|Tombstones to Silicon|
a memorial, and sometimes up to $20,000 for a completely hand-crafted model, said Mark Fontana. The company's least expensive stones cost about $700.
Today, grave markers comprise only about half of V. Fontana's revenues. Items such as granite tabletops and public memorials, as well as the scientific applicatons, make up the remainder.
Fontana declined to reveal the company's sales, but said annual revenues grow 10 percent to 15 percent on average. V. Fontana has always been profitable, he added.
The company's consistent two-month backlog of projects indicates that there is plenty of opportunity for additional growth. But Mark Fontana says he likes running the company at its current size, with three full-time shop workers and a sales manager.
V. Fontana has an "outstanding reputation" in the industry for quality, said Hendrickson. The company is unusual in that it fashions its products out of large, unfinished granite blocks rather than having the stones pre-cut at the quarry, he added.
"That gives them a great deal of
control over the quality of the stone as well as the finishes, " Hendrickson said.|
That practice also drives up V. Fontana's costs, since up to 60 percent of each stone block winds up being discarded.
Fontana readily admits his prices are higher than many of his competitors'.
"People come to us when they want something special," he said.
It is unusual these days for a craft such as stone cutting to be passed down among generations of family members.
Still, V. Fontana has had surprisingly little difficulty remaining staffed. Pietro Masnada, a 75-year-old native Italian who has worked for all three generations of Fontanas, says he can't retire because Fontana refuses to accept his resignation.
And young people with an interest in stone work somehow manage to find their way to the Colma workshop.
Daryl Sowers, 24, a former neighbor of Fontana's, started working part-time
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