MOHAWK - While in the process of expanding into new product areas, Superior Woodworks owner Kraig Mahrley came across a unique chunk of Copper Country history.
"It's so incredibly historic," Mahrley said of his new line of authentic granite products processed from giant stone blocks used by Calumet and Hecla in the 1800s. "In their rough state they look like blocks of concrete, but only a smart eye noticed their incredible value."
The granite mill blocks were originally installed between the processing equipment and the foundations. This acted like a giant shock absorber. When the mines closed the steel from the buildings was recycled, but the blocks were just left behind.
"I researched on the Internet for hours and came across a report," Mahrley said. "It noted how C&H had incorporated Cape Ann, Mass., granite in their machinery. Now I knew where to go to find their history."
There are four-inch diameter bolt holes in the blocks where they were mounted to the foundations. These holes proved to be an attribute that almost stopped the whole idea.
While researching companies to cut and polish the slabs, Mahrley was told the slabs were worthless because of the bolt holes. Not accepting this, Mahrley came up with a solution.
"An actual C&H logo from the 1930s was found and then laser etched onto black granite disks," he said. "The disks are designed to fill the holes and then be sealed with a clear acrylic. It then becomes it's badge as authentic C&H material."
The very attractive disks are sold separately as coasters.
"Now people are asking, 'If my slab doesn't end up having a hole, can one be put in so I can get a logo?,'" Mahrley said. "So what the industry saw as worthless is now a highly desired option."
How compelling it is to actually install in your home a product that was harvested in the 1800s. This is the time period when Lincoln was still president and then used throughout the mining operations!
"The granite is truly a building block of the Nation because so much of what the Copper Country did enabled the rest of the country to expand in the Industrial Revolution and that all took place literally right on top of these blocks," Mahrley said. "It's such an incredible story on so many different levels."
Superior Woodworks became the Upper Peninsula's distributor for "King Quarry -Distinctive Stone Authority" in April. King Quarry is in Eagle River, Wis., and offers a complete line of all-natural stone veneers, landscape and patio stones. This drastic addition in products now offered prompted the acquisition of a new name that represented rock and wood - so, "Rockwood Concepts" was adopted.
Prior to becoming King Quarry-North, Mahrley said there were no other sources for such a vast array of natural stone products locally. Building the King Quarry-North display room, 41 Lumber was on site for replacement window measurements. They quickly realized the natural stone products superiority over the "fake" cultured products they were offering. On Feb. 1, 41 Lumber will also be retailing the King Quarry veneers in addition to Rockwood Concepts.
Rockwood Concepts also became a sales center for Hiawatha Log Homes of Munising.
Mahrley said, "Customers can come by the showroom to see a full size log cabin inside our indoor display room.
"In the spring the Hiawatha sauna kit should be up too," he said.
Rockwood Concepts saw many changes, and yet another service for the "green" home owner was added - residential asphalt shingle recycling. Rockwood Concepts now offers a cost-effective and "green" option for disposal instead paying top dollar for landfill dumping. The $45 per ton fee for disposal is much less than at the landfill and they are being recycled!
Mahrley will share the story of the history behind the reclaimed C&H granite and business expansion during an open house at De La Terre Bistro in Lake Linden from noon to 9 p.m. this Sunday, Jan. 23.
The event will feature a video presentation and representatives from King Quarry, Hiawatha and A&J Stone (granite installation company) will be on hand. The Packers' game will be on as well.
Mahrley said De La Terre is a great venue because the bar top is made from the C&H granite (shown in photo), the furniture is from Superior Woodworks and the stone fireplace is from King Quarry.
"Door prizes (cedar desk, log clothes tree, log wall racks, King Quarry t-shirts, De La Terre gift certificates, four C&H coasters, a round of golf, and a log coffee table) will be given away to on-site attendees," Mahrley said.
The following will be available for purchase; six appetizers; three soups; three sandwiches; and four entrees. Keweenaw Brewing Company drink specials will be available.
Rockwood Concepts is located at 3295 U.S. 41 in Mohawk. Call 337-0875 or visit rockwoodconcepts.com.
Editor's note: This feature is part of a paid advertising package purchased by Rockwood Concepts of Mohawk. Businesses interested in being featured on the Business page may call Yvonne Robillard at 483-2220.