Remember the Alamo is one of those phrases of American history that continues to thrive as a cheer of sorts, a rallying cry to always push ahead. Alamo Tile & Stone takes this cry seriously, one tile at a time as it slowly conquers its competition by adding value, expertise and veritable beauty to each project it undertakes.
Alamo provides Texas with full-service tile, marble, natural stone and brick paver subcontracting services, striving to implement a work environment that encourages innovation and aggressive performance to deliver outstanding products on time and on budget. The company furnishes, fabricates and installs granite, natural stone, ceramic, and porcelain tile, all imported directly to its San Antonio facility from Italy, China, and Brazil. Additional services include drafting, engineering, and stone testing, as well as project management.
FROM FIREFIGHTING TO TILE SETTING
Alamo was founded in 1981 by Roland Martinez, a firefighter in San Antonio. “I learned the tile business as a 15-year-old kid when an old union tile setter came to redo our bathroom,” Martinez recalls. “I helped him all week and when he finished the work he handed me a check for $75, which I refused to take but he insisted that I take it and that I continue to help him on his jobs. I worked with him part time through high school and college until I got in the fire department.”
Once in the department, he recalls, word got around that he knew how to install tile so by word of mouth Roland’s business got off the ground, eventually becoming widespread enough for him to leave firefighting and pursue tile-laying full time, which occurred in 1994.
“I have always been a very detailed person and our field side has always been a leader in the industry from bidding to technical aspects of installations,” Martinez stresses. Alamo Tile & Stone took off in 1994, growing to its current size five years ago. “We have felt that staying in the $12-$15 million yearly revenue range has been the most profitable and productive for us,” He adds. “Because of our name and history we are asked to bid on all major projects in Texas but we try to select the best ones for our expertise.”
Since becoming a premier provider of tile installation services Alamo has been involved in an array of prestigious projects, including the San Antonio Convention Center, Weston Hotel River Walk, Hyatt Hill Country, and other landmarks.
A WIDE ARRAY OF CHALLENGES
Fiesta Texas in San Antonio was the company’s first large commercial project. “The challenge with this project was that we needed to secure a payment and performance bond and we had never done this before,” Martinez remembers. “The project was roughly $250,000 starting out and I was introduced to a bonding agent who was young and aggressive and he came up with an idea to divide up the contracts into a small part and a larger part. This way we were able to secure a bond for the first small part and then add on the rest via change order. At that time once a bond was secured, change orders were automatically added on with no review.” The project, he explains, consisted of more than 25,000 square feet of tile in restrooms and buildings and over 50,000 square feet of brick paver at the entrance. “The project ended up being over $750,000 for us and propelled us into large commercial projects.”
Brooke Army Medical Center in 1991 was the company’s first large government project. Here, the challenge involved the detail of specifications laid out by the government, including measuring sand and cement to exact proportions, using slow speed drills for mixing mortars, and checking mortar slake time. The project consisted of more than 600 patient toilet rooms, staff locker rooms, cafeteria, kitchen, and lobby flooring. “It was at that time – and still is – the number one government trauma hospital in the U.S.,” Martinez says. The project started around $650,000 and finished at over $1 million.
In 1994 Alamo took on its first resort, the Hyatt Hill Country, a 500-room hotel and spa facility, in which the company installed more than 25,000 square feet of lobby and pool flagstone flooring while maintaining a 3/8-inch uniformed grout joint. Also, it was the first large project in which the company also provided and installed all of the stone tops in the guestrooms and throughout the hotel public space. “At the time the project was our largest contract ever at $1.7 million,” Martinez says.
Texas Ranger Baseball Stadium in 1993 was Alamo’s first large project outside of San Antonio and subsequently led to the opening of its Dallas Office. The project started at just under $1 million and ended up at $1.3 million. “The challenge here was that we were given a change order to install 25,000 square feet of one-inch by one-inch floor tile at the concourse at the club level with less than 23 days to the opening game. “The project consisted of 50,000 square feet of tile at all stadium restrooms, club boxes, and concession areas,” Martinez recalls. “We successfully completed the installation and we all attended opening night at the stadium. To this day all names of all workers are on a plaque at the Centerfield Concourse Wall.”
Finally, Alamo’s work on the JW Marriott-San Antonio in 2009 has been its largest revenue project to date. The contract was over $6 million for the 1,000-room resort hotel, consisting of five restaurants and bars. Alamo had more than 100 men on the job working seven days a week for six months to make the targeted November opening. The project, Martinez relates, included porcelain tile guest bathrooms, quarry tile back bars, lobby stone flooring and base, grand stair slab treads and risers, Waterjet cut stone, mosaic spurs and stone counter tops including back-lit Onyx at the reception desks. “We were involved with this project from the design concept through to completion, including budgeting and sourcing of more than 40 types of stone, and detailed scheduling of production with the general contractor,” said Vice President and JW Project Manager Kyle Mitchell.
CAPABLE AND PROUD
Needless to say, Alamo is one of the largest tile and stone companies in Texas, recently nominated for Specialty Contractor of the Year by its peers in the industry, and run by key people that, in addition to Martinez and Mitchell, include Robert Lee Copeland, Vice President of the Dallas Office, and Office Manager and Treasurer Melissa Szesnat. Alamo also employs a person in China to procure tile and stone. “People here are at the highest skill level,” notes Business Development Representative Jason Mahurin. “We’ve all been in the industry a long time. I would say what sets us apart from our competitors is how well each person works together as a team throughout our company. It is an honor to work for Alamo Tile & Stone and no one takes it for granted.”
A big portion of Alamo’s success is due to the company’s investment in capabilities, Roland stresses. “Our machinery is the latest technology; we have a large flat wet saw, a Comandulli edge profile machine that will detail up to five different edge profiles, and we also have a CNC machine that allows us to cut whatever shape or form we need through computer software. We are top of the line and it shows in our everyday process. We also have experienced artists so we can draw our own shop drawings in CAD and produce perfection every time.”
When it’s not adding its aesthetic touches to buildings, Alamo reaches out to its communities, participating in fundraisers and service events. Its latest was in conjunction with Joeris General Contractors and involved the renovation and remodel of the Lila Cockrell Parks and Recreation Center. For this project, Alamo donated the tile and labor as well as the fabricated granite.
“We have an unwillingness to fail,” Martinez notes. “We feel that when we sign onto a job it’s ours until we finish. We know that we are in a finish type of business and every single piece of our product is seen by the public. I truly believe that we have an unbelievable portfolio of projects to be proud of.”