by Peter J. Marcucci

Photos Courtesy Prestige Marble & Granite

Nine years before opening the doors to Prestige Marble & Granite, Aaron Cook began fabricating stone in Colorado, to not only put food on the table, but to feed his pending rodeo bull riding career. Now if you’ve ever watched professional bull riding (PBR), like me, you’ve definitely cringed when watching the pain on riders faces while walking or limping away from a hard landing, or being kicked by a raging bull. “It’s a tough sport that injures its participants for life,“ recalled Aaron.                

“My rodeo traveling partner’s family had a granite fabrication company just outside of Denver, Colorado, and told me I could have a job there. I didn’t even know what granite was used for back then, but in order to support my bull riding, I took the job in 1997. Over the years, I had dislocated my shoulders and knees, shattered my face, busted my hands, and was knocked silly a few times.” Aaron did get to travel out west, have fun and meet lots of people, but after too many injuries, he realized that very few bull riders make it to the top and earn a good living. “Bull riding aged me really quick, but looking back, I wouldn’t trade it for anything! I learned a lot about life in general, and it’s part of who I am.” 

Aaron’s next stop would be Nashville, Tennessee, in 2001. After a brief and disappointing stint with a local stone fabrication company, he bought a few thousand dollars worth of basic hand tools, and began fabricating at his house. Again, not the easiest way to earn a living, but after bull riding, anything is easier, he continued. “In the beginning, I was by myself and had to get a neighbor to come over and help me flip countertops over or move slabs.”    

Full slab Crystallo quartzite island is template-fitted to the custom base.

Above: Full slab Crystallo quartzite island is template-fitted to the custom base.

Below: Part of the Prestige Crew outside the main shop and showroom.

Part of the Prestige Crew outside the main shop and showroom. 
Aaron and Erin Cook

Aaron and Erin Cook

Build It and They Will Come 

By 2006, business was good, and Aaron’s shop outside his backdoor was replaced with a 10,000 square foot shop with a front door for walk-ins. Located in Columbia, Tennessee, the new shop would offer expansion for decades to come, or so he thought, said Aaron. “When I moved in, I thought there’s no way we would ever outgrow it, but we did.” The shop was expanded another 10,000 square feet for indoor slab display, and currently holds a BACA Systems dual table Robo Sawjet, a BACA Systems Miter X saw, 2-Intermac CNCs, and 2-Montresor edge machines. To facilitate production, both Flexijet and Prodim Proliner lasers are used in the field, while Moraware Systemize software and a Horustone 3-D Iris Scanner with Fusion Drive software help to keep a sharp eye throughout all phases of fabrication. A Gorbel 3-axis overhead crane rounds-out the shop system, making for safe and efficient movement throughout. 

Prestige Marble & Granite is a family run company with Aaron’s son, Caleb, doing the templating and programming, Aaron’s daughter, Peyton, doing the accounting, and Aaron’s new bride, Erin, heading-up the sales portion. Not including Aaron, there are currently 20 team members: 3 in sales, 4 in administration, 3 machine operators, 3 fabricators, and three 2-man install crews. Aaron went on to say, that all team members are highly valued. “My right hand guy has been with me since the shop was at my house, while some others have been here for twelve-plus years. So I’ve been lucky to have a lot of great employees. Without them, Prestige Marble & Granite would not be the success it’s been, or not be here at all. Everyone strives for the highest quality, but if there is something wrong, it’s taken care of, and the customer doesn’t have to worry about it. We are big on quality first, and check everything before it leaves the shop to make sure it’s done right. Everything is cut to fit, so most times our installers only have to put fabricated work in place, and not cut anything in the customer’s house or driveway. I take the pride in that, and that’s another part of what has helped our success.”  

An Outlook of Opportunity and High Expectations

According to Aaron, the sales ratio of quartz, quartzites, marble and granites are fairly even, however, sales of porcelain slabs have grown considerably, he explained. “Porcelain has really taken off here. I’m buying it direct from Italy, and have bought four containers just this year. Quartz sales have slowed down, and porcelain is taking its place.”    

Sales ratio is approximately 60% residential and 40% builders. Word of mouth, a few local cabinet companies, and a good web presence has also played a large role in the company’s growth in its 60-mile service radius. According to Aaron, the Columbia, Tennessee area is a great, but a competitive area to do business. “The market here is very good and not cutthroat. I’ve recently bought three buildings on four acres a quarter-mile away from our current facility. My plan is to add onto one of those buildings, making it 15,000 square feet, and move everything to an all-under-one-roof facility. It will be my dream shop, and laid out and peaked for efficient work flow.” 

Open plan kitchen features a large White Silk quartzite peninsula top.

Above: Open plan kitchen features a large White Silk quartzite peninsula top.

Below: Art Boyd (left) and Aaron Cook (right), on a buying trip in Brazil.

Art Boyd (left) and Aaron Cook (right), on a buying trip in Brazil.

Glitz, Glamour and Dazzle at the Marmo+Mac Verona Stone Fair

If you’re a stone and equipment aficionado (like me), when attending stone shows, especially the Marmo+Mac Verona show, you’re like a kid in a candy shop. It’s like sampling an awesome slice of cake from a specialty baker. All the newest and best materials, supplies and machines are there in one place for you to touch, sample and talk about. All are represented by well-informed men and women, wearing all the latest European fashions. It’s be there, or be square, said Aaron. “It’s the second time I’ve been there, and it’s nothing like I’ve ever seen before. I go to the shows in Vegas and Orlando, which are great shows, but Verona is those shows times ten! It’s a lot to take in, and offers everything from getting stone out of the ground, to putting it in somebody’s house. I mainly go for the stone side of it, and talking to the people I buy materials from, I but also go for the production side, to talk to people who I deal with here in the states. European technology is great, and I feel it’s neck and neck with America’s best.”

Prestige’s Iris scanner facilitates full slab preview and layout.

Above: Prestige’s Iris scanner facilitates full slab preview and layout.


Below, Left: Splendor Gold granite island and matching perimeter countertops. Below, Right: Magma granite tub surround.

Left: Splendor Gold granite island and matching perimeter countertops. Right: Magma granite tub surround.

The Icing on the Cake

If the Marmo+Mac show was a sweet slice of cake, it would be Aaron and Erin’s marriage ceremony performed at the Arabescato Cervaiole Marble Quarry in Monte Altissimo, Italy that’s the icing on top. And yes! It was planned, he explained. “Erin and I had been engaged for over a year, and after going to Italy to the fair last year, this year she mentioned, ‘Wouldn’t it be great to be married in Italy?’ There’s a lot of nice, big churches there, and she wanted to do that, so I got to thinking, how cool it would be to get married in a quarry! I mean after all, we are in the stone business! It’s our lives! So luckily, I had a great connection with a guy who works for the Monte Altissimo Marble Quarry, and he pretty much set it up. What’s interesting is that about fifteen years ago, I got a poster of pictures from the Marble Institute of America. One picture that stood out was called “The Cathedral,” and we were lucky enough to have gotten married under it. Furthermore, amazingly, after fifteen years, it still looks exactly like that picture! Also, another cool thing is that the quarry is over 200 years old, and we were the only people to ever get married in it!”

Prestige Marble & Granite is a member of Stone Fabricators Alliance, Natural Stone Institute and Better Business Bureau and is a longtime BB Industries customer. 

Aaron and company deserve honorable mention for donating materials and labor to benefit the Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt in Nashville, Tennessee, and also donating the labor to help build a Gary Sinise Foundation home for recipient, Bryan Anderson. 

Everyone at BB Industries and the Slippery Rock Gazette would like to wish Aaron and Erin congratulations on their wedding and to a long, prosperous and healthy life together. Cheers!

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