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Executive starts 2nd career in stone


Bob McCarthy

Stone and tile mechanic, owner

PetraFab in Baltimore

Age --49

Years on the job --One

Salary --$30,000

The definition of a stone and tile mechanic --"It's like a carpenter, a master carpenter, only the work is in stone and not wood." The tools are also diamond grinders instead of steel blades. His business cuts stone and tile for various uses, including kitchen countertops, bathrooms, floors and walls. They work with a variety of materials, including marble, granite, slate and Silestone, a synthetic material.

Experience --Having done some work as a homeowner and right out of college, the job is new. "I came from being a [vice president] of sales for a $50 million business [municipal water treatment equipment] to starting PetraFab."

On starting a business --"I realized that the 401(k) was not going to support my family in the long term. Building equity was the only way. Post 9-11 travel became impossible and I had to go to three cities per week." The market was in need of good stone mechanics. "[The industry] is growing at 2 percent per year and the market is under served. It's difficult to find good stone and tile mechanics to do residential work."

The good --No conference calls, no travel, more time with family, "and I can pick any 90 hours per week to work." Plus, the art of the finished project. "You can't get that with paperwork."

The bad --Schedules. "Having all the material, people, places, plans, getting everything that is supposed to happen to actually happen. Big businesses have teams for that. With a small business you do it all yourself."

Training --"I am currently being trained by my employees." He has hired skilled professionals who he says are masters at their art.

Typical day --Wakes up at 5:30 a.m. and gets to work at 6:15. Morning is spent sending crews to sites for installations and polishing. Afternoons are spent organizing for the next day, buying materials and running errands. He spends the evenings getting quotes for clients. "My day is done by 9 p.m."

Philosophy --"You do it until you do it right. If you keep that up -- and I have the guys who can do it right -- then you'll be all right."

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