Stone Column

A symbol of resolve

November 1, 2013
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Earlier this year, on a picture-perfect sunny day in mid-June, my colleague Alex Bachrach and I had the opportunity to visit the quarries at Lyons Sandstone, in Lyons, CO, about an hour outside of Denver. We were warmly greeted by the Buster family — the husband-and-wife team of Bernard and Brenda, along with their nephew Josh — and spent a couple of hours checking out the various deposits of stone and processing operations on the property. It was a thorough, informative visit, and the Busters were clearly used to showing guests around the site.

As often happens in publishing, it was a few months before we had an opening to run an article on the operations at Lyons Sandstone, and in this case, November would be the issue in which the story would appear.

In the time between our visit and the publication date, however, something terrible happened. As most of you saw in the national media, devastating floods hit Colorado in early September, and the small community of Lyons was among the hardest-hit areas in the entire state.

When a region gets hit with a natural disaster, outsiders can find themselves at a crossroads on how to address the people they know that have been affected. Do you contact them and see how they’re doing? Do you figure they have their hands full and wait for them to reach out to you or someone you know? Fortunately for me, Alex generally has no such reluctance, and he quickly reached out to the Buster family with an e-mail. Almost immediately, he got a personal response saying that while the Lyons area and its infrastructure — and the Buster Family Ranch — were hit very hard, everyone at the company was healthy and safe.

While this news was a relief, I still figured that my article on Lyons Sandstone would be postponed or scrapped entirely. Just to make sure, I checked in with the Buster family on my own, and I am very glad that I did. Josh Buster responded to me saying that they did indeed want to see the article go forward, despite everything that had happened in Lyons. This was only a couple of weeks after the flooding, and they were up and ready to go. He also noted at the time, “We expect to . . . come out of this in a stronger position in the marketplace.” (The family’s full statement comes at the end of the feature article on Lyons Sandstone, which begins on page 52 of this issue.)

Unfortunately, it seems to me that natural disasters are becoming more and more commonplace in the U.S. — almost becoming an accepted, annual event for some unfortunate region of the country. Two years ago, it was Hurricane Irene ripping through the Northeast and destroying much of the state of Vermont with floods. Last year, Hurricane Sandy tore through my home state of New Jersey, causing billions of dollars in damage. In both cases, however, I should note that ALL of the stone companies that were affected by Mother Nature’s wrath (and there were a lot of them) quickly rose to their feet and brought their operations all the way back.

Across the country, our industry is filled with family owned and operated companies, and if there’s one common thread among them, it is that the word “quit” is not in their vocabulary. The recovery of Lyons Sandstone is just another example of the resolve I see in the stone industry on a regular basis.

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