More than 15 years ago, Robert John Hicken and Paul Ballif realized the potential of the Mountain Valley Stone quarry in Peoa, UT. Around the same time, they also saw a demand for an architectural stone fabrication business in the area. Since founding Mountain Valley Stone and opening Delta Stone Products, Inc. in Heber City, UT, the partners have grown both companies exponentially.

“In 1999, Robert John Hicken and Paul Ballif, the owners of RJ Masonry, were offered the option to reorganize the Mountain Valley Stone quarry,” explained Bryce Harding, Sales Manager/Western Region for Mountain Valley Stone and Delta Stone Products. “They were the largest customer for the existing quarry, and they knew that with some organizational changes and infrastructure enhancements they could service the local mason market much better and expand their out-of-state customer base.”

Harding went on to say that in 1999, the quarry area was roughly the size of an Olympic-sized swimming pool. Today, it is hundreds of feet deep and covers 56 acres.

In order to offer a complete service for its customers, in 2000, Hicken and Ballif realized there was a need for a quality architectural cut stone shop in the Utah market. “They started cutting material on chop saws in a field,” said Harding. “Now, Delta Stone Products is the largest architectural natural stone fabricator in the western U.S.  The fabrication shop covers 41,000 square feet and has 35 acres of operational space.”

Both companies sell to the U.S. and Canadian market. Mountain Valley Stone primarily services masons and landscapers, but also has homeowners and contractors as customers. Moreover, it works with many architects and designers.

“Mountain Valley Stone has many distributors throughout the U.S. and Canada,” said Harding. “Landscape products, including l/s boulders, slabs and water feature rock, and masonry materials are the bulk of what we provide from the quarry.”

In the local market, Delta Stone sells to masons, contractors and homeowners. “We work a lot with architects, but it is usually the contractor or the mason actually purchasing the material,” explained Harding. “Outside of our market, we work through our distributors if we have one in the area, but do sell direct into markets where we do not have local representation.”

According to Harding, Delta Stone Products supplies its stone products through an extensive distributor network — with over 35 distributors and more than 90 locations. The majority of its market is in the western U.S. The majority of the company’s business comprises custom architectural sales, while the balance is broken down between full bed stone, thin veneer, landscape products and masonry supplies.

The quarrying operation

The Mountain Valley Stone site, which employs 40 workers, produces quartzitic blond and red sandstone, which is named Mountain Valley Stone. It is available in flagstone, saw blocks (boulders), landscape boulders, squares and rectangles, treads, building stone and dry stack wall material. “With a compressive strength of about 18,000 psi and a water absorption rate of 1.67%, this material is very dense and makes for a durable and beautiful building stone,” said Harding.

Equipment in place at the quarry includes CAT track hoes 345, 330 and 315, a CAT haul truck 740 and CAT front end loaders 980, 938 and 924. “We chose CAT because of the dependability, service and available part selection,” said Harding, adding that Mountain Valley Stone also utilizes an Atlas Copco wire saw and Chris Cutter guillotine in the production process. “Mountain Valley Stone is a boulder quarry and has to be extracted by the use of track hoes and haul trucks. Saw blocks tend to be irregularly shaped. All of the flagstone is hand split using traditional hammers and chisels.”

Producing architectural cut stone

Delta Stone Products, Inc. operates out of a 41,000-square-foot production facility, which manufactures numerous stone architectural elements, including cladding, veneer, tiles, pavers, columns, balusters, fireplace surrounds, hearths, mantles, stair treads, benches, water features and fountains, window and door surrounds, lintels, sills, thin veneer, wall caps, pillar caps, pool coping, chimney caps, radius elements, slabs and keystones. Additionally, it can produce other customized stone pieces.

“We expect that dimensional cut wall cladding and panels for exterior veneer will be a big part of our growth,” said Harding. “We currently offer domestic sandstone, limestone, granite and marble slabs, and we hope to grow that line in the future.”

The company maintains a staff of 65 workers. “We are the largest natural architectural stone fabricator in the western U.S.,” said Harding. “As such, we must train all of our employees from the ground up. It is rare to get a new employee that has prior experience in natural stone fabrication. Getting employees with a good work ethic and attention to detail is always the goal and always a challenge.”

Delta Stone Products’ stone processing plant houses a Flow waterjet and a GMM bridge saw and a tile line. Additional equipment includes Eagle II and Eagle III bridge saws, which are ideal for cutting rugged blocks and slabs, two Predator bridge saws, an Infinity industrial CNC stone profiling system — designed to create curved or straight stone profiles such as archways, coping, column caps and sills — Jaguar II and Jaguar Pro bridge saws, TXS 4500 and TXS 5500 thinstone veneer saws, a Hydrasplit stationary stone splitter, a Pro-Edge automatic edge polishing machine and a Wizard radial arm workstation — all from Park Industries of St. Cloud, MN. “We have chosen mostly Park Industries equipment because of the good quality and excellent customer service,” explained Harding. “If one of our machines goes down, we can overnight parts and be back up and running the next day. Lost production time is expensive.”

With an experienced team of employees and state-of-the-art line-up of machinery, both companies have a portfolio of impressive stone projects built in the U.S. Mountain Valley Stone has quarried stone for the Fort Bliss Medical Center in Fort Bliss/El Paso, TX, Boyer Tower 101 in Salt Lake City, UT, the Bean Museum in Provo, UT, and City Creek Center in Salt Lake City, UT. Delta Stone Products, Inc. has also completed work for Boyer Tower 101, the Bean Museum, Fort Bliss Medical Center and City Creek Center as well as Melaleuca Corporate Offices in Idaho Falls, ID, The Montage Resort at Deer Valley in Park City, UT, do Terra Worldwide Campus in Pleasant Grove, UT, and many high-end residences in California and Hawaii.