Fred Radtke Jr. got his start in the tile and marble business when he was just 9 years old.
He had lost his bike and his father, Fred Radtke Sr., offered him some work at his Carson City business, Radtke Tile and Marble, to earn some money and buy a new bike.
"I spent probably eight months in front of this tile saw cutting these little weird shapes then I got my new bike, but after that I was a big working man and was too mature to ride bikes," the younger Radtke, 41, said. Today, he co-owns the business with his wife, Monica Radtke, 35.
Radtke's father started the tile and marble business 37 years ago in Carson City - the elder Radtke, 66, still works at the company to give his son and daughter-in-law a helping hand. He adds, "Retirement is not what it's cracked up to be."
The husband and wife bought the company in 2001. Their specialty is customizing stone slabs for things like kitchen remodels and flooring. They have dozens of slabs of granite on site, which they cut by using a high-pressure water cannon or saws. The company's 30 employees, which includes the Radtkes, design, trim, polish and install the stone slabs. They're the ones who created the marble state seal in foyer of the Nevada Legislature when the new building opened in the mid-1990s.
They also have a computer program that can superimpose a customer's chosen slab of granite onto a template of their kitchen, for example, in order to see how the stone would look after it's cut.
"We basically take out the guesswork for them," Monica Radtke said.
Monica Radtke said the company hit its peak in 2005 as housing construction continued to roar in the region. But after the housing bust, the Radtkes and their employees were forced to adapt to a new market.
"Anytime there's new construction going up we're always trying to get a piece of it," Monica said. "Just trying to survive in this economy."
She said the housing market is not all bad.
"The only good thing about that, because people weren't really selling their homes or buying new homes, they wanted to be happy in what they were in so they started doing a lot of remodeling," she said.
And that has meant sales.
Fred Radtke Jr. said granite still is a popular accent for kitchens, adding many of their customers have homes in Mammoth, Calif.
"We tend to get the people that do more research and know more of what they want," he said. "They want to have the exotics, the wild stones. They want to have control over it."
The elder Radtke adds, "God didn't make two grains of sand the same." The same applies for granite slabs.
While they're still in their 35,000-square-foot facility in east Carson City, the Radtkes said they are planning on moving into a new building in the next four months.
"Being a local family-owned business, we really appreciate the support we get from people," Monica said.