Press Release
February 14, 1999

Celebrating A Century: Graniterock Turns 100

On Valentine’s Day, February 14, 1900—one hundred years ago next week, northern California’s oldest and one of its largest construction material suppliers and contractors began business. Graniterock had purchased land near Aromas three days before Christmas in 1899 with plans to open a quarry. Several months later, on February 14, 1900, the Company was incorporated and formally began business.

The quarry’s first customer was the Southern Pacific Railroad, which needed ballast (rock bedding for rail ties and track) for expansion of the railroad. The Company soon became a building contractor, buildings included the Wells Fargo Building in San Francisco and Gilroy City Hall, and became a heavy engineering contractor for roadways and airports. As the population along the Central Coast and San Francisco Peninsula grew, the need for roads, schools and universities, and housing encouraged Graniterock to expand geographically. The Company now has business locations in Salinas, Hollister, Aromas, Felton, San Jose, Redwood City, Santa Cruz, Monterey Peninsula (Seaside), So. San Francisco and Watsonville.

Granite Rock Company is regarded as a leader in the construction industry, is winner of the prestigious Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award and is listed on Fortune magazine’s list of the “100 Best Places to Work for In America.” Graniterock is #19 in the recently published 2000 ranking. Other great workplace employers included Nordstrom #94, Hewlett-Packard #43, Microsoft #21, and Southwest Airlines #2.

The story of Graniterock is not just the story of a business; it’s the story of a family, a community, and a region. It is the story of a company as it grew through a century of social, cultural and political change. All of the elements of a great tale exist: the grandeur of the Westward Movement, the unpredictable forces of nature, and the colorful stories of the individuals, both men and women, who are the foundation of Graniterock. (See Backgrounder, “The Rock Solid History of Graniterock.”)

The Company’s founder, Arthur R. Wilson, was born in San Francisco in 1866. He was a bright and energetic young man, who received his engineering degree from MIT in 1890. After serving as construction engineer and City Civil Engineer for Oakland, Wilson wanted to find high quality materials to build California’s infrastructure. He found what he was looking for—high quality rock at a site near Aromas (San Benito County). He borrowed money from his cousin, using his insurance policy as collateral, and bought the property using $10,000 in gold coin. Work in the quarry in the early years was done with sledgehammers and picks, and railcars were loaded by hand. Anxious to replace sledgehammers as the mining method of the day, Wilson unveiled a steam powered crusher at the quarry—winning a first place ribbon for excellence at the San Francisco International Exposition in 1915. Wilson soon established Graniterock as a building and heavy engineering contractor, and many of the buildings and roads Wilson and Graniterock People built are still in use today. In October, 1929, Graniterock was issued California Contractor’s License 22. Wilson founded Granite Construction Company in 1922 (later sold in 1936) and was very active in community groups including the local Chamber of Commerce.

“Arthur R. Wilson was an extraordinarily intelligent and achievement-driven man,” says Bruce W. Woolpert, A.R.’s grandson and now Graniterock president and CEO. “He pushed Graniterock and the industry toward higher quality products supported by technological innovation. His values are very much alive today in Graniterock: concern that customers receive a quality product, that communities benefit and prosper as the Company grows, and that Graniterock People always be respected as friends and family,” said Woolpert.

During the early years at Graniterock, the Company installed the first ready-mix concrete plant and first hot mix asphalt (blacktop) plants in California. Both advances improved product quality and consistency. More recently the Company completely renovated its first quarry location, now called the A.R. Wilson Quarry, installing the most advanced equipment available in the world. The completely computer controlled plant also automatically loads customer trucks in a fashion similar to a bank ATM.

Graniterock will be holding a 100th anniversary celebration in San Francisco on Sunday, February 13, 2000, with customers, community leaders, and Graniterock team members. On Monday, February 14, 2000, a series of educational seminars will be held at the invitation-only event on topics including technological advances in the construction field such as longer lasting, more durable roadways. Former President George Bush, who presented the Company with its Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award in 1992, will speak on “The Challenges of the Next American Century.”

For more information, contact:
Bruce W. Woolpert, 831.768.2001
Keith Severson, 831.768.2063