Supplying Finnish granite worldwide

May 5, 2004
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Interrock Oy first opened its doors for business in 1993. The company is divided into several areas, including block quarrying (in Finland), imports and trading, and the manufacturing of crushed stone. Additionally, the business has branched out into two other divisions -- Interrock Deutschland GmbH & Co. KG and Interbulk Oy -- that it believes will assist in strengthening its position in the worldwide market.

The company is managed by Harry Toivonen, and is comprised of 50 employees at its peak season. In addition to quarrying stone, Interrock Oy imports materials from China and India and then sells the products to local trading companies. These materials include dimensional pieces, curbstones, pavers, tiles and steps.

Quarrying blocks

In 1997, Interrock Oy purchased its first site for block quarrying. Today, the company operates six granite quarries in Finland: Aurora, Baltic Brown ED, Karelia Red, Kuru Grey, Kuru Hazelnut and Monola Brown.

The Aurora quarry is located near Pukkila -- about 37 miles north of Helsinki. The production capacity amounts to approximately 400 cubic meters per year, reports Interrock Oy. Aurora Borealis is a medium- and coarse-grained oriented migmatite, primarily used in the funerary sector. The red veins on a dark background provide each slab with a unique look. Of the material quarried, 2% of the blocks are considered premium, while the others are viewed as second-class or waste. For this reason, Aurora Borealis granite can be as much as four times higher in price than other materials such as Baltic Brown, explained the company. The main foreign markets for this granite include Germany, Poland, the Netherlands and Belgium.

Baltic Brown ED (Extra Dark) is the most well-known material produced by Interrock. The company began extracting this granite in 1998 in a quarry near Miehikkälä, which is located in southwest Finland. Approximately 4,000 cubic meters of Baltic Brown ED blocks are produced annually. Among the main markets for this material are Italy, France, Spain, China, the Netherlands and Belgium, and finished slabs and tiles are then shipped around the world. The green coloring of the granite that surrounds the feldspars results in a color combination that many customers find appealing, according to Interrock, adding that Baltic Brown ED is primarily used for countertops, tiles and wall cladding.

Located in the southeast of Finland in the town of Sippola is the Karelia Red quarry. This coarse-grained red granite is considered to be one of the oldest granites in Europe, said Interrock. It is often used as wall cladding as well as in the funerary sector. The production capacity for this granite is about 3,000 cubic meters of blocks per year. The major direct importers of Karelia Red are China, France, Italy, Spain, the Netherlands and Belgium, and finished products are specified around the world. Approximately 5% of the extracted blocks are considered premium material.

Since 2000, Interrock has been quarrying Kuru Grey blocks in a quarry located near Tampere, Finland. On an annual basis, about 5,000 cubic meters are produced. Finished products in Kuru Grey can be found in all major markets, and the main importers for blocks of this material are China, Poland, the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany. The Chinese are the greatest customer for Kuru Grey, which consists of green shades on a gray background. They process the granite and then export it to Japan, where it is mostly used for monuments. While 6% of the extracted blocks is quality material, the rest is often used as paving stone for the local Scandinavian market, according to company.

The Kuru Hazelnut quarry was purchased in 2002 and sits in Ruovesi -- about 37 miles north of Tampere. The stone is a fine-grained, red-brown granite, which is the company's latest and exclusive product. Currently, Interrock can only sell the blocks as weight stones, and the material is mainly used in the civil engineering sector. However, Kuru Hazelnut granite is also popular in the funerary sector and for kitchen countertops.

The most recent endeavor for Interrock was at the end of 2003 when the company re-opened a quarry of Monola Brown, which is a well-known material in the U.S. market. The granite is similar to Baltic Brown, but is more fine-grained. The quarry is located at the Russian border between the Baltic Brown and Karelia Red quarries.

Because of the increase in demand for its products, Interrock has recently invested in new machinery to increase its production capacity. Among the new purchases are a new wheel loader and drilling machines. The Trimmer 240LD drilling systems were manufactured by PVP-Kone Oy of Finland, a specialist in this field, according to Interrock.

Expanding globally

In 2003, Interrock Oy launched a new branch of the company in Berlin, Germany -- Interrock Deutschland GmbH & Co. KG. This office, which is headed by Andreas Vöpel, was created to develop the market for the company in Germany and worldwide. German, English, Italian and French are spoken at the company, allowing it to reach out to many more markets and increase exports worldwide. Interrock Deutschland only works upon order. Blocks are directly exported from Finland, and as of now, there are no plans to build a warehouse in Germany.

Other ways that the company markets itself is by promoting its products at exhibitions for the natural stone industry. Interrock exhibits at Stone+tec in Nürnberg, Germany; Stonetech Shanghai in China; and Marmomacc in Verona, Italy. According to the company, it is willing to collaborate with foreign trade agents to carry on its expansion and is always searching for new partners worldwide.

Another branch of Interrock Oy is the shipping company, Interbulk Oy, which is in charge of the freight of goods such as blocks, crushed stone and wood. According to the company, 50% of the shipped products come from Interrock Oy, while the other half comes from other companies. Interbulk Oy's warehouse is located near the coast in Eurajoki, not far away from the port of Olkiluoto. The proximity of the port and the coordination of Interbulk Oy enable on-time deliveries, according to the company.

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