We operate several quarries and mills near Fair Haven, Vermont. Most of the 50 people who work here extract raw blocks of slate from the earth or fabricate stone products to specification. Many of our production techniques have changed over the years, but our mission and materials have not - we are still committed to producing custom products that meet the exacting standards of architects and our slate deposit itself remains one of the highest quality deposits in the world.
We remove blocks from the ground by sawing, drilling, blasting and the use of heavy equipment and hand tools. Then we saw the stone to dimension with diamond-tipped saws, hand-split it to thickness, perform special labor items and carefully pack the finished product for transport. We intensively sort our work-in-progress at several stages of production. It might astonish you to learn that we end up rejecting about 90% of the raw material we unearth. Our process is both labor and capital intensive.
We operate multiple ‘benches’ in several quarries. We quarry for specific production requirements, not for inventory. This allows us to select block sizes and color ranges on a custom basis from certain beds in our quarries. And since our rock splits much better when fresh out of the earth, we waste less material. Our slate actually “freezes” and “dries out”, making splitting extremely difficult if not impossible. So, prior to splitting, we heat our blocks in the winter and keep them cool and damp in the summer.
Our production process is thus a combination of technology and craftsmanship. No machine has been invented which can match the judgment of a skilled “slater” in reading, splitting and sorting our materials.