Patrick Wells, CEO of Majestic Stone in Chattanooga, TN, recently embarked on a new endeavor. As head of operations for a stone producer that operates seven quarries and runs a state-of-the-art fabrication facility, Wells is familiar with some of the struggles a smaller regional stone producer can encounter. This drove him to establish StoneLoads, an online stone marketplace, which recently launched nationally. Stone World spoke with Wells, who is CEO of StoneLoads, to learn a little more about the new online platform and how the idea for it was developed. Here’s what he had to say:
SW: When/how did the idea for the StoneLoads platform first come about?
PW: One day last summer, I was standing on our yard, exhausted from the day-to-day grind, thinking there had to be a better way to move all of my product. We were producing and selling more natural stone than ever, but I still had a lot of material that wasn’t moving. Our premium stuff — the items that everyone asks for — sells fine. But what about everything else? I needed a market for everything we touched. I was (and still am) convinced that if more distributors know what is available, they’d buy more and sell more. And that got me thinking, “Why not create an online marketplace for our distributors to see all of our available inventory?” I wanted to continue to take care of my customers, while also making material available to a broader national audience. A web-based platform could streamline this process. We’ve seen it work wonders in other industries. So I thought, “If I’m having this issue, I bet others are as well.” As I talked with other quarry operators, I realized that the pains I was experiencing were felt far and wide, and that if the idea to build the online marketplace was to become a reality, I was the person to do it.
SW: What goals do you have for the platform for the first year?
PW: From a landscape and hardscape standpoint, I want every type of stone produced in the lower 48 states to be available for purchase on StoneLoads. If we’re able to make that happen, then we will be able to attract buyers from all points, coast-to-coast. My goal isn’t so much about hitting a massive revenue number by the time the calendar flips to 2023. At this stage, I am primarily concerned with adding value to quarries and bringing more material to market for wholesale landscape supply yards. If we’re able to do that, then StoneLoads will have a successful inaugural year.
SW: What have you enjoyed most so far while developing StoneLoads?
PW: The most enjoyable part of my StoneLoads experience so far has been the relationships I’ve developed with quarries all across the country. Seeing their operations up close and better understanding how they intend to utilize the platform to help them move more material has been exciting. As they move more products, they’ll be able to reinvest into their businesses and provide more material into the marketplace. It will be a win for everyone.
Also, I’ve loved seeing how willing our industry has been to leverage the technology component of the platform. Our industry hasn’t exactly been known for technology innovations, but everyone has received this so well.