By Steve Pooler| June 5th, 2018
Most casual terrazzo aficionados know that the technique originated in Venice roughly 500 years ago; that it exploded in popularity in the United States during the first third of the 20th Century; that the discovery of epoxy as an alternative to cement led to its “rediscovery” in the 1970s; and that it’s currently a favorite choice for designers, architects, and contractors alike.
What this truncated narrative overlooks, however, is the incredible contributions made by the Italian immigrants from the Friuli region where terrazzo had originated and been honed to equal parts art form and construction technique. Terrazzeri, they were called, and they had preciously guarded the secrets of their trade through the centuries. When the first terrazzo installation was performed in New York City at one of the Vanderbilt’s Fifth Avenue mansions in 1890, it was Italian craftsmen tasked with creating the terrazzo floors found throughout the massive home.
Mosaic & Tile Company – Old World Beginnings Built on Craftsmanship & Apprenticeship
It was on this centuries-old tradition of knowledge and expertise being passed down from father to son that Louisville-based Rosa Mosaic & Tile Company was founded. Born in Trieste, Italy, Romano Rosa immigrated to the United States in 1894, moving from Buffalo to Louisville in 1905. In 1909, he and brother Keno founded American Mosaic & Tile Company and they were soon joined by kinsman Louis Rosa. Louis’ precise relations to the brothers isn’t clear (probably a cousin), but chances are good that the two could have used all the Old World-skills and know-how they could assemble. That’s because the dawning of the 20th century up until the Great Depression encompassed two boom times for terrazzo: the Gilded Age and the Roaring Twenties. Most of the company’s early work was on residential projects, and Louisville proved to be a fertile area for expensive and intricate terrazzo installations, some of which were undoubtedly financed by the money tossed around by high-level bootleggers drawn to the city’s distilleries during Prohibition despite the fact they were shuttered. In 1937, Romano sold his interest in American Mosaic and with Louis incorporated Rosa Mosaic & Tile, and in 1950 gave another Italian immigrant, John Cristofoli, the opportunity to apprentice in the terrazzo and tile trades. Cristofoli was a natural, passionate about the craft and the business, and after 30 years of working for the company he seized the opportunity in 1981 to purchase it from Louis Rosa’s nephew, who had inherited it following the founder’s passing in the early 1970s. (You can get an idea of Cristofoli’s respect for the man who helped him get started in terrazzo by the fact that he named one of his sons Louis.)
Rosa Mosaic & Tile – Continuing a Family Tradition
By 1994, Rosa Mosaic & Tile Company had nearly 60 years of terrazzo experience to its credit, not counting the time that its founders had spent working as American Mosaic and had an outstanding reputation for quality work. That was the year that Cristofoli decided to ask his daughter, Anna Tatman, to join the company. At first blush, Tatman’s previous experience as a tax attorney might not seem to have been the background for a terrazzo contracting company. But her stints at GE Capital and Coopers & Lybrand had taught her broad-based skills applicable to any enterprise—managing project-based work, researching market conditions to find business opportunities, improving internal efficiency through process identification and mapping, and assembling teams to leverage the strengths of its members—and she accepted her father’s offer.
Today, Tatman is president of Rosa Mosaic and partners with her brother John in running the business, while brother Louis is an operations manager for Vesta Tile, a separate entity that specializes in commercial tile installations—and Rosa Mosaic is, just as when it was founded, a family business. Much like a well-balanced blend of aggregates in a terrazzo installation, the combination of Tatman’s business acumen and her brothers’ hands-on terrazzo knowledge has been an undisputed formula for success. Five years after acceding to her father’s request to join the team (“I want to retire someday,” he told her, “so if you’re interested in working at Rosa Mosaic, it’s now or never”), the company earned the Job of the Year award from the National Terrazzo and Mosaic Association (NTMA) for its work on the Kentucky International Convention Center in Louisville, an honor it garnered once again in 2011 for its four-color terrazzo installation at the KFC Yum! Center, also in its hometown. In between, the company won several major design awards, some from the NTMA, others from organizations such as the International Masonry Institute and Interior Design magazine.
Arim Inc. – Aggregate Chip Supplier for NTMA Honor Award Terrazzo Installations
Its most recent honor was for another hometown project, one that in fact had the potential to leave an impact on hundreds of thousands of visitors to the city: the Louisville International Airport renovation, for which Rosa Mosaic earned a 2018 NTMA Honor Award for its decorative—and narrative—terrazzo design. Described by one local media outlet as arguably the “crown jewel” of the airport’s renovation, the terrazzo flooring uses iconic images associated with Louisville’s heritage—bourbon barrels, baseball bats, jockey helmets, and even the mythical horse Pegasus—to encapsulate the city’s rich history and charms.
Tatman says the company was confident at the outset because terrazzo was the obvious choice for the location. “Considering the thousands of people who walk through the airport daily and all the germs, spilled drinks, dropped food, and so on that entails, terrazzo was the perfect choice,” she says. “It lasts for decades, it’s stain resistant, easy to keep clean, and is definitely not germ-friendly. And with terrazzo you can create intricate designs that bring a warm, inviting atmosphere to the bustle of the airport.”
Once underway, Tatman said the installation ran into the problem faced by other terrazzo contractors doing projects at airports: the terminals all stayed open throughout the process, which mean Rosa’s workers were shunted behind divider walls to lessen the distraction on travelers. Working with what amounted to limited vision, she says, was not easy, because “temporary partition walls block off sections of the design being poured, and some sections of design would be installed weeks before the others. But our terrazzo mechanics were able to keep the process going even without a visual reference of the full design concept—and we were truly amazed at the results when we finally removed the walls and saw the full scope and majesty of what we’d installed.”
For the aggregates used on this award-winning installation, Rosa Mosaic turned to Arim Inc.., a New Jersey-based manufacturer and retailer of aggregates that Tatman had discovered in 2010 at the NTMA Technical Seminar. “We were immediately drawn to their extensive inventory of marble and glass chips,” recounts Tatman. “After the seminar, [Arim owner] Nilgun Bandari came to visit our shop with samples and a price list, and we’ve been working with Arim ever since. Arim Inc. has the most durable and highest-quality marble—New Pure White is one of our favorites—and they inventory a vast selection of glass and recycled aggregates. We love working with Arim, and especially look forward to collaborating with them on another award-winning project in the future.”
Residential Terrazzo Resurgence Taking Place in Countertops and Furnishings
And as terrazzo becomes an increasingly popular choice not only for flooring but also for other construction components such as staircases, steps, and counters that can be pre-cast to satisfy mass-market demand, the chances get better every day that more of those award-winning installations could be for residential projects, hearkening back to Rosa Mosaic’s beginnings. For Tatman, it would be a dream come true. “Terrazzo flooring will probably always be in demand for large commercial settings,” she says, “but I would love to see terrazzo become more popular in residential markets in the coming years. Terrazzo was once a highly favored finish in homes, but it fell to the wayside during the housing boom after World War II. Terrazzo has a reputation for being expensive, but if you consider the high cost of a marble floor, terrazzo is comparatively affordable.” But how long will it be before this news reaches enough consumers to create a tipping point? “There isn’t much demand for terrazzo floors in residential settings, and there are very few terrazzo contractors who install small or mid-range residential projects,” Tatman notes. “That being said, I see terrazzo already making a comeback in the form of countertops and furnishings. We recently installed a beautiful terrazzo top on a large shoe rack in a master suite closet. Hopefully in three years, it won’t be uncommon to see terrazzo in houses across the United States.”
By Nilgun Bandari| May 28th, 2018
As we move into the second half of 2018, the buzz surrounding terrazzo seems to have outstripped the hopes of even its most ardent fans, advocates, and supporters—but perhaps not in the way they envisioned.
Somewhere along the way, “terrazzo” has taken on an alter ego: The word that has always been used for a flooring or technique—or even as a synonym to encompass the aggregate materials used for those processes—has morphed into an adjective used to describe multiple objects that have the appearance of terrazzo. Of course, since anyone familiar with terrazzo is aware it can be used to create everything from abstract patterns to highly detailed, realistic imagery, perhaps it would be better to call it “generic terrazzo”—myriad shapes of various colors and sizes set upon a solid color (or not) background.
Recently we linked to an article pointing out how “terrazzo” has lifted itself off the floor to become a design style, which means any item that can be adorned with some type of finish or covering can take on the appearance. From pencils to porcelain, wallpaper to fabrics, and furniture to “design objects,” the sight of what we’re calling generic terrazzo (imagine a mosaic whose pieces have been distanced from one another and then shuffled around) is becoming increasingly ubiquitous.
What no one is pausing to consider, however, is precisely why this particular motif has seized the collective imagination of everyone from haute-couture salon owners to manufacturers of No. 2 pencils.
As a trend-watcher and design maven, writer Dominic Lutyens—whose articles have appeared in publications as diverse as the Financial Times to Vogue, Design Week, and Elle Decoration—pointed out the emergence of terrazzo-like designs a year-and-a-half ago, but couldn’t quite nail down the ultimate cause for the trend. Writing in the Evening Standard in 2016, Lutyens mused that “Designers and homeware brands are rebelling against all things orderly and symmetrical, letting rip with spontaneous, painterly effects…Designers and architects now seem fascinated by the unpredictable, random patterns of terrazzo and terrazzo-like surfaces.”
But the move toward terrazzo-like patterns and designs would have died on the vine if not for one simple fact: Its amorphous qualities mean it “works” in a lot of different places employing a great many styles. Whether it’s a retro-1950s kitchen, a 1960s modernist den, a dazzling dayglo Memphis Group bedroom from the mid-1980s, or a minimalist sunroom designed in the 1990s, an accessory or object finished with a generic terrazzo will fit in as naturally as if it was made at the same time as the fins on the oven. Will the passion for terrazzo-style designs help fuel even more growth in the already healthy market of terrazzo flooring and finishing? There’s every reason to believe it will, but the terrazzo community probably doesn’t have all that much to worry about, for one simple reason: Something that only looks like terrazzo doesn’t give you the benefits—economic, hygienic, and aesthetic—of the real thing. And if you’re not familiar with terrazzo’s superior qualities over all competing materials, it’s high time you read our rundown on why terrazzo is naturally the best choice for architects, designers, and contractors.
By Steve Pooler| June 5th, 2018
There are few elements in design that are more subjective—or more important—than the use of color. Color creates the mood of a project. Every color says something different, and combinations can alter that impression further. A color that can evoke one reaction in one person may evoke the opposite reaction in another. For terrazzo contractors whose reputations depend not only on the quality of their installation but also the quality of the components, being able to see the rainbow-like array of Arim Inc..’s aggregates made it much easier to make a call and place a large order. Indeed, the company’s samples kit—which features a breathtaking 56 samples of marble, glass, mother-of-pearl, and crushed stone aggregates, as well as garden rocks—is considered the industry standard.
Just ask David Roberson, CEO of the David Allen Company in Raleigh, NC. “Arim’s samples kit is without question the finest in the industry,” says Roberson. “It gives you an excellent idea of just how broad a color palette their aggregates can create, which is pretty much unrivaled by other manufacturers and suppliers.”
Roberson first became familiar with Arim, Inc. during a terrazzo installation at a WaWa convenience store in the Northeast in the late 2000s; Arim’s location in New Jersey made it an attractive option because shipping costs are an unavoidable factor in aggregate costs to contractors. The flawless installation using Arim’s aggregates meant he would keep them in mind for future projects, but it was Arim’s samples kit that made him aware that the relatively new company offered aggregates in just about every color imaginable.
And while the issue of color may be a secondary consideration for some terrazzo installations, for others it’s a deal breaker or maker, especially for clients whose logo or emblems are an inextricable part of the corporate or community identity. Consider the case of WaWa: it wound up signing an agreement with Arim Inc.. to provide aggregates for the terrazzo flooring in all its stores based on that samples kit.
A civil engineer and formerly one of the six engineers involved in the JFK Airport American Airlines project, Nilgun Bandari, founder of Arim Inc.. knew firsthand the value of a samples kit. One of her first steps at Arim was to develop a kit that would showcase her high-quality products and be convenient and simple to use by architects, designers, contractors, and epoxy manufacturers. “When we introduced our sample kit,” Bandari says, “it created a real buzz in the industry. All of our customers say it is the best chip kit ever.”
She explained that traditional samples kits consisted of a plastic box with 12-24 compartments. “That simply wasn’t enough, so everyone had multiple individual boxes. Our kit includes our most popular marble, mother of pearl, and glass aggregates carefully organized in a binder which fits easily on a bookshelf which makes it extremely convenient and easy to use.” To ensure the quality and value of the kit, Arim has a full-time employee who only prepares samples kits. “We wanted to make sure that when a customer opens a kit, they have every aggregate they need for whatever they are using it for.”
Industry professionals can request a free sample kit or 5 lb bag of any of Arim’s 112 exceptional aggregates by filling the online request form at www.arimstone.com or by calling 201.645.1814.
By Jeanna White| May 11th, 2018
With the announcement of the National Terrazzo and Mosaic Association’s 2018 Honor Award winners on April 25, 2018, terrazzo aggregate manufacturer and distributor Arim Inc. has found itself once again in the terrazzo spotlight. The New Jersey-based company was an aggregate supplier for four Honor Award Winners, which are selected by a panel of terrazzo experts for their intricacy, beauty, and creativity, bringing the total number of Honor Award winners utilizing Arim Inc.’s aggregates to 13 over the past four years.
The types of buildings where the award-winning terrazzo installations were performed—an airport, museum, school, and a resort hotel—reflect the premium that architects and designers place upon terrazzo’s treasured qualities of longevity and low maintenance costs, as well as its ability to transform functional areas into artistic showcases.
At the Museum of the America Revolution in Philadelphia, a $120-million tribute to the story of our nation’s founding, that opened in April 2017, the terrazzo installation by Yorie Tile & Terrazzo of Allentown, PA almost literally takes center stage: a series of thirteen interlocking circles, each inscribed with the name of one of the original thirteen colonies, form a “Chain of States” that encircles a glass-enclosed copy of the Declaration of Independence. Arim Inc.. was the sole aggregate supplier for Yorie’s on-site terrazzo work, the terrazzo used for the museum’s elliptical staircase was precast.
Arim,-Inc’s well-deserved reputation for the incredible color palette represented by its various types of aggregates made it an excellent source for the terrazzo installation done by DePaoli Mosaic Company of Canton, MA at the Thurgood Marshall Middle School.
10,000 square feet of terrazzo are featured in the $92-million project, with eight colors employed to form three distinct color schemes that subtly merge in the lobby to form a cheerful pattern of madras plaid.
For its terrazzo installation at the Opal Sands in Clearwater Beach, Florida, terrazzo contractor Steward- Mellon Company partnered with the hotel’s design team to carefully choose the five colors that would be used to create circular patterns that evoke the feeling of ocean expanses while maintaining an inviting atmosphere. In all, nearly forty samples were pored over before the final selections were made.
“We congratulate our contractor partners whose works were recognized with NTMA Honor Awards, and we consider it a privilege that we were able to provide them with aggregates used in these high-profile terrazzo installations,” says Nilgun Bandari, founder and owner of Arim Inc.. “No matter the size of the job, Arim Inc. is committed to providing contractors with high-quality aggregates and to lend them our technical expertise whenever we can.” To see the complete list of the 2018 NTMA Honor Award winners, visit the Honors Award section of the National Terrazzo and Mosaic Association’s Web site.
By Steve Pooler| April 30th, 2018
The National Terrazzo and Mosaic Association will wrap up its 95th annual convention on April 25th with the announcement of both its 2018 Job of the Year (JOTY) winner and the full lineup of Honor Award winners. It’s one of the most exciting times of the year for the NTMA’s member terrazzo contractors and the material suppliers who hold associate memberships, and understandably so: to be selected for special recognition by the NTMA’s panel of terrazzo experts is validation that an installation was done right, with the right materials, and with the right vision.
But while the NTMA convention and awards are unquestioned highlights on the organization’s calendar, they tend to overshadow its primary missions, one of which is to establish and promote national standards for terrazzo floor and wall systems and provide complete specifications, color palettes, and other information to designers and architects free of charge. Making these types of key players aware of terrazzo’s multitude of advantages over other flooring and wall material, as well as keeping them up to speed on technical specifications, goes a very long way to ensure that they will strongly consider terrazzo for their next project.
Equally important, is the technical expertise that the NTMA shares with its members and associate members. Nilgun Bandari, the founder of terrazzo aggregate manufacturer and supplier Arim, Inc. and an NTMA member since 2008, says that her company’s reputation for technical expertise has been enhanced by the tools that come with NTMA membership. “NTMA has a strong technical team that is very responsive to issues that affect contractors and suppliers,” says Bandari. “The annual seminars have helped keep us informed on new procedures and techniques, and that means we can provide even more targeted technical details to our customers.”
NTMA – A True Community of Technical Experts
The NTMA was originally founded in 1924 as the National Terrazzo and Mosaic Contractors Association, while its current incarnation as a 501(c)6 non-profit trade organization dates back to 1966. From the very beginning, the NTMA placed a great deal of importance on helping establish standards that would enable contractors and supplies to deliver the types of installations that would bolster the industry’s growth. Today, NTMA membership is limited to terrazzo contractors who have met standards for competency and proficiency crafted by terrazzo experts, and material suppliers nominated to become associate members for consistently delivering products that also conform to NTMA standards.
But there’s another aspect of the NTMA that’s not as well-known to outsiders, namely the willingness of members and associate members to share personal experiences that will help others avoid pitfalls on future projects. “It’s refreshing that NTMA members go out of their way to make sure that others don’t make some of the mistakes they’ve made in the past,” Bandari says. Apparently, Bandari and her team have made good use of such cautionary advice: over the past three NTMA conventions, Arim, Inc. was an aggregate supplier for eight Honor Award winners and the 2016 Job of the Year installation, the Pittsburgh International Airport Airside Terminal.
And while Bandari and other NTMA members reap the benefits of technical advances and guidance provided by NTMA’s team of experts, non-experts can still reap the benefits of the NTMA’s work by perusing the breathtaking work epitomized by each year’s lineup of award winners. Head to the NTMA Web site and select “Honor Awards” from the menu to see awe-inspiring work that was recognized at NTMA conventions dating back to 2010. And check out the “Stories in Stone” section (click “About Us”) to see other fascinating stories that reveal the myriad uses, practical applications, and artistic palette that only terrazzo can provide.
By Steve Pooler| April 30th, 2018
In the world of terrazzo and terrazzo installations, few companies can boast a pedigree that rivals that of the David Allen Company. Founded in 1920 in North Carolina, the Raleigh-based company began to make a name for itself during the great terrazzo boom of the Art Deco period, successfully weathered the downturn in terrazzo use in the 1960s and 1970s, and has been pivotal in spearheading what can justifiably be called the “terrazzo revival” that seems to be picking up steam with every passing day.
Looking at the company’s portfolio gives you a good idea of the esteem that architects and designers place in the work done by David Allen’s craftsmen. Among the high-profile installations for which the company was selected are the Pentagon, the Smithsonian Institution, the National Archives, the National Institute of Standards and Technology, the Longworth Congressional Office building, the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center, and the headquarters of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, NASA, and the CIA.
The company also specializes in airport installations, and its handiwork can be seen at major international hubs in Atlanta, Charlotte, Raleigh-Durham, Washington D.C. (Ronald Reagan International and Dulles), Richmond, Miami, Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood, and Jacksonville, to name a few. In addition, it’s responsible for terrazzo work at dozens of universities and hundreds of elementary schools, as well as in hospitals, museums, courthouses, and military buildings. This long track record of customer satisfaction, combined with a corporate atmosphere that places a heavy emphasis on employee safety and professional development, led to the David Allen Company being named the 2016 Contractor of the Year by the Associated Builders and Contractors, a national construction industry trade association with more than 21,000 members.
David Allen CEO David Roberson presided over many of these landmark projects. He has been CEO of the company for 3 years after having spent 46 years as Senior VP of the Terrazzo Division. He now manages all single terrazzo contracts over $20 million—and his passion for terrazzo as both a construction material and artistic medium has undoubtedly been an ingredient in the company’s formula for success. In addition to contributing to the company’s growth to upwards of 300-400 employees at the Raleigh headquarters and in five branch offices (Charlotte, Birmingham, Columbia, South Florida, and Washington D.C.), Roberson served for a dozen years on the board of directors, including a term as president, of the National Terrazzo and Mosaic Association (NTMA).
Simply put, Roberson knows terrazzo from the ground up, and his commitment to delivering first-rate services depends in no small degree to the quality of the aggregates and other materials his artisans employ for installations. And while David Allen obviously uses aggregates from more than one supplier—no single source could handle the company’s massive demand for such a wide variety of aggregate types—it has made New Jersey-based Arim, Inc. one of its trusted suppliers when it’s in need of high-quality colored aggregates.
Roberson first became familiar with Arim, Inc. during the course of a terrazzo installation at a WaWa convenience store in the Northeast in the late 2000s; Arim’s location in New Jersey made it an attractive option because shipping costs are an unavoidable factor in aggregate costs to contractors. The flawless installation using Arim’s aggregates meant he would keep them in mind for future projects, but it was Arim’s samples kit that made him aware that the relatively new company offered aggregates in just about every color imaginable. “Arim’s samples kit is without question the finest in the industry,” says Roberson. “It gives you an excellent idea of just how broad a color palette their aggregates can create, which is pretty much unrivaled by other manufacturers and suppliers.” And while the issue of color may be a secondary consideration for some terrazzo installations, for others it’s a deal breaker or maker, especially for clients whose logo or emblems are an inextricable part of the corporate or community identity. Consider the case of WaWa: it wound up signing an agreement with Arim, Inc. to provide aggregates for the terrazzo flooring in all its stores based on that samples kit.
Another aspect of Arim, Inc.’s products that Roberson can count upon is consistency, both in color and in quality. Arim owns an aggregate production facility in Turkey and sources its stone and marble from the region, which in turn means the finished products are highly consistent in their hues and tones. Also vital is that the aggregates are clean and dust-free. “Dust on the aggregates can bleed into the resin and affect the color to varying degrees,” he says. “Just one speck of the wrong color would mean removing and refilling that area.” To help ensure its aggregates are consistently clean and free of dust, Arim has implemented the ISO 9001 quality management system—the only ISO standard with third-party certification. Over the past decade, David Allen Company’s skilled installers and artists have been using Arim, Inc. aggregates on a broad array of projects—and it certainly seems to be a winning combination. Just last year (2017), David Allen garnered several Honor Awards from the National Terrazzo and Mosaic Association for a variety of installations using Arim, Inc.’s aggregates, including the Tubman Museum in Macon, Georgia, Clover Middle School in Clover, South Carolina, and the Landmark Center Two office complex in Orlando.
“Arim offers wonderfully colored chips that are reasonably priced,” says Roberson. And given his company’s commitment to excellence and Arim Inc.’s increasing supplies thanks to owning its own manufacturing facility, there’s no reason to not expect more breathtaking—and award-winning—collaborations from them in the future.
By Jeanna White| April 4th, 2018
Visit any garden center and you will quickly see that spring has sprung! Let those bountiful blooms and gorgeous greenery chase away those winter blues. But once your plants are in the ground, mulch plays an essential step in protecting your investment and minimizing weeds. Did you know that there are many advantages to using pebbles rather than bark to mulch your flower beds and around your home? Here are just a few.
1. Pebbles may cost a little more initially, however they are much more cost-effective in the long run since they do not break down or decompose over time like bark does. Bark needs to be replaced annually whereas good quality pebbles will last forever.
2. The vibrant color of bark usually only lasts 4 to 6 months, quickly becoming grey and dull. Pebbles retain their color and come in a variety of sizes, shapes, and textures.Marble mulch is a hard, rough rock material available in a variety of shades of white, gray, pink, green, yellow, blue, brown, and black. It is chipped rock pieces with rough edges. River rock mulch is composed of round, smooth stones in a mixture of grays, browns, creams, and reds.
3. Bark can blow or wash away in areas exposed to open winds and heavy rain. Pebbles not only stay in place, but can help with erosion.
4. Pebbles are durable, clean, and easy to apply, no special skills are required.
5. As wood chips and bark mulch decompose, they attract insects that are drawn to the decaying organic matter. Pebbles are an inorganic ground cover that doesn’t decompose and therefore minimizes the risk of such bug problems.
By Steve Pooler| March 22nd, 2018
Arim Inc. founder Nilgun Bandari is passionate about terrazzo—and she most certainly isn’t reluctant to share her enthusiasm for she what says might be the most perfect flooring technology ever created. “I’m not at all surprised to see how fast the terrazzo industry is growing all over the world,” she says. “When you see it used once, you want to see it used everywhere.” Once a word known almost exclusively in the contracting world, terrazzo has increasingly been found in the architectural and building design spotlight—and a pretty good case can be made that Bandari and her Palisades Park-based company deserve at least some of the credit for the relatively newfound love. At the very least, Arim Inc. has led the way in developing marketing techniques and practices that have shaken up the supply side of the terrazzo aggregate industry. And the company’s recent moves to integrate its robust Web site with popular, easy-to-use apps like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Flickr, and more have opened the door for direct retail sales to become a considerable revenue stream for the terrazzo industry—at least for those willing to embrace retail consumers by delivering content where and how consumers want to receive it.
This is hardly the future that Bandari envisioned when she was first introduced to terrazzo at the turn of the millennium. At that time, she was reaping the rewards that come with an engineering degree from the third-oldest technical university in the world, serving as one of six engineers guiding the construction of American Airlines’ new terminal at John F. Kennedy Airport. It was a massive undertaking (the lobby alone was 90,000 square feet) that eventually took eight years to complete and which carried a $1.3 billion price tag.
But Bandari wasn’t around for the official 2007 opening of Terminal 8, the largest passenger terminal at one of the world’s busiest airports. By that time, she already had roughly five years under her belt as a retailer and distributor of aggregates, the “building blocks” of the terrazzo contractor’s artwork. One has to ask: Why would someone with such an engineering pedigree leave that career behind and start anew in distribution and sales? While Bandari’s decision might have been initially spurred by the levels of intricacy, detail, and color that are the exclusive properties of terrazzo finishing, she also could see that the industry was moribund, one in which a “good enough” attitude regarding marketing and education seemed to be the rule of thumb. Looking at the terrazzo landscape in general and the aggregate industry in general, Bandari was confident there was room for tremendous growth—and she also had a pretty good idea of how to do it.
One of the first steps Arim Inc. took was to take an existing terrazzo marketing tool—sample kits with an array of aggregates—and make them readily available to terrazzo contractors and the general public. “When we introduced our sample kit,” Bandari says, “it created a real buzz in the industry.” For terrazzo contractors whose reputations depend not only on the quality of their installation but also the quality of the components, being able to see the rainbow-like array of Arim Inc.’s aggregates made it much easier to make a call and place a large order. Indeed, the company’s sample kit—which features a breathtaking 112 samples of marble, glass, mother-of-pearl, and crushed stone aggregates, as well as garden rocks—is considered the industry standard.
Another way that Bandari thought the marvels of terrazzo could be spread was through the Web. After securing its supply chains and establishing relationships with aggregate suppliers, Arim Inc. set about launching the first incarnation of its Web site—and like its expanded sample kit, it made many in the terrazzo industry sit up and take notice.
In contrast with nearly all its competitors—many of them with decades of experience in the manufacturing and distribution of terrazzo aggregates—Arim Inc.’s Web site was chock-full of high-res images that conveyed both the lustrous beauty of its marble, mother-of-pearl, glass, tumbled stone, and other offerings. Arim Inc.’s site didn’t look as if it existed because a business consultant told them that all 21st-century businesses were on the Web; it looked like a celebration of art. But Bandari and company have a much larger vision for its Web site than simply providing customers with another acquisition portal: they want to showcase the quality of their aggregates by partnering with contractors, architects, and designers not only to spread the terrazzo gospel, but also help people stay on top of news involving new applications for this centuries-old technology. “Terrazzo is the only finish which is still made at the job site, not in a factory,” says Bandari. “In our new Gallery, you can see the sublime beauty of the designs crafted by our partners in the contracting and design fields.”
Another feature that set Arim Inc. apart from the crowd is a retail store, where customers can browse every product the company carries and place a small (five-pound) order. As more and more uses are found for terrazzo and its aggregates, including countertops, tables, and home décor items, the Retail gallery is sure to be a hit among both interior and exterior designers and artisans. The ultimate goal of the Web site, though, is simple: become the go-to source for reliable news on terrazzo, its numerous benefits, and its almost jaw-dropping versatility. “This hand-made product already keeps the flooring industry on its tiptoes,” says Bandari. “Whether people learn about terrazzo through our social-media presence on Facebook or Twitter or Instagram, or if they see some of the incredible installations that have been done with our aggregates, we really want to highlight the industry as a whole,” she says. “I honor everyone working in this trade, and we want to be a place that showcases their phenomenal work.”
By Steve Pooler| March 6th, 2018
As an engineering graduate of the world’s third-oldest technical university, Arim Inc.. owner Nilgun Bandari thoroughly understands the critically important role that quality materials play in the final outcome of any construction process. Her laser-sharp attention to detail and commitment to flawless workmanship had led to rapid advancements in the hurly-burly world of New York City design and construction—first as an estimator, then as job supervisor for a Metro Station construction site, and finally her selection in 1999 as one of six engineers tasked with the oversight of American Airlines’ massive overhaul of its terminal at John F. Kennedy Airport. It was a career path that was not only bright, but secure: the American Airlines project alone would end up spanning eight years. But Bandari wouldn’t be around to see it reach fruition.
It was during the JFK Airport project that Bandari was introduced to terrazzo, a centuries-old flooring technique that reached peak popularity in the U.S. in the Art Deco period of the 1920s and 1930s. In terrazzo, Bandari saw an outlet that would leverage the synergy between her highly developed engineering skills, creative passions, and meticulous eye for details. By 2002, she had founded Arim to purchase and distribute the various types of aggregate materials—marble, stone, glass, and mother-of-pearl, to name a few—manufactured by crushing facilities that are commonly used in terrazzo.
Throughout the company’s first few years, Bandari wore dual hats, responsible for selecting the aggregates while simultaneously establishing relationships with the architects and contractors who would transform them into utilitarian pieces of artwork. As the business grew, however, she became increasingly aware that as long as Arim remained simply a distributor, quality control would remain to a large degree in the hands of her suppliers—and they didn’t have the end-use expertise to fully appreciate the overarching need for both consistency and quality in their deliverables. “Terrazzo aggregate quality control is very difficult to understand for aggregate crushers,” says Bandari. “Terrazzo aggregate needs to be dry, dust-free—dampness or dirt is not acceptable. Some suppliers understood our needs better, but no one understood exactly why we were so meticulous about our quality measurements.” Simply put, what some suppliers deemed “good enough” wasn’t always meeting the needs of Arim’s customers—terrazzo contractors who needed aggregates that are sized and sorted based on standards developed by the National Terrazzo and Mosaic Association (NTMA).
What Arim needed was what Bandari succinctly describes as “full quality control,” and in 2015 it took matters into its own hands with the acquisition of its own production facility in Turkey. The site selection was a natural: Arim had been importing aggregates from Turkey for years, and favorable trade relations between the U.S. and Turkey helped streamline the process. What’s more, Arim has a business relationship in Europe and the Middle East—and Turkey has a very strategic location to serve all European and Middle Eastern customers.
As a manufacturer and distributor, says Bandari, Arim is poised to meet it clients aggregate needs on a scale that couldn’t have been achieved as only a distributor. Bandari says the facility can produce 100 tons of aggregate daily—five containers’ worth—and that “our delivery time has decreased by several weeks. We can now supply any size aggregate crushed or tumbled—we can even premix products. These are value-added features our customers have been asking for.”
And to ensure that the increased output doesn’t come at the expense of quality, Arim has taken the extra step of acquiring ISO 9001 certification for its plant. An international standard that lays out requirements for a company’s quality management system, ISO 9001 ensures that companies consistently deliver products and service that meet the demands of customers and the requirements of regulatory bodies, such as the NTMA. More importantly, however, it meets the demands of Nilgun Bandari. “Quality, quality, quality,” Bandari says. “We want to serve the highest quality products to our customers, and this is one more way to help us do it.”
By Jeanna White| January 22nd, 2018
This year is Arim’s seventh attending the world-renowned industry event which brings international buyers together with U.S. exhibitors to expand business domestically and overseas. World of Concrete welcomes international exhibitors to sell their concrete- and masonry-related products and services, as well as international attendees from across the globe to network, test drive equipment and discover new products and services and benefit from a world-class education program. WOC 2018, expects to attract 60,000 professional registrants and 1,500 leading suppliers from around the world, making it the largest World of Concrete in nine years!
Hamza Khan, Arim’s relationships manager, and Deniz Cam, our business cost accountant, are looking forward to renewing old friendships and creating new ones as they promote Arim’s products to the industrial floor and engineered stone industries. They are also eager to demonstrate the value Arim’s aggregates offer to other industries including decorative concrete and precast.
WOC is an excellent place to network with other companies in the industry as well as to showcase the quality of our products,” said Nilgun Bandari, owner of Arim, Inc. She shared that casual dinners with prospective clients during past events have turned into cherished business relationships that continue today. “We always enjoy getting reacquainted with our customers and value the opportunity to share our products with potential new customers.”