Alumni Outlook Magazine


More Than Just Rocks

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More Than Just Rocks

Aaron Keopple ’94 admired the beauty of the Mabel Tainter Theater and the Louis Smith Tainter House in Menomonie many times while he was a student at UW-Stout. Now, years later, as owner of Dunnville Cutstone Co., he is supplying the Mabel Tainter Theater with sandstone for its expansion project. 

Keopple and his wife bought the property that produced the stone for these two buildings—and many more around the country—in 1999. He had moved back to the area to begin a consulting career with Ray Hansen, under whom he studied manufacturing management while at UW-Stout.

But his life soon took an unexpected turn.

Someone from an area church requested a sample stone out of the quarry  to find a match for a church addition, and that gave Keopple an idea. For the next two years, Keopple researched the modern-day stone market along with the history of the Dunnville sandstone quarries and learned that there continued to be a market for Dunnville sandstone.

Dunnville sandstone is one of the oldest quarried dimensional stones in Wisconsin and maybe even throughout the Midwest. From 1910 to 1913, stone carvers building the high altar at St. Thomas Church in New York billed the sandstone as the finest in the world.

In 2005, Keopple launched Dunnville Cutstone Co.

“Words cannot describe matching this stone on existing buildings,” he said. “To be providing stone to the Mabel Tainter Theater addition is unexplainable. It is almost like Dunnville sandstone is part of everyone’s being, which makes sense. The product has been displayed in the community for over 120 years.”

In reopening the quarry for business, Keopple discovered he had a knack for entrepreneurship.

“I quickly discovered my passion of building businesses,” he said. “I look at businesses and processes through a new set of eyes, focusing my efforts where they will make the most difference.”

Keopple and a key employee established another start-up company, Dunnville Drilling, to more efficiently use excess equipment and labor capacity at Dunnville Cutstone.

“My dream is to continue to build these and many other businesses while staying behind the scenes,” he said. “I want to watch people succeed within these businesses and hope to have each business make a long-term impact on the local communities.”

TOP LEFT: A view of the quarry as it stands today. BOTTOM LEFT: A rendering of what the renovated Mabel Tainter Theater entrance will look like with the stone from Dunnville Cutstone.