ST. ANSGAR — Saint Stone Co., a new division of LR Falk Construction Co., St. Ansgar, specializes in custom stone carving.
LR Falk Construction specializes in crushed rock, primarily limestone, for road rock.
However, the company recently began looking for more avenues of expansion and diversification.
“Our product is rock,” said Tim Heeter, one of two primary employees of the Saint Stone Co. division. “We began looking to see what other uses there were for natural stone. Like siding on a building.”
The second employee, Zach Krahenbuhl, was born and raised in St. Ansgar.
Saint Stone Co. was built out of a startup factory in conjunction with an Iowa State University program. ISU representatives walked the two through the process of identifying their best course of action moving forward.
With so many uses for rock, including retaining walls, coasters, garden rocks, carving stones and even stone table tops, the key became discovering what products would be both cost effective and an interest to potential customers.
“The carving stones came out in fun and different ways,” said Krahenbuhl, who does the bulk of the carving.
Krahenbuhl said the most popular carvings are the family stones, with a family’s last name engraved. Stones engraved with the name of a business are also popular items.
Krahenbuhl said memorial stones have also become sought after as people have used them to commemorate the passing of both family members and beloved pets.
“We initially did research to see if the furniture angle would go anywhere,” Heeter said, “It allowed us to interact with the public and make connections, but also to see what the market wanted. We found they really liked our ‘Family is forever’ stones because family is the thing they are most passionate about.”
The bulk of the stones carved are limestone and dolomite. Heeter and Krahenbuhl can also carve field and river rocks. By this summer, they expect to have the equipment which will give them ability to carve other stones on site.
“We can do custom carvings,” Heeter said, “but the stones have to be smooth enough to put our templates on them. We can even do walkway bricks and fundraiser bricks.
“The best thing is we never know what kind of designs will be in the rock.”