Despite its conception during the financial crisis, Premier Granite & Stone (PGS) was built on a solid foundation that grew it into the successful business it is more than a decade later. The Grandville, MI-based company, which is owned by Dave Bleyenberg and Matt VanTil, officially started its granite, quartz and solid surface business as of March 2008, although its founding partners and some of its now key managers had nearly eight years of experience with another company prior to its inception. “Due to the recession and economic downturn starting in 2007, the need to start small and operate with minimal overhead was imperative,” explained Dave VanTil, the company’s production operations manager.
At the start, PGS operated out of a 1,200-square-foot leased shop with only a $35,000 manual bridge saw, $3,000 lifter and $1,500 hi-low. Yet, this was enough to produce $360,000 in sales in 2008. “The process was simple and yet very labor intensive, with many hours and sweat into growing a business,” said VanTil. “The use of ‘stick’ templates and a manual bridge saw took time, and so did the cutting and polishing of sinks by hand. The business was financed by its two partners as of March 2008 with home equity loans, against the direction and advice of many during that time. In 2011, after a few profitable years in business and adding two employees, PGS partnered with West Michigan Credit Union to apply for a small business loan to finance the purchase of a 7,000-square-foot shop. The economy was still down at the time, but through low operating costs and a growing customer base built on exceptional customer service, PGS decided it was time to invest in future growth.”