BELGRADE – Shane and Shawn Petersen know tile and stone – they’ve installed them for more than 20 years – that is until 2011 and a trip to Vegas.
“Initially, a trade show in Las Vegas that we went to with our tile company, installation company, and (we) saw some equipment and it just kind of snowballed from there,” said Shane, co-owner, and founder of StoneTek. “We’d already had contact with all the fabricators and being in the industry we just saw the waste and that sparked it.”
Everyone getting granite countertops pays for the whole slab. What doesn’t end up as the counters ends up as waste.
“There’s a huge amount of granite that gets installed in all these houses these days and they have a pretty high percentage of product that they can’t use,” said Shawn, co-owner, and founder of StoneTek. “The smaller pieces and all that, that’s the materials that we use to bring here.”
As much as 35 percent of the slab is waste. The Petersens take that waste and repurpose it – recycle it if you will.
“I think the biggest thing is getting them to NOT think about counter tops when we’re talking about granite,” said Lisa Petersen, StoneTek business manager. “Moving them into the fire pits, the split stones, you know things like that are one of our biggest challenges.”
“It’s pretty easy to get because it’s a product that they have to dispose of,” said Shawn. “They take it and have an expense to get rid of it. So we’ve got collection bins that we give them, they put their waste in those and we recycle those through the bins to use the product here.
A quick tour around StoneTek’s operation in Belgrade helped show where they get their material from. The company takes in 60,000 pounds a month, just from the Gallatin Valley.
Customers sometimes need a little education before they see what StoneTek is all about.
“It’s been really good, but there’s a learning curve for recycled granite, people have never heard of it,” said Shane. “So they don’t know what it is, their initial thought is that it’s crushed up and put back together and none of it is. Everything is just resized and used in its natural form, it’s just in a different way.”
“Educating them that all of this was going to the landfill is amazing,” said Lisa. “And when they get it, they’re like, ‘WOW.’”
“You know, showing that we can create beautiful products out of waste is amazing,” she said. “We’re not having to crush or grind and glue it back together keeping it a solid stone product.”
StoneTek is looking to expand into the decorative gravel business. They are looking to buy a crusher that will allow them to recycle their waste rock into another new product.
The Petersens also do special orders, but they are limited by the size of the waste stones they get each month.
MTN’s Chet Layman