The tile industry recognized both the company’s quality work and Harry’s active role in various associations over the years by giving the company a number of “firsts”: including the first Contractor of the Year award from the Western States Ceramic Tile Contractor’s Association in 1964, and the first and only dual awards ever given by the Ceramic Tile Institute, for best of project in both residential and commercial in a single year, 1984. Fischer won national acclaim for its part in the restoration of the California State Capitol, including replication, re-fabrication and installation of the famous Minton tile in the Rotunda.
As the business expanded, so did the number of Fischer facilities. In 1946, Harry built a new building at 2215 J Street in downtown Sacramento. In 1953, the company purchased the H.O. Adams Tile Company and moved into its building at 2311 J Street. In 1972, the business of fabricating the then-new material of DuPont Corian necessitated a new building, and the Hires bottling plant at 21st and S was purchased. Similarly, in 1986, a growing stone fabrication business led to the purchase of the Henderson Auto Parts building at 1806 23rd Street.
During the 1960s, Harry’s eldest son Jay was old enough to become the fourth generation of Fischers to follow in dad’s footsteps and begin working in the tile business, initially as a part-timer during high school and then college. Like his father and grandfather, Jay started with general jobs in the warehouse during summer vacation from high school. One entire summer in 1963 was spent stocking the marble for the exterior of downtown Macy’s. While attending college at San Jose State, Jay spent summers in the field installing tile on various commercial projects, including a major job at Shasta College in Redding. In 1970 Jay joined the firm full-time and soon took over the residential division, working with such notable custom contractors as Lewis and Bristow and Darrell Dettling. By 1980 he also become active in the commercial division as the lead estimator and project manager for tile restoration at the California State Capitol. In 1990, Jay took over formal control as president when his father retired at the age of 75.
Jay has set his own tone for the business, managing further growth and expansion. Today Fischer has 150 employees and annual revenues of more than $20 million. One key to Fischer’s long-term success is the breadth of its offerings. The commercial division includes industrial, public, private and school installations. The residential division specializes in stone and tile for new construction of high-end homes. The granite and Corian (hard surface) shops fabricate and install for both residential and commercial projects. “What we offer the builder is one place to get all these products, with the work done inside our shops, to our quality standards,” says Jay Fischer. Another, equally important, factor in the company’s success, adds Jay, is its employees, many of them long-timers who have spent most of their careers at Fischer.
The Fischer main office, located at 23rd and R Streets in midtown Sacramento, shares a 23,000 square foot warehouse and office with the residential division. The commercial warehouse and Corian shop share an adjacent 13,000 square foot warehouse and a 12,000 square foot warehouse across the street. The granite shop occupies a 25,000 square foot warehouse complete with three overhead bridge saws and various other finishing equipment. A company fleet of 75 vehicles supports all of these divisions.
In 1994 Fischer launched operations in Hawaii, headed by Jay’s brother Gary. The company’s largest commercial projects thus far have both been in Hawaii — the Hawaii Convention Center and the Hawaiki Towers, a 46-story, 398 luxury condominium complex overlooking Waikiki Beach.
While expansion continues, so does the Fischer management tradition of active service to the tile industry. Jay served as a director of the Tile Contractors Association of America (TCAA) director for four years, and president of the National Tile Contractors Association from 1991 to 1994, then acted as chairman of the board for the next two years. He has also served in a variety of roles with the local Associated Tile Contractors of Northern California.
Most important, Fischer has maintained its focus on quality employees who do quality work, work that continues to garner recognition from the industry. Particularly noteworthy are awards for best residential and best commercial project in a single year, first from the Ceramic Tile Institute in 1984, more recently in both 1998 and 2006 from the Tile Contractors Association of America. Fischer remains the only company ever to have received both awards from in a single year.
In the midst of major changes in construction and materials during the past century – and even during his 16 years as president — Jay Fischer sees an important sense of continuity in his family’s firm. “Our continuing hallmarks are quality, reliability and experience – all due to our dedicated, experienced craftsmen and employees,” he says. “That won’t change, even after another century.”