MCAA Interview with Kevin Grotke and Rob McKay of Instone

Words: Justin Stengel

The MCAA was fortunate enough to have an interview with Kevin Grotke and Rob McKay of Instone, a Platinum Tier partner. Throughout the interview, they covered a broad range of topics about the company, Instone's operational focus, mission, and unique approaches within the stone distribution industry.

Kevin Grotke, the president and CEO of Instone, discusses his background and initial involvement in the company. Instone was founded in the late 80s, and he joined after the owners bought a stone distribution business in Chicago in 2010, marking a period of restructuring and growth for the company. Rob McKay has also been with Instone for nearly a decade, overseeing operational and marketing aspects. He joined the team with a history of working in building materials, and his role now includes handling both operational responsibilities and marketing initiatives.

Instone operates as a wholesale distributor, selling to dealers across the Midwestern and Northeastern United States, with plans to expand nationwide. They focus on thin veneer masonry, natural stone landscape materials, paver steps, treads, and fireplaces. A key goal for Instone is to simplify the acquisition and management of these products for their clients, which they achieve through various services like their B2B portal and a robust delivery system. These tools help maintain inventory efficiency, order placement, and cash flow management.

“Our tagline is ‘We Make It Easy’. And we do that in several ways, but most customers recognize us and make it easy by our b2b portal website where they can go on and see live inventory, place orders, and then backed up by our route truck delivery system.” - Kevin Grotke 

Instone differentiates itself through its ingrained industry experience and close-knit team culture. Many members, including some contractors, have grown up within the industry. This intimate knowledge contributes to their unique approach in not only supplying products but also remaining passionately involved in every aspect of their business. 

“We all grew up in the industry. We're pretty real people. We're not a corporation. You know, it's a pretty small business made up of people that grew up selling products or working in the warehouse or, in some cases, working in the field. We do have a couple of contractors that are on our team. And so I would say we're not experts at installation. And we certainly don't do that work, but the passion, I would say the passion and the commitment to the industry is alive and well. We've all been doing this for decades now.”  - Kevin Grotke

“Being a wholesaler, your most important job is to be able to have the product when people need it. The other thing that we've tried to do to kind of set ourselves apart is from a sales and marketing perspective, like, go out and do the extra work to bring jobs to promote the product for not only the manufacturer but promote it for for our dealers and our customers and their customers to to kind of get people excited about the brands that we're selling” - Rob McKay

Both Kevin and Rob express immense excitement about working with the MCAA. They believe in nurturing the partnership and contributing to the industry through possible initiatives like education and engagement activities, advocating for preserving the ancient craft of masonry.

“We've been in this industry a long time, we love the business. We love stone, we love masonry, and we love the people that are in it. We like the stories that are behind the people that are doing this every single day…

…We look forward to engaging more with contractors, and if there's education that we can partner with. I think that's important, to make sure that the whole craft doesn't go away. It's something that's been around for thousands of years, and we want to see it continue to flourish and grow. So we're excited to be a part of that.” - Rob McKay

Overall, Instone prides itself on being proactive in the industry by not just distributing stone and masonry products but also engaging in supportive and promotional activities for their client network. Their growth plans are regional and far-reaching, indicating a strong future trajectory aligned with industry needs and organizational capabilities.

Westlake Royal Building Products™ Expands Partnership with Boise Cascade® for Cedar Renditions™ and Versetta Stone® Distribution

Westlake Royal Building Products™ (“Westlake Royal”), a Westlake company (NYSE:WLK), today announced an expanded partnership with Boise Cascade®, a leading manufacturer and distributor of building materials throughout North America. Strengthening Westl

Four Different Types of Natural Stone Used For Masonry

Natural stone has been a staple in masonry for centuries. Before it was used to transform home and landscape designs on residential properties, it was used for historical buildings and some of the most iconic destinations in the world.

Advice to the Beginners

The best advice I could give anyone that is starting a career in masonry is that first and foremost, you must "know" yourself. What do you like to do? What would you like in a working environment? Do you like to be outside? Do you enjoy physical activity

About: Featured
Masonry Safety Inspections

The look of confusion and utter loss on people’s faces when I tell them that I’m a safety inspector for a masonry company is often hilarious.

About: Safety