LUNENBURG -- Ten years ago the future of Kelly and Bobby Pearson's business looked rocky.
Today, Leominster Monument Company is a solid pillar of Lunenburg's vibrant commercial landscape. Located at 339 Electric Ave., LMC has etched itself a place in the competitive industry, thanks in part to an expanding portfolio of municipal projects.
The young Ashby couple bought the business in 2008, including the 3,500-square-foot building that serves as showroom, office and workshop, along with the half-acre plot it sits on.
Neither of them had any entreperneurial experience and only cursory knowledge of stone working.
"We tend to dive right into things without much consideration," said Kelly. "The first five years were hell."
The couple has since chiseled out a high-profile place at the table, alongside more established competitors with legacy ownerships.
Although 90 percent of their clientele consists of grieving loved ones looking to adorn grave sites with granite stones, LMC is creating permanent works for veterans organizations, municipalities, civic groups, churches and private residences, where homeowners often inscribe street addresses into decorative landscape boulders.
Their current project is the centerpiece at Pepperell's rotary. The monument to the Global War On Terror consists of a massive center slab of granite more than 6 feet tall. Cut out of the slab's center is the profile of a soldier. "We did not design or cut that piece," said Bobby.
They did make five points surrounding the slab -- one for each service of the U.S. military. They are also finishing the stone benches that will guard the monument. Hundreds of personalized paving bricks used in the monument will also be made by LMC.
Locally, word is spreading about LMC's quality headstone work; and more importantly about the customer service it offers to people who walk in with heavy hearts.
"We do everything right here," said Kelly. "We work with the families to design, proof and redesign the exact memorial stone that they have in mind," she said. The raw stone pieces are specially ordered and cut from quarries in Vermont, then shipped to the Lunenburg shop where Bobby polishes and engraves each piece using diamond-pointed tool bits.
The couple has two pre-teen children.
The work is far different from either of the Pearsons' prior vocations. Bobby was a vendor and route driver for a national snack-food corporation and Kelly was a professional dog groomer at her parent's business. In fact, it was in search of a new "sham-pooch" location that they happened onto the business for sale.
Now past the grind of start-up anxiety, Leominster Monument Company has entered the stone age.
"We had to prove ourselves in the beginning," Kelly said. "Now we are much more optimistic and hope to start growing." The two-person operation is slated to help install a 7-foot-tall marble statue at St. John's Church in Clinton.