Imerys, a worldwide leader in mineral processing, and Randy Smith, the Imerys Plant Manager at the Central Granite operation in Elberton, GA, announce the sale of the Central Granite Co. to Smith. As part of the sale, Central Granite will also be a dealer for Cherokee Marble in block, finished monument and slab forms.

Smith entered into negotiations for the purchase of the Central Granite operation shortly after the May 2, 2003 announcement that Imerys planned to close the monument manufacturing operations at the Central plant and that it was seeking a buyer for the assets. The Central Granite plant has continued uninterrupted operations and supply to its customer base throughout the sale process.

"We are very pleased for the Central Granite employees and customers, as well as for the Elberton community, that the plant will remain operational. We wish Mr. Smith and his team the best in their new endeavor," said Patick Perus, General Manager of Imerys' Dimension Stone Division.

Smith, who has worked at Central Granite all of his adult life, stated: "We are committed to the same high standards of quality that has made this plant one of the leading monument producers for generations. I know what our customers expect and what is required of us to meet those expectations. We have the staff, the know-how and the equipment to continue to meet all of our customers' needs."

Mr. Smith served as Plant Foreman at the Central Granite plant for 16 years before assuming overall operational responsibility as Plant Manager in 2001. Smith joined the company shortly after graduation from high school in Elberton and trained under Joe Giannoni, Jr., the long-time former owner. The Central Granite Co. was founded in 1924, making it one of the oldest continually operating granite firms in the U.S.