Our company was founded in 1985, by Larry Sullivan in partnership with Peggy Sullivan and Jimmy Sita, under the name Architectural Ceramics, Inc. aka ACI. The managing partner, Mr. Sullivan believed there was an opportunity to bring more appealing, high-quality tile to the local region. His ambition to build a showroom housing both a vast collection of smartly designed standards and artisan tile alongside entry-level products meant that customers now had choices. For the first time, a tile showroom had shelves of tiles by color. This range of products created a better shopping experience, a unique concept for the hard surface industry at the time.
By 1992, the brand's current CEO and innovative visionary, Betty Sullivan, helped Mr. Sullivan to buy out his partners. Betty became Larry’s new partner in work and life. Mrs. Sullivan’s first move, installing a fax machine, grew sales twoscore in one quick yet strategic move. The Sullivans raised their family intertwined with the tile industry, immersing them at every level. It’s no surprise the second generation can be found in roles throughout the company - among them, leading the strategic path forward.
Experts & Learning
In the early ’90s, Mrs. Sullivan began to hire designers to sell tile, training them to be subject matter experts, which embodies every Architessan today. Design expertise when buying tile was not easy to come by at the time, and onboarding actual design professionals was a game changer. Because they could compete against the big tile companies. They scouted the country and Europe for artisan tiles lines to offer, making the showroom the place to go. Hiring Architects, licensed interior designers, and certified kitchen and bath designers made the experience of selling & buying tile more dimensional.
A core part of the brand developed by Mrs. Sullivan’s focus on providing the highest level of service, meant investing in staff through continuing education. Employees were consistently trained on products, installation techniques, color trends, and more. This focus on partnering with the trade industry helped advance the business and industry. Continuing education through CEUs, hosting and sending installers to product training, and more organically strengthened relationships were required to uphold the highest level of service.
A New Showroom Experience
Spectacular showrooms with vignettes full of pattern layouts, mixed materials, and built designs were introduced when Mrs. Sullivan opened the first one in the early 2000s. The third Rockville showroom was 9,000 square feet and the first of its kind at the time. The location was quickly deemed “the place where Architects and Designers shop” and ACI grew dramatically.
By 2004, ACI established a sample program complete with packages that told a story to better guide design, offering a matrix of material selections that coordinated countertops, floor tile, and mosaic backsplash tile. These innovative design tools turned experienced designers & salespeople into curators, paving the way to impress clients and inspire them to reach “beyond the basic tile. Contractors also benefited a few years later, with the inception of bath packages, a single SKU that contained all the tile, trim, and more needed to install a standard bathroom. During the late 2000’s ACI developed a program for dealer clients and built a commercial division all while expanding their own showroom footprint.
Simply offering superb products was not the only thing Mrs. Sullivan focused on. Her deep understanding of cutting-edge manufacturing and design trends, combined with her love for tile, had vendors knocking on her door every day. Factories from all over the world wanted to partner with her, and many of these relationships still hold today. Architessa now brings products from six continents to their clients. Almost forty years of relationships with manufacturers, distributors, factories, and quarries have afforded one of the largest global reaches of any tile company today.
Two important years for the brand occurred from 2020-2021. First, the company attains WBENC Certification and now trades as a majority-owned and operated certified women-owned business. In 2021, the brand officially changed names from Architectural Ceramics to Architessa. This rare opportunity is important for the brand because a large portion of tile distributors and brands have been acquired by investment firms, leaving Architessa with a very small bedrock of family-led, women-owned brands.
Today, our company is driven by our core values and leaders that embody them. We are tile lovers and experts, going above and beyond to provide our clients with innovative products & designs, guiding them along the journey.