Pluess Staufer Fails in Bid

To Buy George Marble Company

July 22, 1995
By Bruce Edwards

Pluess Staufer AG, the Swiss company that

operates a major calcium carbonate plant in Vermont,

was beaten out by a French company to acquire Georgia

Marble Company.

The 111-year-old Georgia Marble Company announced

this week that it is being acquired by Dry Branch

Kaolin Company, a subsidiary of French-owned kaolin

mining concern Imetal SA.

The sales price was not disclosed, but Georgia

Marble reported $100 million in sales last year.

"Pluess Staufer was interested in certain

aspects of Georgia Marble, but we weren't interested

in breaking the company up" Georgia Marble Company

president A.L. "Sonny" Gay said Thursday from company

headquarters in Kennesaw, GA. He added that Pluess

Staufer was one of the several companies that had

expressed interest in acquiring Georgia Marble.

Gay said Pluess Staufer's bid was too low and

that the owners of Georgia Marble felt the company was

worth more in its entirety than sold off in pieces.

Pluess Staufer, whose OMYA subsidiary operates a

calcium carbonate plant in Florence, Vermont, operates

a similar operation in Alabama as a joint venture with

Georgia Marble.

Calcium carbonate and kaolin are used as fillers

or extenders in the manufacture of paper, paint and

plastics products. Calcium carbonate is made from

crushed marble, limestone or chalk, white kaolin is

made from white clay.

Pluess Staufer, which rarely issues public

statements about its business, said it was aware of

the acquisition.

"We know the people involved and look forward to

working with them, as a joint venture partner, if and

when the agreement is finalized," OMYA spokesman

Edward C. Haggerty said Thursday.

Georgia Marble is the last remaining major marble

company in the U.S. The 123-year-old Vermont Marble

Company of Proctor went out of business in early 1993

after Pluess Staufer, the parent company, decided to

get out of the dimension stone business and

concentrate on its primary business. It bought

Vermont Marble in 1977 from the Proctor family.

Gay said Georgia Marble would continue to

manufacture dimension stone under its new owners.

However, he did point out that only 15 percent of its

business now comes from stone sales with the remaining

85 percent is generated from the sale of calcium


Stanley Gawet, of Gawet Marble and Granite, said

he was glad to hear that Georgia Marble would survive

in tact.

"I'm glad they're still there and aren't

dividing it up like they did here," Gawet said,

referring to the break up of Vermont Marble Company.

John Socinski, owner of Rutland Marble and

Granite, said the demise of the major marble producers

in the U.S. has a lot to do with foreign government

subsidies, especially in Italy.

"You're dealing with a subsidized industry,"

Socinski said. "You know, if I could get half of my

business subsidized that would be nice".

Georgia Marble employs 675 people, operates seven

mines and quarries, and 10 factories in Georgia,

Alabama, Arizona, New York and Wyoming.

The company was acquired for $375 million in a

leveraged buyout in 1989 by private investors,

including current management.