A fourth generation family business in tile | by Melissa Weisberg
Cancos Tile and Stone is a New York based company who has been working with the Italian tile industry for 65 years. With 12 designer showrooms and over 400,000 square feet of warehouse capacity, tile specifiers have repeatedly chosen Cancos for their superior selection of tiles and inventory availability. Equipped with a high-tech fabrication department including three precision water jet cutting machines, Cancos brings new and imaginative ideas to every job where fine craftsmanship, precision and accuracy are demanded. In this interview, Bernadette Valva-White and Robert Valva of Cancos tell us about how their company was founded and what differentiates them from other distributors.
Cancos is a family owned and operated business who has been a leading distributor since 1953. How was the group formed and what were the key steps in the company’s development?
CTC was originally formed as a partnership in 1953 by Vincent Valva and Vincent Pellicane Sr. At the time there were two locations, Brooklyn, NY and our existing/current Westbury, NY location. CTC wanted to expand in 1956, so Vincent Valva hired his nephew Frank R. Valva and soon after dissolved his partnership with Vincent Pellicane Sr. Mr. Pellicane departed and opened up United Ceramic Tile while the Valva’s maintained Cancos Tile. CTC continued its growth by opening up a new location in Ronkonkoma. This location is very close to our current headquarters in Farmingville. In 1978, Vincent Valva retired and Frank R. Valva became sole owner. Subsequently, Frank hired his son and current CEO, Robert F. Valva. Sales continued to grow and further locations were opened. In the 1980s, CTC added more showrooms on Long Island and hired current partners: Joanne Valva-Purchla, Susan Valva-McAuliffe, Mark Valva and Bernadette Valva-White. It was during this time that current partner and VP Mark W. Valva started the wholesale/distribution division and we expanded into the Stone Fabrication business as well. In the 90s, United Ceramic Tile was faltering and CTC took over 3 of their Long Island showrooms. The next two locations, a central distribution warehouse in NJ and the Manhattan showroom, were soon to follow. Finally, in 2010, the first member of our fourth generation, Bill McAuliffe started working with us. In the last several years, we have expanded our national sales division and have established a great presence in the A&D market. Our fourth generation has been trickling in as we welcome Samantha Valva, Mariah Valva and Frank Valva. Our fourth generation and future owners are making a positive impact on the company. Small modest bits of growth and expansion have been the key to our success!
Cancos prides itself on its superior selection of inventory. What characteristics do you find in Italian tiles that match this?
In CTC’s opinion, Italian tiles have been and will always be the leader in design and innovation in our industry. They are always at the forefront in aesthetics, bringing new designs to the market each and every year. Whether it’s a shape or a color or style, Italian designers are always looking for ways to expand the marketplace and gain new shares in markets untapped. The tremendous growth in the paver sector and in the thin panel market is a great case in point. Italian manufacturers are always at the cutting edge for creating the trends that other countries look to copy. Not only are the designs superior, but the quality is as well. Designs cannot survive alone, and in our market, quality must live up to, if not surpass its design. Our clients have come to expect a certain level of quality from us and we have always found that we can rely and depend on the Italian production. The quality is basically flawless; and if and when there is a problem, we deal with it together. We have strong bonds and relationships with the most reputable factories in the industry; they stand beside us, behind us, and as a unit, we grow together. One cannot grow without the other and it takes both to make the wheel roll, so to speak.
What aspects of your 12 designer showrooms sets you aside from other distributor showrooms?
First and foremost, we stock everything we display. Showing clients a display and then having the capabilities to ship out the next day has been our key. We think the lifelike displays make a huge visual impact and basically sell the tile for us! In addition, across all of our showroom floors, we have sectioned out areas to display all the floors we stock as well. Although this process is extremely high maintenance, it makes selling very easy.
What types of customers do you have and how do you cater to their specific needs?
We cater to many different types of clientele. We sell direct through our showrooms in the Greater New York City area. Our showrooms cater to our clientele with one on one sales assistance. We sell wholesale in the entire eastern portion of the United States. We customize all sample panels and sell sheets with the products we inventory. In addition, we have trained area reps that visit and educate each client with the follow up and support of our dedicated customer service reps. We also cater to the A&D division through rep visits and trade shows. Here, we follow up with dedicated private labeled sample swatches. This is also another area where our Italian manufacturers support us tremendously; they recognize the expense in sampling, but also realize it is a huge part in getting the job done.
What do you think differentiates Cancos in terms of client relationships?
Of course, we think everyone likes us because we’re such great fun-loving people… but seriously, we have great relationships with our clients. We provide the finest selection of materials at the best or most competitive price. We are fair in our business practices. We respect territories and we stand behind all of our products and employees. We have this unconditional guarantee that everything we sell, we stand behind. We are confident that our products will meet or exceed industry standards and if there is a mistake anywhere along the line, we fix it and we do it fairly and equitably. I think part of our client success is that our clients know, no matter what the problem may be, we will fix it. Honestly, we couldn’t do that if our partners/manufacturers were not standing behind us!
What do you think has been the key to Cancos’ success over the years?
Simply, I think we just love what we do!!! We are so passionate about our business. We all love tile and all that surrounds it. We love creating new lines, the fight over colors and price, and the sample boards. The promotion of it all, doing shows, visiting clients and finally, just selling. The thrill that goes with the whole cycle is addictive and contagious. Besides that, we try to stay humble and grow slowly; we feel that we offer an extraordinarily large mix of products.
What are the next steps for Cancos?
Well of course, controlled expansion… and who knows…
Italian Ceramic Brands currently sold by Cancos