Marine, Engineer, Mathematician, to Small Business Owner
EM: Tell us a little bit about yourself. What’s your most impactful experience?
Richie: My most impactful experience, and that which had the most impact on me, is the time I spent in the Marine Corps. I joined before my expected high school graduation date and served for 12 1/2 years. I loved being a Marine and the many opportunities and experiences that came with it. Through my time enlisted, I crossed paths with some of the absolute best people I’ve ever met. The brotherhood and bond with my fellow Marines is something that I will always value and cherish.
After the Marine Corps, I went to school at the University of San Diego where I earned a BS in Engineering with a minor in Mathematics. My family and I relocated to Eagle for me to go to work as a research and development engineer at HP. Later, I worked at Plexus Manufacturing where we manufactured and tested high-complexity printed circuit boards. I wasn’t finding exactly what I was seeking in either role, so I went back to school and transitioned to software engineering. This led me to work at a law firm where I used AI and Machine Learning to build custom software applications for attorneys. Although I felt extremely fortunate to have such great jobs, I had always wanted to own a small business. So, while still working as an engineer during the day, I began stone fabricating at night. This was when I really started feeling satisfaction from my work and decided to take a leap of faith. Now, here I am as owner of Foothills Granite in the Treasure Valley.
EM: How did you get into the construction trade business? Why Granite?
Richie: My family has long been involved in construction trades. When I was young, I started in flooring, working with my uncle as a helper. I worked in my family’s interior design center when not deployed. I have always enjoyed putting in a hard day of work while working with my hands so when the opportunity came to learn stone fabricating, I knew immediately that it was my craft. Not only do I get to do fine, tedious work with large, heavy stone, but I also get to use the advanced software and technology designed specifically for this trade! There’s also something very cool about taking a huge slab of raw material–a unique piece of natural stone–and shaping it into a beautiful product that people will enjoy looking at for years to come.
EM: Tell me about a job install that you enjoyed. The reason you liked it, and the outcome.
Richie: I genuinely enjoy all of my installs. It’s always such a great feeling to see my customers’ reactions to the final product in their homes. It’s almost like the home renovation TV shows where they say “MOVE THAT BUS,” and the homeowners see their home for the first time. Whether it is a complete renovation, a new build, or a counter upgrade, I can’t say enough about how great it is to custom fabricate and install a product that customers are so excited about with the service they expect.
EM: Construction can be a bear. What’s your take on customer service?
Richie: From my years as a Marine and engineer, collaborating with others is something I’ve really come to value. It’s equally fulfilling to me and my customers to talk through their ideas and visions and then physically develop them. When working with builders and the many demands they have to meet when building a home, it’s been great to be able to take the countertop work off their plate. I’m able to either simplify their process as a trusted subcontractor or by communicating directly with homeowners or other subcontractors. Building these relationships is so important in the Treasure Valley and it’s a community where I’ve enjoyed establishing myself.
EM: Anything else you’d like to add?
Rich: I really consider myself lucky to be growing my business here in the Valley. My family and I are very involved in the school and sports communities and know we are surrounded by great neighbors. As homeowners ourselves, we’re on the same page as everyone else about wanting transparency, integrity, and (very importantly!) reliability when inviting a contractor to our home. As a Marine, these are of top-level importance to provide to my own customers. I aim for homeowner after homeowner to be thrilled with their new countertops and to complete each project knowing I provided a really great service to them, and in turn, our community. I’m very fortunate to have this great intersection of experience from which to develop Foothills Granite and I look forward to the many great people and projects that it’ll bring my way!