Dulce Reyes was only 8 months old when her father, Oscar Reyes, left Guatemala for the United States.
“The first time I got to see my father again, from what I was told, was when I was 2 years old,” Dulce says. “He was trying to make a living over here and he always told me: The reason he has everything is because of me.”
Oscar is the owner of Mamaroneck-based Westchester Granite Inc., The Marble and Granite Works Co. He became involved with the business — which his brother started — in 1990 shortly after emigrating from Guatemala, his native country. Though Oscar specializes in custom stone design, fabrication, installation and maintenance, the heart of his business lies in his close relationships.
“The idea was to make a difference in how we approach people, because there’s a lot of competition out there,” Oscar says. “I realized that the people who interact with the customers are the employees. In our case, I wanted the customers to talk with the people who actually take the orders and put their hands on the product.”
While he certainly has assembled a strong team, Reyes himself encapsulates his company’s strengths through his own approach. A recent client, who worked with Reyes on a large antique kitchen island, was more than impressed with him. He arrived not only on time but early. She wasn’t directed to his showroom but rather he brought the samples to her. And those were not only what was requested but additional samples he had researched and thought might work. He was able to explain the strengths of each and help the client with her decision. Throughout the process he was easily reachable, responsive and perhaps best of all, finished the work in time and on budget. Add it up and you get a singular experience, one that not many homeowners can say they’ve enjoyed.
“We try to put our best (effort) toward every job,” he says. “Of course, it got us our name.”
FROM THE GROUND UP
“We started in a little garage in Tarrytown,” Oscar says. “And then we moved to another garage in White Plains and then we rented this place. We’ve been here quite a while now.”
Oscar learned the design trade from his brother. In Guatemala, he had been a teacher in a trade school, specializing in electrical work and carpentry. But after Dulce’s birth, he sought a higher income, prompting the move to the United States.
A few years later, during the early growth of Westchester Granite, Oscar needed a way to connect with the public. With the help of 4-year-old Dulce, Oscar delivered fliers door-to-door, advertising his business for the first and only time.
“I remember he had neon fliers,” says Dulce, who now serves as a company spokeswoman.
On the fliers were Oscar’s drawings of The Flintstones, characters from the popular 1960s TV cartoon series about a “modern Stone Age family.”
Westchester Granite has since relied on word-of-mouth for referrals, no longer requiring Fred and Wilma’s services.
“People who are pleased with what we did recommend us to the next person,” Oscar says. “The best part is when the job is complete and it looks good.”
“And the customer’s happy,” Dulce says, finishing her father’s sentence.
“Every job is important and we try to always give special attention,” Oscar says. “And we try to make it happen in a short time.”
Westchester Granite has designed projects for noteworthy people and companies, including Martha Stewart’s interior design team, the onetime Hertz headquarters when it was located in Park Ridge, N.J., and musician Antony Hegarty, along with many private residences.
Oscar and Dulce recall some of these clients.
“I think 10 years ago or so, there were some black tables brought to my father that were completely
broken in half,” Dulce says. “And one of our skilled workers who unfortunately no longer works with us did these tables for a woman. Come to find out, this woman worked for Martha Stewart and these tables were in the Martha Stewart magazine.”
“We just did a table for a lady that flew here from Italy. I don’t know how that happened,” Oscar says with a smile.
“I guess she’s a designer like my father, who goes above and beyond for the customers,” Dulce says. “She flew here to New York and worked with him to make sure her table was well done.”
According to Oscar, approximately 80 percent of the business consists of designing kitchen countertops, mostly in granite and marble with a recent spike in quartz, though there are myriad options.
Alice Cummings, owner of AKC Interiors in Greenwich, is one of Oscar’s longtime clients. An 18-year Greenwich resident, Cummings was recently seeking a new kitchen design that still maintained the original architecture of her magnificent home.
“I was looking for a space that would work for not only my family but also for catering, which I do a lot,” Cummings says. “I think the layout is successfully accomplishing my initial goal of an intimate space that works well for family and catering.”
In addition to kitchen countertops, Westchester Granite also designs bathrooms and vanities, fireplace surroundings, bathtubs and Jacuzzi decks, wall and floor coverings, stone tables, windows, showers, door sills and saddles and barbecue tops. The company typically completes about three kitchen countertops per week, along with a handful of vanity tops and bathrooms.
“My favorite part is always the end of it,” Oscar says. “Leaving a product, leaving a happy customer and leaving something that’s going to last longer than us.”
A FAMILY MAN
“I work for my father,” Dulce says with a smile.
“Yes, she’s the secretary,” Oscar says.
Under his wing for many years, Dulce, a full-time college student, has dreams of expanding the business.
“I always want to do more,” she says. “Hopefully, future-wise we can grow to the point where we can land bigger jobs and not just work with customers one-on-one but with high-end designers who want to design for buildings.”
She’d also like to expand the fabrication-only business into both an importing and fabrication business.
“My father has been the breadwinner of the family and he has definitely gone above and beyond, not just in his business, but also with his family,” she says. “He’s putting my sister and me through college. He’s doing the best he can, because he knows how important it is for us to achieve something better. He basically gave us the start to a better life. You know how they say, ‘The American Dream?’ Well, I feel like we’ve been living it. Because of my father, we have lived a wonderful, privileged life.”
Oscar and Dulce exchange a smile.
“That’s what I think his passion is,” Dulce says, “to wake up every single day and please these customers and make sure that we are OK.”
Westchester Granite Inc. is at 332 Center Ave., Mamaroneck. To contact Oscar, call 914-777-0370 or email email@example.com.