It's a stone success
The demand for natural tile and stone building materials is booming, right along with Portland's housing construction market. The product is increasingly coming from half a world away; a major Western Hemisphere distributor of it is located right here in Inner Southeast Portland.
Two years ago, Deniz Ince, owner of 'IGE Tile and Stone', opened a distributorship for Turkish travertine, marble and limestone at S.E. 11th and Division Street. Since then, the business has grown more than four-fold, and now it has moved to a larger, 38,000-square-foot warehouse at 3220 S.E. 19th Avenue in the Brooklyn neighborhood. 'It's very exciting,' says Ince. 'Business is growing fast.'
IGE, which stands for 'Ince Global Enterprises', receives 98% of its stock from Turkey. 'This is my family's business,' says Deniz, whose sister runs the operations in Istanbul. 'They own stone quarries and factories there, and ship supplies all over the world. At this site, we supply the U.S. market and Canada. Currently, Turkey has 40% of the world's stone reserves. Up until about 10 years ago, nobody there was aware of the possibilities of being a world market for stone.'
New homeowners are ordering Turkish natural stone for kitchens, bathrooms and decorative areas both indoors and out. 'We offer a complete selection of travertine, marble, limestone, antiqued stone, mouldings, mosaics, medallions, and more,' says Ince. 'We're actually a distributor/supplier for retail floor-covering stores, but we're also building a new 4,100-square-foot showroom next door. There, customers will be able to come in and preview our products, then purchase from one of our dealer/clients.'
IGE has an exclusive world patent on a product called 'Stone Plus', which is a thin layer of natural stone laminated onto porcelain tile. 'It's 20% lighter than conventional stone, but four times more durable,' says Deniz. 'Stone Plus is faster and cheaper to install, as well. Most of our materials are ready-to-install tiles, though we do have some slabs which have to be processed by a stone fabricator first.'
In addition to tiles and slabs, IGE also offers a vast array of beautifully-handcrafted mosaics for wall or floor, plus stone mosaic medallions, which are referred to as 'stone carpets'. There are also carved stone mouldings, columns, fireplaces, sinks, planters, bas relief carvings, and more. 'These can be finished in any manner requested,' says Deniz, 'Including brushed, tumbled, chiseled-edge, bush-hammered, split-faced, honed, and polished. Travertines can also be filled or unfilled.'
After that adjacent showroom is completed, IGE plans to offer seminars and educational DVDs for builders, designers, and other customers--describing how to use stone products residentially. 'We have stone pavers for garden and patio use, and other products to enhance both indoor and outdoor areas,' says Ince. 'We carry stone-preserving products from Italy, and we'll also have some Italian stone experts come to give lectures every other month.'
IGE prides itself on customer service and quality products. Staff is always available to answer questions, and customer follow-up after product delivery is standard procedure. 'If you have any questions, we're open Monday through Friday from 8am till 5pm,' invites Ince, 'Or, you can call us at 503/872-8888. Customer feedback is highly valued here.'