Founded in 1998, Majestic Stone had a solid reputation – shipping products everywhere from southern California to New York – but on a small scale. But after struggling through the recession, the owners sought to sell it to someone that could invest in its potential and turn it around. In 2016, Patrick Wells became the new chief executive officer – bringing fresh ideas and strategies for growth. In two and a half years, Majestic Stone has increased its production of local Tennessee stone tremendously and expanded its list of distributors.
“Alderman Holdings bought it when it was in transition,” said Wells. “It had a pretty good size fabrication shop, and the company had built a great name, but it got hit hard. It needed something more. The owners came to us. We bought it out of bankruptcy.
“It had good bones,” Wells went on to explain. “It needed a next-generation owner, someone who could bring life back to it and had vision. It has great quarry and fabrication equipment, but that can only get you so far in today’s time. Every city has its local fabricator and quarries are popping up everywhere now. It’s harder to compete. We knew out of the gate that we needed to build a brand – make ourselves more known. We needed to generate conversation around the product.”
A HIDDEN GEM
From the start of the acquisition, Wells was told Majestic Stone was a special company. “When we were looking to acquire Majestic Stone, I must have been told a dozen or so times that the company was a ‘hidden gem.’ One architect from Washington, D.C., told me he hoped to keep Majestic solely for himself. Before the Great Recession of the late 2000s, Majestic Stone was a well-known supplier of fieldstone and flagstone. But after the economic recovery, it was like no one knew the business had made it through. They went from hundreds of customers to a couple handfuls. So I knew the first thing we needed to do was get back out there and make sure everyone knew that Majestic Stone was well capitalized, continuing to invest in its equipment and quarries, and a viable long-term supplier that’s here to stay.”
Presently, Majestic Stone has long-term leases on its seven quarries, and all of them are within 20 miles of its fabrication facility. The company carries varieties of building stone, landscape stone and thin veneer. The flagstone quarries are generally 150 to 200 feet long, 50 feet wide and typically have 8- to 10-foot-tall benches.
“Our annual production has doubled each year since we purchased the company in 2016, and we plan to double production in the quarries and in fabrication again in 2019,” said Wells. “We will produce between 20,000 to 25,000 tons of flagstone this coming year.
“While we do sell a lot of landscaping stone, our best-selling product is our line of thin veneer,” Wells continued. “Competition for thin veneer has increased over the years as new less-expensive fabrication equipment has made its way into the market, lowering the cost of entry. We’ve also witnessed the rise of manufactured stone, but we have continued to focus our efforts on working with designers to develop creative unique color and texture combinations that offer fresh and evolving designs. While the beauty of stone is in its consistency, there are so many ways to use the timeless product in new ways.”
The majority of the stone that Majestic Stone produces is cut for veneer, either 4-inch bed depth veneer or thin veneer at 1 to 1 ½ inches. “The veneer is used on a wide range of facades — from the exterior of homes to feature walls on the interior of commercial buildings,” said Wells. “It’s an extremely versatile product. We also sell a lot of stone for landscaping uses. Its cut into steppers, treads, edging, wall stone, cobbles and other exterior purposes.”
Currently, Majestic Stone employs 25 workers year-round, as well as another 20 in peak season. This is a significant increase to the former staff of seven year-round with another 20 during peak season. “We’ve made year-round production a focus in order to be more dependable to our customers all year long,” said Wells.
Right now, the company has approximately 7,500 square feet of covered warehouse space dedicated for its fabrication facility, although they are planning to add another 5,000 square feet of space in the next 12 to 24 months. A selection of fabrication equipment, including four Chris Cutter Stone Breakers, two custom stone tumblers, two Park Industries bridge saws and two Park Industries thin veneer saws, are in place to cut the stone pieces.
“We are always looking for new distributors that are well established and that have a long-term vision for the construction industry,” said Wells. “With that said, we sell stone to around 120 stone yards and have an additional 45 distributor locations for our thin veneer product. We have plans to see the distributor locations double this coming year.”
Since coming to Majestic Stone, Wells has worked to market the company better through social media platforms and an updated website. The company has also recently revamped its logo. “I love our logo,” he said. “It’s an ‘M’ for Majestic, but it is also cut in an ashlar flooring pattern and looks like a mountain with different layers – just like Tennessee flagstone.”
Wells also mentioned the company is having better photography taken of recently completed projects, such as a memorial outside of the local children’s hospital and City Park in Chattanooga, TN. The photographs can be used for promotional and marketing material.
“Most of my colleagues from graduate school are either on Wall Street or in a fast-paced high-tech startup,” he said. “But not me. For some reason, I’ve always been attracted to basic manufacturing and distribution. So Majestic Stone was a step in that direction. Also, our team at Alderman Holdings wanted exposure to the manufacturing and distribution of building materials, so acquiring Majestic Stone made perfect sense. Our primary focus will be on continuing to build a sustainable company in Majestic Stone, but we will soon also be focused on growth through the acquisition of other natural stone companies that can diversify our product mix and increase our fabrication capabilities. The market and application for natural stone continues to grow and as a supplier, we plan, over time, to become a bigger part of stewarding the industry forward.