Case Studies

Syverson Tile & Stone: Defining Space Inside and Out with State-of-the-art Products and a Family Focus

  • Written by: Syverson Tile & Stone: Defining Space Inside and Out with State-of-the-art Products and a Family Focus
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In 1932 Ray G. Syverson Sr. founded the Ray G. Syverson Tile Company – which later became Syverson Tile & Stone (Syverson) – with very little to his name. Ray Sr. came to Sioux Falls, S.D., to practice the trade of laying tile during the Great Depression. When his doctors told him he had a serious allergy to the ingredients in concrete, Ray Sr. feared his business would be gone before he could even build it.

“He got his brother-in-law, a friend and his wife [Ruth] to jump on board, and they learned the trade and how to run the operation,” recalls Dave Syverson, Ray Sr.’s grandson and vice president and sales manager at Syverson. “Our story is that of the American Dream. By the end of World War II, we were the biggest tile contractor between Omaha, Neb., and Minneapolis. And we still are today. My grandpa ran the crew and my grandma ran the books, they were quite a team.”

A Tile Tradition

The South Dakota-based company has remained family-owned and -operated for the past 80 years. “My dad, Ray Jr., ran the company most of his life until he passed away in 2008,” says Dave. “My brother, Steve [president of Syverson], and I are still actively involved. We still do the same things we’ve done successfully for years and with some new opportunities in the mix.”

The business has grown significantly – now employing 80 qualified professionals – with locations in Fargo, N.D., as well as Rapid City and Sioux Falls, S.D. Dave explains that the Sioux Falls and Fargo stores fabricate and install natural and engineered stone countertop materials, along with wholesale operations and dealer suppliers in all three locations.

Meanwhile, Syverson’s Sioux Falls location performs the tile installation side of the business, working on both commercial and residential projects. Partnering with established contractors, the installation division continues the tradition of quality craftsmanship Ray Sr. established long ago.

“Over the years we’ve expanded into different areas,” explains Dave. “We started distributing tile, then evolved into stonecutting in the mid-1960s. We’re kind of an oddball. You usually don’t see a big contracting company, a distribution company and a fabrication company all under the same roof, but we do it all.”

The Anti-Home Depot

Although Syverson has a large distribution network reaching as far as Wyoming and the western sides of Minnesota and Iowa, the company doesn’t want to be a typical big-box store. “We try to act like the anti-Home Depot,” laughs Dave. “We are wholesale-only to the building trades, so we prefer to work with local professionals in each market so the project is done correctly. We might not sell as cheap as the bigger guys, but we guarantee we sell the best products out there, plus we give consumers the latest information to help the decision making process.”

Syverson’s design-oriented showrooms feature displays and installation ideas with products including porcelain, glass and granite, travertine, limestone, slate and marble; stocking both tile and full stone slabs. “We have full knowledge of every product we sell,” stresses Dave. “If there’s something new coming out we make sure it goes through test runs on our own crew before it comes to our showroom floor. We also provide the necessary training so our sales staff can provide the best service.”

On the tile installation side, Syverson’s 20 skilled craftsmen work with local contractors, promoting both products and service. “In most cases, in larger cities contractors might look at a company like us as their competition, but we’ve worked hard to overcome this mindset and treated them more like business partners for years,” adds Dave.

The company sticks to family tradition by giving back to the community, as well, which has enabled Syverson to continue succeeding. “We participate in things like Habitat for Humanity, United Way and Operation Open Doors, which provides home improvement services for returning wounded soldiers,” shares Dave. “We also worked on a multiyear city project creating the Community Youth Mosaic along the Big Sioux River in downtown Sioux Falls. We’ve donated material and labor to build what I believe to be one of the longest continuous porcelain tile mosaics in the country.”

The Future of Aeroscape

Syverson is the exclusive fabricator and distributor of Aeroscape, a state-of-the-art tile product comprised of carbon-fiber fabric and glass. “This product was actually invented locally by one of our customers,” details Dave. “The inventor brought it to me and asked if I could sell it. My first response was, ‘Wow … that’s cool,’ and then I said, ‘Sure I can sell it.’ It’s a totally unique product; we’re really plowing some new ground here. We’re in the development phase, trying to figure out the most cost-effective and efficient ways to manufacture it and supply it.”

The new product has already landed Syverson jobs and attention from product representatives. “We’ve had reps from Italy and all over the country interested in the carbon-fiber tile, because they haven’t seen anything like it,” reveals Dave. The product provides an interesting, modern look that can be used for both decorative tile and countertop surfaces. “What’s cool is how the light bounces of it when you look into a piece of it, almost like a hologram,” Dave continues. “It’s really something you need to see to appreciate.”

After 80 years in business, Syverson has seen ups and downs, especially with the onset of the recession. “The economic downturn hit us a little later here than the rest of the nation,” explains Dave. “By late 2009 we had to lay off 10 percent of our staff, which is something we’ve never had to do. We’ve always run our business conservatively, so that and focusing on stocking the right product mix has helped us survive.”

Despite recent challenges, Dave looks forward to the company’s future. “We have a lot of great people here, and we’ve been involved in many amazing projects,” he says. “Some [people] have been here between 20 and 30 years, so as an employer that makes us proud to see that level of dedication. We’re also always looking forward and we want to make sure we continue our success well into the next generation.” After 80 years in business Syverson Tile & Stone continues to lead the industry by providing a variety of quality products and services under one roof and focusing on a family foundation.

For more information about Syverson Tile & Stone, please visit:

Published on: June 29, 2013

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