With its headquarters in Papagaio, Minas Gerais, Brazil, and quarries throughout the state, Lincar Pedras de Ardosia Ltda. is steeped in the rich slate history of the region. The company, which was founded in 1985, uses state-of-the-art machinery to quarry and fabricate slate products for sale to the U.S. and other international destinations.

The principal owner of the company is Maria Leticia Valadares de Vansconcelos, and Lincar stresses rigorous quality control and punctual delivery. Its quarries stretch across an area of nearly 300 acres, and they contain gray, multicolor, black, green and purple slate quarries. In fact, the firm opened a green/purple quarry specifically to attend to the American market, because it had some difficulties purchasing green slate blocks from other quarries.

The company's largest quarry is for gray and multicolor slate. This site, which is in Papagaio, produces 160 cubic meters of stone per day, and it employs 40 workers. The black quarry is located in Martinho Campos, Minas Gerais, and it producess a total of 120 cubic meters of stone per day, with 35 people working at the site. The third quarry site, for green and purple slate is located in Felixlândia, Minas Gerais. This quarry has 25 workers, and it yields 65 cubic meters of stone per day.

The slate sits at an angle within the ground, and the extraction process relies on vertical sawing as well as horizontally splitting the stone in the ground according to the natural cleft of the material. The primary machinery within the quarries is handling equipment, including seven Mercedes-Benz trucks, a Caterpillar 950F, a Caterpillar 924F, a Caterpillar W20E, a Caterpillar W20B, a Michigan L30, two Komatsu D65Es and two Massey Fergurson 296 tractors.

After the stone is extracted, it is processed at a 100,000-square-foot fabricating plant using the latest machinery from Brazil and Italy. Equipment includes a complete slate tile line from Bombieri & Venturi of Italy; 12 cutting machines for tiles; a Levi Tunisi LT FT 600 bridge saw from Italy; three calibrating machines, the CTB 1600, CTB 1400, and CTB 1200; a Cimef Beks 2004 bed polishing machine for large pieces; and three cranes.

Architectural slate work at the factory includes tiles, slabs, wall cladding, partitions, countertops, stairways, vanity tops, and stone of specific cut-to-size projects as well. Overall, production stands at 80,000 square feet per week. The latest advance in production is the addition of a brushed finish, which fits a design need for Lincar's clients. It is also looking to increase its production rate to meet consumer demands.

In addition to investing in the quality of its products, Lincar has also invested in conserving the environment. It strives to make use of the residues and scrap stone that results from the process, and it has also developed a system for re-circulating and purifying the water utilized at the fabrication plant. Additionally, the cartons and plastic used for packing is 100% recyclable, and the wood for crates comes from controlled forests.

North America is Lincar's top export target, consuming 40% of production -- particularly flooring and roofing slate, which is sold to distributors. Europe is the next largest market, consuming 30% of our production, particularly slabs and floor tiles, and the remaining 30% of production is distibuted throughout the world. With 105 employees, countries serviced by Lincar include the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Germany, the Netherlands, the U.K., New Zealand, Australia, Indonesia, Japan and other markets.

The company reports that it is looking forward to expanding its operation and developing new and strong partnerships abroad. Toward this end, Lincar has been participating in Coverings since 2000, and it also began exhibiting at Marmomacc in Verona, Italy, last year. Reaching out to the Far East marketplace, it exhibited at the Japan Stone Show in Tokyo in 2002.