Jeremy McBee is the owner of Wood Stone Floor to Ceiling, the premier source for interior home needs in Columbia, Mo. Since 2008, Wood Stone has specialized in granite and quartz countertops, as well as carpet, tile, hardwood, cabinetry, sinks, and faucets. With a granite facility, Wood Stone fabricates all of its countertops in-house so customers never have to worry about a middleman.
What are you working on right now?
We have multiple projects we’re working on all the time. We’re doing bathroom remodels, where we’re tearing the whole bathroom out and installing new countertops and tile. We have other jobs that simply entail installing countertops in kitchens. Because of this, at any one time, we have 20 jobs in progress.
Where did the idea for Wood Stone come from?
We started making granite countertops 10 years ago. After I’d opened a showroom for retail people to visit, we decided to offer all the other interior finishes to go along with our granite countertops. That’s where Wood Stone started. We offer carpet, tile, wood, cabinets, and everything else to go along with the countertops.
I ran a Sherwin-Williams store when I first got out of college, so I had a little bit of flooring background. When I took over the granite company in 2008, we had all these customers we could provide multiple products for, ensuring they would only have to come to one location. They would no longer have to go to four different places to find what they needed — everything could be designed in one place.
How do you make money?
We fabricate the countertops. That’s different than most places that offer both flooring and countertops; they buy countertops from a manufacturer like us. We’re the ones who are actually making and selling the countertops. Customers are going straight to the source.
What does your typical day look like?
It’s crazy! I go to the office and work on paperwork or bids. Then, I have clients to meet with all day. Our job is to help people design the projects they’re working on. Meanwhile, in the background, we’ve got our granite business going, manufacturing countertops. Simultaneously, I’m helping to design a kitchen and trying to make sure four other people get their countertops manufactured correctly. It’s hectic.
How do you bring ideas to life?
We listen a lot to what our customers want. I watch new trends; I know what looks good, and I put my twist on whatever we’re working on. At the end of the day, we just really try to listen to what our customers want. We give them little pointers or tweaks to fix the issues they might not realize are issues and go from there.
What’s one trend that really excites you?
We’ve seen a lot of really dark, rustic stuff over the last few years. Trends moved to brighter colors — not necessarily in the paint on walls, but in the finishes on countertops and cabinets. There’s a lot of really cool white granite right now. It’s vivid and different from the beige that used to dominate.
What was the worst job you ever had and what did you learn from it?
I worked in a box factory in college. I learned when you communicate with your boss, you have to be precise with what you say. Mine called and said, “You have to work on Saturday,” and I was sick as a dog. I said something about how I couldn’t come in, and he took that to mean I just didn’t feel like working that day. I’d worked for him the summer before and had proven myself, but after that one conversation, I didn’t have a job.
If you were to start again, what would you do differently?
I probably would try to grow slower. We grew really fast initially. That created a lot of business issues. I probably would have tried to control the jobs that we did and how we grew.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Don’t give up. There are lots of hurdles that will be thrown in your way when you’re the one dealing with everything. It’s easy, at times, to get frustrated. Just keep going.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur and how did you overcome it?
I’ve not managed employees as well as I should have at times. I’ve probably wanted to be in control of things too much. I learned to manage the processes and my employees at the same time. Your bottom line is your responsibility — you can’t worry about hurting people’s feelings.
What is one business idea you’re willing to give away to our readers?
I have a marketing background, but I’m too busy running the business to really utilize it. I’ve always wanted to create a product that would help small business owners implement simple marketing strategies. I don’t have the time to work on my social media, website, or other marketing opportunities as much as I’d like. I think an affordable all-in-one solution would be really valuable to small business owners like me.
If you could change one thing in the world, what would it be and how would you go about it?
I would love for everybody to have housing and a nice place to live. I love providing granite for families and seeing the looks on their faces when they see the finished product. If I could see more of this, it would make me a very happy person. It would be nice to get together with other vendors and provide higher-quality products for affordable housing.
Tell us something about you that very few people know?
I was a pole vaulter!
What are your three favorite online tools or resources and what do you love about them?
• Google: It simply makes life easier.
• Houzz: It has every design idea you could possibly think of and so many pictures to accompany the ideas.
• Facebook: It’s able to show lots of things that we do in real time.
What is the one book you recommend our community should read and why?
I use Zite! I don’t read a lot of books; I spend my time reading articles.
Three people we should follow on Twitter and why?
I’d follow all of them because they’re funny.
When was the last time you laughed out loud? What caused it?
I laughed just now, thinking of these guys!
Who is your hero, and why?
My dad’s my hero because he taught me how to work really hard.
Can you name a specific moment or event that inspired you to do what you do today?
I’m good at designing stuff. I have a marketing degree, and those two things combined to make interior home manufacturing and design kind of happen. It wasn’t a plan, but it all seemed to come together.
Who has been your biggest cheerleader or source of support either personally or professionally?
My wife is my biggest support. I fooled her 17 years ago, and now she’s stuck.
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Mario Schulzke is the Founder of ideamensch, which he started a decade ago to learn from entrepreneurs and give them a platform for their ideas.