The Wicked Yard

Discover The Deep Roots Of The Swenson Granite Works Newtown Store

Posted by Amanda Pittsley on Dec 4, 2020 8:00:00 AM
Swenson Granite Works Newtown, Connecticut store

John Doherty may not have been there when the Swenson Granite Works Newtown store (located just outside Danbury, Connecticut) opened in 2000, but he and his team have basically been there ever since. Deep roots and long standing connections are what you will find at the store—and this scenic small town—as a whole.

“We always kid around that we definitely have some longevity in this store,” said Doherty

SGW_Newtown CT Team Photo Shoot_20 (8)

John Doherty, Store Manager, joined the team in 2004.

Photo of Gregg Walter the assistant store manager
 
Gregg Walter, Assistant Store Manager, has been working at the store for 18 years.
 
Photo of John Farrell, the yard foreman
 
John Farrell, Yard Foreman, keeps an extensive inventory of stock materials organized and ready for customers to see.
 
Photo of James Petrino, a Swenson Newtown store truck driver
 
James Petrino, Truck Driver, started out as the yard foreman, and then took his CDL certification so that he could move into the truck driver position vacated by an 18-year veteran of the store who retired. James is also a volunteer firefighter.

“There are many fourth generation, fifth generation Newtown people,” said Doherty, a Newtown native himself. “I remember, as a kid, Newtown was very much a farm community. Over the years, it's gotten more populated, coming into its own as far as development and everything that comes with it.”

As the area has grown and developed, Swenson Granite Works has been right there, growing too.

“The town itself has been very good to us and we hopefully reciprocate that,” said Doherty. “We supply the granite for all the signs at the parks and municipal buildings in this town. It’s been a very good relationship.”

WOODBURY GRAY™ granite custom engraved sign at A. Fenn Dickinson Memorial Town Park  
 
WOODBURY GRAY™ granite custom engraved sign at A. Fenn Dickinson Memorial Town Park
 
WOODBURY GRAY™ granite custom engraved sign at the Newtown Police Headquarters
 
WOODBURY GRAY™ granite custom engraved sign at the Newtown Police Headquarters

Although people throughout New England come to the store, it wasn’t always the case. While the store’s demographics are pretty evenly split between residential and contractors, both groups needed an education about granite and utilizing natural stone.

“Connecticut is not really considered by most people to be a ‘granite’ state, so there was a little bit of education that needed to happen,” said Doherty. “We put in the effort to teach people about the value and the versatility of what we do with natural stone.”

Doherty said many people have a misconception about the cost associated with granite – some basing their estimates on granite countertop prices, which isn’t exactly an apples-to-apples comparison. When potential customers say they can't afford granite steps, before they’ve even been given a price, they usually end up pleasantly surprised. In fact, about six years ago, one residential customer had that exact conversation and ended up purchasing granite steps from the Newtown store. The same customer is now three years into a custom build in Virginia and has used nearly seven tractor trailer loads of material from the Newtown store on their new project so far.

A set of Woodbury Gray granite steps
 
A set of Woodbury Gray granite steps

“Like anything else, it takes time,” said Doherty. “But once the word got out there, and contractors began to understand that it's a great product at a good price point, all of a sudden we started slowly seeing more and more people coming in. And those people didn’t really question the value or the cost of it. The conversations became more of how they can work it into their plans, so it's been good. I really enjoy that part of it.”

Although they are a local store with deep community roots, they do service the whole country out of their location, and have shipped material as far as California.

“It's fun because you get people from other states, such as Texas, that have seen our website and then see the product and say, ‘Geez I'd really like to have this, but I know the shipping is going to be tremendous,’” said Doherty. “And we try to reinforce the fact that, depending on what you want, we have cost effective ways with different contractors and trucking companies to move the material out to you.”

The Newtown store worked with Siena College in Loudonville, New York on this “Ring of Honor” project.

Ring of Honor Swenson Granite Project
 
Ring of Honor Up Close photo

Engraved Woodbury Gray granite benches, and three of Swenson Granite Works’ 7 x 7 x 7’-0 thermal 2 / rock 2 posts were used as a base to mount a memorial plaque. This is a beautiful place of honor for the donors that were recognized for their generosity and a place of inspiration for the present and future students of Siena College.

Just like many people are pleasantly surprised by the cost of granite, they are equally amazed by the cost of transportation, a win-win for both the customer and the store.

One of those far-away projects has incredible meaning to the Newtown staff: a memorial to those who lost their lives on 9/11 during the attack on the Pentagon, which was unveiled in 2019 at Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland. Woodbury Gray granite was used for two outside, upright markers and a central block which supports a limestone slab from the original Pentagon building that survived the attack.

Pentagon memorial project

Swenson Granite Works has also worked on a number of projects for the Gold Star Families at the Aberdeen Proving Ground, ranging from engraved names of fallen service members, to benches, walkway lamp posts (engraved with a Gold Star) and a base for the Fallen Soldier Memorial.

Memorial using Swenson Granite
 

“There are a lot of service members that work in our production plant and within the company,” said Doherty. “And I just feel very proud that we're able to participate in these projects like we do from our location.”

Closer to home, the Newtown team worked with actress, entrepreneur and lifestyle blogger Eva Amurri, to renovate the hardscape of her mid-19th Century home in a historic section of Westport, Connecticut. Amurri selected Woodbury Gray granite products from their New England-based quarries for the outdoor projects, and Warren Cartmel of Natural Designs, LLC oversaw the preparation and installation of the natural stone.

Eva Amurri backyard project with Swenson Granite

It wasn’t a small backyard project: Woodbury Gray granite entry steps, yankee style steps, patio pavers, lamp posts and a hearth for a new outdoor fireplace are just some of the products supplied by the store to help the home maintain a through-line to its historic roots.

Woodbury Gray granite thermal pavers and hearth
 
Woodbury Gray granite thermal pavers and hearth
 
Woodbury Gray granite yankee style steps
 
Woodbury Gray granite yankee style steps
 
Woodbury Gray granite entry steps and thermal pavers
 
Woodbury Gray granite entry steps and thermal pavers
 
Custom Woodbury Gray granite lamp posts with caps and gray granite bush hammered pattern pavers
 
Custom Woodbury Gray granite lamp posts with caps and gray granite bush hammered pattern pavers

“We worked with Eva and Warren closely and it was fun to watch different phases of the project,” said Doherty. “We would call and go back and forth, discussing what they needed next. We had a general idea of everything that they needed and we just kind of got to the point where he would give us notice about what the next phase was. It was fun to watch the progress.”

DOWNLOAD THE HISTORIC HOME RENOVATION LOOKBOOK TO EXPLORE EVA AMURRI’S PROJECT

Swenson Granite Works can help you create an artful staycation destination by working with you to choose features and plan your project from start to finish. No matter what products you choose for your resort-style retreat, with Swenson’s granite, you can easily make your backyard an elegant space to enjoy with friends and family for years to come. Visit the Newtown store, or the retail location nearest to you.

Download the Price Guide to get the details on posts, steps, coping, walkways, curbing, patios, benches, fire pits and more.

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Topics: Store Spotilght

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