In The Beginning, Before Supreme Surface
Some time in the mid 1980’s, well before the inception of Supreme Surface, Tom Munro started working as a tile setter’s helper for his Uncle, Don. Despite having over 30 years passed, Tom never left the tile and stone business. Rather, he became passionate about design, natural stone, and tile work; he wanted to learn every aspect of the industry. He worked his way through many facets such as installations, estimates, sales, marketing, distribution, and his favorite, working as a manufacturer’s representative. “My favorite job was when I worked for Tom Shambo and Dave Corey at Interceramic. I can never thank those guys enough for what they taught me,” says Tom.
Supreme Surface, Inception of The Tile Company
Tom Munro, as a small tile contractor with big dreams, founded Supreme Surface in 1996. He rented a 160 s/f office space and called it his “Design Studio.” The company was marketed as a one-stop-shop for design, supply, and installation. Within a few years, Tom earned the reputation of being a tough guy to work for, a creative designer, and a straight talker. The company strived to be unique, deliver beautiful work, and to become the go-to place for custom designer floors and showers.
To separate Supreme Surface from other tile companies, Tom began making decorative inlays and medallions that defined rooms. “A local developer named J. Greg Allen gave me some really good advice early on. Greg told me that every home has about 10 memory points and I should always try and have my work become one of those 10”. Taking advice from Allen, Tom worked to create a unique, personalized feel to homes.
Supreme Surface and Granite Countertops
In 1998, Tom decided to enter the granite fabrication business. He and several others began producing countertops in an outbuilding located on Tom’s property. “It all started with a modified tile saw and a table made from old pallet racking. It wasn’t pretty, but somehow we made it work and never looked back,” says Tom. Within a year, Tom outgrew his outbuilding and moved into a 10,000 s/f building located in Indianapolis. This became home to the Supreme Surface, Indianapolis Granite Fabrication Facility. To satisfy demand, CNC equipment was brought in, and a second shift was pumping out granite countertops through the night. Around 2008 the economy became a major concern, and to further the business Tom looked toward diversification. With long term care and maintenance of natural stone in mind, Supreme Surface sought after high quality stone care products; the prices of granite countertops were falling, but the fabrication facility continued to run at full throttle.
Supreme Surface®, The Brand
In late 2010, a former customer, Irma (who makes cosmetic formulas), and Paul, a chemist, delivered a simple-to-use formula to Tom’s door. The cleaner noticeably improved the look and feel of a stone’s surface. “At the beginning I really just wanted something that I could give out to my customers. It was important that the cleaner effectively worked, was non-toxic, smelled good, and left a streak-free shine every time, even on black granite” says Tom. With the help of Paul and Irma, Tom had something very special. Tom filled bottles in his garage and applied labels that he made on his computer. To receive feedback and promote the cleaner, Tom handed a bottle to every customer, asked them to try it and give honest feedback. In 2011-2012, Tom trademarked the name Supreme Surface®, started to build his brand on the internet and through industry professionals.