Stelwagon Meets Penn Massive Mattress

Written by Tim Underhill of Delta Slate

In 2002, Linda Hill, a business- girl/entrepreneur of Philadelphia, purchased the Stelwagon Roofing Provide firm. Established in 1853, this constructing and roofing provide firm had deep roots within the Philadelphia neighborhood. Ten generations of Pennsylvanians had been served by or had been concerned with the corporate since its creation. This, she determined, was a basis of inestimable worth. The corporate was modernized and restructured with rapid success. By 2019, Stelwagon boasted 5 retailers in Pennsylvania and one in Trenton, New Jersey.

On the lookout for additional funding she purchased the John Roberts Slate Co, a longtime Philadelphia slate distributor, with sturdy ties to the Lehigh valley and Northampton quarries.

Lehigh and Northampton counties have an extended historical past of slate manufacturing, starting within the 1850’s. At it’s top in 1910, there have been over 150 quarries scattered throughout the slate belt. Northampton county, particularly Chapman, PA, produced Chapman slate, a blue-black slate with flint striations operating on the diagonal. Lehigh county, centered across the Penn Massive Mattress quarry of Slatington, PA, produced numerous slate sorts: Bangor, also referred to as Penn Black and Cathedral Grey being the perfect identified. In 1959, nevertheless, the Chapman quarries closed and by the 12 months 2000 solely the Dally Slate Co in Pen Argyll, PA, and the Penn Massive Mattress firm, in Slatington, PA, survived. They joined forces however their prospects weren’t good. Exorbitant working bills strained their operation to capability and at last the hand of nature dealt the worst blow. In 2010, hurricane Earl devastated Pennsylvania, flooding the perfect and deepest excavations of Penn Massive Mattress. Quarriers are a resilient group, nevertheless, and over the following 10 years Penn Massive Mattress fought again.

Pete Papay, fourth technology proprietor of Penn Massive Mattress, his son Pete junior, Eric Eitner and a small band of store staff stored the quarry afloat, however quickly there was worse information. Pete suffered a bombardment of well being points. It appeared the writing was lastly on the wall and the following step could be in the direction of the exit, when John Roberts launched The Hill household to Pete Papay.

For the Hills, the attraction of the Stelwagon firm had a lot to do with its deep roots locally, and as they acquired to know Pete and Penn Massive Mattress, they acknowledged the identical sample. A few years of involvement with the roofing neighborhood, well-worn commerce routes all through the mid-Atlantic and a buyer base of hundreds, nonetheless Intact.

However there was homework to be accomplished and within the subsequent 12 months they travelled to the established slate facilities of the US: Vermont, New York and Virginia. Then additional afield to Italy and Spain. They studied the commerce and weighed the chances.

 The slate quarrying business is among the most daunting. As soon as invested in monumental equipment, expert labor and satisfying essentially the most oppressive mining rules within the nation, quarrying can start. Nevertheless, solely one in all each three excavations, every one requiring six months to a 12 months to ascertain, might produce a return. Of the nice stone quarried, 95% might be discarded, 5% discover use as slate. And there are obstacles, hurdles and pitfalls ready round each nook. However, like falling in love, as soon as smitten, there solely appears one method to go.

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