Tile Time

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Tri-County focuses on contractors and customer service
The genesis of the Hollister store Tri-County Tile and Stone was
a rare disease.
Ten years ago Gary Frazure, co-owner of the store, was diagnosed
with Wegener’s granulomatosis.

It usually affects your major organs,

Frazure said.

I lost vision in my right eye.

Tri-County focuses on contractors and customer service

The genesis of the Hollister store Tri-County Tile and Stone was a rare disease.

Ten years ago Gary Frazure, co-owner of the store, was diagnosed with Wegener’s granulomatosis.

“It usually affects your major organs,” Frazure said. “I lost vision in my right eye.”

The disease necessitated that he change professions.

Frazure cannot be in the sun for long, due to the disease. His job in delivery and sales for Berkeley Farms, a dairy distributor, required that he be outside a lot.

A family friend hired him to work at Monterey Tile and Marble. He managed the store until recently.

Ten months ago Frazure opened Tri-County with his son in-law, Jarrod Fassio.

They sell tile and stone for interior and exterior projects, such as floors, countertops and pools.

“We do anything with tile,” Frazure said. “Absolutely anything.”

The store offers thousands of different kinds of tile, he said. Hundreds are on display.

Though there is another tile store in town, Tri-County is more contractor friendly, Frazure said. They have everything that a contractor needs for a tile project, from start to finish. They also open early, at 7:30 a.m.

Tri-County is a local alternative to stores such as Home Depot and Lowe’s, he said.

The store is price competitive with the chain stores, Frazure said. Tiles at Tri-County range in price from $.89 per square foot for floor tile up to $110 per tile for exotic marble.

He also has more knowledge of the product than the people who work at Home Depot and Lowe’s, Frazure said.

Opening the store was an important decision for him.

“It’s a big step,” Frazure said. “I’m almost 50 years old, never owned my own business.”

He thought Hollister could support a second tile store. He was not sure if the risk of giving up a weekly paycheck and taking out a business loan was worth it.

His family talked him into it.

“It was a whole family, both sides kind of just cornering me,” Frazure said.

So far, everything is going well.

“It’s self supporting right now,” Frazure said. “Just above breaking even, just above.”

In September, Frazure was able to hire his son Bruce to work at the store a few days per week. Bruce moved back to Hollister for the job.

“I’m just loving it here,” Bruce said. “I like working with family. I’m glad I came out here.”

Frazure agrees.

“Now all my kids and all my grandkids are here in town,” Frazure said. “That was a big bonus for me.”

The extra help enabled Frazure to concentrate more on customer service.

“I go to people’s homes and do measurements and give them ideas,” he said. “I’ve got all kinds of ideas, I’ve been doing this a long time.”

Most stores do not offer such assistance, Frazure said. At Tri-County, the service is free.

“Customers come in frustrated, get overwhelmed,” he said. “It just makes things easier for them.”

When customers arrive frustrated, normally they’ve been to other stores first, Frazure said.

At Tri-County, customers do not have to choose tile on their own. If someone needs help Frazure will give them suggestions based on their needs and budget.

“It’s pretty easy for them after that,” he said. “That’s one of the reasons I started this here, to make it easier for everyone.”

If he were working for Berkeley Farms today, Frazure would be making more money than he is now, he said. But he does not regret the change.

“I’m really happy I’m doing this, even though it’s really hard,” he said. “Good things are coming.”

The business will need a bigger space soon.

“We’re probably going to need a bigger space in a year or two,” Frazure said. “If it’s sooner than that it will be hard, but it will be a good thing.”

The store is 3,000 square feet. When they expand, Tri-County will move to a space that is at least twice as big.

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