Titan Stone, LLC – Long-Time Customer of D&B Tile, Honors Founder with Custom Portrait in Natural Stone
When Dave and Betty Yarborough opened the doors at D&B Tile Distributors a half-century ago, they adopted a business plan that called for top quality products from around the world offered at a fair price followed by excellent customer service and a commitment to continuing education for their employees and the contractors they serve.
Their goal was to cultivate a loyal customer base that would carry them through challenging economic times thereby offering their employees a secure workplace and an opportunity to advance.
They were successful in all areas and currently serve all of South Florida with nine locations ranging from Palmetto Bay north to Port St. Lucie. In addition to achieving their business goals, they made a number of great friends along the way.
James Blair, Chief Executive Officer at Titan Stone, worked in the family business in New Jersey and gained a wealth of experience with natural stone. “I got into this business as a teenager and trained under some great union stonemasons who helped me a lot. My grandfather and uncles were all stonemasons. My mother even established a career in a supporting role assisting the office and field operations, making it a true family affair. I started right out of high school. I’m the third generation of my family in this business.
“I moved to Florida and opened my small natural stone business working mostly in the residential sector. That’s when I met Harold and Dave Yarborough. I was in their store 3-4 days every week. We purchased tools, equipment, tile and setting materials from them. I came to know both of them well and we had a great relationship.
“As time went by I got involved in Titan Stone with my uncle Joe and I started doing larger projects. Most were natural stone. Our vision was set out to become a premier stone company, providing the best client service that was built on a foundation of teamwork. Focusing on building on a strong team, with the best people to lead our industry instilling honesty, integrity and ethical behavior continue to drive our company and our commitment to ensuring our employees are our leading asset.
“D&B supplied most of our setting and installation material and sound control. We have used them consistently over the years because they offer great service and selection and we thoroughly enjoy working with them. Dave and Harold used to stop by our shop just to see what we were doing. Dave always enjoyed seeing our jobs, which were mostly more complicated than most.
“We still work with them to this day. It has been at least a 25-year business relationship. We became friends and got to know each other on a personal level. I was traveling when Dave passed away last June and wasn’t able to attend the service. I wanted to thank him and his family for their friendship and to recognize Dave’s contribution to the industry.
“We work with a number of artists who use stone to express their work. I decided to honor Dave in the best way I could think of with a portrait made from natural stone.
“When I was learning the trade, I reached a point where I felt like I had sufficient knowledge. However, when I eventually traveled to Europe and Rome and saw the work of artists and craftsmen at the Vatican, it was then that I realized the scope and depth of their work and how it has unlimited capabilities for modern applications. I drew inspiration from the great cathedrals and buildings in Europe. My grandfather was a sculptor and when he came to this country, he specialized in building church pulpits but found that stone in this country was mostly used for exterior cladding.
“We have a large number of signature projects, including the Four Seasons Hotel in Atlanta and Orlando, Guy Harvey Enterprises, Disney and the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts in Miami. In fact, that particular job called for the installation of 237,000 sq/ft of stone.
“Although we are dealing with natural stone, this is quite often a game of fractions of an inch. Consider the Ave Maria Church near Naples. The sculpture in the center of the front wall was designed and carved by Hungarian sculptor Marton Varo. He brought in blocks from Italy and he single-handedly carved them in a tomato field over a two-year period. He started with diamond blade saws to get rid of the excess and then used hammer and chisel. Each block weighed up to 28,000 pounds. The challenge was that the relief had to be set back into the wall. You couldn’t reach it with the crane. You had to get it underneath the eaves of the roof. I was on a lift overseeing the placement of each block. The crane operator had the skill to maneuver each block at a 1/32” at a time. It was a meticulous project but looks beautiful and well worth the effort.
“When we work with the design community, it is more of a collaborative effort. They bring us their ideas and concepts and we offer recommendations as to what is practical and possible. I believe we are working in a field that has few competitors and we can offer the industry experience, creativity and conceptual direction when it comes to natural stone. This is one of the world’s oldest building materials and, while it comes with challenges, it is our favorite medium as shown by our completed projects.
“The mosaic work shown in Dave Yarborough’s portrait is a sidebar for us. We work with a number of artists who bring their renderings to us and we produce work that they resell to their customers.”
Titan Stone, LLC is an award-winning organization, having been recognized by the Marble Institute of America for the following projects:
Special Award of Merit in Craftsmanship for The Annunciation at Ave Maria University, Ave Maria, FL Ave Maria University staged a world-wide competition to solicit a work of art for the main entry niche of its existing stone-clad Oratory.
Carrara-based sculptor Marton Varo submitted a design of the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary to be carved from White Carrara Marble quarried from the still-active Cave Michelangelo, from which the marble for St. Peter’s famous Pieta was extracted. To create this sculpture, Varo required over 120 tons of raw Carrara Marble blocks, which he selected from the quarry himself.
The configuration of the existing façade surround, projecting well beyond the face of the Oratory substrate, made it impossible to utilize a traditional crane configuration to hoist the sculpture. As such, Titan Stone devised a counter-balanced beam trolley projecting from below the end of the crane outward so that the 7 feet wide by 7-1/2 feet tall pieces once hoisted to level could then be moved horizontally into place under the overhanging stone. Titan was also forced to provide a great deal of perimeter field cutting to achieve proper alignment within these difficult constraints.
Commercial Exterior Award of Merit for Brickell World Plaza, Miami, FL. The 600 Brickell includes a high-rise office tower and 30,000 sq. ft. Brickell World Plaza. The development’s feature wall was envisioned to create a monumental relationship between the tower and the public plaza below. Stone was selected to remain durable, yet elegant over time, but also needed to have enough veining and contrast to appear as stone when viewed from below. As such, visually-linear Cappuccino Mocha quartzitic limestone was selected as the primary stone with Black Pearl granite surrounds. Three primary sections, each 52’ tall by 25’ wide, extend 100’ above the plaza—with 4 sub-sections separated by granite reveals. Installing book-matched and end-matched stones, Titan had to exercise extreme care, and no breakage occurred.
Also, all perimeter edges were epoxied together requiring “blind” anchorage, achieved with a system designed by Titan to allow for last-minute adjustments in three-piece anchor assemblies. Flamed, brushed Silver Pearl granite provides a soft gray palette for the hard surfacing. With polished Silver Pearl for the cubic fountain weirs and planter copings, more dramatic color was exposed. The Black Pearl fountain flooring creates a visual link to the feature wall above.
Commercial Exterior Award of Excellence for Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts, Miami, FL. Upon completion, the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts of Miami-Dade County was the nation’s largest performing arts center constructed in the last 35 years.
Originally conceived as a relatively plain stucco façade, this mammoth project had the distinction of a dramatic upgrade to natural stone cladding. Flamed Italian Sardo Beige granite was selected for it’s silver minerals which almost look like little ‘mirrors’ at certain angles. The other exterior granites are flamed Topaz Gold and honed Verde Maritaca.
All together, Titan Stone’s masons erected nearly 31,000 pieces and over 230,000 square feet of granite on the exterior skins of the Center’s two enormous buildings.
This is the first in a series of contractor profiles featuring major companies in the tile, stone and marble industry. D&B Tile Distributors is especially proud to play a small part in the construction and design of these stunning projects and even more proud to recognize them as our long-time customers and friend.
Be sure to visit any of our nine convenient locations throughout South Florida for inspiration and quality products. Remember, the first step to beautiful design is stepping into D&B Tile Distributors.