Jan 29, 2019 12:02PM
By Tamsen Butler
GMS Werks president Terry Bortolotti remembers his grandfather Isidoro as “loud and boisterous. He was never mean, but he wanted to make sure he was heard.”
Isidoro’s legacy is heard loud and clear as GMS Werks. His grandfather started the company 100 years ago, but because he was not yet a citizen, he could not incorporate until 1924. “He wasn’t afraid of anything,” added Terry. His fearlessness was evident as he emigrated to the United States after a stint in the Italian armed forces. He brought with him his knowledge of terrazzo and mosaic work, and a work ethic that meant no complaints despite long hours of hard labor.
Terry said GMS Werks has managed to be successful for over a century largely because of the culture of “hard work and honesty” his grandfather fostered. A portrait of Isidoro hangs in the company’s showroom, reminding visitors of the rich history of this local company.
The Bortolotti family’s involvement in GMS Werks remained constant even after Bill Fairfield purchased the company. “After my grandfather came my uncle Norman,” said Terry. “My aunt Norma May stepped in too, and then my father Doro ran the company. When I was in charge of the company, my daughter Sabrina and my son Brock worked here; Brock still works here in the summer.” Fairfield bought the company nearly three years ago.
Terry joked that the purchase of GMS Werks allowed him to “drop his hours from 60 a week to 55.” Though no longer the owner, he still has an active role as president of the company. Fairfield said that despite Terry’s designated office space, “We have to fight to keep Terry out of the showroom—Terry can figure out anything.”
Fairfield told the story of people from a local restaurant coming to the showroom with a photo of natural stone behind a bar and asked, “Do you know what this is?” Without missing a beat, Terry replied, “That’s Verde Mare; we have some in the warehouse.” The representatives of the restaurant were overjoyed to have quick access to the exact stone they sought, and everyone was in awe of Terry’s ability to pinpoint the exact stone from a simple photo.
“The fingerprint that Terry put in place helps us succeed,” said Fairfield. They are booked with clients through the end of the year. The company has sold products in all 50 states and installed their products in 28 states.
“We can do things that other people can’t,” said Fairfield, showing off a photo of a project at condos on the Riverfront. That project involved using a crane to hoist a large slab of natural stone up and into the condo. “You have to know what you’re doing to do things like this,” he said, explaining that even a faint breeze could result in big trouble for an installation of that magnitude.
Fairfield also attributes the company’s success to their dedicated, artistic employees. “It really is an artistic product,” he said. GMS Werks continues to carry on Isidoro’s legacy by delivering premium products consistently and honestly.
4225 Florence Blvd. Omaha, NE 68110 402.451.3400 gmswerks.com