Top-shelf service | by Alexis Cassola
North America-based tile distributor Garden State Tile opened its doors in 1957, a time when showrooms were referred to as “stores” and the term “design consultant” had not yet been adopted by corporate culture. Fast forward 60 years, and the company has not only adapted to major changes in the industry, but has gone above and beyond to do so, creating the ideal experience for its customers—both in person and remotely. “Top-shelf service” is their philosophy and in Garden State Tile’s 11 showrooms across New Jersey, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, and Georgia, a team of accomplished architectural and design managers are available to assist with the purchase of value-priced, design-inspired materials. For customers who can’t make it into the showroom, Garden State Tile boasts a user-friendly website where products can be browsed by manufacturer, application, and type, or perused in a gallery. From residential spaces to commercial and LEED projects, the company provides surfacing that is both technically and aesthetically high-caliber, including collections from 15 premier Italian ceramic brands. Further contributing to the wholly well-rounded approach Garden State Tile brings to its work, is its blog featuring new products and industry news. Strong ties to the community—from A&D organizations to local charities—give the company a real understanding of the people it serves, as well as the community that serves them. For its 60 years of exemplary service, Garden State Tile has been selected as the recipient of the prestigious 2017 Confindustria Ceramica North American Distributor Award. President Stephen Fischer spoke with us about the company’s identity, direction, and the key decisions that brought it to where it is today.
Since opening its doors 60 years ago, what are some of the key moves that Garden State Tile has made to adapt to changes within the industry?
We have always believed in “the only thing that is permanent is change”. Once your company culture understands this, growth becomes an inherent value in your organization.
What in particular defines Garden State Tile’s role in the local and national market?
Sixty years of developing relationships on all levels of the supply side has put Garden State Tile in a unique position. This understanding gives us the ability to provide outstanding service to all types of customers.
What type of products do you sell and for what uses?
Our overall product mix is based on the concept of providing the best quality porcelain, stone, glass, and related products that can be used in both residential and commercial applications.
Describe your customer demographic and what you do to cater to their specific needs.
Managing channel conflict allows our customer base to recognize the level of service needed to accomplish their goals. That customer can be in a very broad category.
How do your relationships with A&D organizations and the larger community factor into the way you do business?
Relationships in all parts of the business community are paramount to any business success. At Garden State Tile, we take a very passionate effort in developing those relationships. Once established, those organizations and community groups become part of the culture.
What are the most important characteristics of the Garden State Tile showrooms, from physical design to the service provided?
Conceptually, all Garden State Tile showrooms have a different feel and look to them. Clean, direct lines organized with an uplifting feel is the basis of our showroom experience. In addition, we strive for concierge services at every level to all customer types.
Why do you continue to import a wide selection of Italian tile in particular?
There is no doubt that the quality and design of Italian products are still the best in the industry. Cutting-edge technology, as well as a very high level of excellent service keeps the Italian products in the forefront of this industry.
What can Italian companies do to better serve the US distribution system?
Continue providing the best possible products and services. Build stronger relationships within the business community and develop those relationships over time. Understanding the way businesses are operated in the U.S. would help as well.
What’s next for Garden State Tile?
We will continue to build on our culture within Garden State Tile, working harder in providing the very best service to our clients. When the opportunities arise, Garden State Tile will be in a position to take full advantage of them.
Do you have any comments on the current economic state of the US construction industry?
At the present time, the construction industry seems very strong. How long this positive trend lasts is any one’s guess. All signs indicate that this trend will be around for a while.
CERAMICS OF ITALY BRANDS AT GARDEN STATE TILE