Michael Kauten started Big River Tile & Stone early in 2008, after a brief stint doing construction sales in Florida. He had been laying tile, one way or the other, since he was in high school, working alongside his dad, but had regarded it as a sideline for much of that time.
He wanted to explore turning the tile work into a full time business. He worked with the JBD staff at Western Dairyland’s Business Center “who really helped me focus and take the business to the next level.”
Marketing & Branding
Kauten recalls “At first, I didn’t even have a name-I’d just always used my own name for the business-but she helped me come up with ‘Big River’ which really fits-given our location” And then “She just kept asking questions-‘Who is your market? What else can you do?’ and I realized that I could do tile work, inside and out, and I could lay stone–including the local limestone they cut out of the Winona bluff–and I could do tuck pointing and restoration work on old stone and brick buildings.” They worked on a marketing plan, which included truck magnets-big magnetized signs that attach to the doors of his truck-business brochures, price lists, business cards and more. “Dentistry for stone”
Since then, the business has been steadily growing “We are coming close to meeting the projections Western Dairyland and I worked on when I started”, Kauten says. He has done “a bunch” of remodeling jobs and restored some old limestone foundations, “It is detailed work-kinda like dentistry for stone.” Lately he’s considering doing mosaic pieces for a local art gallery. Good planning, plus Kauten’s versatility, his willingness to try something new, and his contacts and knowledge of the area have made Big River Tile & Stone a success in a year when many would have hesitated to start a business.