To remodel a kitchen or bathroom, a designer or homeowner could spend countless hours driving to tile stores, scouring natural stone wholesalers and cultured stone retailers, schlepping samples from store to store before finally selecting the perfect tile or stone, and overseeing stone counter fabrication. On Monday, April 2, 2012, Minnesota Tile & Stone (MTS) will open the doors to its new 40,000-square-foot facility in Minnetonka that is simplifying this lengthy and tedious material selection process of remodeling and home building. MTS is creating from scratch a huge new studio that houses numerous time-consuming steps under one roof, changing how homeowners shop and how designers work with their clients.
The unique company distinguishes itself as the only business in the upper Midwest open not only to industry professionals but to the public at large that sells both ceramic and stone tiles, natural stone slabs, and cultured stone veneers and that also fabricates natural stone countertops in its own facilities, providing a single-source solution for floors, walls, back splashes, and countertops. The result is a new trend in material selection: one-stop shopping that saves time and creates a design process that is easy, efficient and fun.
Owner Alan Dale today heads a company that 80 years ago was started by his grandfather, then run by his father. Deeply proud of his family business, Dale’s vision was to create a state-of-the-art experience and total solution for designers.
In spite of an economy that for several years has not been kind to the construction industry, Dale has taken on a number of courageous, if not risky, steps to continue to build and grow his company. He believed that when the dark economy would begin to show signs of light, the construction forecast would also begin to turn around. And he banked on it.
In 2010, Dale purchased well-known stone manufacturer Pollux. This past year, when investing in new property was risky, Dale purchased the building previously leased by Rubble Tile, located on the current site of MTS’s new studio in Minnetonka (6001 Culligan Way, just off Hwy. 62 and I-494). His vision was to design and open a one-of-a-kind tile and stone retail and fabrication facility complete with the most advanced state-of-the-art stone counter fabrication equipment, and that’s precisely what he’s done.
With everything on the line, Dale says he is “all in,” pumping a whopping $7 million into the family business. The total investment includes purchasing and rebuilding the new Minnetonka facility (designed by Tanek Inc. of Minneapolis and constructed by RJ Ryan of Mendota Heights, Minn.); purchasing new high-tech, digital manufacturing equipment; the acquisition of Pollux; and building MTS’s Plymouth showroom, which opened a year ago. All of his strategic investments, detailed preparation and enormous risks are positioning Dale and his newly branded company to capitalize on the marketplace when the recession eases. And Dale believes that time is now. In fact, Minnesota and national reports indicate that more Americans are investing in renovating and remodeling their homes. Dale fully expects his new model to be the studio of choice for designers and homeowners.
“Designers and contractors today are running all over town – often times with their clients in tow – perusing, selecting and reselecting tile and stone,” said Dale. “Now, they can come into a fashionable studio with their clients to meet and to shop for all their materials and literally watch their granite countertops being made. This simply isn’t done anywhere else, and it’s saving everyone a lot of time, something none of us have enough of.”
Designers and homeowners together can make any number of creative decisions. Then they can meet in expansive, private meeting rooms to layout products, materials and plans, and together go over all the details. No more driving to numerous locations to check out tile and stone, then attend numerous meetings to make decisions. Dale emphasizes that his studio concept that includes private conference rooms are not to be taken for granted. He hears over and over again how many designers do not have an adequate location to meet their clients during the entire selection process.
Alethea Sadowski, a Twin Cities designer with A. Sadowski Designs, concurs. Like many other designers, Sadowski does not have a convenient space to meet with clients.
“I love the new studio setup,” Sadowski said. “With the stone slab selection and the latest tile trends all accessible within the same area as well as the convenient meeting space, it’s like an extension of my office. I can bring a client in and manage a complete tile and stone project from start to finish in one visit.”
From porcelain to glass, and from mosaics to marble, all of MTS’s showrooms are stocked with and sourced from the most trusted manufacturers in the world. The studio carries more than 30 types of tile and more than 120 different marble, granite and quartz slabs. Customers also enjoy the ability to watch the stone fabrication process through a large viewing area. Stone countertops are measured, created and installed by employees to ensure exceptionally high quality installation. And, MTS partners with industry-leading setting materials companies to provide quality installation material and maintenance products.
Headquartered in Minnetonka, Minn., Minnesota Tile & Stone (www.MNTile.com ) is a privately held, employee-owned provider and manufacturer of quality tile and stone. Founded in 1930, the fourth-generation business has four Minnesota retail locations: Lakeville, Woodbury, Plymouth and Minnetonka, its flagship studio and manufacturing facility.