By Tom Stortz.
This year, during the first weekend of October, the NSA held its conference in Saratoga Springs, New York and the Slate Valley. It was the perfect time to appreciate the beginning of autumn in upstate New York and western Vermont. Quarriers, contractors, consultants and distributors from all over the country convened in-person for the first time in several years. There couldn’t have been a better way to celebrate 20 years since the association’s re-organization.
Guests arrived at the Saratoga Casino Hotel on Thursday night and the group set off to two quarries on Friday morning, Newmont Slate & Rupe Slate. These quarries gave varying perspectives of a larger type operation and one of a smaller scale. Bob Williams of Newmont was excited to show off the new auto-splitter from Europe. This machine takes a block of slate and splits it into around 10 uniform pieces. It was neat to see all the equipment involved in removing the stone from the ground, hauling it, prepping it, and then cutting it into roofing slate. Down the road, Rupe Slate is a long-established family business in beautiful Poultney, Vermont. It is a small operation, but these guys are experts when it comes to stone.
After the quarry tours, the group headed to the Slate Valley Museum in Granville, New York. The museum offers an excellent timeline on the history of natural slate. Everyone had lunch and listened to a presentation from NRCA’s Jared Ribble on the ProCertification process for natural slate. ProCertification is an exam contractors take to prove their qualification. Next, Paul Labas, the Mayor of Granville, spoke about the state of the quarries. It’s been a family-oriented industry for decades and is slowly aging with no clear answer in sight. The day ended with a scenic ride through upstate New York and back to the hotel. The group finished the day with some live music at a local brewery.
The next day started bright and early on Saturday morning with an intro from current President Bob Pringle. Jeff Levine then delivered an update on the standards committee, and Tom Stortz spoke on membership and marketing. Jon Hill of Greenstone Slate and Julian Calvo of Be Natural presented on the happenings of quarries domestically and internationally. Trent Cotney was next to give his polished remarks on legal thoughts and then he shared some incredible slate artifacts from his personal collection. Tim Underhill of Delta Slate delivered a remembrance of the life of Pete Papay and Penn Big Bed. The group than thanked Greenstone Slate and North Country slate, as well as all the other pledging companies for the NRCA ProCert before a quick lunch. The afternoon began with John Chan of Durable Slate showing some neat projects from around the world. Orion Jenkins of Jenkins Slate Masters shared about his trip to Russia where he took a sheet metal roofing class at the Savros school. Finally, there was a round table discussion headed up by Brian Chalsma of the Roofing Company on fake slate, cladding, and the state of the industry. A wealth of info was discussed throughout the day and was dispensed concisely.
The evening concluded with a dinner cruise around Lake George. This was a time to let loose and talk about future endeavors while enjoying the beautiful lake. It was cold!
The conference was a rousing success, and we look forward to seeing everyone next year!
Learn more about the National Slate Association (NSA) in their RoofersCoffeeShop Directory or visit slateassociation.org.
Original article source: Stortz
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