December 18, 2008
By Kat Lee – Terrace Standard
A local businessman is building on contacts made in China to import granite to the northwest.
Scott Walter, a key principal in award-winning Scotech Systems, which has developed a vacuum hose system being manufactured in China, says his new venture, Allterra Wholesale Distributing Ltd., can bring in granite at a cheaper price than is the case with other suppliers.
Along with partner Neilsen Thomas, Walter has set up shop in a warehouse here [Terrace, BC].
The business has been open for a month and has already sold materials for 20 kitchens.
The company aims to supply wood and stone flooring and high-end cabinetry through China to large-scale builders and hardware stores in North America, but is currently selling to the general public as well.
“We’re just going for the best quality (of products),” Walter said.
Granite was a first focus, he said, because of the demand for the product.
“We have a need in the Northwest for granite,” Walter said, explaining that he has spent the last few years researching it.
The finished product, when cut to size ad prepared for custom kitchens, is expensive to transport, he said, and there is always the chance of breaking it.
So Walter and Neilsen decided to set up shop here instead.
Granite from countries all around the world, such as Finland and Brazil, is first sent to China where it is cut and polished. It is then shipped to Terrace where it is cut to fit specific orders.
A $15,000 grant from Northern Development Initiative Trust will allow Walter and Thomas to properly train tradespeople to work with granite.
Experts will be brought in, or employees sent south on courses to learn how to cut, form, fit, install, and match designs for the granite.
The product could also be carved or cut for memorial stones.
“We’ve got people who are qualified but have never worked on granite before,” Walter said, adding that they are currently in the process of hiring the local tradespeople.
“The Northern Development money will really be helping with training these new people,” he said.
While Walter and Thomas aim to sell cabinet and flooring material internationally, Walter said the granite supply will be for the Northwest only, although he does say a secondary shop will probably be set up in Kelowna sometime.
“I saw a lot of promise in it. Nobody handles granite in the Northwest. And it is a difficult material to transport. So people here have to pay a ton to send it up,” Walter said.
“There is a big need for it here,” said Walter.
The stock is being shipped in through the port in Prince Rupert and is being stored in a warehouse in Terrace and worked on in different locations in town until the warehouse is fully set up.
Right now there are only five staff members involved in the company, but Walter is anticipating to grow to around 20 in the future.