When John Rozelle began cutting stone in 1991, his operation was so primitive he sometimes jokes that he used to work in his bare feet.
“I literally started stone as a hobby in my backyard on a picnic table with $3,000 worth of hand tools,” the 76-year-old Upstate entrepreneur said. “I actually did wear shoes.”
In 1992, Rozelle parlayed his hobby into a business. He hasn’t looked back since.
Today, Rozelle Stone Co. boasts a multimillion-dollar, 16,000-square-foot headquarters at 1235 Powdersville Highway in Easley. The facility is outfitted with the latest stone-cutting machinery and other technologies.
Under Rozelle’s leadership and that of his business partner David McFadden, the company has evolved into one of the most prominent names in the industry.
Its project portfolio includes the Greenville-Spartanburg International Airport, Hubbell Lighting’s Greenville headquarters, SCANA Corp.’s Upstate campus, Greenville Health System facilities, Spartanburg-based Milliken & Co., BMW, and Michelin North America.
The company’s work can also be viewed at DP3 Architects’ office at the Wells Fargo Building in downtown Greenville, The Peace Center, laboratories at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs hospitals, and the President’s Home at Clemson University.
“We view what we do here as art,” Rozelle said. “It’s a working art space. In many ways, we are an ongoing R&D [research and development] project. We’re always looking for new and better ways to do a project.”
Rozelle Stone’s headquarters was constructed in 2002.
The original building was 5,000 square feet. It has been expanded three times during the past 16 years and serves as the home of the company’s corporate offices, showroom, fabrication shop, and almost 10 employees.
Rozelle said the facility is modeled after a facility about 50 miles west of Venice, Italy. It was designed and built to meet all U.S. and European health and safety standards, he said. Its facility is compliant with Occupational Safety and Health Administration standards and features a water collection system and air quality controls.
“It’s important to us and important to our clients that we provide our employees with a clean, safe place to work,” Rozelle said.
Nearly all of its fabrication machinery is supplied by Park Industries of St. Cloud, Minn.
Rozelle, a former U.S. Air Force pilot, said he ascribes to the military philosophy of “redundant systems.”
“That means two ways of polishing, new ways of cutting, and more,” he said. “That way if one system goes down, we can keep going. Our customers don’t have to wait on us.”
Rozelle said the redundancy is part of the company’s larger commitment to “certainty of outcome,” which means eliminating surprises for the customer.
The facility has a showroom and a “tunable” lighting system developed in partnership with Hubbell that enables customers to see what different stones look like under various types of lighting.
Computer-aided design and manufacturing software enables Rozelle designers to make precision cuts and even match up “veins” in different slabs of stone to provide continuity.
Rozelle said the company is capable of cutting any type of natural or manufactured stone.
He said the company is dedicated to providing the best customer service. Whether it is the developer of a large commercial project or an individual in need of something small, everyone gets the same level of care and attention.
Rozelle said every September, he and some of his employees attend an international trade fair for stone design and technology held in Verona, Italy. His goal is to have everyone in the company go to Italy at least once.
“Profit is not a dirty word,” Rozelle said. “The reason we are able to assure our clients that we will be here 10 years from now is because we make a profit. We intend to make a profit. We intend to stay in business. … The main thing is that we seriously, literally enjoy what we do.”