Case Studies

Eden Stone Co. Inc.: Building a Legacy with Natural Stone

  • Written by: Eden Stone Co. Inc.: Building a Legacy with Natural Stone
  • Produced by: Eden Stone Co. Inc.: Building a Legacy with Natural Stone
  • Estimated reading time: 5 mins

Eden Stone Co. Inc. (Eden) numbers amongst the oldest privately held, family-owned and -operated companies in Wisconsin. Four generations have participated in the company’s evolution, overseeing a transformation from supplying dressed veneer stone products and flagstones to a full-service stone building material supplier with the capabilities to handle off-the-shelf and completely custom requests. Eden products serve as a testament to the company’s willingness to embrace new technologies, and it is the team’s dedication that has made the company as durable as the stone products it produces.

“The truth is that we produce a truly great product,” says Dave Wirtz, president and part-owner of Eden. “I don’t know of very many Type III limestones available from domestic producers that can hold a candle to what we have.”

Emil Gesell founded Eden as Gesell and Sons in the 1950s, but the company’s acquisition of Valders Stone and Marble Inc. (Valders) in 1992 stretched its legacy back to 1906, when the Valders quarry operation began producing lump lime for the local masons. Valders mined limestone and operated kilns to produce lump lime from its quarry until the 1950s, when advancing technologies made lump lime obsolete in the face of ready-to-use soluble lime products.

The shift away from lump lime created the need to also alter the business and ultimately the products it produced. Eden shifted gears in 1957 to begin producing limestone riprap used in shoreline protection and stabilization efforts. Before long, Valders began producing dimensional-cut stone. Two of the company’s first projects were for The Kohler Company, and later for Lakeland College in Sheboygan, Wis. Eden’s acquisition of Valders in 1992 only hastened the operation’s technological advancement, while the source of stone remains constant.

“Our products are predominantly made with dolomitic limestone, though we do operate quartzitic sandstone quarries as well, but all eight of our quarries are domestic to Wisconsin,” expands Peter Roehrig, vice president of Eden.

The quarries produce stone that is then transported to the Eden processing facility in Eden, Wis., where guillotines snap, saws slice and enormous drums tumble and transform the stone into a variety of building products. Eden’s complete line of building products runs the gamut to include full- and thin-veneer building stone, and landscape and hardscape stone material. This is in addition to cut architectural stone products, such as paving, cut stone trim, fireplaces, mantles, stairs and balustrade, outdoor furniture, dimensional wall cladding and coping, as well as many other products.

Cutting-edge Quarries

Eden headquarters are located in Eden, Wis. Although Eden and Valders have a symbiotic relationship with one another, Eden’s client base represents a mix of distributors, dealers, contractors and landscaping professionals working on commercial, governmental and residential projects. In contrast, the team at Valders works directly with general contractors, architects, landscape architects, engineers and institutional clients.

The Valders team works with clients on a primarily custom project basis and in a wider geographical area, with the occasional project overseas. A minor sampling of projects and clients Valders has previously supplied include Johns Hopkins University, Harvard, University of Massachusetts, the University of Chicago, the University of Michigan, as well as many federal and state courthouse facilities. A major part of the Valders’ portfolio of projects is high-end private residences across North America as well.

Eden products can be precision-cut for a laser-smooth finish, split for a natural cleft look, tumbled for a worn and weathered texture or given a more rustic surface through rockfacing, either by machine or by hand. The stones are split-faced using a hydraulic splitter, which exposes the interior of a stone to yield a more consistent product that capitalizes on the untouched, natural beauty of the stone.

The Eden team will also leverage its resources to produce custom stone products on a smaller scale – as does Valders – for uses such as stone benches, outdoor fireplaces and water features. The extra attention to custom production has garnered both Eden and Valders many high-end residential customers. High-end clients look to the companies to provide stone building products of unparalleled quality, and expect the finished products to make a strong architectural statement. Eden distributes its products through a network of wholesale distributors across the Midwest, Mid-Atlantic and Western regions of the United States, as well as in Canada.

“We also still produce riprap stone for use in shoreline protection and erosion control,” adds Wirtz. These products are primarily used for shoreline protection projects along the coast of Lake Michigan, though the market for such projects has diminished in recent years.

Expanding Efficiencies

In fact, Eden added a Sussex, Wis.-based distribution yard facility in July 2012 to serve customers in the greater Milwaukee area. The second Eden location provides customers a glimpse of the company’s full line of architectural, landscape and veneer products complete with installed displays and ancillary items like mulch, sand, plastic edging and an assortment of concrete landscape materials to round out a customer’s order. The location also sells a variety of stone maintenance and preventative care products to clean and protect the stone’s natural beauty over time.
Every order is carefully palletized and stretch-wrapped for protection from movement and damage in transit. Eden’s skilled employees also make sure to pack the stones carefully to safeguard against chipping and breaking as well. Products can be shipped on Eden’s fleet of specialized carriers to selected destinations or transported using a common carrier depending on the client’s preference.

“We’re always looking to become more efficient and better at what we do,” adds Wirtz. “We recently introduced a new product made from our preconsumer waste that has been doing very well.” The paving product combines a variety of cut stone scraps that we blended to create a striking pattern at a very competitive price.

The future looks bright for the team at Eden, and the company is already considering some new equipment for its production facilities. The new equipment would complement the additional efficiencies Eden has added over the years, such as the automated guillotine waste material conveyor positioned to swiftly remove the waste rock, thus eliminating the need for manual labor as an example.

Eden is also engaged in the Lean manufacturing process, which continually challenges company personnel to conserve resources, reduce cost, minimize waste and reduce redundant procedures to provide responsible growth opportunities, while improving overall company efficiency. Eden Stone Co. Inc. has the experience and commitment to ensure every client a quality stone product that will last a lifetime.

Published on: March 16, 2013

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