Interview with Coldspring

I sat down with Eric Romppanen of Coldspring recently on an overcast Portland morning at a quaint donut shop. Based in Seattle, Eric was already quite familiar with the city. His background in the aluminum business grounded him in the value of earth’s resources and how sometimes these products are taken for granted (or granite!). He noted that many downtown Portland curbs and building fascia are granite, the primary material Coldspring quarries.

Coldspring is a North American memorial company with quarries in the United States and Canada, the dominant provider of US-sourced granite that is sold to monument dealers, funeral homes, and cemeteries. As the burial industry has evolved, so have Coldspring’s product offerings. They offer glass-front niches for cremations, “Expressions in Bronze” and other bronze castings, and memorial spaces — for example, an 826-crypt mausoleum in Book Park, Ohio.

As I became acquainted with what Coldspring offers, Eric mentioned marble is not the best option for headstones. Marble can stain easily and erode with weather – important to note due to our wet and mossy Pacific Northwest environment, hence, the prominence of granite in newer cemetery installations. Granite can also be laser or water etched, something we have seen become more popular lately. Here are examples of how different types of etching on certain types of granite can produce dramatically different results.

coldspring granite etching

This style has grown in popularity due to the more realistic depiction of the deceased and/or a scene representing their hobbies or interests. It made me wonder what the future of memorials will be – video presentations on outdoor flat screens with live video broadcasting via Google Streetview? Holograms of the deceased telling their own story?

A trend Eric is seeing is an increase in the need for housing cremains, since people are not taking home the cremains like they used to. Cemeteries are challenged with memorialization in this way, so Coldspring offers an attractive display system called, “Glass-Front Niches”. These display cases are housed in a memorial building where there could be seating for visiting families and grievers. Perhaps it’s an opportunity for this funeral home in Colorado?

Another form of memorialization is Coldspring’s “Expressions in Bronze”, where the sand-cast bronze image is painted in black, then sanded down to reveal the realistic two-tone image. (Pictured: Eric holding an example) Bronze and granite stand the test of time and the elements, so this type of memorialization is a practical solution for preserving one’s legacy.

One of the myths Eric would like to dispel is that foreign-sourced granite memorials are less expensive. Domestically-sourced granite offers more advantages than people think in terms of turnaround time, flexibility, and customization. While people think bronze is expensive, it’s important to remember you get what you pay for. If you’d like something unique, like Expressions in Bronze, there will be no other thing like it. Many Veterans request US-made memorials. Cemeteries will guarantee families receive US-quarried memorials and bronze cast in the US. The standard lead time is 45 days, once the order is received and approved by the family. That is a service that can’t be matched by sourcing overseas. While overseas quarries are less expensive, they don’t have environmental standards. Therefore, when a person is looking to buy a granite memorial, it is recommended to request a domestic source.

Some of Coldspring’s crowning achievements include memorials for Jimi Hendrix, Bud Adams (Tennessee Titans owner), Tara Lipinski (she’s planning ahead!), and the blue pearl granite fountain at the Kennedy Space Center. To learn more about Coldspring, you may visit their website.

Please comment below with your challenges and achievements regarding memorialization!