There is nothing that we are more proud of than standing tall to the test of time as we celebrate 100 years manufacturing granite
While many granite companies have come and gone in the Granite City since the early 20th century, as a third-generation family business there is nothing that we are more proud of than standing tall to the test of time as we celebrate 100 years manufacturing granite in St. Cloud, MN. From the humble and labor intensive days of founders Axel Martinson, Emil Zniewski, and August Wicklund in the 1920’s to the technologically advanced plant we manufacture in today; it’s beyond interesting to review the ups and downs, technological advancements, industry changes, and leadership decisions that have carried us along this hundred year journey. Although we couldn’t possibly fit everything in one timeline, featured here you will find some of the most notable moments that have gotten us to where we are since 1921.
1921: Rex is founded by Axel Martinson (husband of Ann Zniewski). In 1923, Emil Zniewski (brother of Ann) and August Wicklund join as partners and co-founders. In the 1920’s they also purchased land to quarry and founded View Quarry Co.
1929: The Spur railroad line is created adjacent to Rex Granite. This allowed for easy connection to major Great Northern railroad lines.
1935: Construction of new office building. A 20’ x 26’ space with two offices and a drafting room.
1941: Axel Martinson and Emil Zniewski purchase ownership stake in Sauk Rapids Granite Co. with two other parties. Shortly after, the name became Victory Granite Co.
1946: Fire causes considerable damage to Rex. Repairs are done and a new shed is built in 1946.
1958: Rex Granite purchased full stake of Victory Granite Co after the fi rm goes out of business. Later that year, a large fire destroyed most of Victory Granite, aside from the main office building.
1963: Rex sells Old Allied Granite company building co-owned with Kollman Granite to City of St. Cloud.
1969: A new indoor plant is constructed at Rex connecting the old plant to a new office building and adding 12,000 sq. feet of production space with full overhead crane operation.
1972: Emil Zniewski passes, two years after selling the business to his sons: Earl, Neil, and Carl Zniewski. Earl took lead of sales and business operations while Neil and Carl lead the manufacturing process.
1975: Industrial innovation such as the Park Industries stone splitter (still in operation today) and the addition of forklifts drastically improves efficiency.
1979: A new sawing and polishing plant is built. The change from outdoor to indoor cranes and a move much closer from the original sawing plant at the old Victory Granite property speeds up processes tremendously.
1984: Block wire sawing became a technology of the past with the introduction of a new Park Industries TB120 fixed blade saw. This introduced automatic block sawing and brought forth huge change to the plant.
1991: Sandblast stencil cutting enters the computer age. New PCs and a GS 750 Plotter machine at Rex Granite allow for precise computer controlled sandblasting techniques.
1999: Addition of a Pellegrini Contour Wire Saw allows for serpentine tops and curved 2D shapes
2002: A large addition is added to the main plant to accommodate for more machinery and additional inventory storage space.
2007: Ownership is handed down to the third generation. Earl, Neil, and Carl step back and current owners Mike, Kurt, Gary, and Eric take the helm.
2008: Rex Granite purchases Weber Memorials, introducing imports and access to more stone and carving capabilities worldwide.
2012: Former partner Neil Zniewski passes away. Sand blast capabilities are revamped with automatic sandblasting and a new conveyor system.
2018: Former partner Earl Zniewski passes away. Rex constructs a new 3,200 square foot modern office with a drafting area and a new parking lot.
2021: Rex Granite reaches its 100-year anniversary!