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Robert Krolikiewicz – International Artistic Stone, Inc.

feature-template-iasRobert Krolikiewicz

International Artistic Stone, Inc.

By Kacey C. Krznaric

Photography by Giovanni Lunardi

Photo Gallery Below

Ambition and Skill Collide, Creating a True Masterpiece

Robert Krolikiewicz was born in Wroclaw, Poland, a historically rich and architecturally strong city that he compares to Venice with its castle-like structures and aged compositions. He grew up in a large family in a village just outside of the city where they made their living growing and cultivating vegetables on their land. Raised primarily by his grandparents, he had a strong work ethic instilled in him at a young age, and was also exposed to a kind of hands-on creative expression through his grandfather who did blacksmith work as well as his father who did wood sculpture as a hobby. 

ias-robert-coverIn recounting his story, Robert is humbled by the success he has earned and accredits it all to people- those who helped him along the way as he immigrated from Poland, those who gave him a chance to turn his passion into product, ultimately molding him into the businessman he‘s become, and even those he employs today at International Artistic Stone, considering them his family and the foundation from which each beautiful piece is produced. He says, “Without people, we are nothing.” His journey begins in Chicago, Illinois.

Robert emigrated to Chicago in his early twenties in search of opportunity. He was prepared to do what he had to do in order to save money and immediately went to work cleaning stores and taking English classes to break the language barrier that presented itself. He worked hard doing this for several years until he recalls seeing an ad for a forklift operating school and enrolled when he was 24 years old. Operating the machinery was a job but Robert wanted to dedicate his life and work to creating something he was passionate about. That’s when the next path in Robert’s journey began to reveal itself in the form of a postcard he received from his father in Saint Petersburg, Florida. 

The postcard depicted palm trees and beaches- the beauty drew Robert in immediately. The big city of Chicago didn’t suit him and he packed his belongings and headed south. Arriving in Florida and still contending with somewhat of a language barrier, he describes the locals he encountered as “friendly people wanting to lend helping hands.” His positive first impression of Floridians remained and soon he met Joe, the owner of European Marble who would ultimately be a driving factor in steering his course toward realizing his passion- artistic expression through marble and stone. 

ias-cutting-blockJoe saw the ambition that Robert had in wanting to create something, as he describes as “clean, fast, and the best,” and promoted him to an area where he would have the opportunity to hone his desire, portray that desire with his artistic abilities, and take his vision a step beyond. Robert embraced the chance he was given, putting a personal mantra to it, “We must challenge ourselves every day.” This was a significant time in Robert’s life as it brought him a step closer to the proverbial platform from which he would soon take the leap of faith that would define his passion, his life, and eventually his business.

Aside from the spark of ambition that dwelled inside Robert, his wife Irini played an integral part in his personal and professional success. While Robert knew Irini for most of his life, it wasn’t until years later that she came to Florida and they began dating and ultimately married. At this time, Robert was flourishing in the marble and stone business but his wife saw a deeper potential in him and talent that was immeasurable. She urged him to break away from European Marble and start his own business. Robert was uneasy about this but, as a team, they decided to take each other‘s hands and finally take that leap of faith. 

ias-robert-carvingRobert started subcontracting with the company he was currently working for and began doing his own work out of his backyard. It started with little projects for friends and, through word of mouth and small networking, he was able to grow his business and take his work to new heights. The leap of faith was the pivotal moment that would distinguish Robert from a marble and stone worker to a marble and stone artisan and a successful self-made business owner. With the support and affirmation of his wife, Robert was finally able to take the final step in realizing his dream.

Now, with International Artistic Stone as an established and flourishing business evidenced by their selection as a subcontractor on Sarasota’s Ritz-Carlton where their craftsmanship is on display, they cater mostly to large, million dollar residential projects. Robert shares with us the keys to maintaining the success of the business and what he envisions for the future. “Inventory is the power of the business,” Robert says. He believes it’s paramount in the success of a business to stay ahead of the curve, buying materials in bulk before cost rises. In order to do this, “You have to constantly be educated and attuned to what the market is like.” Robert admits that he is still learning the best ways to market his business, case in point that education and market awareness are key.

ias-robert-slabAt International Artistic Stone, only the finest marble and stone pieces are created, each with it’s own unique ornate design. From the hand carved detail on the sculptures, busts, fountains, and vases to the perfect, clean structure of the fireplaces, patio tables, and Greek-inspired pillars, the craftsmanship is refined and the pieces are visually gratifying. Aside from the inspired and decorative productions, International Artistic Stone also constructs precision stone and granite countertops, grave stones, and indoor/outdoor fixtures like weathered pots and textured columns and balustrades.

Outside of the business, Robert and Irini enjoy taking annual skiing trips to Jackson, Wyoming with their 3 children. They joke about having a very large family because each employee at International Artistic Stone is considered to be part of their family unit, spending a great amount of time together, dining out and enjoying each other’s company outside of the warehouse. 

ias-robert-iriniRobert and Irini also have a love for motorcycles and own a 1946 and 1999 Indian, as well as a custom chopper known as “The Redneck.” Robert smiles when recounting his days as a child, sitting on the parked motorcycle in the garage belonging to his grandfather, making “motorcycle noises” as if he were riding himself. He feels grateful for the support of his family, his possessions, and the success in life and business that all his hard work has earned him. Robert is truly the face of a self-made businessman who is living the American Dream.

International Artistic Stone, Inc.
4420 Chenet Lane
Sarasota, FL 34238
(941) 923-7080
info@iasfl.com
www.iasfl.com

Copyright © 2010 REAL Magazine

Links to this article are encouraged

Photography used under license from Giovanni  Lunardi  Photography

Photography Copyright © 2010 Giovanni Lunardi

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