A Small Business Grows in Stuart
Becoming a successful small business owner isn’t always a planned thing, sometimes it just happens. Such is the case with Anne and Tyson Greenwalt of Stuart. Just two years ago, this husband and wife team were working full-time for two companies in Des Moines—Tyson in construction and Anne in event planning. Now they are the owners Carver’s Ridge, LLC, a growing and ever-changing engraving and landscaping business in Stuart, complete with a 5,000 square foot building including a gift shop, design center, production area, and office.
It was 2007 when Tyson started an off-hours landscaping business, Greenline Construction. While he was working on a project, building boulder walls around a lake, he had a new business idea—engraving custom boulders for income.
The Greenwalts soon learned the engraving process, which due to the density of the stone, involves a combination of high pressure and sandblasting. For a year, they engraved boulders more as a hobby during evenings and weekends. Soon after, however, they’d saved enough funds to purchase land and prepare to officially open their new engraving business. They chose to settle in the community of Stuart because they considered it the mid-point between Des Moines, where they were living at the time, and their hometowns of Corning and Massena.
Carver’s Ridge, LLC, was established in March 2009. In October 2012, Tyson and Anne opened the gift shop and design center at its current location, 3270 White Pole Road in Stuart. Unfortunately, just a few months later, an electrical fire caused extensive damage to their building and they were closed for renovation until they re-opened in May 2013.
According to Anne, the business has far exceeded their expectations and continues to grow and transform. With the addition of a laser engraver, the business today includes engraving on stone, glass, wood, and metal. They have refined their engraving process and now have a full-time designer on staff as well. Anne said the process is “labor intensive, but it’s also an art form.” Customers are now able to see sketches of what their finished products will look like, as well as sketches of the custom boulders on site. Customers may select boulders at Carver’s Ridge or choose to have the Carver’s Ridge staff customize a boulder at their residence or business.
The gift shop, which was established after the Greenwalts recognized a need for last minute gift shopping, continues to grow as well. The gift shop features Carver’s Ridge engraved products, as well as many unique and handmade items from Iowa vendors. The Greenwalt’s business has expanded online and on social networking sites, recently welcoming their 10,000th fan on Facebook. They have added special events throughout the year including ladies’ nights, a Rocktober BBQ, painting parties, and kids’ activities.
The Greenwalt’s hard-working, husband-wife partnership has been a key factor in their success; however, Anne does not hesitate to acknowledge another partner who has been instrumental in getting them to where they are today—Dave McLaren and the South Central Iowa Small Business Development Center (SBDC). In 2009, the Greenwalts were introduced to McLaren by Midwest Partnership, a four-county economic development entity based in Stuart. It just took one phone call followed by a meeting with McLaren for Anne and Tyson to see the value in the SBDC.
“We love Dave,” Anne stated. “He sat down and told us, ‘Here’s what you need to do and here are the resources.’ Five years later, I’m still calling him for advice.”
Anne feels Dave really is the face of small business in the region where Carver’s Ridge is located. She advises other small business owners to get in contact with him if they haven’t already done so. “He [Dave] is very knowledgeable about what’s going on in this area,” Anne said. “He’s dependable and I always know I will hear right back from him. It has to be hard for him to service so many people and yet be so dependable and loyal.”
In addition to the one-on-one time the Greenwalts have spent with McLaren, they have also been regulars at workshops and seminars McLaren has notified them about. They’ve really enjoyed getting to know other small business owners through these events. In addition, Carver’s Ridge was named 2013 Business of the Year at the Southwestern Community College Annual Business Conference & Expo.
“I don’t think we ever had any intention of it [being small business owners],” Anne explained. “But my parents owned a hardware store and Tyson’s a construction business, so we grew up in entrepreneurial families … I would say that’s why we didn’t shy away from it.”
Currently, Carver’s Ridge employs five full-time and four part-time employees. They are in the process of adding a full-time engraver. The Greenwalts have two boys, ages two and seven.
Anne and Tyson Greenwalt
3270 White Pole Road
Stuart, IA 50250