From the Fillmore County Journal January 31, 2022, article by by Wanda Hanson.
Troy and Jennifer Servais remodeled their offices and showroom in February in an effort to improve the flow of business at Servais Tile and Stone, Rushford. Of course, they did all the finishing work themselves. The result? A gorgeous showroom that showcases the multitude of products and services offered at Servais Tile!
Servais Tile Company was originally begun by Dennis Servais (Troy’s father) in 1974. Dennis worked with local architects and contractors and had his tile display on a wall of his garage. Troy took over the company in 1999, changing its name to Servais Tile & Stone and adding granite and stone fabrication.
Troy noted that 8”square tile was the largest tile when he first began working with his father. When 12” tile came out in the 1980s, it was considered huge! Now 12” by 24” tile is standard, but Troy tends to use 24” by 48” and 18”by 36” tiles himself.
One wall of the new showroom is a display of GPTP (Glazed Porcelain Tile Panels). These panels are 5’ by 10’ which provides a smooth surface with fewer grout lines. Servais recently installed this at the La Crosse Fire Station.
Distributors contact Servais to send him to training on new products so they can ensure that they have trained installers available. Recently he was sent to Crossville, Tenn., for a session on GPTP.
Troy tries to keep ahead of the trends. He emphasized that he wants to do different “stuff”; he likes their work to stand out. Troy shared a new veneer slate tile with a resin backing that he recently got in. The slate tile can be used to wrap curved surfaces such as a column and can be back lit in an area like a bar for a unique lighting touch.
A current trend is to use Italian-made tile. While the supply chain has affected the arrival of Italian tile, some Italian companies have been starting up factories in the U.S. which has eased the effect of the supply chain.
Another popular trend is the use of ledgerstone, stacked natural stone which is used for focal walls and fireplaces. Mosaic tiles with a unique 3-D effect, and penny rounds (small round tiles the size of pennies) are other new trends. Wood-look tiles and a wide variety of unique subway tiles are also available.
Most residential jobs done by Servais Tile & Stone include kitchen countertops, backsplashes, and/or bathtub conversions to walk-in showers with no curbs. Servais enjoys doing residential jobs. He observed, “That’s where we get a chance to shine!” Commercial jobs usually have the specific tile to be used already pre-specified.
Granite, quartz, and marble are the most popular countertops. These materials provide easy cleanup; they are sanitary and don’t harbor bacteria.
Servais Tile & Stone also offers a commercial line of LVP (luxury vinyl plank) flooring as well. LVP provides a warmer feel and helps with acoustics.
The showroom is open by appointment so the Servaises can provide assistance to the customers. Troy tries to make sure that all of what they show in their showroom is readily available; he wants to avoid frustrations for the customers.
Customers are able to use a “visualizer” on the company website to see their tiles and products they are considering in their own homes. Servais Tile & Stone also has a presence on Facebook and Instagram.
The company has grown over the years; now there are a total of nine employees in addition to Troy and Jennifer. Troy commented appreciatively, “Much of our success can be attributed to the dedicated, loyal, skilled craftsmen that we have on our crew. Our employees range from apprentices to journeyman tile setters that have been with us for more than 20 years.”
Recent jobs have included hospitals, a dorm at UWL, the La Crosse YMCA, Gundersen Clinic, and the new Winona Nursery building. Jobs are usually within four hours of Rushford, but they have gone as far as Apache Junction, Arizona. They tiled KwikTrips in Duluth, Appleton, northern Wisconsin, and Mankato.
Troy calls the addition of his wife Jennifer to the business in customer service and the office the best ever. The couple enjoys the flexibility of the business, but acknowledged it can be challenging.
The biggest challenges are in scheduling; because they are dependent on other trades completing their portion of a job, there can be holdups. As a result, there are times when they need to move to a different job site to keep the employees busy.
Troy has no regrets about going into the business; however, he does advise new business owners to be conscious of the fact that the business will occupy a lot of their time; it’s a commitment. Servais is part of the Chamber of Commerce and donates to area fundraisers. Troy and Jen enjoy raising their kids and trips to Nashville; in addition, Jen enjoys shopping and Troy loves hunting.
Together Troy and Jen enthusiastically continue to try their best to keep on the cutting edge of trends in the industry; if you want a new, distinctive look to your home, make an appointment to meet with Servais Tile & Stone to look at all the options available.