Case Studies

Portland Stone Ware Company Inc.: Where Tradition Meets Technology

  • Written by: Portland Stone Ware Company Inc.: Where Tradition Meets Technology
  • Produced by: Portland Stone Ware Company Inc.: Where Tradition Meets Technology
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Portland Stone Ware Company Inc. (PSW) has been in existence since 1847. Over the course of 165 years a lot has changed. The company relocated headquarters from Portland, Maine, to Boston, Mass., and later to Cambridge and finally Dracut, Mass. PSW continues to supply clients with the materials needed to build and restore buildings with an eye for a structure’s architectural inheritance and great concern for precision and efficiency overall.

The Clark-Winslow family that founded PSW eventually passed ownership to the Schuler family in the 1970s. Despite a handful of location changes and evolving product lines, the two families have built a tradition of conducting business with the best interests of both clients and employees in mind.

“We have employees who have been with us for over 30 years,” says Donna Morgan-Schuler, president of PSW. “Some long-distance drivers who have been here over 20 years. That’s unheard of at many companies, but we have been able to hold onto our employees because we recognize and acknowledge how valuable they are and we treat them as best as we can afford to.”

PSW’s talented team has helped the company evolve over the years from a major manufacturer of clay sewer pipes into the diversified masonry and building supply wholesale company it is today. PSW employs 38 professionals who work to supply clients across New England and into eastern Pennsylvania, eastern New York and Maryland with a variety of stone, masonry and building materials. The company’s two core markets are building material suppliers and masonry supply yards. In both markets PSW leverages its considerable buying power and long-term supplier relationships to find clients precisely the right product at the right price.

A Personal Passion

“We’re a small family business, but we’re incredibly hands-on,” asserts Morgan. PSW represents both natural and manufactured stone products, and the company’s experienced sales staff will work with customers to ensure satisfaction. PSW is capable of supplying stone flagging, wall stone, veneer, treads, steps, platforms and curbing made of natural beauties like bluestone and granite, limestone and other stones or manufactured Eldorado Stone products, which PSW has represented for many years.

The company also supplies ancillary masonry products like cement, mortar, calcium chloride, clay flue liners, clay chimney tops, firebricks and dampers. The company balances the masonry supply side with a selection of metal products to fill in gaps for customers where needed like anchor bolts, wire mesh and lead flashing.

But it is PSW’s Portland cement column – also known as the Portland Column – that has become an anchor of PSW’s product line. The product itself is a structural steel, 16-gauge steel tube filled with the highest quality Portland cement, which PSW manufactures to the same specifications as it did over 50 years ago.

The Portland Column is a popular choice for shifting axial compressive loads from steel or timber framing structures straight to building footings. The columns are available in 3.5-inch, 4-inch and 6-inch diameters up to 20 feet in length, being compact enough to render the surrounding space useable.

What’s a Few Extra Pounds?

PSW has been around along enough to understand the importance of evolving to meet new market demands and the team always keeps an eye out for emerging technologies and products that would appeal to and possibly expand its client base. In December 2011 PSW installed a brand new saw that will increase PSW’s precision and enable the team to take on some of the fabrication responsibilities for clients. “The saw operates with total CAD-CAM modeling so we can program it to do whatever we need it to,” says Morgan.

Even though technology has come far over the years, the natural beauty of many of PSW’s products simply has to be experienced in person and PSW goes above and beyond to ensure clients can see the quality of stone available in-person. Sales staff will often lug around small stone samples for customers to view in person. Even at a few ounces a piece the weight adds up, but the PSW team continues to haul the samples from customer to customer as a testament to the quality of its products.

“Sometimes the best advertising is our fleet of trucks,” admits Morgan. “Believe it or not we have had quite a few doors open for us after a customer saw the stone in person while on the road and we’ll do whatever we can so the customer can see the product for themselves.”

In the next few years PSW will continue to support its clients by sourcing the highest quality materials possible while empowering its team with the technologies and systems to meet even the most exacting customer’s needs. But it will always be the company’s focus on talented employees that will cement Portland Stone Ware Company Inc.’s place as a leader in the building material supply industry.

Published on: March 15, 2013

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