Feature Employee: Karen Smith

This month, CUMAR highlights the talented Karen Smith as the featured employee. Karen has worn many hats at CUMAR, and because of that, Karen has been able to learn many scopes of the business. She credits each role as an asset to her career, which has allowed her to personally and professionally grow.

 

FEATURE EMPLOYEE: KAREN

IMG_7526

Stone Specialist, Karen Smith has been an employee at Cumar Marble & Granite since 2011. Since joining the team, Karen has moved up the chain of command, starting as a receptionist then moving to administrative sales and project manager, and now to her current role as inside sales associate. In her free time, Karen is a wife and mother of three, and enjoys traveling with her family, specifically to the Caribbean.

 

 

 

 

A PERSONAL TOUCH

When I am introduced to a new project, I always seem to take a personal approach. I envision myself as the homeowner, and try my best to get a grasp on what is truly important to them. It helps when the client opens up and shares their likes, dislikes and what they ideally envision for their space. Then I can put myself in their shoes and guide them in the best direction. In a way, I act as an interior designer. While, it might not be creating the whole space, stone is a key element in structuring that particular room.

There are so many beautiful stones that Cumar has to offer. The Taj Mahal Quartzite is one stone I continue to fall in love with. I personally lean towards classic materials, rather then what’s trendy. I find that classic materials end up being something that lasts, something that rooms can be designed around, and then re-designed around.

I’ve completed several kitchen projects where the Taj Mahal has been used all with different styles, ranging from Contemporary to Traditional. One of my favorite projects was for a lovely couple from Cambridge. The client had brought their favorite ideas and visions to Cumar. Throughout each meeting we were able to combine our thoughts and visions together. Their choices of color, pattern, and texture, led us to build a beautiful masterpiece. We were able to create a harmonized home using stone that married each room together. Of course, they also fell in love with the Taj Mahal for their kitchen.

Be on the lookout for more details and photos of this exceptional project as it develops!

 

KAREN’S FAVORITE STONE: TAJ MAHAL QUARTZITE

STONE

 

Taj Mahal Quartzite, from Bazil, resembles the Italian Calacatta marbles in appearance, but is much more durable. Ideally used for Kitchen countertops, the Taj Mahal does not have the scratching or etching issues experienced with Marble.

Feature Employee: Stephanie O’Brien

Happy 2016 from everyone here at Cumar Marble & Granite! We are so excited to share more of our expertise with you this year, starting with a profile on another of our rock stars—Stephanie O’Brien. Thanks for kicking off 2016 in style with us!

 

Feature Employee: Stephanie

Stone Design Specialist Stephanie O'Brien of Cumar Marble and Granite.

 

 

Stone Specialist and Sales Associate Stephanie has been at Cumar Marble & Granite for three years, making her the rookie of our seasoned sales team. As a neophyte in the stone industry, Stephanie came to Cumar with a thirst for knowledge, keen to soak up the expertise of Ivo Cubi and all those who make Cumar the authority on stone in the New England area. Throughout her exciting journey, she sees each year, each project, and each day as a fresh learning experience—with her expanding expertise as proof.

 

 

 

 

Teamwork in the Creative Process

Outside of Cumar’s walls, I fill my time with music, movies, dance, travel, and relaxing with my wonderful family, including a niece and nephew that light up my world. My father’s unshakeable loyalty to the New England Patriots made me a diehard fan; football is my greatest passion, and I never miss a game! I follow other Boston sports just as enthusiastically, and I am always eager to learn more about the games. My adoration of sports stems from the fact that teamwork is paramount; there are never any guarantees, and when each second counts, only a full team effort leads to success.

It’s a lesson that I carry with me at Cumar, where team effort is equally important on each and every project we encounter. In a recent project, I worked closely with an interior designer who was building her own new home that incorporated natural stone in the design plan. From the first handshake, I knew this project would be both fun and fulfilling. The client’s design vision—from awe-inspiring slab walls in the shower to an eye-catching kitchen backsplash—was fresh and dynamic.

With this thoughtful plan in mind, our design, fabrication, and installation teams worked tirelessly to bring the designer’s stunning vision to life. Working with such a closely-involved client was an enormous pleasure, resulting in an unforgettable project that reflects the striking design and collaborative spirit instrumental in its creation.

Be on the lookout for more details and photos of this exceptional project as it develops!

 

Stephanie’s Favorite Stone: Cristallo

Favorite Stone - Cristallo

 

My favorite stone from our extensive collection is “Cristallo,” a quartzite material that can be used for kitchens, bathrooms, and fireplaces. What makes this stone so unique is that it is the only natural stone besides onyx that is translucent, which gives it a depth and richness second to none. As you can see in these photos, it almost has a spider-web quality to it. At the same time, the distinctive blend of opaque and translucent recalls the appearance of frozen water. It truly captures all the elements of natural quartz—eye-catching details that come together to create something of unmatched beauty.

Favorite Stone - Cristallo, detail

The Potter Estate Undergoes A Metamorphosis

Exciting things have been happening on the grounds of the Jackson-Walnut Park Schools in Newton! Through a month-long Show House event hosted by the Junior League of Boston, The Potter Estate undergoes a metamorphosis; while preserving the charm of this 1867 property, distinguished local design firms unite to re-design 36 areas – volunteering their time and resources toward this project.

The goal of this event has been to give local designers and landscapers the ability to showcase their creativity and innovation. At the core of this effort, the Junior League raises funds for its important mission of “promoting voluntarism, developing the potential of women and improving communities through the effective action and leadership of trained volunteers.”

Our stone design specialist and founder of the mentoring organization, Over My Shoulder Foundation, attended the event. Dawn had this to say: “Working with the energetic design community in New England is exhilarating. Each room in the show house makes an impression that is hard to forget.  It’s an honor to work with the designers.”

We would like to congratulate the participating designers whom we also have had the pleasure to collaborate with over the years:

Gerald Pomeroy / Gerald Pomeroy Design Group

Frank D. Hodge / F.D. Hodge Interiors

Stephanie Rossi / Spazio Rosso, Inc.

Kate Maloney Albiani / Kate Maloney Interior Design

Diana Kiker and Janet Heyde / Sticks & Stones

Michael Carter / Carter Dayton Home, Carter and Company (Winner of The Junior League of Boston Designers’ Pineapple Award. This prize recognizes “accomplished interior designs who demonstrate utmost creativity and dedication to their art as well as to the mission of the Junior League of Boston.”)

Read more here!

CUMAR CELEBRATES 20TH ANNIVERSARY

Angelo "Ivo" Cubi with his daughter, Carlotta Cubi

Patti Austin, Grammy winner and co-founder of the Over My Shoulder Foundation, honored with the 2010 inaugural MIDDIE Award, designed by Cumar

In the stone world, mentoring is the only way that the special craftsmanship has been able to live on from generation to generation. Growing up as the daughter of a 7th generation stone craftsman has been very inspiring. The passion that my father, Ivo Cubi, exudes everyday has brought him international recognition. In our house, a highlighter and a set of architectural blue prints were how we practiced coloring within the lines. No coloring books, just plans of hotel lobbies, elaborate offices, or luxury residences. When I joined the family business, it became obvious that my dad was mentoring me all along. To you [my father] Ivo, I say thank you from me, the entire team at Cumar, and the countless number of other people in the industry you have mentored over the years.  

Lastly I would like to thank Cumar mentee Patti Austin and Cumar employee Dawn Carroll for starting the Over My Shoulder Foundation and inspiring the MIDDIE-Mentors in Design awards– We are honored to be part of the Award that is hosted by Design New England magazine. Patti was given the 2010 inaugural MIDDIE award and we welcome you into the design industry. We wish you all the best with your transition from mentor in the music world to mentee in the design world.”  Carlotta Cubi

A SPECIAL RECOUNT OF A VISIT TO THE QUARRIES IN IRELAND

In the spirit of St. Patrick’s Day, we would like to share an article we found by our stone designer, Dawn, which described her travels to the quarries in Ireland. On this holiday, we would like to thank Irish Natural Stone especially, for working with us to bring valuable Irish limestone into the hands of an even larger community.

By: Dawn Carroll

A few years ago I was talking with an old friend who asked if I missed my exciting life back in Los Angeles. He was inviting me to a fancy Tinsel Town event, and was confused when I declined, explaining that I was going to a stone show. Silent for just a minute, he replied, “I didn’t know they were touring.” I shook my head and laughed aloud. “No, not a Stone’s show! Stone. As in marble and granite!” Silently, we both wondered if I had committed career suicide. After all, what the heck was I doing cutting and fabricating natural stone instead of putting together a world tour for the Rolling Stones? Once upon a time, I was a player in the music management business. But that was then, and this is now. I have since become one of the few women working in the world of stone fabrication … a top-notch rock chick! Like the music business, the rock business can also be colorful, dramatic, shocking and challenging!

The 13th century Church of St. John the Baptist, built by Goban Saor for St. Colman at Kilmacduagh, Gort.

In a few short years, I have completed several thousand projects with granite and marble. The stone business, espe­cially when I began working, was a funky place for a little Irish girl, and the ques­tion haunted me: Had I found my career in the stone industry or had it found me? And the truth was that there is no easy explanation as to how I ended up in this business. I left a cushy corporate position in a beautiful, air-conditioned Hollywood office, and now I was lugging chunks of rock around the streets of Boston; rain, sun, sleet or snow … and loving it! You have to love this industry because it exposes raw nerves and creates some of the highest tension I have ever en­countered. I often joke that the building industry elicits more drama than all of Hollywood. Dealing with a product that is millions of years old, and has had more cosmetic surgery than Michael Jackson, proves that you are hardly ever in complete control. Products of Mother Nature can be most temperamental; almost as impractical as a family that has been living together in a crowded basement with ten kids, two dogs, eight cats and no sink for 11 months 12 days, 18 hours and 45 long hard seconds. As I said, you have to love this industry or you will die an early death!

One day an answer presented itself, and finally satisfied my need to know. The secret was revealed. It was out and it was true! Stone was in my blood, and in my hands was a piece of the earth belong­ing to my Irish ancestors. The bearer of such a glorious gift was a man named Bob Spencer who was introducing me to a stunning new stone from Ireland. Ask any designer, especially a stone designer, how exciting it is when new stone arrives. Simply stated: It rocks our world!

Now, this industry has long been ruled by ego-maniacal Italians who adore calling themselves “The Masters.” And yet here it was, finally, my great Irish stone relief! Rock, of all things, offered a nostalgic glimpse of Ireland. Yes, it took a rock to make my history come alive, and it had arrived convenient­ly on my New England shoreline. I can only describe the sensations as euphoric when I was told that not only was this stone from Ireland, but that it came from my ancestor’s backyard! This information was revealed at a time when I needed it most. Long overdue was a quick, sharp jab at the Italian egos I had been working among. Sporting an ear-to-ear grin, I slid into The Master’s office and smiled the “undisputed leader smirk.” Holding out the century’s old object I blurted: “Class never goes out of style.” This magnificent Irish limestone forever altered a long-held but fraudulent per­ception, and finally separated fact from fiction: Italians were not the only Masters in the stone industry.

This beautiful Irish Grey Limestone, a fabulous stone for kitchen countertops, is utilized here in the showroom of Dalia Kitchen Design. The stone is not porus, and is well suited for a variety of uses. The showroom is located in the Boston Design Center, on Boston’s harbor front. www.daliakitchendesign.com

When I first learned about Irish limestone, it was when “honed” granite styles were peaking. Honing is when you take a perfectly polished stone and remove the shine. It perplexed me that people want­ed this matte finish. To us, in the early days of stone fabrication, honing a stone was analogous to ruining it, since you were basically scratching the heck out of it. I was bored to death with the trend, and the Irish limestone was the perfect alternative. Bob and I became fast friends.

The popularity of the stone was not only due to its fossil activity, but it was now easy to remind everyone that their kitchen and bathroom counters were millions of years old. This was a point I always made, but one that clients seemed to easily forget. The stone also satisfied the folks who did not like a high shine, but rather enjoyed a durable matte finish.

One day, Bob and his wife Gerry made me an offer I couldn’t refuse. Air Lingus was having a huge off-season promotion, and we were going to Ireland. We would visit their partners’ stone fabrication shop, and tour the quarries and learn more about this amazing stone. After many cans of Guiness, I awoke just in time to see the remains of a castle just outside Shannon along with, perhaps, a waving leprechaun! It was my first trip overseas and I was told that it was rare to land in Ireland during daylight. I will never forget opening my eyes and seeing the ancient ruin just outside my window, surrounded and framed by a million shades of green.

The next day the stone tour began. Stone was everywhere: walls, churches, manors, ruins and countless cottages. Nestled below the beautiful, sweeping paradise of emerald mountains is the sprawling compound that employs a team of experts overflowing with talent and imagination. Inside and around the com­plex you will find an endless supply of creativity and unforgettable uses of natural stone; interior as well as exterior applica­tions. It was easy to see how and why Bob and Gerry had fallen in love with this product and opened their business in the United States.

Pictured here is Gerry O’Donnell (President of INS) and Dawn Carroll, standing in front of the Cliffs of Mohr on a chilly morning. The seas were calm after a week of wind and rain.

For over a week, Francis McCormack and his gracious wife Mary hosted and chauffeured us Americans as we inhaled the gorgeous landscape and traveled the enchanting, prehistoric west coast coun­tryside. They assisted as I purchased my first pair of very unfashionable “Wellies” (knee-high, not thigh-high), army green boots designed to get you around in the muck, while not insulating you from it. Once several hundred feet into the earth you don’t care much about what you’re walking in, since you are so completely mesmerized by what you are seeing. All I could hear myself say was “what the*#&!#!” That deep in the earth there is a certain calm that leaves you breathless; it’s very dangerous and yet tranquil. If you close your eyes you could swear you hear a soft whisper emanating from the walls. The sheerness of the quarry is sensual and sleek, and discreetly you pray to God that you look that good when you are a mil­lion plus years old!

A trip like this can turn your life around and offer that one radiant moment where you can see not only who you are, but why you are and where you came from. For me, standing in the bowels of a stone quarry in the town where my ancestors once lived unleashed new creativity and a fresh perspective on my career. For the first time in my ten years in the stone industry, I heard the pounding surf, felt the sun, tasted the salt and sensed the 400 million years of pressure that was neces­sary to create this magnificent material of mystical Irish charm.

Francis McCormack’s Irish Natural Stone quarry in Ireland.

PATTERSON GROUP GIVES RAVE TESTIMONIAL ON CUMAR MARBLE AND GRANITE

There is no doubt about it, the internet has made life easier for us in so many ways and purchasing product on line is one way but there are many things that the internet cannot bring to you that working one on one with a local company can. As we are all looking for companies who can deliver a professional job at fair prices, I thought I would share as Cumar Marble and Stone performed above and beyond! Cumar Marble and Granite can deliver!

I have worked with Cumar Marble and Stone on several projects over the past years and I recently had the pleasure of working with Dawn Carroll, the expert stone consultant, on a recent project, “The New England Living Show House” in Vermont. I was and still am impressed with Dawn’s knowledge and expertise.

For most projects I work on I go through Cumar’s warehouse and go through slabs and slabs of stone. I was looking for a particular stone that would read “classic beauty”, elegant and without a lot of movement. Dawn knew exactly what to show me showing me two stones and the second one was perfect! I chose a beautiful natural stone, Eremosal, a rare and exotic stone for the bathroom vanity top. It had all the qualities that I wanted and it is truly the most exotic and beautiful stone I have ever used and seen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The staff is phenomenal. From staying late after closing time to show my clients and me stone slabs for projects, to the engineers hand delivering stone samples to me to delivering my finished pieces in a timely manner and ahead of schedule!

So, I will still purchase my office supplies online, but when it comes to delivering a product which needs the professional care of people who know what they are doing, and someone who will listen to my needs, I will head to Cumar Marble and Granite.

Thank you to the entire team at Cumar Marble and Granite for helping me with a successful project and doing a great job because you also make it easy for me!

Eileen Patterson
Patterson Group
Boston Design Center
1 Design Center Place | Suite 324
Boston, MA 02210