Meeting worldwide demand for pink granite



Located in the hills of Salisbury, NC, the Salisbury PinkR quarry produces a material that is truly one of a kind, as this single site supplies about 6,000 cubic meters of stone annually to the world market. The quarry was acquired by Rock of Ages in 1997, and it is one of a dozen active quarries operated by the company.

The operation employs 50 people in Salisbury, including management and a full-time safety director, working 8-hour shifts 52 weeks per year. Blocks are available in a variety of sizes, but the main goal is to produce gangsaw-sized blocks.

After acquiring the quarry from Keystone Granite, management at Rock of Ages sought to upgrade the equipment on site to ensure that it would meet its market potential in the Asian market and beyond. Quarrying equipment currently in use at the site includes Tamrock drills, Pellegrini wire saws and NED quarry waterjets.

With the equipment in place, the quarry is meeting its market demand, with a focus on the Far East. "With Salisbury Pink, 80% of our exports are currently being shipped to the Asian market, where the stone first gained its popularity in the 1990s," said Bob Campo, director of sales and marketing for Rock of Ages. "The lighter pink shade is aesthetically pleasing, and the lighter color absorbs less heat from the mostly tropical Asian climates." Campo also pointed out that the stone's fine grain consistency and uniformity, as well as its high block yield, have contributed to its popularity.

The majority of Salisbury Pink exports are used for architectural projects, including prominent high-rise buildings such as the Island Centre Plaza Commercial Tower in Hong Kong. But even though most of the exports are for architectural work, Campo stressed that the company's sales do not included finished products. "It should be noted that Rock of Ages is strictly a block supplier," he said. "We do not manufacture or offer for sale slabs, tile or cut to size. In this way, we are never our customer's competitor, but rather their partner in working towards the common goal."

Also unique, the distribution network for Rock of Ages does not include block traders. "Rock of Ages is following a 'direct to the customer' sales strategy," said Campo. "We no longer utilize 'exclusive' block distributors, who often increase prices dramatically and generally do not have the best interest of the quarrier in mind. Rather, Rock of Ages seeks out customers for long-term business relationships who will help develop markets for our granites."

In addition to exporting Salisbury Pink, the company sells some blocks for consumption within the U.S. Domestically, the stone has been popular for monumental purposes as well as for industrial granite products such as surface plates.

With the acquisition of the Salisbury Pink quarry - as well as other sites such as American Black granite ("Equipped for large-scale production," September 2001 Stone World) - Rock of Ages is still looking to add to its collection of materials. "We are always seeking out new quarry properties for granites that fit into our product line," Campo said. "This was recently demonstrated by a joint venture for a new quarry, 'Galactic Blue,' located in the Ukraine."

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