone and construction work.
I am the second generation in the stone industry here in the U.S. My dad was originally a builder who came from Italy in the 1960s. In 1988, a friend of my parents in Italy had an associate with a quarry. They put together a company and sent 20 containers of tile and slab. My parents opened a warehouse when it arrived from Italy and had 20 installers as well as in-house fabrication services. In the early 1990s, they moved to a bigger space to better accommodate the growing business.
In 2003, they were asked by the Fuji Film company situated next door to build a space for them. My parents then borrowed money to build a 9,000-square-foot workspace on top of the building and increased their business services. However, in 2006, there was a huge influx in the Bay Area of Chinese prefabricated countertops; no one wanted to pay $8,000 for quality work when they could pay $3,000 for ready-to-install counters.
Sadly, my parents lost the original warehouse and the business in the 2008 market crash. However, it is really cool and full circle to go into homes to do renovations after all these years and see my parents’ original work and how well it was done. And I actually still work with my family, especially my mother, who helps with management and bookkeeping.
Growing up watching your parents’ business struggles, how did you work differently?
I graduated Riordan in 2004. I worked in the manufacturing and fabricating side of my parents’ business, including running the Waterjet. When my parents expanded the business and took out money, especially around 2006 and after, I saw the writing on the wall with where it was going. I decided to work in other industries for several years, including the motorcycle world. Because of that, I better understood how commerce works, which helped with putting my current business together. I then worked for someone else managing a tile and slab showroom until opening Argo in 2016 with quality installation work and multiple employees.
Do you sometimes need to “go old school” with projects?
I try to keep myself trained in the old and new ways. If there is a solution needed for something—including sometimes utilizing older techniques, traditions and materials—I use Contractors Direct for supplies. I need to know what the new products are as well as new ways to fix old things. We are a full-service tile and stone company, but my goal is also to eventually get back to automated fabrication and installation.
Stone will always be a part of my life. Even now, when I need to focus more on sales, I continue working with my guys because I love it.
Connect with Sal at 510-714-4412 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit argotileandstone.com or instagram.com/argotileandstone for more information and inspiration.