For many, the New Year is a time for reflection, to compare where one has been and how one got to where she or he stands presently.
As Acher Cohen reflects on his journey, he smiles.
Where he stands today is a stark difference from 28 years ago, when he first set his eyes on Quartz.
Cohen was born in 1976 in the beach front town of Caesarea. Just 50km north of Tel Aviv, Caesarea is a modern city with a rich history and an ancient past. Today, you can see the remains of the Roman aqueduct, the Citadel, and the Amphitheater. The streets are lined with monuments and statues, some dating back to the time of Jesus. It was also the home of Pontius Pilate who built his house upon a rock that sat in the middle of the harbor; a rock that still stands today. Growing up in Caesarea, was a constant reminder to Cohen that some stones last forever.
Cohen had an idyllic childhood. His family owned a popular restaurant, he lived in a safe neighborhood near the beach, and he had many friends. One of his favorite pastimes was to sneak into the Sdot Yam Kibbutz’s playground. At the time of Cohen’s childhood, the Kibbutz manufactured tile. After school while on his way to the beach, he would look to see if the gates of the Kibbutz where open. And if they were, he would skip the beach to play on their swings and playground. It was like a second home to him.
The Cohen family tradition held that at the age of 13, the children would begin to learn the family business. His father thought that his boundless energy and magnetic personality would be best suited for a position as a busboy. However, Cohen refused and insisted that he work in the kitchen. He knew he would own a business one day, or maybe take over the family restaurant. He figured if he were to build a great business, he must work in the heart of the company. In the restaurant industry, the heart is the kitchen. Besides, Cohen was fascinated by how combining, mixing, and heating random ingredients would transform them into delectable dishes. He immediately went to work on inventing a few signature dishes. At first, they were disasters that never made it on the menu. But he slowly added one ingredient or substituted another, and soon he was masterfully “architecting and designing” delicious meals. Eventually, his dishes were so good that he won a local cooking contest.
But despite his success, something disturbed him about designing and creating things that vanished. Food isn’t permanent. He wanted to design and architect objects that lasted for forever, just like the ancient ruins that surrounded him.
When he was 16, after a long day of swimming and sunbathing at the beach, Cohen noticed a truck, broken down at the side of the road. As he helped the driver, Cohen noticed slabs of beautiful stone in the trunk. Fascinated, he began to quiz the driver. The driver explained that local Kibbutz, where he’d spent so much time playing as a boy, now manufactured quartz slabs.
Little did Cohen know the impact he would have on the future of quartz.
An Unparalleled Drive and Ambition to Succeed
At the age of 18, Cohen joined the Israeli military, an Israeli citizen’s duty. The next day, after his return from serving, Cohen boarded a plane headed to Newark, NJ. His destination was his uncle’s tile showroom in Jersey City. He was 21 years old, and the only money he had was what he’d saved from working at his parent’s restaurant. He had no understanding of the English language, yet he was determined to overcome all obstacles and make it in America.
He worked long hours, saved money, learned the tile business and tried to perfect his command of the English language. Today, he sheepishly laughs because he admits that he still has a hard time communicating. But he is proud that he was never deterred or impeded by the language barrier. If anything, it fueled his determination to succeed.
Cohen didn’t want handouts or a free ride; he wanted to make it on his own. He met with many roadblocks, but nothing challenged his resolve more than his inability to find a suitable place to live. With no credit, he had limited options. The only place he found that would rent him a room was a dive motel on Routes 1 and 9 in Jersey City. The motel catered to monthly tenants; if you had a month's rent, you had a place to sleep. Many of the tenants were drug dealers or prostitutes. It was noisy, dirty and dangerous.
The nights he was too tired to let the noise of his neighbors and the stench of his dirty mattress impede his sleep, he dreamt of his family and the majestic coastline of Caesarea. Every morning, he reminded himself that no matter how hard it got, he wasn’t going to return home.
Ultimately, Cohen’s tenacity paid off. A year after arriving in America, he opened his first tile and marble showroom. It was tiny, only 500 square feet, which was a miniature of what he had set forth to accomplish. But gradually, he opened more locations and started to fabricate countertops. It was in 2009 when he set his focus on quartz and opened Quartz Master that things started to take off.
Cohen started with 40 designs. He had many blockbusters, and those that didn’t sell he discontinued or changed. Every month, he was selling more and more quartz. He had found his niche but knew he still had to continue to expand and push forward. His customers often complained about the maintenance and the expense of natural stone, but they bought it because of its intrinsic beauty. So, he set out to design quartz that replicated the beauty and majestic look of natural stone.
Marble and granite, although beautiful, are softer and higher maintenance stones. The hardness and malleability of quartz fascinated Cohen. He knew that the possibilities in color and design could be endless. He used his imagination and ingenuity, just as he had in the family restaurant, and after a year of many attempts in 2011, he introduced the world’s first marble design to quartz. It was an overnight success, and every year he added more designs to the collection.
While other manufacturers of quartz attempt to replicate his work, few can match the seamlessness and precision of his designs.
Never satisfied with anything less than perfection, Cohen continued to push boundaries and create authentic looking marble designs on his quartz slabs. Only a trained eye could distinguish between Cohen’s work and natural marble; the veins ran so deep that they mimic nature.
Designers often told him that they would like to design larger areas, so Cohen then set his sights on book matching his marble designs. Today, The Marble Collection is comprised of over 35 designs; most are book matched. The entire current collection consists of more than 60 designs. And the Mineral Collection is soon to debut.
And just like the ancient stones that surrounded him in his youth, his quartz is manufactured to last forever. His entire quartz collection comes with a lifetime warranty.
Because of Cohen’s grit, creativity, and ingenuity, Quartz Master is now an established brand that is featured in thousands of kitchen and bathroom showrooms and has eight warehouses across North America and one in Toronto. Just last year in June 2016, he opened his first warehouse in California. In six short months, he now has warehouses in Los Angeles, San Francisco and offices in San Diego. And he just opened his first warehouse in Florida. His immediate vision is that every state across the United States and Canada will have a Quartz Master’s warehouse.
It is Only Beginning
Cohen is proud of where he is today, but he knows it is only the beginning.
If you ask Cohen how he envisions the future, he doesn’t know exactly where he will stand 20 years from now. He knows that with God’s blessing, the future will be bright. And one thing is for certain; he will continue to work hard and take risks that will propel Quartz Master forward. He never places limits on his imagination, he is confident that it will enable him to continue to push boundaries to surpass what is common, a formula which has worked well for him.
He is most grateful for his wife, two children, family, and his many friends -- friends who often say that Cohen is as tough, resilient and brilliant as the quartz he manufactures.