For this edition, we sat down with J.R. Mariano, owner of Mariano Development and Construction and Jamie’s Kitchen Cabinets in Rosemead, CA. Mariano is a Class B General Contractor certified with the California Contractors State License Board (CSLB), as well as an EPA-certified remodeler.
How did you first get involved in the tile industry?
Mariano: My older brothers were architects and designers so I grew up in a creative family. The only difference was that I was good at building things, so I naturally gravitated towards construction and physical labor. I’ve always been hands-on with projects since a very young age and had a knack for fixing things around the house. The tile industry is of course an integral part of construction and has been an important part of my business.
What were some reasons for starting your own business?
Mariano: The primary reason of starting a business was to have control of my own schedule and allow me enough flexibility to spend time with my family. Also, the earning potential of owning your own business is limitless. The more time and effort you put in, the more business and income you are able to earn.
Has the tile industry changed much since you first started?
Mariano: Absolutely, the tile industry has changed. Natural stone products such as travertine, marble and limestone were the trend when I first started in this business over 10 years ago. Today’s materials have significantly evolved to mimic the look of natural stone with the durability and consistency of a non-porous, longer-lasting surface, such as porcelain. Secondly, the sizes of tile have increased dramatically. These days, we work with large-format tiles that are four to five times the size of the tiles we used to work with, and which only require a few pieces to cover an entire room. Lastly, grout spacing has changed and reduced to almost non-existent lines and sometimes don’t require the use of spacers. All of these reasons tie to the fact that more clients want a cleaner, more refined look and less maintenance when it comes to tiling.
Is there a particular job you’ve completed that stands out? Why?
Mariano: All of the jobs we work on are unique in the design and building aspect, since each client has their own ideas of how they envision the end product. To me, each of our projects stands out in their own unique way, as we work on so many different styles of properties in Los Angeles. Our designs always complement and are consistent to the architecture of the home.
What are some common issues you have to deal with on the jobsite? How do you overcome them?
Mariano: Once demolition begins and you are able to expose what is beneath the surface, issues such as mold, termites, wood rot, water damage, dated framing, structural issues, etc., are common discoveries, especially in older homes. Before our projects begin, we always take the time to educate our customers as to the potential issues that may be discovered during demolition. The sooner we can address those issues and find a solution, the sooner we can move on and complete the project.
What are some steps you take to educate your customers about their tile installation before you begin?
Mariano: We explain that tiling is a multi-stage process. A lot of care and attention to detail is taken during preparation and moisture control, especially in wet areas. I cannot stress enough that longevity is key when it comes to construction. The more time we take to properly prepare the surface for tiling, the better the outcome is.
If you could lend any advice to professionals just beginning their careers, what would it be?
Mariano: Doing this as long as I have, my advice would be to focus on honing your craft and perfecting it to a T. Always use the best construction materials, as they do make a difference. Invest your money in good tools, as these tools give you better precision. Detail, precision and scale is everything, and this shows in the finished product. Most importantly, treat your colleagues and employees with the utmost respect and gratitude, as construction is a team effort. If everyone is moving forward and working together, success usually takes care of itself.
If you or anyone you know is interested in being featured in a future edition of the “Contractor Spotlight,” please email Heather Fiore at email@example.com.