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Stone Landscapes to expand offerings

For Stone Landscapes, bigger is almost certainly better.

After two years of business at 650 Weber St. near the St. Jacobs Farmers’ Market, the company has outgrown its 2.2-acre yard, prompting them to open a second location in Kitchener at 68 Webster, behind the Toys ‘R’ Us plaza.

According to the company’s president, however, the move has been a long time coming. Land is a tough commodity to come by in the Kitchener-Waterloo area, and ever since he started the company he has been looking for more space.

“The main reason for the move is we’re growing,” said Jeff Dillon, who started the company with his father when they purchased Kuntz Landscaping Depot after selling their family’s office supply business.

EXPANSION PLANS Stone Landscapes president Jeff Dillon says that the company’s second location at 68 Webster St. in Kitchener will help serve customers at both ends of Kitchener-Waterloo more efficiently after the company outgrew their current site near the St. Jacobs Farmers’ Market.

“We’ve outgrown our current location and even our temporary location, and we knew we needed more space.”

They had been renting about 1.7 acres near the farmers’ market to help ease some of the pressure from their limited space on Weber Street, but still more land was required. Dillon said his company has begun to expand beyond the traditional markets in the Waterloo
Region and Guelph and have started taking on larger projects, which necessitated the move.

The new property is almost double the size of their current yard – just under four acres – and will act as a staging area for the distribution of materials to both retail customers and contractors.

“I’ve been looking for land for three years and literally every week I would search for real estate, and when I found this one I jumped on it; I met the owners and we hit it off.”

Having two locations, one in the north end of Waterloo and one near the south end of Kitchener, should help serve customers more effectively and efficiently, Dillon noted.

“We’ve got a really good location here and it’s near the market and it’s well known and has been established for quite some time, so we’re going to stay here and focus on Waterloo customers at this end, and it will remain our head office,” he said of their current site.

“The second location will be more in the distribution end of the business and we’ll be positioned well at the north and the south end of the city. From a contractors point of view it will be easier for them to feed from both locations.”

The company deals in nearly anything to do with landscaping or landscape supplies, from mulch and fertilizer to garden lights and fountainscapes, but as the company name suggests, their real specialty is all things stone.

“When I came up with Stone Landcapes, I wanted it to be clear what we do. Yes, we handle stone – both natural and manmade product – and pretty much anything to do with stone.”

The company sources materials from around the world, from our own backyard in Ontario to the far reaches of India and China. It all depends on the colours of stone that customers want for their homes and driveways. The company stocks nearly 6,000 items and produces a 120-page colour catalogue each season.

Given the lead time necessary for getting stone all the way from Asia – orders are made in January for delivery in May – Dillon said the extra space at the new location will help in organizing their materials more efficiently and get contractors out on the road as quickly as possible.

“We don’t do any of the landscape work ourselves, we are primarily in landscape distribution,” Dillon said. “Most customers, especially contractors, want the product right away and they want it done right the first time. There is no time to go back: they have their crews on the road and fuel is expensive.”

Dillon said the company will have twice as many displays thanks to their new location, and that plays an enormous role in making sure customers get the stone and the look that they desire. The stone arrives in crates and loaded on skids, which makes it difficult to envision how it will look on the side of a home.

The displays allow Stone Landscapes to arrange the stones as they might appear on the outside of a house or on their driveway, and Dillon said with the excellent staff he has working for him, they can solve any problem or question a customer might have about their landscaping needs.

“Between the two locations we’re going to have one of the largest displays and sites that anyone has seen in southern Ontario,” said Dillon.

The company is already well on their way to opening the new location, and Dillon hopes to have the move complete by next week for a scheduled ‘soft opening’ in August with limited hours just to get their feet wet.

He said demand is really high right now given the slower spring, and by having a more limited opening it will give them a chance to fully stock their inventory for a full opening next spring.

“I want to have it open and allow people to shop there. I don’t want to waste any time and allow people to see it, I definitely want to keep the momentum going and we’ll be building in the background.”

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