The Wicked Yard

Tradition Meets Modernity in the Coastal Community of Westbrook, Maine

Posted by Amanda Pittsley on Dec 28, 2020 1:04:02 PM
Swenson Granite Works’ Westbrook, Maine Store
 
Swenson Granite Works’ Westbrook, Maine Store Manager Jeremy Walbridge has been working with the company for 27 years — over half his life. He has had family members and friends work at the company, and credits the family oriented nature of the business to his tenure.

“The first thing that comes to mind when I think of Swenson? Family. The Swenson name has a history attached to it. 133 years as a family business and I’ve seen all sides of it,” said Walbridge.

Swenson Granite Works’ Westbrook, Maine Store

Jeremy Walbridge, Store Manager

Walbridge works alongside Assistant Store Manager Jason McIntire (West Baldwin, Maine) and Regional Manager Jason Lehigh (Gorham, Maine), and between them, the men share a whopping nearly 65 years experience helping customers and working with natural stone. Adrian Bisson (Saco, Maine) also joined the Westbrook team as a truck driver in 2020.

Swenson Granite Works’ Westbrook, Maine Store

Jason McIntire, Assistant Store Manager

Swenson Granite Works’ Westbrook, Maine Store

Jason Lehigh, Regional Manager

“The best part of the job really has to be helping the customers and watching their vision come to life,” said Walbridge. “That, and seeing your work around the community. Every spring when the team takes a weekend golf trip to Sugarloaf, we’re welcomed by the WOODBURY GRAY™ granite sign we helped put there, and it gives you a great feeling of pride.”

Sugarloaf Mountain Hotel granite sign

The Westbrook community is typical of New England, with scenic ocean views in one direction and majestic mountains in the other.

“You don’t have to go very far to all of a sudden be in the woods,” laughed Walbridge. “There’s not many people but there’s still a lot to do around here. If you’re not into hiking, watching the Portland Sea Dogs is a great pastime. They’re part of the Red Sox organization, so a lot of players that play with them get moved up to the Red Sox — we get to see them play before they hit it big.”

During the pandemic, the team has seen more homeowners than ever spend time and money investing in their homes. “We’ve sold a record number of cobblestones this year. They’re really just flying off the shelves,” Walbridge observed. “I think people just really got into projects they may have been putting off for a while.”

Woodbury Gray granite classic apex bird bath and standard gray cobblestones

A Woodbury Gray granite classic apex bird bath and standard gray cobblestones used as planter bed edging are displayed at the store.

READ MORE ABOUT THE USES FOR COBBLESTONES

Most of the work comes in from the coast, which presents its own unique set of challenges. Getting material to the islands in particular — there’s just a lot more logistics involved. It takes longer, the store has to plan ferries, barges, and be aware of tides — but it’s a labor of love for the team. “It’s really fun in the summer to ride your bike around the islands and see Swenson Granite Works’ granite around every turn,” said Walbridge.

Seawall in York, Maine with CONCORD GRAY™ granite slabs

After four such nor’easters beat up York, Maine’s shoreline, the town’s administrators decided it was time to shore up its seawall armor and came up with an out-of-the-box solution for rerouting dangerous wave energy involving stepped CONCORD GRAY™ granite slabs. Project by Portland based LaBrecque Construction Inc. Read more about this project here.

Walbridge recalls a project he worked on last year for a local Marine who had passed away, which impacted him in a different kind of way:

“I spent a good amount of time with his grandmother who did all of the work designing the stone and working with state and town officials to determine a location to place the marker in the town. It really did make me feel good seeing her so happy the first time she saw the stone, and it was just what she was looking for after spending so much time designing it. I guess it doesn’t matter if it’s a small marker, a residential set of steps, or a large commercial project, as long as it all works out the way the customer had envisioned, it will always be a good feeling.”

One of the more common questions the team fields is about the accessibility and affordability of granite, so there’s a lot of education in this position. Walbridge said, “Most people don’t realize, for example, a set of granite steps — we’re the quarrier, the manufacturer, and the retailer — is all done in house. There’s no giant consumer markup and it’s more affordable for the average family than most people realize. I recently priced out a set of granite steps that were cheaper than the wood option, and it lasts forever. It’s a lifetime product.”

Woodbury Gray granite steps

A set of Woodbury Gray granite steps

Walbridge has seen and worked on the entire process end-to-end; from the quarry, to the manufacturing plant, and now on the retail side, so you can rest assured you’re getting the expertise you need from him and his team members. “It’s easy to do, more affordable than you think, and endless color options for everyone. It’s kind of a no brainer,” said Walbridge.

Take a journey from the Woodbury quarry in Woodbury, Vermont, to the manufacturing facility in Barre, VT, to the Westbrook, Maine store.

The Westbrook store is proud to be building their community from the ground up — from selling cobblestones to homeowners to massive contractor deals. “Downtown Portland in particular is just ever-changing at this point. It’s under constant construction — if you go today it will look totally different in 6 months, and we’re so proud to be a large part of that as well — and to be building communities from the ground up.” said Walbridge.

Swenson Granite Works can work with you to choose features and plan your project from start to finish. No matter what products you choose, with Swenson’s granite and natural stone products, you can easily make your backyard and home an elegant space to enjoy with friends and family for years to come. Visit the Westbrook store, or the retail location nearest to you.

Visit the Swenson Granite Works Resources Page where you will find inspiration and product guides for steps, gardens, curb appeal, lake houses, pools, patios, fire pits, edging and more.

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Topics: Granite, Store Spotilght, Maine

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