Manuel Maestre Vega, Founder of the Del Carmen Quarry (left) and SSQ founder Ahmed El-Helw (right)

Manuel Maestre Vega, Founder of the Del Carmen Quarry (left) and SSQ founder Ahmed El-Helw (right)

Natural slate experts SSQ are marking 30 years of collaboration with world-renowned Spanish slate quarry Del Carmen.

It was in 1992 that SSQ founder Ahmed El-Helw first met with Del Carmen’s owners in his search for the finest quality slate Spain had to offer.

It wasn’t long before he realised he’d found what he’d been looking for. When it came to its aesthetics, durability and all-round performance, the slate produced by Del Carmen was among the best he’d ever seen, as Ahmed explains.

“As quarries go, Del Carmen had it all – uncompromising quality standards, decades of expertise, and the most stunning blue-black slate with the longevity to last up to a century.

“However, it wasn’t as simple as placing an order. Like any quarry, Del Carmen only had a limited amount of material they could supply, and any slate they gave to me was slate they couldn’t supply elsewhere.

“I had to convince them to put their faith in me – a young businessman operating in a country they’d never supplied to before. But I’m delighted to say they did.

“We trusted and respected each other from the very beginning – so much so that, when our agreement was finally made, it was with a handshake. Thirty years on, we’ve still never signed a formal contract.”

In the decades since that first meeting in Spain, SSQ has used outstanding Del Carmen slate to roof thousands of buildings all around the world, with the material often handpicked by architects for its distinctive, faintly-rippled texture, deep blue-black colour and longitudinal grain.

“I’ll always be hugely grateful to Del Carmen’s owners for all their support and friendship,” Ahmed continues. “Without them, SSQ wouldn’t be the business it is today.

“Later in 2022, we’re hoping to travel out to Spain to celebrate properly with our friends at Del Carmen, and look forward to the next thirty years of cooperation.”