Focused on Thin Stone Veneer
April 1, 2009
Less than two years ago, Pinnacle Stone Products, LLC of Parkesburg, PA, was formed as a collaborative effort between The H&K Group, based in Skippack, PA, and Brandywine Quarry of Parkesburg. Sitting on nearly five acres of land, Pinnacle Stone Products has invested in modern equipment to exclusively produce thin stone veneer from a diverse lineup of materials.
tone processed by Pinnacle Stone Products comes from the affiliated quarries operated by The H&K Group and Brandywine Quarry - totaling more than 50 sites in all. Prior to the joint venture between The H&K Group and Brandywine Quarry, the two were competitors - each dabbling in thin stone, according to Stacy Jackson, General Manager of Pinnacle Stone Products. Jackson, who had been working for The H&K Group, was instrumental in bringing the two producers together. “It’s taken us to a new level, with the backing of 50-plus quarries and a cohesive, focused approach,” he said. “The goal [for Pinnacle Stone Products] is to produce the best thin stone veneer.”
“We formed a partnership to embody the strengths of both companies, and Pinnacle Stone was born,” added John Hanaway, Production Manager for Pinnacle Stone Products. “There is a big demand for thin stone veneer.”
The majority of the stone processed by Pinnacle Stone Products comes from quarries in Pennsylvania - stretching from Harrisburg to east of the New Jersey line - and some materials also come from Maryland. In obtaining the raw materials for its thin stone, “picking crews” travel to the various quarry sites, which primarily produce crushed stone, where they select “blocks” (small boulders) to be processed into thin stone veneer. Extracted materials include mica schist, granite, limestone, argillite, sandstone and quartzite, among others.
Once the blocks are selected, they are delivered to the facility in Parkesburg for processing. In total, there are 15 workers at the facility on a daily basis to process the stone.
We don’t rely on [traditional quarry] blocks,” said Jackson. “Our crew picks flatter, larger material, and then it gets sent here, where it is processed into thin veneer.”
Processing the StoneOnce the materials are delivered to the stoneworking facility in Parkesburg, the majority of the processing is done using equipment from Park Industries of St. Cloud, MN. “There’s something about buying American,” said Jackson. “Park came out with some of the first [thin stone machinery] on the market. They’ve given us no reason to go with another company.”
The stone is first split on one of two splitters, including a Park Hydrasplit C-70. “With the new hydraulic conveyors, it’s a lot easier to get material in and out,” said Hanaway.
After being split, the pieces are sawn to the proper size using two TSX Thin Stone Systems from Park Industries - the model 4500 and model 5500. “They work together to utilize material more efficiently,” said Jackson, adding that three different sizes are offered. Finished pieces are then stacked onto wooden pallets by hand, and the company uses new pallets every time to ensure quality packaging.
Although 15 to 20% of the material processed each day ends up as waste, everything is 100% recyclable in that the waste gets sent back to the quarries to be crushed for road base. “That’s what we have to do to produce a quality product,” explained Jackson.
A water recycling system is utilized within the facility to not only be more efficient, but it is also better for the blades, according to Jackson. An air filtration system also helps remove excess dust, which coincides with the company’s stringent safety measures. “All production workers must wear personal protective equipment, including goggles, ear plugs and vests,” said Hanaway. “At least once a week, The H&K Group’s safety and risk management team conducts on-site safety checks to ensure OSHA compliance.”
Perfecting the ProcessGiven the short timeframe that the company has been producing thin stone veneer, it is still developing materials to add efficiency while still maintaining a premium level of quality. One challenge for Pinnacle Stone Products is determining the optimum blade selection and processing methods for so many different materials.
“We process so many different types of stone,” said Hanaway. “There are different tricks for cutting the different types of stone, including the right blade and feed rate. We run the facility by product, not by job, to be more efficient.”
Steps taken to become more efficient have allowed the company to nearly cut its prices in half from when it started. “We’re competing against ourselves,” said Jackson. “As a young company, we did well our first year, and we expect to triple sales and production by the end of our second. In the end, you can expect a lot from our product.”
Jackson went on to explain that most of the success has come so far without any substantial marketing and mostly through word of mouth.
Expanding MarketsThe company has recently, however, taken on a national marketing effort. “We’ve embarked on a campaign to obtain dealers nationwide,” said Steven Wagner, Marketing Coordinator of The H&K Group. “It’s taken off really well.”
Considering the material has to be installed above 30°F, according to Wagner, an emphasis has especially been made to develop markets in the Southern U.S. Principal markets are currently estimated at 80% of business being in the Eastern U.S., while the other 20% varies throughout the country.
Besides plans to continue building its dealer network, Pinnacle Stone Products also wants to stay on the forefront of quality thin stone veneer production. “We want to continue to produce high-quality thin stone veneer products and set the standards for thin stone products in the industry,” said Jackson.