Vistona: How the Irish firm became the masters of stone and customer experiences

Dave Byrne and James Hobbs of Vistona explain to Rebecca Gibson how a commitment to innovation and continuous improvement helps the firm to deliver successful projects that exceed client expectations  

Vistona: How the Irish firm became the masters of stone and customer experiences
James Hobbs (left) and Dave Byrne are dedicated to delivering high-quality products and customer experiences

By Rebecca Gibson |

Bump into Vistona’s Dave Byrne and James Hobbs at an industry event and you will find them cracking jokes, regaling guests with amusing anecdotes and putting people at ease with their affable Irish sense of humour, but ask them to manage a project and they will instantly switch to professional mode.  

“We’re always up for fun, but we take our business very seriously and we’re dedicated to delivering high-quality results and an outstanding customer experience every time,” says Byrne, managing director of Vistona, which provides bespoke natural stone interiors and feature pieces for passenger ships, superyachts and other applications worldwide.  

“We aim to fully understand our clients’ specific requirements and tailor our services and products to meet, and exceed, their expectations. The Vistona team strives to ensure our clients feel confident in our ability to deliver their projects to the highest standard, whilst ensuring we remain approachable. This creates a space where they feel comfortable in reaching out to us; to assist them in overcoming any challenges they face on a project. Our aim is to establish long-term partnerships, rather than to complete one-off projects.”

Vistona marble products

Vistona’s marble and stone products can be viewed at its showrooms in Ireland and Italy

To achieve this goal, Vistona has positioned itself as the go-to partner for cruise brands wanting to install sustainable natural stone products onboard their vessels. Everything from operational processes to its headquarters in Ireland, new showroom in Verona and central production facility in Grezana in Verona, Italy, has been meticulously planned to ensure projects are completed quickly and seamlessly. 

“We’ve invested a lot of time and effort to ensure we can manage the end-to-end process for clients and deliver high-quality experiences,” says Hobbs. “Verona is the world’s natural stone capital and we source most of our raw materials there, which is why we strategically positioned our processing and polishing factory in this region. It allows us to provide clients with greater choice of materials and deliver faster production turnaround times. This year, we’re focusing on expediting the installation process by investing in mobile fabrication units to ensure our fit-out team can drive to dry docks in Europe and have immediate access to all the tools they need to fix issues on-site.” 

Vistona factory in Italy

Vistona’s factory in Italy processes and polishes all of the company’s marble products

Meanwhile, Vistona’s headquarters in Ireland puts the firm in the ideal geographical location to cater to clients anywhere in the world. “We’ve established Vistona as the bridge between the Italian stone market and the rest of the world,” says Byrne. “We have a deep understanding of how the industry works, and we also have a communication style and work ethic that makes us an ideal partner for clients in Europe, the USA and beyond. 

Clients also benefit from Vistona’s “ever-evolving commitment to excellence”, says Byrne.  

“We’re masters of our craft but we’re always identifying new ways to enhance our products and the customer experience,” he explains. “Every project presents its own unique challenges, so we must continually learn and refine our skill set to adapt to changes in the market or cater to customer demands. We don’t always get it right but if we make a mistake, we learn from it and adapt our processes or develop new solutions to prevent it happening again. This way, we ensure each client receives the best possible service, every time.” 

In 2023, for example, Vistona developed a new iOS and Android downloadable application to significantly improve communication and collaboration during projects.  

“Our teams and clients are often spread across different geographies, so projects can quickly become complicated,” says Hobbs. “Now, everyone can use the app to access critical information such as drawings and delivery updates, or to speak directly with the right person, which helps them to complete tasks quickly. Crucially, we have a holistic, real-time and transparent overview of the entire project, so we can track performance and rapidly identify and resolve issues, ensuring we deliver on time and within budget.” 

Vistona’s expansion into the superyacht sector has also challenged the team to change its manufacturing processes to deliver an exceptional standard of craftsmanship, whilst also upskilling its production and installation teams to meet these new standards. “Our people are the key to our success – they excel in areas such as communication, problem-solving and driving innovation,” says Byrne. “During the pandemic, we expanded into the superyacht space, where clients expect an even higher level of bespoke luxury and quality.  

“We’re now bringing this superyacht quality and expertise into cruise ship projects, so that when clients work with Vistona, they get far more than just a stone product. They receive a unique piece of decor that will enhance their vessel’s interiors and amaze guests, all while enjoying a personalised, professional and seamless working experience.” 

This article was first published in the Spring/Summer 2024 issue of Cruise & Ferry Review. All information was correct at the time of printing, but may since have changed. Subscribe to Cruise & Ferry Review for FREE to get the next issue delivered directly to your inbox.  

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