David Floricic – Pro Design
David Floricic arrived in New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport in 1988 on a flight from what is now Croatia—but was then still Yugoslavia—with skills in the trades and $300 in his pocket. An electrician by training, he was eager to land a job and had found work at a marble company by his second day in America.
“Of course, I wasn’t too picky when I first got here,” Floricic laughs. “But I liked it. And I never looked back. I love what I do—I love marble, I love stone, I love designing, I love seeing the finished product. I love everything about it.”
Today, Floricic is the owner of his own company, Pro Design, a Manhattan-based stone, tile, marble and quartz business that employs more than 120 people and counts itself the largest nonunion stone company in New York City.
Founded in 1995, the company has expanded on the strength of its word-of-mouth reputation, particularly among architects, designers and general contractors.
“We never advertise, ever,” Floricic says.
From $10,000 New York City apartment repair jobs to $10 million Hamptons estate overhauls, Floricic has stayed at the top of his game in a rough city and a competitive market niche.
“It’s been a long path,” he says. “And not always an easy path, but it’s been a very rewarding path. We very much look forward to what the next 10 years are going to bring.”
The more complex, the better
Pro Design specializes in high-end residences, from apartments to townhouses to mansions. The company caters to architects and designers of one-of-a-kind projects, furniture pieces and complicated stone creations.
“It’s a tough game to keep up the top-notch quality and performance and deliver jobs on time, once you have as many as 20, 25 jobs running on any given day,” Floricic says. “It’s not as easy as it sounds. We work for prominent and demanding clients and their teams.”
For example, Pro Design just finished a 35,000-square-foot, $5.5 million stone job in the Hamptons. It was an entire interior-exterior job—floors, four swimming pools, a dozen bathrooms, several kitchens and the mansion’s entire facade.
“A lot of these Hamptons jobs have a magnitude like that—they’re going to be $1 million and up in stonework alone,” he says. “And it could go up to $10 million. For some of these homes, the total cost of building the residence could be upwards of $100 million worth of construction.”
But Floricic’s bread and butter are apartments and townhouses in Manhattan. On any given day, he estimates Pro Design is working on around 15-20 apartments and at least six or seven townhouses in New York City. Those jobs typically run from $100,000 to $2 million and $500,000 to $5 million, respectively. Floricic and his colleagues do everything from exterior stonework to bathroom tiles and marble floors to quartz countertops to ceramic and glass decorative tiles.
“You’re only as good as your last mistake,” he says. “You can do a dozen almost-perfect jobs, and then if you slip on one, your reputation is set back to the beginning.”
Work together, break bread together
Much as he likes to work hard, Floricic also likes to kick back, and he’s cultivated an inclusive culture at his company. When he’s not overseeing training in Pro Design’s facility—safety training, new technology training, new material training—he’s organizing barbecues or 4th of July cookouts to encourage bonding.
“We also have a good time,” he says. “People at all levels [of the company], they like that and they feel like they belong. It’s not just work. You’re part of this family, so you’re invited to the dinner table, as well.”
Pro Design is always looking for talent, and that’s especially true these days. As technology advances, Floricic and his competitors need more workers who can program and operate complex machinery as well as create shop drawings, blueprints and so forth. And Floricic takes pride in being a shop that keeps up with the latest technological trends.
But even as his business shifts from being 100 percent crafted by hand to 70 percent done by machine, 30 percent done by hand, Floricic is still looking for talent skilled in old-world craftsmanship—stone workers in the shop; installers in the field—and he says that’s getting harder and harder to find.
“It has never been this challenging, especially in hard trades like construction or being a guy carrying heavy pieces, working in an environment that’s dusty,” he says. “Younger generations really don’t want to do this anymore. But I think in the long run, this will come back, because of the rates—people that are in this trade are making more and more money because there’s more demand.”
Building the business
Pro Design has come a long way since 1995, when the business consisted of Floricic and one helper doing basic tiling. Back then, Floricic was basically working out of his van and doing all the paperwork at his dining room table. But as he left customers satisfied and Pro Design got recommended more and more, more jobs started coming in.
Before long, he needed to hire more people. Then they started thinking about having a shop, a place where they could receive large pieces of stone and cut, shape, fabricate and polish them, and get them ready to send to the job site.
Several years after launching the business, he went from just doing installations to also taking on fabrication work, outsourcing the latter to another shop. But then he started wondering, “Why not me?” So, in 2000, he bought a simple cutting machine.
“It was my pride and joy,” Floricic recalls. “I remember I paid $48,000 for it. So that’s how we started the fabrication shop, and I started hiring people in the shop and that continued growing.”
That led to more machines, especially over the last decade or so, as machines have become paramount in Floricic’s line of work. Still, he notes that this is one trade where they’re always going to need skilled craftsmen.
“That’s why I like what I do,” Floricic says. “Stone is never going to go away. Styles change and trends change, but stone will always be one of the biggest components in the design and decor of any home or any space.”
View this feature in the Blueprint Vol. VII 2023 Edition here.
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