These days, the concept of “going green” has become so popular that it is practically unavoidable in everyday conversation. And whilenatural stoneis an inherently green product, there are some processers that have made it a priority to process it using methods and technology that are as sustainable as possible. One example of this isStone Questof Carteret, NJ, which has implemented a high-tech solar energy system as part of an overall philosophy to be aseco-friendlyas possible.
Going Solar
Green Processing
Sales and Marketing

The company was founded in 1998, and it processes stone for the architectural, design and builder communities across the East Coast. The principals are Roman Leyzerov and Josef Morchik, who started the company out of a rented trailer and small sub-leased warehouse. Today, Stone Quest’s facilities sit on 100,000 square feet of land, with a 15,000-square-foot warehouse for slab storage and two separate processing units measuring 10,000 square feet each as well as ample exterior space for the storage and production of stone blocks and finished architectural work.

It serves as an importer, distributor, fabricator and wholesaler of stones from around the world, and it has completed hundreds of commercial projects along with thousands of residential jobs. The product breakdown is approximately 50% natural stone and 50% quartz products, such as Caesarstone and other brands.

Going solar

Earlier this year, Stone Quest made a bold move by partnering with Dynamic Energy on the installation of a 193.5 kW solar photovoltaic system, which is expected to produce approximately 211,000 kWh of energy in its first year of operation. This will result in an annual reduction of 149 metric tons of CO2 emissions (equivalent to completely removing 31 cars off the road each year).

Dynamic Energy, a full-service energy solutions provider servicing New York and New Jersey as well as other states, provided turnkey services for the project. This included financing, engineering and construction for the system at Stone Quest.

“Not only will this solar installation have a positive impact on our company’s bottom line, but it will help us control our impact on the environment as a whole,” said Josef Morchik, President of Stone Quest. “We’re excited to see Dynamic Energy bring the project to life.”

“The Dynamic Energy team congratulates Stone Quest on hosting this new solar system,” said Brett Thibodeau, COO of Dynamic. “Stone Quest’s efforts to support renewable energy reflect a true dedication to their business and customers.”

Solar will provide a significant percentage of Stone Quest’s energy needs through a Power Purchase Agreement, requiring no investment from the company. Stone Quest simply pays for the electricity produced by the system and avoids all of the expenses associated with solar system ownership.

“Dynamic Energy gave us a great opportunity, and we gave them one as well,” said Roman Leyzerov, Vice President of Stone Quest. “We took the initiative to be the first. The market is calling for green products, and we thought about ways that we could compete using this philosophy. Stone is already a green material, but we were considering ways to process it using eco-friendly methods. Homeowners and commercial clients want to hear that you’re being green, and we’re the only stone company on the East Coast using this type of solar system.”

Green processing

The company’s stoneworking facilities include one plant for processing limestone and one for processing granite and marble. At the limestone factory, the process begins with blocks of stone — from Indiana as well as countries such as Portugal, Italy, Israel, the U.K., etc. Blocks are cut to the desired size on a wire saw and then further processed on Terzago bridge saws.

The water filtration system at the limestone plant operates with zero chemicals. “It seems primitive, but it works perfectly,” Morchik said. Dirty water goes into the drains, and it is pumped into a series of containers. Moving from tank to tank, the slurry is naturally removed from the water, and the water is again used for stone processing. “It is a closed-loop process, and it was designed completely in house. We collect the slurry, and it then goes to a recycling company. It is used as fertilizer, so it is actually giving back to the earth.”

At Stone Quest’s facility for processing granite and quartz surfacing, stone is cut to size on one of four Terzago bridge saws. The shop also has three Ravelli CNCs used as stone shaping centers to complete complex edgework and a Comandulli Omega 100 edger for straight runs. The granite facility also has a multi-tank system for water recycling.

The recycling systems have been in place for nearly a year, and the company reports a five-fold reduction in water costs.

In all, Stone Quest has 50 employees, including installers. On-the-job training is key, and the company sometimes sends new employees to Italy to learn the craft of stoneworking.

Sales and marketing

Stone Quest has completed an extensive showroom for the architectural and design community, with full-scale examples of the company’s work, including columns, balustrades, cladding and more. “We’ve been fortunate to work with some great architects — Robert A.M. Stern, J.L. Ramirez Architects, PC, Bohn Architecture and Design, H.S. Jessup Architecture,” Leyzerov said.

In addition to architects and designers, the company works with builders and large masonry contractors. Stone Quest has a sales team in place, and it does some advertising, but it also relies on referrals for business.

Morchik and Leyzeroff estimate that 40% of the company’s output is interior stone work, and the remainder is architectural dimensional stone work. “We are in a good area — 10 minutes from Newark Airport, 30 minutes from New York City or Brooklyn,” Morchik said. “We work throughout the entire New York metropolitan area, but we’ve also done work as far north as Massachusetts and south as Maryland and Washington, DC. We do everything — the estimating, shop drawings, manufacturing, installation. We want to provide as much service and support as possible.”

In addition to developer projects, the company has done extensive restoration work, with recent jobs including the chapel at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, NY. For this project, Stone Quest processed Indiana limestone to create the historic “West Point Arches” that are a signature element on the campus.

On the residential side, the company processes stone for high-end homes throughout the New York/New Jersey metropolitan area as well as the Jersey Shore and beyond. Interior residential work includes countertops, vanities, slab showers, staircases, panels and fireplaces. Exterior residential stonework includes exterior cladding, columns, balustrades and other dimensional elements. It also supplies multi-unit condominium and apartment projects. “The market trend is showing more work, but the margins aren’t back yet,” Morchik said. “Countertops have become a commodity in many ways. We want to change that mentality about stone, and we also want to do more than just countertops.”

Stone Quest also seeks to be part of the stone community. It is a member of the Marble Institute of America as well as the Indiana Limestone Institute, National Kitchen and Bath Association and National Association of Home Builders. It offers a range of educational opportunities for its clients, including training seminars with the local AIA chapter as well as sessions in conjunction with Caesarstone, the Indiana Limestone Institute and others.