THIS 35 YEAR VETERAN OF THE BATHROOM AND KITCHEN REMODELING BUSINESS LEAVES NO STONE, TILE, OR CABINET UNTURNED
BY AMANDA McCOY • PHOTOS BY PATTY PIXELS
John Meleo, a seasoned contractor and co proprietor of A&E Kitchen and Bath Design Center in Marlboro, officially entered the construction trade right out of college, but the seed for a long career in home remodeling was planted long before he completed undergraduate studies. The son of a highly sought after specialized mechanic, Meleo inherited his father’s passion and talent for construction at an exceptionally young age.
“My dad moved here from Italy in 1960, and became one of the biggest tile and marble contractors in Hudson County,” explained Meleo. “He did vestibules all over Manhattan. I spent all my summers with him, learning the trade. I did all my schooling…went to college, but I loved the industry…loved construction.”
Though he learned the trade through years of hands on experience alongside his father, Meleo decided after high school to pursue a degree in business (with a minor in accounting) before entering the workforce. After graduation, he put both field experience and classroom training to work and immediately dove into the family profession. His first business venture, Stone Creations, opened as a granite and fabrication shop, and soon carved a specialty in remodeling residential kitchens and bathrooms throughout Monmouth County. After the birth of his two sons, Enrico (named after the family patriarch) and Anthony, he rebranded as A&E Granite in 2003.
During these relatively early days in his career, Meleo was introduced to Edgar Diaz, a carpenter highly skilled in kitchen and bath remodeling. Their professional paths crossed several times over the years, and in 2015, the duo decided to combine talents and industry insights to open a full service kitchen and bathroom showroom that integrated sales, service, and construction under one roof—its home on Main Street in Marlboro.
“We have everything from toilet fixtures to cabinets, plus knobs, lighting, handles, flooring, and more,” explained Meleo. “Everything we carry is 100 percent made in the U.S. and includes a lifetime warranty. We don’t import anything from overseas.”
The owners, he added, strive to make the remodeling process as straightforward and simple as possible. With a combined 55 years of experience between the two, they’ve learned how to guide customers from abstract vision to actionable blueprint for projects large and small.
“When a customer comes into the showroom, we explain to them what we have and what we do,” said Meleo. “We are a turnkey operation. We don’t just sell you the cabinets; we do the entire construction end of it. If we need to move walls, we do. We do the flooring, painting, electrical work, all of it.”
Once a new customer makes an appointment, the first step involves a house call from the shop owner himself, wherein he takes measurements and becomes familiar with the space, among other assessments. He then invites the homeowners to join him at the showroom, during which he seats them at the “Design Island” and projects a 3D rendering of the project on a 65 inch television.
“We don’t show them the layout on a little computer screen,” he said. “It’s different; our rendering is viewed in large format. They sit at our design table, make themselves comfortable, and spend as much time as they need looking at it. This way they can see what their project is going to look like before we even get started.”
The design step comes next. The showroom serves as an in person catalog, allowing customers to see, touch, and feel different cabinets, tiles, paint colors, and countertops, among other products, before making selections. Once the proposal is signed, Meleo determines a start date, and then for him, “the fun part really begins.”
Depending on the scope of the work, a kitchen can take anywhere from four to six weeks, while a full bathroom overhaul typically requires a four week investment, the owner explained, adding that he and Diaz are meticulous about the materials their company carries and thoroughly vets each manufacturer for quality before offering a stamp of approval. They are also steadfast in supporting local manufacturing, and so exclusively sources products that are fabricated in the United States.
“Having so many years of experience just gives us the know how of quality work and good products,” said Meleo. “I think the biggest mistake a person can make during a remodeling project is not doing their homework. Some people want to purchase just for price. They don’t shop quality…don’t shop experienced contractors. I’ve always been honest, and give people quality materials at a fair price. It’s also important to make sure everyone they use has their license and insurance.”
is kind of hands on approach by Diaz and Meleo also means that they don’t hire subcontractors outside of a licensed electrician or plumber. Their small staff of contractors is licensed and always present on the job site, Meleo included.
“When you are done with a project and about to walk out the door and the homeowners just have these huge smiles on their faces from ear to ear, that’s the best part,” he said. “I love getting the opportunity to meet new people, and when they tell their friends about us and we get word of mouth referrals, we know we did an incredible job.”
After more than three decades in home remodeling and contracting, Diaz and Meleo still haven’t lost their fervor for the trade. “Construction,” they explained, “is in the family blood.”
A&E Kitchen and Bath Design Center
71 S Main Street, Marlboro 732.677.3977 /