Under the leadership of the industry’s top executives, the team at Moderno Porcelain Works specializes in the fabrication and installation of large-format porcelain.
A residential kitchen with porcelain waterfall countertops and backsplash to the ceiling with continuous vein flow. PHOTO COURTESY OF MODERNO PORCELAIN WORKS
Having recently opened his second showroom, Roberto Contreras, CEO and president of Moderno Porcelain Works (modernoworks.com), is taking the surfacing industry by storm. He talks about the evolution of the company, the new showroom in Sunrise and his plans to open more design centers across the country.
You have significant experience in the industry. Tell me how you transitioned from founder and CEO of Cosentino USA to launching Moderno Porcelain Works.
During the Cosentino USA era, we were the sole U.S. distributor of Spainbased Cosentino products and the first to introduce quartz into the American market, and we ended up with over $250 million in sales. However, I decided to sell the company to Cosentino S.A. of Spain in 2009 and remained CEO through the transition. Then I decided to launch Moderno Porcelain Works and opened my first showroom in Houston and second in South Florida. I saw a need for high-quality fabrication and large-format porcelain, so it made sense.
This is not your first entrepreneurial venture. How did you get your start?
When I was 23, I founded my first company, Super Marble, a custom marble fabrication shop in Houston working with many high-profile restaurants, custom home builders and projects like the Holocaust Museum, Moody Gardens and Houston International Airport. And in 1995, my father and I founded Technimar Industries Inc., which we later sold to the Davis family and became Cambria.
Why is Florida an important market for you?
Florida is at the forefront of design. Porcelain stoneware, sintered stone and ultracompact surfaces are becoming more popular across the United States, but even more so in Florida, and the number-one barrier in the market has been the lack of expertise in fabrication and installation. No other company has focused solely on the fabrication and installation of large-format (10-foot-by-5-foot) porcelain panels, and we use state-of-the-art equipment and proprietary methods to fabricate and install.
What has been the key to Moderno’s rapid success?
Having the right people has been a key component of our success. Our general manager, Jesus Garcia, is a veteran of the surfacing industry, knows how to build a team and understands large-format porcelain fabrication and installation. Our research and development team is headquartered in Florida and led by industry expert Ben Szell, chief product officer. By revolutionizing the industry, our in-house craftsmen create endless possibilities, from eye-catching porcelain shower walls, bathroom vanities and kitchen countertops to flooring, interior and exterior wall cladding, fireplace surrounds, outdoor living and more.
Why do you say that large-format porcelain stoneware is an industry game changer?
Porcelain stoneware can look like anything you want. With recent advancements in new technology, you can re-create any look by digitizing your favorite design whether marble, wood, metal or a favorite pattern and have zero maintenance while also being eco-friendly.
You can have that exact design you want without the limitations, maintenance and, in some cases, the cost of other materials. Quartz falls short on imitating natural stones and discolors over time; granite is too heavy for ceiling applications; and the maintenance of marble limits its applications. Porcelain stoneware solves all these issues. And its versatility, coupled with its size, allows for large surfaces to be covered without seams.
Lobby of a multifamily development with porcelain wall cladding maintaining vein flow.PHOTO COURTESY OF MODERNO PORCELAIN WORKS
Because of the advanced technology in manufacturing porcelain, vein-matching, book-matching and large continuation of patterns can be easily produced without excessive waste of materials. Gone are the days of grout lines and unsightly countertop seams. Shower walls can be solid slabs, as can fireplaces, countertops and even walls and ceilings.
It will not only change our design trends but how we live. Unlike marble and granite, porcelain is nonporous and can be cleaned with stringent disinfectants giving peace of mind to its users that the surface is safe and clean. In a post-pandemic world, people are going to demand that common touch points and surfaces are easily sanitized in public spaces and in their homes.
What has been the biggest challenge for this industry?
When using porcelain, the biggest barrier for designers, architects and general contractors has been the fabrication and installation of the material. Moderno Porcelain Works is exclusively dedicated to the fabrication and installation of large-format porcelain slabs, and by developing a proprietary installation method, we eliminate the common problems builders and general contractors have with installation, opening endless possibilities for design and budget.
What does the future hold for Moderno?
In addition to our South Florida showroom in Sunrise, we plan to open our second Florida location in Orlando in the fall of this year. We also plan to open showrooms in San Diego, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., and Phoenix soon. And that is in addition to our existing locations in Houston, central Texas, Dallas and in the Twin Cities, Minnesota.