The History of Cataraqui Granite Company
On May 24, 2002, Cataraqui Memorials opened its doors for the first time at 1381 Midland Ave., in Kingston. It was a monument company making tombstones out of blocks of granite. One year into the new business I noticed a great demand for granite countertops. After much interest, and some research I started selling and installing them. In 2004, the demand for countertops exceeded the demand for headstones, so I renamed the company Cataraqui Granite Company.
That August, two days before my wedding, a 1300 pound tombstone tipped over onto me breaking my left femur. I was able to get married two days later in a wheelchair. The honeymoon was short-lived, as the next morning I developed a blood clot called a fat embolism in my lungs and almost died. I was intubated and induced into a coma for three days to let the clot clear and my lungs to drain off fluid. Two weeks after that I was released from the hospital and told to take three months off. Being a small business owner, I did not have that luxury and was back to work that Monday sandblasting monuments from my wheelchair. It was at this point I was forced to hire my first employee. Up until this point I was getting help from some of my friends and family to install the monuments and countertops. A very special thanks to my mother who went and sat in my store to make sure I did not lose my new business I had worked so hard to create. The following year the countertops grew dramatically and we went from outsourcing the fabrication from a shop in Woodbridge to purchasing a rail-saw, some polishers, and making them ourselves by hand. It was at this point I hired my second employee, as well as someone for the office and showroom. The following year we hired two more employees and purchased more equipment.
In 2007, we needed more space. After many disputes with the landlord, I decided to purchase our own place. That summer we purchased the building that was formerly Cataraqui Autobody on Highway 38 just north of town. We purchased two acres of property with a 30-year-old poorly insulated 75’x30’ quonset hut on it. With a much needed facelift and a lot of clean up we converted the building into a showroom in the front, with an office and washroom in the middle, and a fabrication shop in the rear. With the demand for countertops continuing to grow exponentially, in 2008, we hired two more employees and purchased a used bridge saw from a granite shop in Rhode Island. In order to make room for it in our, once again, tiny shop we had to remove the sandblast booth. We continue to sell and install monuments but we now outsource the lettering and designs that are on them.
In 2014, we realized we were going to have to expand again. Later that year we purchased another three acres from the farmer next door. In 2018 we broke ground on a new much larger building. We purchased our first CNC (computer numerically controlled) machine to do all the finishing of the counters. This modernized the whole process. Where we used to make cardboard templates, trace them onto a slab, cut them manually with a large saw, and polish everything by hand; we were now measuring cabinets with a 3D laser, and everything was being cut by a computerized saw and polished by a CNC machine. We now went from making and installing three countertops a week with seven employees to 10 kitchens + with the same number of people, and the quality was perfect.
This huge investment came as a huge scare in March of 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic hit the world by storm. I was very worried I would lose everything. Fortunately, it had an adverse effect on home renovations. After a couple of weeks of most of our staff being off nervous and scared everyone realized it was not that scary and returned to work. Surprisingly to us, when we called our customers they were incredibly happy that we were still open and willing to come to install their countertops. Today we mostly do quartz countertops, although some people still prefer natural stone such as granite and marble.
This May 24th will be 20 years since we first opened our doors. I have seen many people come and go through those doors. In that time we have made some customers our friends. Many of our staff have been here for 10+ years, and the ones that have moved on often stop by to say hi. I was 25 years old when I founded the company. I had no idea it would ever turn into what it is today. I have all our wonderful customers and staff to thank for helping fulfill my dream.
CEO, Cataraqui Granite Company
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Cataraqui Granite Co. Articles
Refined Kingston Iss. 1 [pdf]
Refined Kingston Iss. 3 [pdf]