Great Lakes Granite Works started almost as a hobby in 1993 in a backroom at Patten Monument Company. Patten Monument, established in 1917, was then located on Plainfield Avenue in Grand Rapids. Vendors urged the folks at Patten Monument to expand into manufacturing countertops since they had the materials they would need. The new business took off immediately and needed room to grow.
“Great Lakes needed space, needed to move,” said Andy Bolt, who this year became majority owner of both companies. “Patten also needed more space, but we could make due until we built the (Great Lakes) building.”
When Great Lakes Granite Works opened at 3970 West River Drive NE in downtown Comstock Park in 1994, it was the first granite fabrication plant in the Grand Rapids area. The historic Comstock Park Feed Mill was torn down to make way for the 25,000 square foot granite counter manufacturing facility. Patten Monument followed in 1997, building a 45,000 square foot facility next door at 3980 West River Drive. There are now approximately 95 employees at the two companies. The Comstock Park site was a good choice, said Bolt.
“The location gives us good visibility,” he said. “It’s easy for customers to find being right off the (131) expressway.” He added that proximity to the expressway makes receiving materials and shipping product convenient.
Bolt said he has granite counters in his home of course, and it’s clear to him why granite is a popular choice for countertops. There are hundreds of colors and infinite patterns to choose from. It’s low maintenance and has exceptional durability. Much of the granite used for counter tops comes from countries such as Brazil, India, and Italy. Polished slabs come to the Great Lakes Granite Works plant where stone craftsmen cut them to size, polish the edges, and they are then installed in homes and businesses. There are two showrooms – one at the Comstock Park location and one in Douglas MI. They serve West Michigan from Traverse City to the Indiana state line.
Bolt started working at Patten Monument when he was a senior at Western Michigan University working summers in delivery. After graduating from college he took a position in sales. He and Chris Fortosis, a longtime employee at Patten Monument bought the company in 2005. Fortosis retired early this year, and Bolt became majority owner.
Bolt and his wife Kelly live in Jenison, and have three children ages 14 to 22.