Barra & Trumbore co-owner David Barra will never cease to be stunned by stone. “It amazes me that it just grows right there in the ground,” he says. “You drive Route 7 in Vermont and you see all this beautiful red and green slate right there. To be able to have a beautiful slab of it as part of your home is wonderful.”
David and his business partner Martin Trumbore have been bringing the beauty of stone into homes since 1996, when they made the switch from woodworking to stone work. “We were running an architectural woodworking shop, and there was nobody doing stone work up here. We had to go to Brooklyn or the Bronx for stone work, which became tiresome and inconvenient. We had some experience, and it seemed like the perfect complement to our business, but more and more it became our driving force. So I’m not sure if we chose it or it chose us.”
The phrase “stone fabricators” was added to the name after “we decided Barra and Trumbore sounded like a law firm.” David was born and raised in Brooklyn and discovered the world-class rock climbing opportunities of the Shawangunks as a young man. After that, he
“If we have the skills and equipment, we’ll do it. We do everything, from templating to fabrication to installation.”
says, it was a matter of time and “the positives of outdoor activities balanced with the negatives of alternate-side-of-the-street parking” that drew him to move north in 1988 and start the woodworking business.
Today, Barra & Trumbore can create just about any stone feature you can imagine for your kitchen, bathroom, or any other part of your home. “We do mostly interior adornments, some exterior,” says David. “If we have the skills and equipment, we’ll do it. We do everything, from templating to fabrication to installation. Our pavilion has a good selection, and if you don’t see what you want we have a lot of suppliers from Albany to Jersey to pull from via the internet and show you in digital photos.”
“People can come help do layout after we template a piece, and if they are in love with a certain spot, we’ll try to make it the focal point. We love when people love their stone enough to be proactive in design and layout.”
After a piece of stone is chosen, the customer is encouraged to develop a relationship with it even before it comes home. “People can come help do layout after we template a piece, and if they are in love with a certain spot, we’ll try to make it the focal point. We love when people love their stone enough to be proactive in design and layout.”
New to the shop is a state-of-the-art Northwood robotic waterjet cutter. “It’s very big, very sexy, and very yellow,” David says. “It cuts the stone with high-pressure steam and abrasive. When it’s cutting, it’s kinda anticlimactic
because it moves slowly, but when you’re setting up the cut it dances all over the shop.” The new capabilities mean Barra & Trumbore can provide you with the latest stone trends. “The improvement in fabrication equipment has opened up the industry to a lot of new materials that had been difficult to bring to market,” says David. “Natural quartzite is really hot right now, with its color variations and dramatic veining. It’s much harder and more difficult to work with, but the pieces are real attention-getters when you walk into a yard full of stone. Some are really dramatic, some more subtle and subdued; different people fall in love with them.”
“Really detailed work that requires hand carving is very challenging and the results are very rewarding; it’s not always the most profitable, but it’s the most fun.”
They’re highly aware of the environmental concerns involved in working with stone, and strive to keep the company’s carbon footprint small. The Kerhonkson shop has been fully solar since March 1, 2011. “I’m more proud of that than our other acquisitions,” says David. “And it’s something anyone up here can do. If someone says they have a limited budget and can add stone or solar, I say, go solar, the stone will always be there. The subsidies and incentives for solar might not be.” The shop also features high-efficiency lighting and a high-pressure water
recycling system that has reduced water consumption by more than 95 percent. All fabrication is done wet to reduce airborne matter and keep the diamond tooling cool. The clients are “a very eclectic bunch,” he says,
united only by the desire to live up close and personal with stone. “We do get a lot of weekend and second-home people. I think they live in such small spaces down there that having a home up here, they love to cook and entertain. That’s the population driving the high-end building and renovation.”
David freely admits that a major stone feature isn’t a cheap acquisition. “Our focus is on custom work, not trying to chase down every job or competing with Lowes or Home Depot. We don’t shy away from the fragile marbles that take time to reinforce; we cut hard quartzite slowly. Things that are too labor-intensive and unpredictable for the big box stores are what keeps
“Our focus is on custom work, not trying to chase down every job or competing with Lowes or Home Depot. We don’t shy away from the fragile marbles that take time to reinforce; we cut hard quartzite slowly.”
it interesting for us. Really detailed work that requires hand carving is very challenging and the results are very rewarding; it’s not always the most profitable, but it’s the most fun.” That said, you shouldn’t automatically assume that a stone piece is out of your decorating budget. “We have lots of remnant material here, and if someone has a smaller project on a tight budget, they’re often amazed at the variety of heavily discounted smaller pieces in the yard,” says David.
“We have stone for every budget. Since the varieties and availability are constantly changing and there are so many variations in veining patterns and shading, we’re often left with stuff that doesn’t match.” David and Martin like hiring their fellow artisans. “Everyone who works in the shop needs to be well-rounded,” says David, “capable of running equipment, hand work, templating, and installation. Some specialize, but we like them all to have
a good understanding of how the process works. The best people are in love with the material and the process. If someone comes in and just wants to polish stone, their interest is likely to fade. And isolating each area like an assembly line wouldn’t work for us, since everything is custom.”
It’s not the easiest material to deal with. “When we deal with heavy stone in tight quarters, or getting it up to the second floor, it’s very challenging and always satisfying when we’re done and no one’s injured,” David says. “We once installed a giant island 2 inches thick and about six feet by ten feet that weighed well over 1,600 pounds. I love the challenge of it, and working at different sites all the time. I get to see what is happening in architecture and design and meet other talented craftspeople. There are always a lot of interesting projects happening.”
He’s also fond of his colleagues. “Martin and I have been good friends for 30 years. And my brother’s here, and I’ve known him even longer. And Katie, our office manager, is awesome.” You can get to know Barra & Trumbore at barratrumbore.com, where you’ll find their visualizer tool that can help you reimagine your surroundings in stone as well as a video of their process. To visit the stone yard, appointments are recommended.
Barra & Trumbore
40 Old Mine Road, Kerhonkson