On February 27, students in Minnie Wagner’s Entrepreneurship class at Minnesota School of Business-Lakeville visited Minnesota Tile and Stone to experience an example of a successful entrepreneurship endeavor firsthand. Minnesota Tile and Stone is an employee and family owned business that started in the Twin Cities in 1930. While visiting, students met with Rob Noakes, branch manager at the Lakeville location. Rob shared the company’s story and related much of what the students are learning in class to the entrepreneurial strategies the company has used.
Through their class, students learn about a variety of industries, and Minnesota Tile and Stone provides a great example of an industry that, as a whole, has been performing especially well over the last couple of months. One of the most unique products the students learned about was heated tile flooring. Copper cables are insulated and laid out on top of a concrete slab and the cables are fed into a thermostat. When the thermostat is turned on, the wires heat up, making the tiles feel warm to the touch.
In addition to hearing about the products they sell, students also learned that Minnesota Tile and Stone works predominately with the wholesale sector, but also with the smaller “do-it-yourself” sector. Rob shared that the wholesale market constitutes the majority of the business and with the improvements in the housing market, Minnesota Tile and Stone has thrived over the past year.
“The more money people had in their pocket, the more they spent,” Rob said.
Through the entrepreneurship class, students learn the importance of marketing and contracts, so Rob’s discussion surrounding Minnesota Tile and Stone’s business philosophy resonated with the students. Rob shared with the students the importance of client contracts and that Minnesota Tile and Stone has a specific minimum bid on contracts in order to ensure a reasonable profit. The company also only sells displays to profitable companies who show the potential for growth. Any company that is losing business and had the potential to go under would lose this incentive.
The experience touring and hearing about Minnesota Tile and Stone was a relevant way to relate course material to the real world.