Maybe you've heard the trivia question about naming the person who plays for the New York Yankees, the New York Knicks and the New York Rangers,

The answer: the organ player.

Well, here's a local version on the same theme: name someone who is equally comfortable walking the halls and stairways of the Salt Lake LDS Temple on Temple Square, the Cathedral of the Madeleine on South Temple and the Caesars Palace casino in Las Vegas?

The answer: the woodworkers at Granite Mill.

Granite Mill, the Salt Lake-based company that has designed and built the woodwork in the three structures mentioned above, as well as hundreds of other prominent landmarks throughout the Intermountain West, turned 100 years old in 2007.

And since no one in the family-owned business knows exactly what day Frederick R. Sandberg, who got started as a craftsman working in the Salt Lake Temple, hung his hand-made wooden shingle on Highland Drive in 1907, they have spent pretty much the whole year commemorating and partying.

Last spring they sponsored a woodworking contest — the Frederick R. Sandberg Student Woodworking Design Competition — for area high-schoolers. Later on, they picked up several awards, including one as Best Furniture Carpenters in Utah's Best of State competition. And this past week, just before Christmas, their annual holiday company party had a centennial theme, with dozens of workers past and present lining up to take a bow.

Next Tuesday the company will move into its 101st year. Knock on wood.


Any business that manages to hang in there and pay taxes for an entire century deserves a pat on the back. But when it manages to make it to 100 with only three bosses — and they're all related — that's all the more remarkable.

After Fred Sandberg started the company, originally known as Granite Planing Mill, in 1907, he waited 35 years before passing the leadership baton on to his son Wayne in 1942, who waited another 35 years before passing it on to his son Gary in 1977.

If Gary, still a young, energetic CEO who just entered his 60s, decides to keep that 35-year symmetry alive, that means in another five years he'll turn the reins over to his son, Sandy, the firm's current executive vice president.

Granite Mill's uncommon stability and unity is a source of family pride for the Sandbergs.

"I consider it one of the special perks of the business," says Gary, "to be able to walk into structures all over the valley — all over the Intermountain West, really — and to know that my grandfather or my father or my son was there, touching that very wood."

After 100 years, the Sandberg's fingerprints are everywhere.

You name it, they probably helped build it or remodel it.

Among prominent Salt Lake Valley landmarks they have worked on are the Governor's Mansion, Alta Club, Abravanel Hall, LDS Conference Center, Huntsman Cancer Institute, EnergySolutions Arena, the American Stores (now Wells Fargo) Building, Cabela's and the new IHC hospital in Murray.

Granite Mill is also responsible for restoring the woodwork at the Salt Lake City & County Building and working on the Matheson Courthouse across the street and, across the other street, the Little America and Grand America hotels.

And virtually all of the ornate woodwork in the area LDS temples has a Granite Mill stamp on it.

"We believe we are standing on the shoulders of giants," says Gary Sandberg, referring to his woodworking ancestors and those who worked with them. "What they got started is amazing. We're just very fortunate we get to keep it going."


Lee Benson's column runs Sunday, Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Please send e-mail to [email protected] and faxes to 801-237-2527.