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Working with granite is an occupation that can present many dangerous environments and situations. From the quarry operator to the manufacturer to the retailer, the granite industry is filled with situations that shout WATCH OUT! I am very often encouraged, however, by the small number of serious accidents we have each year. Granite deserves a healthy amount of respect; it is unforgiving. Your first mistake could also be your last. I think this knowledge, more than anything else, is what helps us keep serious accidents to a minimum. We strive to promote safety training and working safely in the granite industry. Sadly however, even with the best safe working practices and policies, accidents can still occur. The adage of “I have been doing this for the last 20 years” is not acceptable when it comes to safely working with granite. Think about it: how often do you just “take it for granite” that because nothing happened yesterday, nothing will happen today? Situations and circumstances change without notice, and so how do we combat that? We continually update and evaluate our safety training and the methods of delivering that training. We stay aware and look for indications of a change in conditions. We don’t put ourselves in a dangerous position that compromises our safety. Complying with safety practices and procedures can sometimes seem frustrating because they can have an impact on the efficiency of your operation. However, stop and think, how much is my safety worth in trying to bypass a safety feature or procedure? More than likely, even though you may be frustrated or not understand the need for a certain safety feature or procedure, realize that it was more than likely born out of an accident to someone else. Now might be a good time to review your company’s safety policies and refresh a safety attitude with your employees. Evaluate your company’s safety environment and make necessary changes and adjustments. Do some housekeeping and correct any safety issues that may exist. Make safety a priority, and be proactive, not reactive. Ensure that everyone goes home safe each day. It is the deepest desire of the EGA that everyone stays safe and accident free. Be safe my friends. The previous issue of The Graniteer featured a story highlighting the cooperative efforts of Elbert County Comprehensive High School’s Career, Technical, and Agriculture (CTAE) department and the Elberton Granite Association to offer a program that creates career opportunities for students interested in learning CAD design. Quinn Floyd of A.Q. Stone Design generously offered his time to instruct a group of students in learning the creative and technical processes associated with the digital design. The first group of students to enroll in the schools “Applications in Granite Technology” class recently completed their studies. According to Kim Fuller, AP/CTAE Director at ECCHS, “The CTAE Department at ECCHS is so proud of our Applications in Granite Students who recently completed the MonuCad seminar through AQ Stone and Quinn Floyd. Each student received a completion certification, as well as some also receiving the credential of Work Readiness for Employment in Monucad for our granite industry. ECCHS is so thankful of the Elberton Granite Association for their industry partnership in helping us prepare our students for after graduation!!!” Apex Granite Company recently welcomed Amber Carroll to its team! Amber assists with Customer Service and helps take and process orders. An Elberton native, Amber says she enjoys working with people and talking with the customers. Although she had no prior granite experience, Amber said, “I love learning new things, and everyone here [at Apex] has helped me.” Brenda Brown with Apex stated, “Amber has done a phenomenal job and picked up on things easily. She is a joy to work with and I am very proud to have her here.” Welcome to Apex, Amber, and we here at the EGA wish you continued success at your new endeavor! The EGA had a wonderful group come by for a visit to the Elberton Granite Museum in June, 2017. These senior adults are actively involved in life and work at Boulevard Baptist Church located in Anderson, SC. In addition to volunteering in their community, the “Prime Timers” participate in monthly local events and take extended trips for retreats and fellowship several times yearly. This annual event, known as the “mystery trip”, included a stop at the museum. The group spent quite a while excitedly looking through the various tools, artifacts, and photos. They also watched the museum video, “Creating Memories...the story of Elberton Granite” All were very impressed, and we were very happy to have them select the museum as a stop on their memorable, ‘mysterious’ journey. Lake Russell Baptist Church held a golf tournament in May, 2017 at Arrowhead Pointe Golf Course at Richard B. Russell State Park in Elberton, GA. Among the many teams competing, the Eagle Granite Team, seen pictured at left with their First Place trophies, finished the day as the winning team. The last place team also won a trophy, but a photo of it is a tad inappropriate for publication. Ask EGA’s Matthew Pruitt about it...he had the dubious honor of being part of that losing team. Wilson Industrial Electric has added new equipment to its lineup...the Fryer Easy Turn-30 CNC Engine Lathe with a 120” center distance. The new lathe will allow Wilson to turn shafts and other parts much faster and can handle larger parts due to the machine’s capacity. Wilson has been eliminating a lot of their older machinery and making upgrades within the company, both to increase production rates and to attempt having 100% of their machined parts in house, instead of depending on other machine shops to make things for them. Wilson also plans to add add another machine later this fall and will be upgrading two more machines in their plant. According to Melissa Black of Wilson, “All of these things will vastly improve our production rates on parts. We will also start our parts and office expansion soon, so look for ongoing changes at Wilson to take place so that we can better serve our customers.” Present in Elberton since 1986, Italdiamant USA has always seen the future of natural and engineered stones with a particular eye towards excellence in innovation while providing outstanding customer service. Quality is Italdiamant’s main priority, with particular attention paid to servicing the needs of customers and tailoring their products and services to each customer’s specific requirements. With this in mind, Italidiamant USA has developed a line of tooling for engineered porcelain slabs. These tools are particularly useful in the fabrication of granite production equipment, and provide optimum accuracy and reliability in the use of various production equipment and CNC machines. These cutting and drilling tools, among others, are stocked and serviced in Elberton. GA. From this location, Italdiamant delivers to all fifty states. With every delivery throughout the USA, Italdiamant proudly calls attention to Elberton, GA, The Granite Capital of the World. For more information on these new products, as well as many other fine products produced by Italdiamant USA, call 706-283-4104, or visit As always, Italdiamant’s technical support is at your disposal to provide all the working parameters necessary for the best tool performance. For those who laser etch monuments or sell etched monuments Design Mart’s Online Designer has an exciting new feature. For two years Design Mart’s Online Monument Designer has allowed users to export vector designs that can be opened in CAD systems for sandblast, without having to track down components or create drawings that aren’t what the customer had in mind. Now Design Mart has added the capability of exporting high resolution etching files for laser and impact etchers. Design Mart is in the process of adding more than 1,800 laser etching designs which were only available via email or CD/DVD. Users can add spot etchings to their monuments or create entire scenes. Etchings are available in the following categories: Angels, Animals, Buildings & Structures, Children, Crosses, Emblems, Faith, Floral, Hands, Hobbies & Leisure, Landscape, Marriage, Music, Other Art, Patriotic, Poems, Scenes, Sports, and Transportation. Components make the Designer unique. All of the etchings being uploaded to the Designer have transparent backgrounds, which means that users may create and customize their own etching scenes like the one shown below. The Online Designer is cloud-based, which means users can access their work anywhere at any time. Users do not have to be in front of a PC or CAD program in a back room. They may work from a showroom, outdoor display, cemetery or an office to create and customize monuments that can be sent to any CAD or photo editing and laser application. All of a user’s work is saved on the cloud and can be opened, edited or downloaded at any time. A lot of effort goes into ensuring that the app is easy for everyone to use regardless of the type of device or browser. Browsers are constantly changing and evolving, and these changes require constant vigilance to ensure that we are compatible across the board. This app can be used on Macs and any PCs with Safari, Internet Explorer, Edge, Firefox, and Chrome. A free 30-day trial is available at Please call Design Mart at 800-736-7455 or email for more information. Apex Granite Company recently purchased a custom-designed wire saw from Wilson Industrial Electric. According to Brenda Brown of Apex, “We have probably the oldest wire saw in Elberton, and it has been (and still is) a workhorse. But we needed something additional to increase our productivity, and this saw does a great job. Wilson Industrial fabricated it for us and it is exactly what we needed. We are really happy with the output and how easy it is to operate.” The saw is a 5 ft. stationary wire saw with an 8’ x 8’ Cart. It has the capability to make cuts that are 5’ tall x 10’ wide. Because the saw is automatic, when cuts are programmed, it will saw the block automatically without an operator having to stay with the saw, and can run at night automatically. The saw can be set up with two different programs: Variable width, where the cuts can be various different sizes, or Repeating width which allows the operator to program in the same size cut throughout the entire block, and a bonus cut at the end to finish out the block. According to Melissa Black of Wilson Industrial, “The wire walk circuit developed by Ray and Matt Wilson definitively increases the cutting time of the single strand wire saw. This wire saw is now able to cut at speeds comparable to blade saws (in some stones) and actually makes for a nicer surface to polish on. Wire saws have come a long way over the years and are gaining in popularity, especially with large slab sawing for building stone and countertops.” At this year’s SMBA conference, Ronnie Brown of Miles Supply Company was bestowed with the Bob Johnson award for his dedication to wholesalers and retailers in the industry. This award also recognizes his support of the SMBA, and for the integrity and honesty with which he conducts business. According to Tony Watson, AICA, and President/Memorial Artist of Watson Signs & Monuments, “The Bob Johnson Award is awarded to the most outstanding wholesaler for the Southern Monument Builders Association. The award is not intended to be handed out annually, but to honor the hard work and dedication our wholesale suppliers put into taking care of us as retailers and us as the SMBA. It is named for the late Bob Johnson of Coldspring Granite. Bob Johnson was more than a Sales Representative to many of the then Monument Builders of the Southwest and Louisiana/Mississippi Association members; he was a great friend. The idea for the award was created by some of his closest friends; Dody Campbell of Campbell Monument in Provencal, LA, Perry Giles of Giles Monument in Waxahachie, TX, and Dave Pace, AICA of Brookhaven Monument in Brookhaven, MS. We set forth from there to create the award as a way to say “Thank you” to those in our industry who help us to go above and beyond to help take care of our families. This is more than just a ‘Thank you’ though. It is our way of showing our deepest gratitude to those who support us as a group, as individuals, and as friends. Ronnie Brown, this year’s recipient, has always been a friend to anyone who he spoke with regardless of whether or not he has sold them a tool or sand, or sand handler. He will answer any questions thrown at him. As life has gotten difficult for him and his family, he has done everything he can to be a part of our association meetings and is truly a part of our SMBA family.” For more convention photos, see page 29. Each year, the EGA awards three scholarships to local graduating seniors to help further their educations. As a way of giving back to the citizens of the Elberton Granite District, the EGA, through its members, provides $1,000 scholarships each to three students who wish to continue their education beyond high school. Two scholarships are given to seniors from Elbert County Comprehensive High School, and one to a senior from Oglethorpe County High School. The EGA is proud to help these students and wish them the best of luck on a successful college career.This family memorial was produced by Baston Monuments, Inc., for Vanover Monument Works located in Clay, KY. Todd Vanover states, “This is a family stone, consisting of a large die and two bevels [bevels not pictured at the request of the family]. It is a sort of reproduction of a smaller stone, selected to mark the lot. It turned out to be a really pretty job.” When asked why Vanover chose Baston to do the work, Todd replied, “Baston does all my work. Michael and Sarah do good work and we stay loyal to them. I can always count on them to produce really great work.” This monument is located in Oak Grove Cemetery in Dixon, KY. Located in a cemetery near Akron, OH that is managed by the Catholic Diocese, this lovely monument was fabricated by Central Granite Company for Summit Memorials in Akron, OH. A few weeks after it was set, Summit received a thank you note from Mrs. Bochette. It reads in part, “It looks beautiful along the hillside just above the trees and below the cemetery cross. The piece is majestic and [Summit] did a masterful job all the way around.” According to Barbara Freeman of Summit Memorials, “After seeing a similar monument in another part of the cemetery, Heys Wade of Central Granite worked with us to bring the family closure.” Glass Art Imaging provided this amazingly detailed color rendering of St. Teresa for a project being fabricated by Walker Granite Company. Glass Art’s patented process melts the stone and fuses pigments into it, thus creating a strong, lasting bond. As with all of Glass Art’s imaging projects, this beautiful example will not fade out or erode over time, meaning this unique portrait of St. Teresa will endure throughout many generations. This contemporary memorial was fabricated by Eagle Granite Company, Inc., for Brown Memorials located in Florence, SC. According to Bran Oswalt of Brown Memorials, “Ryan was a physics major at our local university, tragically killed in a work related accident. His love for physics is told through the atomic emblem, and his dates of life are displayed in the manner of an equation.” Brown Memorials relies on Eagle to produce high quality granite, and this memorial is no exception. This monument is located in the cemetery of Liberty Hill Baptist Church in Hartsville, SC. This beautifully detailed cross was produced by Keystone Memorials, Inc., for Rolf Monument Company in Newport, KY as part of an estate monument. It features an intricate sculpted oak wreath on the front of the cross, which rests on two stacked sub bases with ogee ends. According to Tim Rolf of Rolf Monuments, “Keystone provided us with a series of vintage cross designs, and we settled on this one. The relief raised letters are striking, and the family really like the beautiful oak wreath on the front. It sits on a huge hillside, and makes quite an impression. Keystone did a great job, and they are really great to work with.” The cross is located in Evergreen Cemetery in Southgate, KY. This magnificent family estate monument was fabricated by Eagle Granite Company for the Koenig estate. Mr. Koenig is the CEO of City Furniture in South Florida and a devout Catholic. He purchased a family estate to set a place of honor for his beloved wife and to ensure the legacy of their family. The Koenigs made the Catholic Church a large part of their lives, raising funds for the Archdiocese and their parish. Doreen was a driving force behind many community causes in the Fort Lauderdale area, especially those that benefitted women and children. Keith is highly respected for living by his company mission statement and remains an advocate for both the Church and the community. Mr. Koenig requested a very simple monument that would encompass his love of his family and his Catholic faith. He wanted it to reach across as many of the 12 graves in the estate as possible but insisted that it reflect the modest and unpretentious nature of his family. This decision was focused on the passing of his wife whom he lovingly refers to as the family matriarch; she is interred in the center. Coincidentally, members of Doreen’s family have small monuments of a very similar stone within walking distance of the Koenig estate. Despite its seemingly simple design, the monument features an impressive amount of detail and craftsmanship. According to Kevin Brown of Eagle Granite, “I decided to do the back ground of the name and carvings as a stipple finish so you could see the difference in contrast of the polish, frosted carvings, and the stippled background. The stipple finish is more white & textured than the frost, so it gives a very subtle difference in contrast.” The family estate is 12 graves, side by side in a quiet section of the cemetery bordered by a private hedge. It is located at Our Lady Queen of Heaven Cemetery in North Lauderdale, Florida. Southern Mausoleums fabricated this stately mausoleum for Baer & Sons Memorials located in Lynchburg, VA. According to a representative from Baer & Sons, “Mr. Stroobants was a well-respected philanthropist in Lynchburg, and donated property to Lebanon United Methodist Church; his mausoleum is located across from the property. He was an exacting and very particular individual, and the design of his monument was very important to him. He wanted high quality granite and a European-looking design. We knew that Southern Mausoleums could create what he was looking for, and they did. Nobody else could have done this project like they did. It was a long, time-consuming project demanding extreme quality and rigid details, and Southern Mausoleums got it right.” This mausoleum is located in the Lebanon United Methodist Church Cemetery in Forrest, VA. This distinguished monument was fabricated by Dixie Granite Company for Preferred Memorials located in Elizabethtown, KY. Jerry Shipp of Preferred Memorials stated that, “Jerry Smith spent 30 years in the monument business, and this was the design he and his wife Cindy came up with. He worked with us here at Preferred for over ten years, and we are very proud to have been a part of fulfilling his wish. Dixie did a great job with it.” The monument is located in Red Hill Cemetery in Hodgenville, KY. This eye-catching monument was created by Keystone Memorials, Inc., for Lardner Monuments located in Topeka, KS. It was designed by Diane Westling, owner of Lardner Monuments, for her father. “My grandfather came over from Ireland, and was the owner of Cottonwood Falls Limestone Quarry. My dad worked with him for years, and eventually took it over as owner. Then he later began Lardner Monument Company, and it is still a part of our family. That being said, this monument is very special to us, both in the design and the details. With my parents being devout Catholics, we wanted certain symbols on the monument, such as the Alpha and Omega designs that are also a part of my grandfather’s monument. We called Keystone because they do good work. This turned out great, like we knew it would.” The monument is located in Mt. Calvary Cemetery in Topeka, KS.
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