Evolving Stone to the Next Generation: Celebrating 60 Years of Rocky Mountain Stone

On the heels of celebrating our 60th anniversary, we can’t help but to look back with gratitude and pride. Take a walk down memory lane with us as we look at where we’ve been and where we’re going–and how we can make even more of your natural stone projects come to life.

The Beginning of Rocky Mountain Stone

Rocky Mountain Stone in Albuquerque, NM, dates back to 1963 when Vince Lardner founded the stone business. “He was a mason,” explains Chris Quintana, who has been with the company for over 20 years. “He came to New Mexico from Colorado and there was no one selling quarry materials to masons here. He saw a gap in the market, so he started a stone yard specifically targeting masonry work.” This laid their foundation in the landscape and building stone business, a market RMS serves today. And from there, the growth continued.

Expanding the Business

“We were the only stone yard here in this location for many years,” Quintana said. But then, a pivotal moment came in the mid-80s when a wealthy customer requested stone countertops for her home renovation. This was a first for RMS, but they had the materials and the can-do attitude. So it seemed like a no-brainer.  “I have been in that house many times and the counters are still there,” said Quintana. “That got us our start in the countertop business.”

Fast forward to today, and you’ll find three generations of the Lardner family working together, continuing to build on the solid foundation laid by Vince. Vince Lardner’s son, Scott, currently runs Rocky Mountain Stone. Scott’s son, Sean, is also involved in the business. “It’s nice that we have a third generation,” said Quintana. “We are working on Sean. He has already made his way through the shop, learning the business from the bottom up. That’s our goal – to teach him everything.”

Quintana recalls his own entry into the Rocky Mountain Stone family. “I was a stone sculptor. Someone came to me based on my artwork and asked if I could do an ornate marble fireplace. I had never done anything like that before. I did my first marble fireplace when I was in my 20s and then I shifted into countertops as well.”

Shop Updates

As time went on and demands grew, Rocky Mountain Stone has continuously upgraded its facilities. As of now, Rocky Mountain Stone’s market spans the entire state of New Mexico. “I have been working here since 1998,” Quintana said. “We just kept adding to the business and getting more equipment.” The shop now boasts state-of-the-art equipment, including a dual-table Robo Saw Jet and Miter X miter saw from BACA Systems, a Fusion 4045 saw/waterjet and Fastback II edge polisher from Park Industries, and Slabsmith software from Northwood Designs, Inc.

Expanding Services

These advancements opened new opportunities to work with new materials, such as quartzite. “Quartzite is definitely booming, as well as man-made quartz materials,” said Quintana. “I’m an old stone guy, so I was really dead set against it when quartz first came out. But, now, when you see some of the materials that are being made, they really mimic marble, limestone, and slate. You have the durability of quartz, and in some cases, it is hard to tell the difference. So now, I am more of a believer.”

The continuing advancements will make things easier for customers, too. As a top stone supplier, Rocky Mountain also works hard to keep track of our material. “Every single slab that comes in, we photograph it, with the exception of some of the quartz that look exactly the same,” said Quintana. “We have a picture of stone products so when a customer chooses a slab we can do a layout right there,” says Quintana. “We now have Slab Cloud on our website so people can shop the slabs that they want and actually see a picture of them.”

A Team Effort

At the heart of Rocky Mountain Stone’s success is its strong team culture. Creating an environment where employees can thrive has always been a priority. “Back in 2005, we hired Owen Kingman,” recalls Scott Lardner. “It made a huge difference. We used to have six-week lead times. Within three months, we were down to six days out. It changed our mindset.” This shift in approach also led to the implementation of daily morning meetings, fostering better communication and collaboration among the team.

With a growing team and approximately 45 workers, including five installation crews, output is at an all-time high, consistently producing up to seven kitchens a day.

Quintana also spends time ensuring that their installation crews are top-notch. “My crews can handle anything thrown at them. They by far do the finest work in New Mexico. I would hold them up against anyone in the business – countrywide. They are extremely talented.”

Building Your Dream Project with Rocky Mountain Stone

With 60 years of experience and community building, Rocky Mountain Stone is more equipped than ever before to complete your project. We’ve built strong partnerships with the best landscaping architects and stone architects to make your interior or exterior stone projects come to life. These decades of innovation, family, and teamwork are put to work every day in your homes. Are you ready to become a part of the next 60 years of exceptional stonework? Reach out for a quote today!

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