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Maryville Top Shop Is a Family Affair Since 1986
Trey, Carolyn and Fred Walker (Photo by Larry Hood)
By Peter Marcucci
For Fred Walker, being born into his uncle’s plumbing and electrical supply business during the 1950s was a blessing. Little did he know at the time, that his early introduction into the business world would give him a head-start on building his business savvy and give him the confidence to become a super risk-taker. Years later, in the 1980s, this savvy would lead him into a partnership with his dad, Carlis Walker, in a business called Maryville Wholesale Supply Company, located in Maryville, Tennessee. Fred also became a builder, working throughout the Maryville (Blount County) area, and he used his Maryville Wholesale Supply connection to supply his homes with cabinets, electrical and plumbing supplies. To get countertops, however, he had a half-hour trip to Knoxville, which eventually led to the beginning of Maryville Top Shop, recalled Fred. “We started Maryville Top Shop in 1986, so we did not have to drive to Knoxville to pick up our countertops. We could get them right here in Blount County.” The original shop location was in a 3,000 square foot building where cabinets and laminate countertops were built using older equipment, explained Fred. “When my wife, Carolyn, came on, we started growing this company, because two local solid surface shops and one laminate shop had gone out of business over a six year period, and I was able to acquire their machinery.”
The company, now in its second iteration and very close to the original location, thrives in a much larger space. However, it would be a few years before stone was on the menu, continued Fred. “At first, we did not fabricate natural stone, and I had no experience with it. We didn’t even have the water necessary. We were a woodworking shop, and, yes, I had been building houses and installing countertops most of my life, but that had nothing to do with stone.” As fate would have it, Maryville Top Shop had taken on a commercial job in 2008, doing the millwork for a bank in Knoxville, explained Fred. “In the teller section, the countertops had been spec’d for quartz, and since we had been using LG Solid Surface material, I thought that surely LG would sell me some quartz!” Fred then saw an ad for a school in Mesa, Arizona that taught stone fabrication, he continued. “They taught me how to do stone in 110 degree heat in an outdoor shop, and took me to Daltile and other wholesalers to teach me how to buy slabs. So I came back, spent about $30,000 on hand tools and racks and equipment, and we did that bank job. That was our first job in stone. "
Read more in the September issue of the Slippery Rock Gazette.
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VIDEO: Partner with BB Industries
Since its beginning in 1994, BBI’s philosophy has been to offer the best customer service and the best value for the money. This is accomplished by delivering exceptional products and first-class service to our partners in the stone, tile, and concrete industries
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Stone and Restoration Corner- The Candoro Building Restoration
The Candoro entry hall features travertine walls, frescoes on the stucco ceiling, and black and light marble floors. (Photo by Bob Murrell)
By Bob Murrell
Finally, after well over a year of work, the Candoro Office Building is almost complete, at least for the marble restoration part of the project. This project was especially close to me because my grandpa worked there when I was a kid. I also knew the Craigs, who were the original owners. My stepdad, Vic Green, used Candoro as a testing field for many of the products he developed or brought in over the years, in the beginning years of Vic International Corp. Of course, as many in the industry may remember, Vic International went on to become one of the largest suppliers of tools, equipment, and chemicals to the stone industry before ultimately succumbing to the “Great Recession” of 2007-2008. Vic International closed its doors in 2012, and Vic Green passed way in 2019. In its heyday, Candoro Marble Works was the third largest marble producer and importer in the United States, second only to Vermont Marble Company and Georgia Marble Company. The showroom and garage was completed in 1923 and was designed by local architect Charles I. Barber, in the Beaux-Arts style. The ornamental ironwork decorating the main entrance is by Samuel Yellin, the most notable artisan of iron during the 20th Century. The Candoro Marble Works complex was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1996 and the office and showroom building, along with the garage, were relisted in 2005 to include architecture in their area of importance. The Candoro Marble Works complex was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1996 and the office and showroom building, along with the garage, were relisted in 2005 to include architecture in their area of importance.
After the Civil War, the East Tennessee area had a quarrying boom of the local stone – Holston Formation limestone, otherwise known as East Tennessee Marble. The John J. Craig Company operated several of these quarries and was very successful. To convert his quarried and imported stone into usable building materials, he started the Candoro Marble Company. The facility used water from a nearby creek for a boiler, and used steam-powered cutting and finishing machinery before switching to electricity after the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) started supplying power to the Tennessee Valley area around 1940. The Candoro Marble Company supplied varieties (typically pinks or gray) of East Tennessee Marble for the Smithsonian Museum of History and Technology, the National Gallery of Art, and many government and private buildings around the country, along with the Knoxville Post Office building. After World War II, the use of marble began to decline, due to cost of production. Glass, steel, and concrete were much more cost effective until the advent of industrial diamonds helped to make stone more competitively priced again. These new diamond tools made cutting stone much faster, more cost effective, and thinner material (think 12 x 12 x 3/8 tiles) was now possible. Ultimately, the Candoro Marble Company didn’t keep up with the new diamond and equipment technologies and closed their doors in 1982
See the full article from the archives of the Slippery Rock Gazette.
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By Rick Stimac, BB Industries President/CEO
We have so much going on at BB Industries and Slippery Rock Gazette! As far as Slippery Rock Gazette goes, we have had our best advertising year to date, adding more online advertising, a monthly eblast and reaching more than 12,000 stone fabricators per month with some of the best industry stories out there! Be sure to share your story ideas with us and don’t miss out on our new advertising opportunities. Make sure you read SRG to get the latest on shop talk, education, product news and even a few laughs at our comics and quirky stories. The biggest BBI news is that we opened a large fulfillment center in Salt Lake City to better serve the 13 Western States with guaranteed 2-day or less delivery.
With these two large fulfillment centers, we can ship anything from our 11,000 SKUs to customers in two days, across the entire country, supported by the industry's only 30-day money-back guarantee. Some of the big delivery services are experiencing delays of up to six days with the increased demand for direct shipping, and BBI wants to ensure that delivery expectations are being met, regardless of the current environment. We consulted with FedEx and UPS and the consensus was that a Salt Lake location will provide the level of service that BBI customers expect, with closer proximity to many of our Western customers.
As we continue to grow and invest, having the right data and strategic direction is extremely important. We have hired a strategic analyst who will help analyze our existing data, studying patterns and opportunities, considering both internal and external factors to make the most strategic decisions for our growth. All these improvements benefit our valued customer partners. We are using the resources from our unprecedented 2020 growth to expand our fulfillment services to ensure customer delight. This investment also shows our commitment to the stone industry and to our vendors and customers, and the fact that we want to provide the highest levels of service in all areas.
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