When Massachusetts natives Cheryl Rice and Ron Biron realized that their kitchen remodeling business mainly attracted Connecticut customers, they decided to do something about it.
The end result is GEM Granite & Soapstone, a 1,000-square-foot granite, soapstone and cabinet business located at 869 Sullivan Ave. in South Windsor. The business, which opened about two months ago, had its ribbon-cutting ceremony hosted by the Chamber of Commerce on Thursday evening.
“We were coming out here from Massachusetts and we had four or five jobs in South Windsor,” said Rice, who co-owns GEM with Biron, her fiance. “We knew the area and saw that there were no good places who offer what we do.”
GEM offers high-quality granite, soapstone, cabinetry (by MasterBrand) and stainless steel sinks and faucets, said Rice.
“We’re trying to be a one-stop shop for kitchen needs,” Rice said.
What separates GEM from other businesses, including big box stores, according to Rice and Biron, is the level of service that is offered.
“We will go to people’s homes with samples, so you don’t have to go to a store,” Rice said. “We give free quotes and free estimates. It’s a real personalized service. It’s not like The Home Depot, where you wait for five hours to help you.”
Gem’s interior designer, Shelly Boisbert, will also make a home visit and create computer-generated designs for customers.
And Biron said that Gem’s high-quality service extends to the installation side as well.
“I’ve been doing this for a long time,” Biron said. “I know which [crews] are good and which ones aren’t. … I’ve got the best in every aspect of the business, right on down to the installation.”
Local and state officials said that they were thrilled that Biron and Rice selected South Windsor to open their business.
“To find out you chose South Windsor when you live in Massachusetts was surprising,” Mayor Tom Delnicki said. “To hear that the community is what you were attracted to is what I’m really pleased about. … Small businesses are the lifeblood of our community. We are delighted to have you.”
State Rep. Bill Aman (R-South Windsor) echoed Delnicki’s comments.
“You are filling a niche that is very much needed in our area,” Aman said. “There are a number of homes that were built in the 1950s, 60s and 70s that are ripe for kitchen remodeling. Other than big box stores, there is place to go for a local person who is looking for something to fit their needs, not something that is on discount that month from the manufacturer.”
GEM Granite & Soapstone is located at 869 Sullivan Ave. in South Windsor. For more information, call 860-644-0303 or visit www.gemgraniteandsoapstone.com.