As the national discourse surrounding tariffs for imported goods remains ongoing, the focus on domestic-manufactured products has reached an all-time high. Decision-makers in the monument and memorial industry are faced with carefully weighing all the options for material selection. Because natural stone is readily available from the United States and around the world, navigating the many options often proves challenging. Cost is often a factor when considering imported products, but continued tariff uncertainty means there’s no guarantee of the final price for international goods in the near future. The best plan for sourcing stone includes a wide variety of considerations. Time frame, color and the projects purpose remain as important items to consider when deciding between a domestic or international supplier.
A project’s schedule is one of the first decisions to consider when weighing domestic or imported stone options. When a monument or memorial has a deadline that can’t be missed due to potential shipping delays, a domestic source is the best option. In other situations, such as providing memorials for grieving families, time frame is also critically important. A completed memorial provides a sense of closure and gives families a place to visit and remember their loved one. With the final memorial in place, the healing process begins.
Domestic stone suppliers offer numerous advantages related to speed of delivery, which benefits construction schedules and helps families find peace following their loss. Although the actual fabrication times for natural stone fabrication are similar for both domestic and international product sources, transportation from the factory to the project site can be significant with an international quarry or fabrication facility. Ocean voyages can range from three to five weeks, not including delays that can occur at the point of origin or customs at the port of entry.
Keeping these potential delays in mind, a safe time frame for standard stonework from an international source is 16 to 24 weeks from release of the order. For complex stonework or large pieces, additional time should be allowed. Be very cautious on tight time frames, as it’s very difficult to expedite any of the process steps if the schedule begins to slip. On the other hand, a domestic supplier seldom requires more than five to seven days for transport from the factory to the project site.
When considering time frame and project deadlines, remember these same time frame guidelines apply to larger projects such as columbaria and community mausoleums. The project’s schedule will determine how much flexibility is available with international shipments. Due to the longer construction times associated with these projects, the wait time with imported materials may not be feasible.
When the schedule is critical, a North American stone source is essential to ensuring a speedy completion. The supply chain is almost always shorter with a North American source, allowing for better control from the quarry to fabricating facility, or in a best-case scenario, completely controlled by the manufacturer with quarry ownership.
In addition to time frame, color must be evaluated carefully. Does the stone need to match or blend with existing monuments and other structures such as columbaria and mausoleums? Then a domestic stone may be the best choice if the existing stone came from North America.
When considering colors, remember that many families want to personalize their memorials, but don’t realize they have options other than gray. Prior to the Great Depression, the memorial industry relied predominantly on gray granite for monuments. But in the 1940s, a variety of domestic colors were exposed to the market, offering consumers the option to expand the palette of colorful memorials celebrating life. Consumers found that choosing a color other than gray makes an excellent way to customize a memorial.
Today, the variety of colors used on individual memorials and civic monuments has varied tremendously. With a rainbow of colors available, remember that future matching capabilities will be easier with a domestic source. Many times, a phased development will depend on the ready supply of the same color years down the road. Or even replacement pieces – be it a niche or crypt front or larger pieces that need to be replaced during the structure’s life — may be difficult to match when sourced internationally.
Sustainable Quarriers and Processors
Sustainability is a top priority for many decision-makers today. Several domestic sources have achieved the certification to demonstrate their commitment to environmentally responsible practices. The ANSI/NSC 373-certified stone is a new standard created to drive sustainable practices in the natural stone industry. While the third-party-verified certification is an international standard and available for stone producers around the world, presently only U.S. stone companies are certified.
As the standard gains acceptance in the stone industry across the globe, certified stone will be one of the key differentiators among stone companies. Whether working with a domestic or international stone supplier, ensure you source a certified stone supplier when sustainability is a goal.
Veterans’ Memorials and Iconic American Projects
North St. Paul Veterans Memorial Park. The North St. Paul Veterans Memorial Park, complete in 2015, incorporates 223 square feet of Mesabi Black® granite from Coldspring’s NSC 373- certified Babbitt, Minn., quarry. Sourcing stone from a domestic supplier was important to the values of the project committee.
“We envisioned a park that recognized through more of a contemporary view that provided a historical and honorable approach,” said Dan Fisher, co-chair of the Veterans Park Inc. project committee. One of the main focal points of the Memorial Park is the Remembrance Wall, which includes the names of local veterans who were killed, Missing in Action or were Prisoners of War.
Other features of the park include a central star, which signifies Minnesota being the “North Star State.” It is surrounded by a sea of blue to reflect the freedom of the sky. The red stripes indicate the sacrifice made by veterans, the white stripes provide a walkway and signify the paths of purity and purpose that veterans follow during their service to protect and defend the U.S., and a stone replica of the state of Minnesota is engraved with the image of an American serviceman. Four flags were also installed to honor Marine SGT Chad Frokjer, Army SPC Gregory Rundell and Army SPC Matthew J. Johnson who gave the ultimate sacrifice while serving during Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom.
Coldspring also refurbished an existing bronze plaque from WWI the Park Foundation had in storage, which was then mounted on a granite panel for display. The North St. Paul Veterans Memorial Project is a joint effort of the American Legion Post 39, VFW Post 1350, North High Air Force JROTC and the City of North St. Paul.
Farmington Area Veterans Memorial. For decades, young men and women have answered the nations call to serve and protect the United States. The Farmington Area Veterans Memorial in Farmington, MN was designed to honor those from the area who gave their lives in service. As with many veterans memorials, domestic stone was a top priority.
“It’s so very appropriate that we never forget their sacrifice. There are national and state memorials,” said Chairman of the Farmington Area Veterans Memorial Committee, Leon Orr. “Nothing brings awareness of those sacrifices home to us like a local memorial that we can see each day and remember the human sacrifices that have been made for us by our own young people and their families from the Farmington area.”
Planning for this project began in 2009 with the goal of constructing a substantial memorial that would permanently display honor to all military veterans of the Farmington area, with a main focus on those who gave their lives in military conflict.
“Farmington is one of the oldest communities in Dakota County and has one of the richest military histories of its veterans, past and present. Several attempts to have such a memorial in Farmington failed for a variety of reasons. The feelings were strong that this was the right time,” Orr said.
One focal point is the 10-foot-wide, 5-foot-high granite flag at the center of the memorial to signify the American flag as it is folded for military funerals. The flag is located along the north side of the memorial and mounted on a concrete wall. In front of the flag is a sloping granite tablet with the names and service information of the men and women in the Farmington community who lost their lives in military service.
The Veterans Memorial Committee had a historian find the death announcement newspaper clippings for each of the servicemen killed in action. Those clippings are posted right by the flag so everyone who comes to see the memorial can get a sense of who they were. “All other memorials just listed a name,” Orr said. “We amplified the personal element by creating an enclosed display case on the opposite side of the entry sign in which we display an actual newspaper article detailing each death of each person listed on the front granite tablet. It’s not uncommon to see a tear on people’s faces when they enter the memorial and quickly take in the obvious meaning of the presentation.”
The memorial also includes Charcoal Black® granite from Coldspring’s NSC 373 certified St. Cloud, Minn., quarry. The entire project utilized roughly 504 square feet and used 294 granite pieces including split faces, capstones, bench cubes, and platforms.
No matter the memorial project, the goal remains the same – a beautiful tribute that stands the test of time. Natural stone meets these requirements as the most striking, durable material to use for memorials and monuments. Carefully coordinate with your stone supplier to ensure your project goals are met. Consider the project’s timeframe, your desired color choices, sustainability goals and a provider who can accommodate your needs. When these items are considered, you can be certain your project will be a source of inspiration for generations to come.
When sourcing domestic or international stone for your memorial project, here’s a quick summary of things to consider:
- Time frame – The supply chain is almost always shorter with a North American source, allowing for better control.
- Color – Does the stone need to match or blend with existing monuments?
- Veterans or Patriotic Memorials – Choosing a U.S.-based stone is often a high priority for these projects. Even if your supplier is from the U.S., double-check to make sure you know exactly where the stone comes from.
- Sustainability – Currently, only a handful of domestic suppliers have achieved the international certification required to demonstrate sustainable practices. If you want a sustainable provider, be sure to ask your supplier if they’ve achieved ANSI/NSC 373 certification.
Article c/o MBNews