For more than 30 years, Sarana Tile (Sarana) has been one of Ontario’s most distinguished and reputable importer-distributors of ceramic, porcelain, natural stone and glass tile. Stocking more than 1,000 skus and hand-picking its own imports, family-based Sarana remains at the forefront of ever-changing styles and designs.
“The running life of a typical product is 16 to 24 months before the fashion changes,” shares Paul Alongi, second-generation owner and managing partner of Sarana. “This is why we need to have extensive warehousing with an immersive amount of stock to keep up with the constant change in customer demand.”
Direct owner involvement
In an industry that’s always changing, from design trends to high definition digital printing that nearly replicates natural stone, Sarana has managed to stay tuned into all of the details of product development, design and marketing. Since 1979, when the Alongi family established Sarana, the company has taken a hands-on approach to high-quality products.
“We’ve been in business since 1979 as an importer, exporter and distributor of hard surfaces –tile, porcelain, natural stone and glass – and we’re a family-based business that’s completely Canadian-owned,” details Alongi. “Despite our size, we’re very much hands on. The original owners still proudly hand-pick our lines and materials at shows throughout Spain, Italy, Portugal, Brazil and beyond.”
All of this hard work ends up in one of the company’s three locations in Hamilton, Concord and Ottawa. “We have a few retail outlets, but the bulk of our business is wholesale,” notes Alongi. “We have 50-plus employees in Ontario across all three locations and we serve customers throughout eastern Canada, from Winnipeg to Quebec and the Maritimes.”
Sarana’s philosophy is based on dedication, loyalty, professionalism and fast, friendly service. “We’re committed to client satisfaction and customer service at a competitive price,” compares Alongi.
Driving design and manufacturing
Unlike some distributors, Sarana takes a front seat throughout the design and manufacturing process, assisting with projects from start to finish. “We’re not specifically a manufacturer, but we buy line time from certain manufacturing companies so when we design a line, we control it, we own it and it brings more exclusivity and quality control to the process,” explains Alongi.
Sarana stocks an impressive 1,000 skus, including well over 100 collections of wall and floor tile in stock for residential and commercial applications, in both ceramic and porcelain finishes in a range of sizes. “We have recently landed the rights to the Roberto Cavalli luxury home line and we’re the sole distributor in Ontario,” reveals Alongi. “We’ve had the rights for almost a year now. It’s a high-end product but it’s had excellent reception in the marketplace and designers and homeowners have been all over it because of the name brand recognition.”
The line officially launched in April 2012, and the Roberto Cavalli Home Collection has partnered with Italian ceramic manufacturer, Gruppo Ceramiche Ricchetti, for both interior and exterior tile and flooring applications. Keeping true to the glamorous philosophy of the fashion brand, the luxury collection includes four dramatic colors characterized by the fineness of grain and brightness of agate stone.
An ever-changing game
Alongi says one of the only constants in the flooring and tile industry is change as people’s tastes vary and technology is making strides. “There’s been a major revolution in the industry in the last two years with the shift to high definition digital printing and it’s completely changed the game,” he reveals. “Now natural stones can be copied almost exactly – you wouldn’t know the difference just judging from the face. The printers scan a segment of natural stone and print it onto the surface of ceramic tile and the results are amazing. It’s becoming the industry standard and either you’re with it or you’re out of it.”
Alongi says he also sees big changes on the horizon in the formatting of flooring and tiling over the next five years. “Things are moving to larger, thinner formats,” he explains. “They can now produce porcelain veneer at less than 3 millimeters thin, which not only costs less to ship, but can be easily installed over existing flooring. In commercial applications, the tile can be laid overnight and the facility is operational the next morning.”
In an industry of constant changes, it’s always a test to stay on top and ahead of the next best thing, but Sarana has nearly mastered it over the course of 30 years and now the company has its sights on U.S. expansion. “Western Canada and the U.S. are a very real possibility coming up for us,” adds Alongi.
Nonetheless, he assures expansion won’t come at the cost of quality and design supervision. “There’s great satisfaction in seeing a product we’ve developed, designed and produced make it to market,” says Alongi.
Sarana Tile continues a hands-on, family tradition that’s been recognized across eastern Canada for more than three decades.