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June 29, 2010 > Chamber of Commerce welcomes MS International

Chamber of Commerce welcomes MS International

By Simon Wong
Photos By Simon Wong

Hayward Mayor Mike Sweeney and members of the Hayward Chamber of Commerce welcomed MS International to the city with a ribbon cutting ceremony on June 17, 2010.

MS International's location at 22300-B Hathaway Avenue, supplies natural stone and composites to specialist distributors throughout northern California, such as flooring dealers, builders, fabricators, landscaping dealers, architects, designers, contractors, building supply yards, commercial projects, mass merchants and hospitality as far away as Redding, Reno and northern Nevada. The public may visit the slab warehouse, where the "Kids' Corral" ensures children's safety, and showroom to view and select the materials from which their counter-top, staircase, bathroom or floors might be made; they must, however, place their order with a re-seller. Fabricators often instruct their clients to visit to select the materials they want.

The company, founded by engineer Manu Shah in the basement of his Indiana-home in 1975, is headquartered on a 21-acre site in Orange, southern California. The Hayward distribution center is one of 12 nation-wide, importing granite, slate, marble, travertine, sandstone, limestone, quartzite, adoquin, porcelain, ceramic, glass and other flooring, countertop and landscaping materials from quarries in 36 countries across six continents.

In 1981, MS International, Inc. supplied the black granite for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington DC. Shah was named Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year 2007 in the Distribution, Manufacturing and Security Category. There are 25 employees in Hayward and 500 worldwide with offices in Brazil, China, India and Turkey. These offices' primary role is inspection and quality assurance of products; ninety-nine percent of the company's products are sourced from overseas quarries and factories.

"By default, the company's product line is sustainable. The earth's surface consists of stone and rock, millions of years old. Our products are simply cut-and-polished, natural stone. No other chemicals are used," stated Raj Shah, son of chairman and CEO Manu Shah. "They end up in homes, hotels, restaurants...

"A quarry produces a particular type of stone but there are natural variations which require sorting by color and geological quality. For instance, as the quarry deepens, the stone sometimes darkens or lightens. Part of our job is to find out what will sell in the US market so we look for colors that satisfy demand. This can be tricky because we have no control over input to the product which was formed millions of years ago. We must decide if a given color will sell. We consider color, price point and if adequate quantities are available to warrant marketing," explained Shah.

With more than 30 million sq. ft. of stock, MS International's inventory is the largest in the country.

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