Sherm Cochran founded Cochran’s Inc., a wholesale granite brokerage company, in 1976. Initially, the company slogan was "Your Man in Barre." It was modified slightly in 1981 to "Your Team in Barre" when Diane Cochran, Sherm’s wife, started working for the company. For several years the company was housed on the couple’s back porch! As the company grew, more space was needed than the back porch could provide.
In 1984, Cochran’s Inc. purchased several sections of the former Cook, Watkins and Patch granite plant for their new location. Two employees were hired after the relocation. The next year, Cochran’s bought their first computer, hired a programmer and began developing a CAD program to perform monumental drafting and stencil cutting. Cochran’s Quick-Cut System was developed solely for the monument industry. In 1987, (when DOS was the main operating system and computers were new!) we began marketing computerized CAD systems for cutting sandblast stencil. We offered "unlimited training" for those purchasing Cochranís Quick-Cut Systems because we believed that well-trained customers would use the systems constantly. This became our best advertisement, as one satisfied customer told another and another and another. More employees were needed to train customers to use Cochran’s Quick-Cut Systems and to provide technical support and assistance. Computer-drawn designs were created daily and published regularly in Design Books. This Design Series (QDD designs) is a well-known design reference for sandblast designs in the Monument Industry. They can be purchased as a set with our new updated software, Monumental Designer CAD 6.0. This modern software even has full color rendering capabilities.
Cochran’s Inc. opened a fully-automated sandblast in 1989, utilizing the Cochran’s Quick-Cut System to cut the stencil for their sandblast. Our streamlined sandblast has conveyors throughout for efficient movement of stones. We easily shape-carve over 100 monuments a week with only a few sandblast workers.
With the Cochran’s Quick-Cut Systems moving smoothly, another challenge was presented. Hand-etching needed to be expedited and modernized. Cochran’s introduced laser etchings in 1995. This was the first time a laser had been used in the monument industry to produce etchings. The result was phenomenal!! Laser-etchings are as detailed and exquisite as hand-etchings, but can be produced faster and more efficiently. Portraits and lettering are easy to produce with the Cochran’s Laser-Etching System. We have utilized this system daily since 1995, as well as marketing our system throughout the industry.
As the demand for laser-etchings increased, there was a need for large quantities of good-quality black granite. In 1997, Cochran’s established a viable working relationship with a substantial granite manufacturer in China and began importing quality black granite. In 2005, Cochran's Inc. partnered with Fewell Monument Company in Scottsburg, IN to purchase a joint office in China. We have our own inspectors and this allows us to ensure high quality monuments. Cochran's has since acquired a second warehouse in Barre, VT that now houses an inventory of over 2,000 imported monuments!
Looking toward the future, Cochran's Inc. now has a second generation working for the company. Shelley Mahoney, Sherm and Diane's daughter, and her husband Dan are both learning the many facets of the family business. Chris Cochran, Sherm and Diane's son, is also part of "Your Team in Barre." They will all soon be continuing the legacy that Sherm began in 1976.