StoneLite creates a specialty natural stone cladding niche
Coldspring acquired StoneLite natural stone panels and through its expertise has grown Stone Panels
Two years ago, Coldspring recognized an opportunity to acquire a business for producing StoneLite natural stone panels, and through its expertise and investment it is experiencing growing success with Stone Panels International LLC in Marble Falls, TX
With 120 years of quarrying and manufacturing experience behind its name, Coldspring of Cold Spring, MN, saw a business opportunity to acquire the technology and the experiences of Stone Panels Inc., the manufacturer of StoneLite® – lightweight natural stone composite panels that were the world’s first lightweight panel solution. In late 2016, Coldspring formed Stone Panels International LLC (SPI) as a wholly owned subsidiary for the purpose of acquiring the assets of Stone Panels Inc. and then the company was subsequently moved to a new manufacturing complex in Marble Falls, TX, located about 45 miles northwest of Austin.
“StoneLite panels were developed and patented more than 50 years ago in Ireland,” explained Mike Day, president of SPI. “In the 1970s, a curtainwall contractor in the Dallas, TX, area acquired rights to the StoneLite panel system and installed panels that were manufactured in Ireland until 1983 when a manufacturing facility was established in Dallas.”
The move to Marble Falls, provided SPI with a new and improved 130,000-square-foot fabrication facility consisting of several buildings. According to Day, StoneLite natural granite, marble, limestone and travertine panels are manufactured in this plant for installation on buildings throughout the world. “Customer visits to the Marble Falls operations are highly encouraged,” said Day.
SPI’s business continues to focus on primarily exterior stone cladding manufacturing and includes design, shop drawings, framing, training and, on select projects, installation. “Coldspring has been in the natural stone business for 120 years,” said Day. “During this time, the company has seen many trends and developments — some short lived and some that had real staying power. Lightweight panelized stone appears to have real staying power. The marketplace wants lighter materials with less infrastructure requirement and cost. StoneLite also includes a simple installation system that allows installation to happen five to 10 times faster on a square foot basis than traditional dimensional stone utilizing less skilled labor. Traditional stone masons are becoming very scarce as is construction labor in general. The StoneLite system is seen favorably with construction managers, architects and building owners. Coldspring also believes this acquisition opens doors to some markets that have been very difficult in recent years and is complementary to Coldspring’s core products. Finally, Stone Panels Inc., with its StoneLite brand, has the best reputation in the industry for quality, performance, etc. Coldspring is also viewed as a premier provider — so the formation of Stone Panels International as a subsidiary of Coldspring made sense.”
Day explained that the biggest change Coldspring made was the relocation of the production facility from Dallas to Marble Falls. “Coldspring had an experienced and high-quality work force in Marble Falls and was able to add technology in the process while still satisfying customers even throughout the move,” said Day. “Coldspring was able to retain many key people from SPI and benefit from their experience and tribal knowledge during the re-building phase. We are now able to produce a higher quality product with less manpower and with the added technology we have significant growth opportunities.”
The facility is equipped with a Simec calibrator, an Orma heat press, proprietary honeycomb and bonding equipment, a custom climate-controlled bond room, a single and multi-wire diamond saws, a Breton polishing line, a proprietary flaming line, a limestone finisher, Park Fusion jointing equipment, a proprietary plating and channeling equipment, proprietary curing conveyors, multiple cranes and lifting devices. The company is also investing in a Breton calibrator this fall. “The Breton calibrating line will increase capacity, improve quality and add redundancy to key operations,” said Day.
SPI is not a traditional stone supplier. “We do not quarry our own stone — unless you count Coldspring, in which case we do quarry and produce granite StoneLite panels out of Coldspring material,” explained Day. “We purchase material from all over the world and are able to provide the A&D community with nearly any natural stone material. Our current demand is approximately 10,000 square feet per week with technology to support a significantly increased capacity.”
According to SPI, there are benefits of using StoneLite panels for cladding applications do to their composition. The following are a few:
- Lighter— StoneLite panels are one-fifth the weight of dimensional stone and provide a huge savings regarding installation time, labor and structural requirements.
- Stronger— StoneLite panels can resist 60 times more impact than granite that is 3 centimeters thick as a result of a patented manufacturing process.
- Impervious to water— The fiber-reinforced epoxy skin found on the natural stone composite panels creates a waterproof barrier, making them impervious to water.
- Tested– StoneLite panels have been thoroughly tested by leading global independent testing laboratories. They are accepted by code officials in North America for unrestricted use as exterior cladding for Type 1 buildings and likewise are accepted throughout the majority of Europe.
“Testing includes acid freeze-thaw, accelerated aging, shear and flatwise tension bond, air and water filtration, impact loading, full-scale arena blast resistance, racking shear (simulating seismic loading), wind load flexural, vibration loading, fire, flame spread and combustion, attachment systems, expansion coefficients, building code approval and quality control,” said Day.
StoneLite panels have received certifications from the following:
- ICC – ES1500
- Miami Dade NOA
- NFPA 285
- NY MEA
- British Board of Agrément
- CSTB – Avis Technique
The panels have been used for thousands of projects worldwide, including in the commercial, urban living (multi-family high-rise), college/universities, government/municipal, healthcare, hospitality, financial, transportation, retail, renovation and high-end single-family residential sectors. They are prominently applied to exterior facades, interior walls, lobbies, elevators and architectural features.
Since the acquisition in November 2016, StoneLite has been selected for and/or completed exterior cladding in thousands of projects ranging up to 60,000 square feet. They include:
- 508 Diversey – Chicago, IL
- First State Bank Headquarters – Gainesville, TX
- Florida State Capitol Restoration – Tallahassee, FL
- Philadelphia Museum of Art – Philadelphia, PA
- Ministry Building – Copenhagen, Denmark
- Town Hall – Kiruna, Sweden (completed)
- Ocean Villas at Maluaka – McKenna, HI
- 500 Metropolitan – Brooklyn, NY (completed)
- 172 Madison Ave – New York, NY (completed)
- Brooklyn Bridge Pier House – Brooklyn, NY (completed)
- The Park at Bankers Hill – San Diego, CA (completed)
- Independent Bank Headquarters – McKinney, TX
- Sikorsky Administration Building — Stratford, CT
- 601 Washington – New York, NY
- Vassar Brothers – Poughkeepsie, NY
- College of the Canyons – Santa Clarita, CA
- 5-6 Esplanade – London, UK
- ICR Discovery Center – Dallas, TX
- 70 Vestry – New York, NY
Additionally, other completed SPI projects since November 2016 acquisition include:
- Orange Coast College Planetarium – San Diego, CA
- Pro Football Hall of Fame – Canton, OH
- Sutter Tracey Medical Office Building – Tracey, CA
- Multiple Ford Dealerships (Tennessee, Indiana, Texas, Florida)
- 187 Dune Rd. – Bridgehampton, NY
- 40 Meadow Lane – Southampton, NY
- CB2 (Crate & Barrel concept) – Philadelphia, PA
- Fleetwood Civic Center – Surrey, British Columbia
- 24 Leonard – New York, NY
- Lone Star Capital Bank – Dripping Springs, TX
- Shops at Willow Bend – Plano, TX
- McKee Foods HQ - Collegedale, TN
- Liberty Mutual HQ – Plano, TX (architectural fins)
- Ottawa Government Conference Centre – Ottawa, ON
Day summarized, “We have a lot of projects we are currently being asked to bid on and participate in. Customers and engineering groups are inquiring about visits to the facility, and we welcome the opportunity to host them. I tell our team almost every week that they are the best sales tool we have. It is really exciting to see groups come in and acknowledge the transformation we have made, re-establishing ourselves as the world leader.”
Stone Panels International LLC
Marble Falls, TX
Type of Work: commercial, urban living (multi-family high-rise), college/universities, government/municipal, healthcare, hospitality, financial, transportation, retail, renovation and high-end single-family residential sectors