Stone Imaging Offering Unique Products Nationwide
A small business in the Western Wyoming town of Bedford is providing a one-of-a-kind product to architects, contractors and homeowners across the nation. Catherine Lay, owner of Stone Imaging, came up with a patented and propriety process to carve patterns—and even photographs—into a variety of stones to suit any need. Lay originally opened her stone-carving business in Utah, but had to close its doors due to personal circumstances. When she later moved to Wyoming and the opportunity to re-enter the stone manufacturing world presented itself, Lay turned to Wyoming Small Business Development Center (SBDC) Network Regional Director Rob Condie.
Among other things, Lay needed working capital for inventory and to upgrade her laser technology. Condie helped her put together a business plan and create financial forecasts which helped her secure a business loan through the Wyoming Women’s Business Center. Lay says she has been stunned by how supportive the Wyoming SBDC Network, and the state in general, have been to small businesses.
Stone Imaging operates mostly as a wholesale supplier for tile stores across the nation. Lay expects 2018 to be a break-out year with a goal of having up to 100 stores selling her products. Additionally, there are some architectural projects that can only be accomplished by her unique process of laser-etching, sanding and chemical treating.
“The process we use can be far more detailed and delicate than sandblasting,” Lay explained. “It leaves a stone silky smooth, almost polished looking. So, you can put it on a floor, for example, and it cleans easily.”
One example of the large scale applications of her product include the 22-foot tall facades on the exterior wall of the OC Tanner flagship jewelry store in downtown Salt Lake City, Utah. KEPCO+, the contractors renovating the historic building, searched internationally for someone to accomplish this task. They came up empty-handed, until they met Lay. Stone Imaging was able to provide the highly-detailed and “ghosted” stone and glass designs that the project called for.
“I’m the only one in the country who can do them,” Lay said. “It’s the most delicately detailed, carved stone wall in the world.” Her work on the OC Tanner building also won a Tucker Design Award from the Building Stone Institute and a Marble Institute of America Pinnacle Award of Excellence.
Before her company became a success, Lay was a homemaker with six kids looking to supplement the family income. Now, she wants to be a force for good in her rural community.
“There are a lot of women who want to be creative and supplement family incomes,” Lay said. “My dream is to be able to employ these women, even have a child-care facility, so they can be productive, even if they are only working three or four hours a day, to help with the family income or help support themselves. My dream is to help empower women and give them ways to support themselves.”