JobSight: Growing All Natural

However, there were some issues that weren’t easily resolved. One was the appearance of the home.

“One of the unique things, in our opinion, that really defines a European-type house is stone,” he says. “We wanted some type of stone to enhance the look. We had even looked at some man-made materials, and we had almost made a decision to go that route.”

200_Dufreche P1130021Click photo to enlargeAlmost, but not quite. As part of their research, the Letos happened to visit a showcase home that included Yucatan limestone offered by Baton Rouge, La.-based Bella Dura.

Robert Day, Bella Dura’s president, explains that the showcase home was put together by a promotional company with assistance from several local organizations, including a television station, a high-end builder/developer and several subcontractors/suppliers. A two-weekend public open house raised money for charity.

“They had well-over 5,000 people go through this house over the two weekends,” Day says. “The Letos came through the house, saw our stone and said, ‘We have to have some of it.’

“We picked up quite a few projects from this showcase,” he adds.

Mark Leto says what struck the couple about the Bella Dura limestone was that, while the showcase home had little character, the stone gave the project extra height and dimension. And, it was used on both the interior and the exterior of the home. 200_Bella_Dura_MacedoniaClick photo to enlarge
“Our first thought was, ‘This is gorgeous; I hope we can afford it,’” Leto relates. “We found Robert Day and set up a meeting. Then, he gave us the price, and it was in line with the man-made materials we had looked at, and in some cases was cheaper.

“Once we learned it was affordable, we said, ‘Okay, we’re going to put it everywhere we want it.’ And, the project just grew and grew.”


Day isn’t surprised by the Letos’ enthusiasm. Although Bella Dura Architectural Stone has been quarrying and fabricating four of the Yucatan’s marble-like limestones for more than a decade, he previously brokered the stone for some of his competitors.

“It got to the point where we were doing large projects and I couldn’t depend on the other factories to do what they said they were going to do day-in and day-out, or to correct their mistakes, or to stand behind what they were doing,” he says. “I realized if we were going to be serious about this business, we had to control what we were doing.”