My favorite thing to say about us is: ‘We are not the best stone company in Chicago because we are the oldest. We are the oldest, because we are the best,’” said Tom Van Etten, when speaking about his family owned business Galloy & Van Etten, which was started in 1899. Van Etten shares ownership with his siblings, Susan Van Etten, Bernie Van Etten III and Michael Van Etten. “We are fourth generation owners,” he said. “We have been family owned and operated continually for 120 years. My father, Bernie Van Etten Jr. is 85 years old. He retired in 2002, but still comes into the office once in a while to check on things. He loves to go out into the shops to talk to the guys and see the projects we’re working on.”
The company was founded by 18-year-old Dutch immigrant Abram Van Etten. “When Abram came from Holland to Chicago, many of the extended Van Etten family had already settled in the Roseland neighborhood,” explained Van Etten. “He had many cousins in the masonry business. Chicago was booming with new construction. In part, due to the Great Chicago Fire, much of this new construction was masonry — specifically limestone. So Abram started as a mason. He soon saw the opportunity, and took a chance to start Galloy & Van Etten.”
From the company’s beginning in 1899 into the 1950s, Galloy & Van Etten solely furnished Indiana limestone. “In 1957, Galloy & Van Etten purchased Murphy Marble Company,” said Van Etten. “This added furnishing and installing marble and granite to our business, which has been important to our survival. Today, we furnish all types of natural stone from all over the world. This includes domestic limestones from Indiana, Kansas, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Texas, as well as granite, limestone, and marble from Italy, France, Canada and many other countries.
“There are no ‘secrets’ to our survival,” Van Etten went on to say. “Plain old hard work and dedication are the foundation of our success. We provide top-quality stone on every job we do. We are fully aware that a company is only as good as the people working for it. We have the best and most talented people working for us. Our marble shop foreman is currently in his 42nd year here. Our limestone shop foreman is going on 23 years. And we have planer men and stone carvers with 30+ years of experience. When we find great workers, we keep them. We are extremely proud of the fact that when Abram started this company in 1899, there were well over 100 stone companies in Chicago. Today, 120 years later, we are the only one remaining.”
Galloy & Van Etten operates out of two separate facilities. There is a 20,000-square-foot limestone fabrication shop, as well as a 4,000-square-foot marble shop. The production process is completed with a BM gangsaw for slabbing blocks, as well as bridge saws and a CNC machine from Park industries. Additionally, there are bridge saws by Tysaman, Sawing Systems and Marmo Meccanica, and five New Albany stone planers from 1899.
The most recent piece of equipment added to the lineup is a Park Infinity CNC machine. “This has allowed us to dramatically improve production time on radial work,” said Van Etten. “However, I believe what sets us apart from many stone companies is we have five stone planers. These were purchased in 1899, and although they have been updated through the years, they are still the original machines. These are how we fabricate all our straight profiling. We strongly believe this remains the best method for shaping limestone.”
The company uses saw blades from WF Meyers and CNC tooling from Coldspring. It is also preparing to invest in expansion in the marble shop with the addition of a CNC machine and waterjet.
Galloy & Van Etten fabricates custom stone pieces for projects across the U.S. “When we have a few big jobs going at the same time, those dominate our sales and shop time for months at a time,” said Van Etten. “Other times, we will be working on 25+ smaller jobs every month.”
At this time, Galloy & Van Etten employs six office workers, 15 in the limestone shop and six in the marble shop, as well as its installation crews, which varies depending on workload.
Recent restoration jobs completed by the company include: the Oklahoma State Capitol; Wyoming State Capitol; Illinois State Capitol; Philadelphia Amtrak 30th Street Station; Union Station, Chicago; Tribune Tower, Chicago; Museum of Science & Industry, Chicago; and many buildings at the University of Chicago. Among the new construction projects are the University of Notre Dame Campus Crossroads Project and Gallagher Insurance headquarters. Moreover, the company is currently working on many high-end residential projects in the Chicago area.
“We have survived 120 years because of one reason; we provide top-quality stone on every job we do,” said Van Etten. “Our goal is to continue this commitment to quality.”
Galloy & Van Etten
Type of Work: residential and commercial; renovation and new construction
Machinery: a BM gangsaw for slabbing blocks; machinery from Park Industries of St. Cloud, MN, including an Infinity CNC machine and a dual turntable Jaguar Pro 3000; several Tysaman, Sawing Systems and Marmo Meccanica saws; five New Albany stone planers; saw blades from WF Meyers Co., Inc. of Bedford, IN; and CNC tooling from Coldspring of Cold Spring, MN