In the late 1990s, I was asked by a high school friend to help install some kitchens for a granite shop that he managed. I owned a small home remodeling business that was slow at the time, and I was looking for some “busy work.” We spent the next month installing a few kitchens a day. The more I worked with granite, the more I was drawn to the allure of natural stone. I closed my home remodeling business and went to work for that granite shop full time. Over the next several years, I worked my way from installer to measure tech. I spent a few more years measuring and developing a templating system that we still use today. Meanwhile, my friend Matt, who had gotten me into the business, moved off to another company. This opened a position for me in the office doing bookkeeping and scheduling. Over the next few years, I worked my way to operations manager. The shop grew considerably, and at one point, we were producing 10 to 15 kitchens per day. With that type of volume, efficiency became an issue. Customers became numbers instead of names. We lost the ability to spend the quality time needed to produce a custom product.
In this issue of Stone World, we take a look at several U.S. stone producers. Among them is Quality Stone Quarries in Stigler, OK. The owner of the quarry has transitioned his business through the years to keep up with market demand.