A NORTH JERSEY MARBLE & TILE BUSINESS TAKES ITS CLIENTELE ON CUSTOM-DESIGNED FLIGHTS OF FANCY
BY MARISA PROCOPIO • PHOTOS BY ROBERT NUZZIE
If there’s one thing prospective builders and renovators can take to heart, it’s Adrienne Gallmann’s charisma. Even in a phone interview, the Short Hills Marble & Tile showroom manager, designer, and salesperson exudes warmth and relaxed confidence. Creating something new, she explained, whether for a commercial or residential space, can be one of the most stressful endeavors a building owner can undertake. If company co-designers Theresa Higgs and Susan Schertl are half as genial as Gallmann, customers can rest (and shop) assured of a positive outcome.
Something else that can make them breathe easy: while Short Hills, an affluent area that’s typically synonymous with extravagance (read: pricey), Gallmann makes it clear that customers don’t have to have deep pockets to work with them.
“I get asked that more than anything else,” she said. “We can really suit anyone’s budget.” So, with two solid reassurances under our belts, into the showroom we go.
The business is 22 years strong. Owned by Robert and Susan Israeli, it’s a full-service design company that serves residential and commercial clients and specializes in both interior and exterior work. Homeowners feel at home there, as well as architects and designers, who work with staff to create something unique, beautiful, and lasting.
The showroom holds a variety of designs, styles, and materials, including natural stone, ceramic, porcelain, metal, and glass. For example, Akros, a handmade, Italian-etched, hand-painted stone, is a lustrous and customizable material combining European sensibility with the opportunity to design from imagination. With it, customers can create a traditional, modern, or playful look.
Waterjet mosaics are another popular design choice, made with a specially focused, high-pressure stream of water and abrasives to create detailed patterns. Dozens more choices are available in this medium.
When customers aren’t sure of what to use, or want to start with something basic, what’s a sure thing? Natural stone, was Gallmann’s reply. It “never really goes out of style. It’s classic.”
But some fashions and styles do change. Asked what was trending a decade ago, she said, “Overall, [designs were] traditional, very rustic,” and that popular colors tended to stay within the beige family. Today, shoppers veer toward stone in whites and greys, in “a cleaner look,” said Gallmann.
Porcelain quality has also improved from ten years ago, she said, in part because digital technology has contributed to a substantial degree. “It’s much more high-end,” she emphasized.
What’s hot on the design horizon for next year? “Based on the Cersaie International tile show that was just held last month in Italy, 2017 trends are large-format tile—porcelain and stone,” she explained. “Porcelain, plaster, concrete, fabric, and wood-grain textures. Stone is still in the classic grey-and-whites scheme, with some colors being incorporated into the accents again.”
Gallmann, who holds a BA in Design from Berkeley College, has been in the tile and stone industry for ten years. When asked how this marble and tile company differs from competitors, she offers a characteristically straightforward response.
“Other companies are not as detailed and hands-on. We do custom anything; we design to the client,” she said.
For example, while others might feature a few materials, here the selection is elaborately extensive, and service goes beyond choosing a material and placing an order. It is a soup-to-nuts, give-and-take, joint effort between customer and designer.
Along with design consulting, the company also offers CAD (computer-aided design/drafting) services, which allows customers a chance to work with designers to create a custom template. And—truly walking the service walk—designers are happy to do on-site visits to consult on projects firsthand. All such services are free of charge.
Gallmann’s concise summary: “We don’t just sell tile out of the warehouse.”
Although, to be fair, having a warehouse at the ready, full of materials, and right in Union, does cut down on wait time for many, and that facility’s size is no small potatoes.
“Yeah, it’s huge,” she laughed.
The marble and tile company does “commercial work all over the country” and has “factories all over the world,” added Gallmann. Resources this far-reaching allow for considerable capabilities.
“We can bring just about anything in,” she asserted, but “we try to deal with local sources, too,” which, she explained, is especially rewarding. “It’s about building relationships.”
As far as the creative process goes, it can begin from any point. “Some people do their legwork ahead of time,” Gallmann said, by visiting Pinterest or interior-design sites like Houzz. Many have taken notes and have begun drawing up dreams on paper or screen. A number come in ready to begin the project, permits in hand, while others arrive as a blank slate, starting from scratch. It’s in cases like the last that Short Hills Marble & Tile stands out particularly, helping the customer move from point A to B…and beyond to completion.
In-house designers do everything from “putting together different options…to picking out materials to laying out design for them,” Gallmann explained. “We do the legwork on drawing up options, then we call them back in. And if anything needs to be changed, they make it work, together.”
The group won 2015 Best of Houzz Service, awarded based on online reviews.
“No negative feedback,” said Gallmann with a smile.
Short Hills Marble & Tile
658 Morris Turnpike, Short Hills / 973.376.1330