White marble is here to stay
The growing popularity of white marble countertops and vanities has been noticeable for a while, but I didn’t realize just how much of a sensation they have become until a visit I made last fall to the Vermont Danby marble quarry — operated by Vermont Quarries in Rutland, VT, and owned by parent company R.E.D. Graniti, a leading stone producer in the province of Massa-Carrara, Italy. You can read about my visit in the article beginning on page 68, but here is just a brief overview of what I learned while I was there.
I have actually been to this quarry several times, but not in a while, and it is evident that many changes have been made since my last trip. I met with the quarry’s general manager, Luca Mannolini, and Todd Robertson, North American sales director, who explained to me that Vermont Quarries’ current mission is to increase production and work in a quick and efficient manner to keep up with the demand for the product. “We can produce about 175 to 200 slabs a day,” said Robertson. “That’s the demand. We know our distributors will take as much marble as we can produce. The goal is to speed up production.”
In an effort to meet its goal, the company recently installed a new wire saw, which can cut custom sizes and thicknesses, as well as adding a second gangsaw to its line-up of equipment. “We added the second gangsaw to help keep up with the demand,” explained Robertson. “It allows us to set up for specific projects and not disrupt the slabs being cut for distributors [on the other gangsaw].”
In addition to machinery, Vermont Quarries has also beefed up its staff, which allows it to run two shifts. The company ships between 70,000 to 100,000 square feet of slabs a month around the country — not including custom jobs.
Mannolini explained that even more important than investing in equipment is finding a premium supply of white marble. “It is import to research and conduct geological studies to find a viable source,” he explained. “You can spend millions of dollars on equipment, but it means nothing if you don’t have the marble.”
Robertson explained that Danby marble is becoming recognized among consumers for its low absorption. “The U.S. is catching onto using white marble for kitchens,” he said. “People know the name. We now get requests from around the world.”
The growing popularity of white marble is also discussed in the feature about trends in kitchen design, which begins on page 44. “Everyone wants white marble,” said Tim Farr, owner of StoneWorks in Augusta, Inc. in Augusta, GA. “It’s just really popular. We see some quartz, but for the most part, it’s everything light and white. People are moving away from the staple colors to the whites.”
From my trip to Vermont Quarries, as well as listening to what fabricators and designers have to say, I realize that the demand for white marble countertops is not a trend that will die out any time soon. It is good to see a company being proactive and preparing to fill the continuous orders that are pouring in. It is also a positive sign to hear that business is so prosperous — another sign that the stone industry is rebounding.