NORTH ADAMS -- For only the fourth time in its 142-year history, Berkshire Monumental Works has changed hands, with David Ciepiela, of Adams, taking over the South Church Street business.
Ciepiela, who purchased the business from Marcia Dagnoli on July 17, said he was looking to leave the construction industry when he saw the business was for sale.
"I've been a contractor for 25 years and recently had hip surgery. Every year it was getting harder and harder to do the work and I was looking to move indoors," Ciepiela said Wednesday. "Every year I would tell myself that this would be my last year in construction and this year, I finally made it my last. I never thought I would go into the monument business."
In addition to selling granite headstones, he said he plans to add performing all the engravings for his customers and offer a line of accessories, such as candles and perpetual lights as well as pressure washing services.
"I just brought in a computer system, so I can do all the design work for my customers here in the office," Ciepiela said. "I'm also going to provide laser-etched plaques and granite signs for office buildings."
Founded in 1870 by T.F. Loftus, Berkshire Monumental Works was originally located on Eagle Street before it moved to its current location. The business changed hands in 1917, when it was purchased by William Fairs.
"William Fairs originally came to the city from Barre, Vt., to
Fairs sold the business to his son George in 1939.
"George Fairs was an expert in granite and he did much of his own sandblasting and prep work right here," Dagnoli said. "In January 1979, he sold the business to us. The Dagnolis were already in the monument business in Pittsfield. We had opened Superior Memorials in 1975."
Superior Memorials and Berkshire Memorial Works were owned by operated by members of the Dagnoli families in Pittsfield and North Adams, along with Edward T. Flynn and Ralph Pinyone.
In 2001, following the buy-out of the Flynns and Pinyones, the Dagnoli families decided to divide the businesses, with Superior Memorials falling to family members in Pittsfield and Marcia Dagnoli becoming the owner of Berkshire Monumental Works.
"I've been wanting to retire," Marcia Dagnoli said. "We put the business up for sale at the beginning of the year and when we came back from Florida, we had four people interested in buying it. David was one of them. I was a little surprised he wanted to buy it."
However, Donato Dagnoli said the couple decided to sell to Ciepiela for several reasons.
"It takes a certain type of personality and interest to be in this business," he said. "It's a very unique business that requires you to be able to work with family members who want to memorialize their loved ones in a certain way. It takes a certain type of dedication."
Donato Dagnoli said he's agreed to stay on for some time to help Ciepiela with the business.
"He's taken to it very quickly," Dagnoli said. "There's really no such thing as retirement in this business. He has a full lifetime of career ahead of him."
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What: Berkshire Monumental Works
Where: 1070 South Church St., North Adams
Hours: Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Saturdays and Sundays by appointment.
More information: 413-663-9200