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A vision carved in stone

image Continental Cut Stone owner, Rob Teel, and his wife and CCS marketing director, Katherine.

AUSTIN - Rob Teel, owner and founder of Continental Cut Stone, admits he had no vision for the milling company he purchased 30 years ago, but he did have a childhood dream of living in the country and owning a business. “Be careful what you ask for because a lot of times, God will give it to you. He plucked me up and dropped me here, and this is where I belong,” Teel says.




    Teel lives in Florence, a rural community about 30 miles north of Austin, where he mills raw stone into architecturally striking columns, balustrades, treads and risers and mantles.
    The company recently celebrated its 30th anniversary – twice: first with an employee bash and then with a customer appreciation party.
    In 1985, Teel got into the stone business when he opened a stone yard in Austin for a group out of Dallas. From there, he went to work selling sandstone and block landscape materials in Lometa. In 1986, CCS came on the market as a foreclosure property named Double R Cut Stone. “I had not seen a stone mill before this facility came up for sale,” he says.
    With his father as co-signatory on a $10,000 loan, 27-year-old Teel joined with two partners to purchase and, ultimately, take possession of the property in the first week of September 1987.
    However, six months later there was a disagreement between the three owners as to the direction of the company. “With some help from my father, again as the co-signatory, and a bank in Dallas, we bought them out,” Teel recalls.
    “My parents helped me out at first. After about 2½ years, my dad finally   said, ‘Son, either you’re going to make it, or you’re not.” Teel stayed the course.
     The path has been rocky and full of pitfalls, but he not only found a way to make it work he also found a vision.
    “I love what I do. I believe this is where I’m supposed to be.
    “We started out very small. I told our guys from the beginning that if we lose our quality, then we’ve got nothing over our competitors. We had to distinguish ourselves somehow, and quality and services were all we had,” recalls Teel.
    Today, he has much more.
    In addition to CCS, which has expanded from 5,000 to 15,000sq ft., he owns two quarries.
    He employs about 65 people, including his wife, Katherine, who is CCS marketing director. (He treats them all to a deep-sea fishing trip in Port Aransas every year.)
     Also, Teel’s resume includes a list of notable projects.
    “The Bexar County Justice Center is probably the hardest thing we’ve ever done. We were really green at the time, and for us, it was a huge project,” Teel says.
     Others are the University of Texas Dell Medical School Administration Building and the George W. Bush Library in Dallas.
    “We got the Library because we have the quarry that has been the primary source of Cordova cream and Shellstone limestone in Texas for 100-plus years. A lot of the old Texas courthouses were built with cream limestone,” Teel says.
    Which leads to the company’s next specialty, restoration. They have participated in the refurbishment of several Texas courthouses as well as work on the state Capitol.
    Regardless of the project, Teel finds each one to be a challenge. “We never do the same thing twice. We truly are a custom fabrication facility, so there’s no standard product. I see the same elements over-and-over, but each project has its personality and unique character. I think that may be the thing that keeps my interest,” he says.
    Continental Cut Stone is a sub-contractor specializing in limestone construction and restoration for both commercial and high-end residential projects. – ke

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Kim Estes austineditor@constructionnews.net