Hudson business provides 'Stone on Demand'
Marc Mahowald is sort of a modern day Fred Flintstone. Like the main character of the popular 1960s TV cartoon show, he has a lot of uses for natural stone.
Mahowald (pronounced Ma-hold') can fabricate just about anything that people can dream up from natural stone.
Water features, fountains, bird baths, landscape columns, kitchen countertops, bathroom sinks, showers, speaker podiums, lampposts, sign posts and mailbox holders are some of the products he makes at his Stone on Demand business at 648 Commerce Drive in the town of Hudson.
"We do something a little bit different than everybody else," Mahowald says. "With the fabricating shop here, if somebody envisions something, we can actually do it."
His specialty is products made from basalt stone formed from lava flows 10 to 15 million years ago. He has the natural basalt columns trucked from a quarry in Washington state that he is a partner in.
"When people finally come here, they tell us this is one of the best-kept secrets in Hudson because of how unique it is," Mahowald says.
A resident of Stillwater, Minn., Mahowald moved his Stone on Demand business to the town of Hudson in June 2007 after purchasing a building and shop on three acres from Trever Sire.
He started the business in 2000, operating it out of a pole barn at his Stillwater residence up until the move to Hudson.
He says that as the business grew he had more and more people coming to his house. He says he had to decide to either downsize the business or grow it, and chose to expand.
He saw a for-sale sign on the Commerce Drive property while on a run to Chicago to deliver stone, and within a short time was the owner of it.
"I've got no regrets being over here. None whatsoever," he said.
The 42-year-old Mahowald has had an adventurous life to this point.
He grew up on St. Paul's east side, and after graduating from Hill-Murray High School went to St. Paul Technical Vocational Institute to learn to weld.
He was a steel worker for a time, and then owned his own welding company.
In 1998, he went to Liberia, West Africa, to run a gold and diamond mining company for a group of Stillwater investors, and wound up staying two-and-a-half years.
The corrupt Charles Taylor was president of Liberia at the time, which made for some tense times.
Mahowald also has spent time in Venezuela as a diamond broker.
It was a friendship he made in West Africa that led him to the natural stone business. They invested in a quarry in Utah together, and after returning to Minnesota, Mahowald began bringing stone from the quarry to the Twin Cities.
"I found out that Minnesota was hungry for stone," he says.
A big part of his business is supplying contractors with natural stone for building construction and landscaping.
While the basalt columns from Washington are Stone on Demand's signature product, the business also supplies limestone, sandstone, quartzite and other types of stone from quarries in three states and Canada that Mahowald is a partner in.
Contractors use the rocks to build fireplaces, walls, water features and variety of other things. A fabricated basalt column in the Stone on Demand yard is about to become a speaker podium at a college in Bloomington, Minn. Another will be used in a bathroom shower of a River Falls home. Stone on Demand will be supplying the rock for water and landscape features at the Appleton, Wis., airport.
A computer-controlled circular saw with a five-and-a-half foot, diamond-tipped blade is used to cut the stone. The business also has drills for hollowing out stones for use as water fixtures.
"People can watch the product get done," Mahowald says. "The customer is involved. It's more personal than just going to a store."
He invites people to visit Stone on Demand to get an idea of what they can do with rock. The business is located on the north side of Interstate 94 about a half-mile east of the MR Convenience station store. Its hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.
You can learn more about the business and its products at www.stoneondemand.com or by calling (715) 386-3840.