New England fabricator delivers well-crafted architectural pieces

March 1, 2008
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Granite Importers of Barre, VT, operates a 30,000-square-foot manufacturing plant, which specializes in cubic work.

In 1971, Granite Importers Inc. of Barre, VT, was established as an importer of granite from South America for the monument industry. Through the years, the company evolved into a full-scale plant for architectural stonework operation - specializing in cubic work, customized moldings, columns, steps, coping, paving and veneer. Today, Granite Importers’ portfolio includes a range of large-scale projects, including prestigious government, university and hospitality buildings as well as residential work - primarily on the East Coast.

The company began processing stone in 1976, when it purchased the first diamond block saw in the Barre area. “After that, three-dimensional saws were purchased as well as other stone-fabricating equipment,” said Sandra Colgan, one of the company’s principal owners, who serves as Secretary and Treasurer. “In order to accommodate the new machinery and increased sales in manufacturing, in 1984, a new manufacturing plant was erected.”

Many of the architectural dimension stone pieces are cut on large diameter saws.

Producing three-dimensional work

In addition to the 30,000-square-foot manufacturing plant, Granite Importers’ facility consists of a 10,000-square-foot adjacent building and a 4,000-square-foot sawing plant. The most recent piece of equipment added to the facility is a Pellegrini contour wire saw. “This has increased our ability to saw curved finished products,” explained Colgan.

Among other machinery used in the production of architectural dimension stone are Loeffler 11-foot, 6-inch diamond circular saws from Germany, Thibaut GB 210 shaping saws from France, a Natale-Parma lathe from Italy, a Cary auto slab polisher and grinder, a Spielvogel 920 mm saw from Germany, an Ordway 5-foot diamond saw and thermal flaming equipment.

While the company runs one shift in the manufacturing shop, the sawing plant runs 24 hours per day. Material is purchased from the U.S., Canada, Europe and South Africa.

Granite Importers’ staff is comprised of 24 manufacturing workers, 10 office employees and 12 trucking employees. In addition to Sandra Colgan, Ernest Colgan is Chairman of the Board, Bruce Colgan is President and Raymond Pouliot is Vice President, Head of Trucking.

“Granite Importers handles all types of projects - from residential work to large-scale buildings,” said Colgan. “We offer complete fabrication services from budgeting for design development through engineering, anchorage design, drafting, fabrication and delivery of finished stone.”

The most recent piece of equipment added to the facility is a Pellegrini contour wire saw.

Marketing its products

The principal market for Granite Importers is the East Coast, with 70% of its work comprised of the Boston, MA; New York, NY; and Washington, DC, metropolitan areas. At the time of Stone World’s visit, shop workers were fabricating pieces for the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Boston as well as the Lackawanna County Courthouse in Scranton, PA. Another recent project was the dining facility at Bates College in Lewiston, ME.

The company also developed Granite Importers Transport, which is a wholly owned subsidiary of Granite Importers Inc., according to Colgan. “It was developed to serve the tight delivery schedules so common to the dimensional stone trade, stone setters and fabricators,” she said.

Among long-term goals for the company is to increase capacity and develop new markets, while a short-term objective is to increase sales.

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