Kruckenberg spent 19 years working for others, beginning at age 19, distributing slab stone across the western United States. When the recession hit, “I realized it was the wrong time to be in distribution. Everyone else ran the other way. I saw a gap in this business.”
In 2008 he managed to buy up and consolidate four of the customers he used to service, and created Wall to Wall. He estimates his company now has about 80 percent of market share within a hundred mile radius of Vancouver, despite having 600 competitors in his service area.
The company buys stone – granite, marble, quartz, slate and others – from around the world and fabricates it in the Vancouver plant. In addition, Wall to Wall has a major showroom and distribution plant in Kent, and a fleet of 35 trucks.
The company recently purchased 3.95 acres of land across the street from their Vancouver factory to expand operations and is working with the city on permitting.
Wall to Wall is strictly wholesale and sells and to retailers who in turn sell to builders and individuals in Washington and Oregon.
“You have to understand different cultures and how to deal with people to be in this business,” Kruckenberg says, because he buys stone from suppliers around the world, including Europe, Africa and Asia.
Stone comes to Vancouver primarily in 6-foot by 10-foot slabs where it is cut and sized to order. Wall to Wall receives about 60,000 pounds of stone a day, enough to fill a semi-truck.
Kruckeberg says there is really no secret to his company’s success. An extreme sports junkie who loves to snowmobile, slalom ski and go off-shore fishing, he says it’s not about him, but about the people who work for the company.
“We operate like an employee-owned company. We invest in people and we train and promote from within. We have the highest pay for this kind of work on the West Coast. Those guys out on the factory floor did it; they’re the ones who have made this company a growing success.”
Wall to Wall’s Vancouver factory has 45,000 square feet. The Kent distribution center has another 27,000 square feet. If the city approves, Kruckenberg would like to build another 60,000 square feet of factory space across the street from the current factory.
Kruckenberg says he would spend up to $10 million next year for new machinery once the new plant across the street is approved by city, and that would double his work force, again.