The leaders of Jackson Stoneworks, a family-run business, look back on a decade of building local trust from the ground up.
If you walk into a Lowes anywhere in the country, you can get your granite from Jackson Stoneworks, from right here in Gainesville. Tyler and Jack Ryals have turned a father-son project into an incredible local success story, reaching thousands of customers from their one-stop shop.
Right Place, Right Time
Back in 2002, Tyler was getting out of college, Jack was retiring from a previous business and the two were looking for a project they could do together. They decided to head to China for a trade fair and became interested in both bamboo flooring and pre-fabricated granite countertops.
Tyler mortgaged his house to purchase the first container of bamboo flooring, which they used to build sales displays for flooring stores. They initially presented their flooring product to Lowes, which Tyler says was hungry for product and looking to reach out to women, since its stores were mainly targeting men. The Ryals took a trip up to the Lowes corporate office in Mooresville, N.C., where their bamboo displays were well received. Unfortunately, a larger company beat them to it.
In a twist of fate, the director of the vanity countertop department had died soon before they arrived, and the interim director offered them another meeting. It was a classic case of being in the right place at the right time. He took a look at their granite countertops and told them to take a shot at marketing with the company.
“The way Dad works is that if you give him that opening, he’s in there,” Tyler says. “He took that as a green light to go.”
The two tried to sell through their bamboo supply so that they could focus on stone. They took the money they made from the bamboo sales and bought a container of granite countertops, which back then were all standard sizes and not custom.
For two years, they worked out of an apartment rented out from Tyler’s grandmother, and produced about 30 store displays per month in her garage. (They have since moved into a 30,000-square-foot office space at 1111 SE 22nd Ave. that features four truck docks for easy shipping.)
In between cutting stone, the two would travel around, taking their displays to Lowes stores around the East Coast and the South, ending up out in San Antonio and as far north as Massachusetts. They would be gone for 10 days at a time putting displays in stores, and soon enough Lowes called them in for a line review, unaware of how far the Ryals had gone with the informal “go ahead” the interim director had given them.
“They didn’t know they had given us that kind of green light,” Tyler says. But fortunately, the people at Lowes headquarters (still) liked what they saw.