With an investment of $16,000 George Liebenstein, Wesley Swenson and Alexander Dewar established the Dakota Granite Company in May of 1925.They initially had a staff of 6 employees. By 1927, they grew to 20 employees, including Ezra Stengel, a local banker who would buy-out the other partners becoming the sole owner of the company in 1946.
In 1952, Dakota Granite was operating 2 quarries, Dakota Mahogany and American Bouquet, solely for the purpose of producing granite memorials for sale throughout the country. Later that year, Ezra passed away unexpectedly and his son, Jim took over the day-to-day operations. Ezra’s other son, Jack, joined the company in 1961 and lent his marketing skills to their sales effort. Jim remained CEO until the early 1990’s and passed away in 2006 at the age of 80. His younger brother Jack continued as President and Sales Manager until his retirement in 2004.
While the Stengel family is no longer involved in the direct operations of the company, Ezra’s descendants still remain the majority stockholders of the company.
In the 1950’s Dakota Granite began marketing their rough blocks around the world. They were used in various commercial projects, with Japan being their main market. Although memorial production continued to be the bulk of the business, the demand for Dakota Mahogany continued to grow and is considered today to be the benchmark for brown-earth tone granites through-out the world.
In 1989, Dakota Granite purchased a complete Pedrini tile line, and began producing approximately 300 square feet of tile per hour. They continued operating the tile line until approximately 2003, when it became apparent that they could no longer compete in this arena.
Although producing tile was no longer an option for the company, they got a taste for architectural products and the potential that it presented. Memorial production and rough block sales continued to be in high demand, entering into the domestic commercial product market in 2006 seemed to be the next logical step. This division continued to grow and has surpassed the block division in revenue. As in other parts of the world, the durability and aesthetic beauty of natural stone continues to be the trend for most architectural firms.
Dakota Mahogany granite is widely known for its warm rich color and is a favorite in institutional-type projects where strength and security are the norm, such as the Taipei 101 Tower, Lincoln Plaza Building in Dallas, TX and Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia.
Dakota Granite Company currently operates 3 Dakota Mahogany quarries and the American Bouquet quarry, all within 2 miles of our manufacturing facility in Milbank, South Dakota. Their 5th quarry is a pinkish-beige granite called Bellingham, which is located just across the border in Minnesota.
The Dakota Granite Company has evolved in both how it quarry’s and processes stone.However, Dakota Granite’s purpose has not changed.They are committed to exceeding customer expectations through excellence, and timeless granite creations.
© National Building Granite Quarries Association, 2019