When we picture our parents, most of us see them as mentors. They help us lay down solid foundations, brick by brick, until we become tall enough to stand and face the world on our own. For Thomas Murray of New England Stone, LLC, he was 10 years old when he helped his father build a real wall out of fieldstone. This was a moment that changed his life forever.
Thomas Murray Owner and President of New England Stone, LLC
Thomas Murray has been dealing in the reclaimed stone business for 15 years. He was first captivated by the industry by working with his father at a young age. This led him to work with masonries and earn several leadership positions in the construction industry as an adult. After his father passed away when he was 28, Thomas took everything he learned from him and founded New England Stone in 2019.
New England Stone’s mission is to buy and resell beautiful reclaimed stone and repurpose them as patios and walkways for clients. Because reclaimed stone is a very rare material, keeping inventory full and meeting clients’ needs becomes a balancing act for Thomas. Most of the hand-chiseled sandstone, bluestone, and granite he obtains comes from old sidewalks and are more than 200 years old. The end results are astonishing and the story of the leader behind them is one to be admired.
Your father seems to have left a major impact on your life. How did he prepare you in becoming who you are today?
My father had a lot of stone piles and I remember helping him build stone walls as a kid. Those memories stayed with me and I’ve always had a passion for stone. He raised me to think and figure things out on my own because he continuously said that he wouldn’t always be here to do it. He was right. I was 28 when he died.
He taught me to appreciate the finer things in life and work hard. Whatever you put out, you’ll reap the benefits. And I definitely have.
Can you tell us a little bit about how New England Stone got started?
I worked for a construction company for a long time and I ran all the crews. We had contracts for the city where we would take out all the granite curbing and replace it with new curbing. The old curbings were such beautiful pieces of work that were hand-done over a hundred years ago. So I started saving and reselling them and it snowballed from there.
What was going through your mind when you first decided to launch your business?
I was very confident that everything was going to be fine and it was a natural transition for me. I had worked with several different companies over the years, whether it was in manual labor or management, and it accumulated all together when I started New England Stone. My first full year of business we were hit with this pandemic and, because of my past experiences, it did not impact me at all. I sailed right through it by taking appropriate safety precautions and working around any obstacles that came along.
How is 2021 going for you so far?
2021 is already looking to be a very busy year. We have a lot of building projects going on.
Has your lifestyle changed now that you run your own business?
Yes, it definitely has. You don’t have that guaranteed paycheck every week or the familiarity of going to work in the same location every day. So, in my field of work, you’re on the road a lot. I have to go out and locate the stone and talk with clients. I prefer to see every job site beforehand because that gives me a vision of how it will look and the type of stone I can send to them. It’s all hands on, as it should be.
I take a lot of respect in what I do and I’ve treated every job that I have as if I were the owner of the business. So you have to have that mindset that everything has your name on it—you have to take pride in your work.
With your non-stop schedule, it doesn’t seem like you have a set daily routine. How do you manage to keep your business on track between getting up at 3am and traveling 80,000 miles a year?
It’s a tough thing to do at times. I manage to communicate safely while on the road and take time out of my day to make sure business is running smoothly and my employees are happy.
How do you like to manage your employees?
For my employees, you have to treat them like family. You have to be approachable and treat everyone how you want to be treated. You want to gain their respect and let them know that you will provide the best service possible. And the fact that I do, allows people to become very comfortable with me.
I had a job in East Hampton where I invited the architect and homeowner to my house and put them up in a nice local spa, took them out to dinner, then had them pick out the stone they wanted from the yard in my house. Afterwards, we sat at my kitchen table. Those are the types of hands-on things you need to do to gain the respect and comfort to work with somebody.
What are you most excited about for your company in the next few years?
I just brought some new equipment this spring and am looking at new vehicles and hiring employees. I’m just very excited to keep growing my business and hope to work in other states that have yet to realize what’s available in the reclaimed stone industry.
What’s the one thing you want people to know about you or your business?
The most important thing I want people to know about me and my business is that I try to preserve the beautiful hand-chiseled craftsmanship that was performed by the very talented and hard working individuals that came before me.
To learn more about Thomas’ story, visit New England Stone, LLC.
This article originally published on GREY Journal.