When it comes to cemetery monuments, Phil Soboleski has found that a lot of conversations start the same way.
"'How much is this going to cost?' It's all about the cost. I don't believe in that," said Soboleski, who supplies wholesalers with finished granite memorials.
"I want people to come in and tell me about their loved one. They don't have to text me. They don't have to email me. Just grab a beer and give me the long version," Soboleski said. "Talk to me about your father, your grandfather, your brother, your sister. And let's design something."
That personal approach is part of the reason Soboleski doesn't have a website - that and, until he recently began exploring retail sale, he realized having one might be counterintuitive.
"If I tried to crossover and sell retail, I would cannibalize my wholesale business," Soboleski said.
So, he's kept a low profile, building on years of experience working directly with quarries to harvest granite that will be made into grave markers, benches and other memorials.
The process goes something like this:
A quarry blasts a slab of granite out of the ground. That slab is lifted onto a flatbed and shipped to a sawmill, where it's ground into "monument thickness slabs," known to laypeople as pieces of granite four, six, eight and 10 inches wide. The slabs are polished, front and back, and then cut into basic shapes.
Soboleski sells basic square and rectangle memorials but he also, pun intended, has carved out a niche designing markers with statues of golfers and firefighters shaped from the rock. One monument was even made into the shape of a guitar.
"We actually put steel strings and steel frets on it," Soboleski said.
It's all part of Soboleski's attempt to create something personal, something beautiful to honor the people we love.
"A person's life needs to be marked," he said.
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JUST THE FACTS
BUSINESS: Rainbow's End Granite, 7847 Harwood Ave.
PHONE: (414) 607-9100
OWNER: Phil Soboleski
TYPE OF BUSINESS: granite monument wholesale supplier
PEARLS OF WISDOM: "Just grab a beer and give me the long version."
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