Television home renovation certainly has been a boom to Rainbow Marble & Granite.“HGTV has done more than anything for the granite business,” Rainbow owner Bill Yaeger said.
Yaeger and office manager Michelle Cortese have a father-daughter relationship – fitting since Cortese’s best childhood friend is Yeager’s daughter – that translates into a low-key sales environment.
“We don’t really try to sell anything,” Yaeger said. “We just try to educate them.”
Rainbow Marble & Granite sells natural stone such as granite, marble, limestone onyx and slate for countertops. Man-made quartz is also becoming more popular. Rainbow also will fabricate tops for furniture pieces and does fireplaces and hearths, as well.
Rainbow, at 702 N. Hydraulic, has a small showroom up front and a shop to the back, where several of the 10 employees are at work fabricating the pieces. Rainbow’s methods are not high tech, Cortese said.
“Our guys are real craftsmen,” she said. “They do a lot of it by hand.”
Cortese advises that remodelers decide on counters and cabinets first and then pick out paint and the backsplash. Natural stone is what it is, so colors and tones have to be selected to complement it. She also said it is important for customers to look at the entire slab they are selecting, because there can be a lot of variation.
“If you have several million years, I can put an order in,” Cortese joked.
In reality, if a super consistent look or pattern is that important to customers, she said, then they probably want to go with an engineered quartz. Cortese also said it is important to consider function. Some customers come in wanting a white marble for the kitchen like they have seen on television, but they may not understand how easily acid etches the surface.
Cortese will send them home with a remnant and tell them to pour some vinegar on it. She said that marble is probably a better choice for a bathroom and that customers wanting white kitchen countertops might want to consider man-made quartz.
In general, natural stones are extremely durable, hard to scratch and heat resistant.
“They’ll outlast a house,” Cortese said.
Rainbow Marble & Granite spun off of Rainbow Construction in 1997. In those days, Yaeger said, it was a two-man operation. They would just turn off the router when a customer popped in and stick a sign on the door when they were out on an installation. Yaeger quickly became a partial owner and then bought out his partner fully in 2004.
Yaeger encourages customers to ask for references and do their homework. He said that as long as they are comparing apples to apples, the reputable fabricators in Wichita all are going to be between within a couple hundred dollars of one another.
Before entering the granite business, Yaeger was in banking, having studied accounting and business at Wichita State University. He credits that business background with helping put Rainbow in the position to survive in the struggling local economy.
Things are looking up. Yaeger is starting to get the kinds of full-scale kitchen projects that he hasn’t seen for the last three years. And cable TV still is doing its part, regularly showcasing the beauty of countertops made from natural stone.