6 years ago, Stonewood built a ‘playhouse’ for donation to the Minneapolis institute of art. Designed by Alexander Design Group, and built with donations from many of our trade partners, it’s the only ‘tiny house’ that Stonewood has built to date.
2 stories, hardwood floors through, a front porch, a deck off the 2nd level, ships ladder to the 2nd level, fireplace, elaborate millwork detail including wainscoting and wood ceiling details…
It was a nerve-racking 3am drive from our office parking lot to the institute – the first overpass was a bit scary!
We’re proud to have built a new home for this wonderful family, recently featured in the Artisan Home tour.
American Dream is alive and well for African immigrant entrepreneur
When Minneapolis entrepreneur Tashitaa Tufaa came to the United States from his native Ethiopia he quickly embodied the American spirit.
The political refugee, now in his late 40s, came to this country in 1992 with nothing to his name and worked his way up from washing dishes to running his own transportation company that still continues to grow.
Tufaa says that his drive was inspired by his adopted home.
“I had read a lot about America,” he said in a recent interview with Fox News. “Even though I had never been, I have always been a fan of the American way.”
Tuftaa was born in the Ethiopian village of Aloo and grew up working on his family’s farm with his 13 siblings until he attended an American college in Zimbabwe. He eventually returned to Ethiopia, where he was a history and English teacher until the early 90s when he decided to leave due to his native country’s changing political climate.
“I wasn’t forced to leave my country,” he says. “I just knew that it was time to leave when I saw politicians fleeing. I knew it wasn’t safe. I came here and decided not to go back.”
“Even though I had never been, I have always been a fan of the American way…”
– Tashitaa Tufaa
He was granted political asylum and wound up in the city of Minneapolis, where he stayed in low-income housing with old college friends who had emigrated from Zimbabwe. He recalls the first day he stepped on American soil:
“It was a very beautiful day,” he says. “I was in downtown Minneapolis. I was amazed by the tall buildings and how clean it was compared to where I came from.”
Tufaa says that during those initial days in the U.S. it was difficult to find a job, but he never once thought about wavering.
“It was definitely hard. If you wanted a white-collar job, there were not many available,” he says. “My first job was as a dishwasher at the Minneapolis Hilton for $5.60 an hour and I thought at the time that it was great.”
Tufaa washed dishes for about ten months before moving on to a manufacturing job and a security position before enrolling in graduate school at the University of Minnesota. He continued working security jobs as he went through school.
Tufaa says that those initial days in the U.S. were difficult to find a job, but he never once thought about wavering. (Courtesy of Metropolitian Transportation Company)
“I would work until midnight and during the day in between my morning and afternoon classes,” he recalled. “I had few hours to sleep, but the biggest thing was these opportunities for work. We were not able to get this back home. You were lucky if you were able to get one job, here, I could get three jobs.”
Tufaa eventually graduated from school and wanted to pursue a career as a diplomat but quickly found out that he would have to be a U.S. citizen to do so (he became a citizen in 2000). Instead, he started working for the Minneapolis School District and then the city’s housing authority. He also worked extra jobs as a taxi and bus driver.
“I would leave work at 4:30 and then go drive a bus,” he says.
In 2003, he was laid off from his job with the city.
“That’s when I decided to form my own company.”
The determined Tufaa set out to market himself to school districts in the area, looking to provide transportation services for students.
“It was rough building it up,” the entrepreneur said. “On paper, my company was incorporated, but technically, I had no experience. People generally don’t trust you if you can’t show them your experience.”
In September of that year, Tufaa finally started gaining that experience when he started providing bus services to a handful of special needs students. School administrators took notice of the stellar job he did and he started receiving more and more work from the district, putting nearly all of his profits back into the business.
The entrepreneur says that he is looking to expand his company into other facets of public transportation. (Courtesy of Metropolitan Transportation Authority)
Eventually, Tufaa was able to establish his company, Metropolitan Transportation Network (MetroTN) and soon after he received his first large contract with the Beacon Academy School after their original bus provider went out of business mid-year. About 300 of the school’s 400 plus students ride MetroTN buses to this day.
Business continued to grow for Tufaa and MetroTN now boasts three facilities in the state, with a fourth on the way in October. The company currently includes 300 employees, including several family members who also emigrated from Ethiopia.
“They had to apply like everyone else,” he says, half-joking.
Along the way, Tufaa maried and he and his wife have five children ranging in age from eight to 21.
He looks to continue the expansion of MetroTN and serve other facets of public transportation in the city he has called home for nearly 25 years.
“I believe in the American dream because I appreciate what this country can provide to people like me,” Tufaa says.
“If you are free, you can exercise your talents in many different ways. I am free as long as I don’t do anything illegal. I can do anything.”
Stonewood and Revision support a number of projects around Guatemala. Most recently, we’ve funded an addition to the primary school in San Juan la Laguna run by Francisco Perez. The cement is poured (in the rain) and work is nearly complete. The construction techniques, and equipment is just a bit different than on our projects! A beautiful backdrop for the new classroom and patio!
Meet America's Greatest (and Most Inspiring) Entrepreneurs This Year!
Revision, LLC, Stonewood's Remodeling company, named one of Inc. 500 fastest growing companies. Under John Daly's leadership revision has grown dramatically over the past several years.
The fastest-growing private firms in America are creators. They create companies, they create value, and they create jobs–619,631 of them over the last three years. Here, by sector, are the companies whose creativity propelled them to the top of this year's Inc. 5000–from the chart-topping No. 1 company (mobile-gaming platform Skillz) to No. 5000 SBG Technology Solutions (a technology support provider). You'll also discover the newest hot spots, the coolest products, and the people who make it all happen.
is an annual list of the
fastest-growing private companies in the United States, introduced in 1982. The
. 5000 is an expansion of the
, which ranks the country's top 5000 fastest-growing private companies and also features a special ranking of the top 10% of the list as the
For more than 10 years, Stonewood has been a member of the National Association of Home Builder’s – Premier Builder’s Group. One of less than 20 members that are considered to be top custom homebuilders in their market. All possess a portfolio of architecturally significant, high-end custom homes, have well-developed business and marketing processes & a construction volume of more than four homes per year, but less than 20. Their well staffed businesses are composed of project managers, designers, estimators and architects. In short, the members of the Premier Builder’s Group are builders that will inspire, cause others in the industry to improve their businesses & raise the bar.
We’ve developed a concept for an amazing home to be built on this property! Click here for more info: Casco Property
To be built – by Stonewood. Close in Lake Minnetonka lakeshore build-site, hard/sandy bottom, 60′ lakeshore and almost 1/2 acre. Stunning sunsets with large west facing views over Spring Park Bay. Plenty of room to build your dream home.
For the past 5 years, Stonewood has provided funding to build homes in Guatemala for those that could never afford a home of their own. For every home Stonewood builds in Minnesota, one is built in the suburbs of Guatemala city.
Most of the homes built recently have been in the town of Sumpungo, Guatemala. Here’s the story of one of the most recent builds!
The JUÁREZ CRUZ family.
Jeimy and her son Emmanuel Lainez Juarez, 2 years old. She’s is a single mom and the daughter of the local pastor. Jeimy is an entrepreuner and has a small business selling used clothing to her neighbors.
Jeimy’s parents agreed to give her part of the family’s land so she would ask to build a space for herself and her son.
Plumbing, if any, is outdoors.
The homes are built on family land, where ever it might be. Often it is difficult to get to and to build upon.
This is definitely a post close to our hearts. Stonewood is happy to share that this year, we have supported St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital by purchasing artwork from the ABC’s of Cancer project. Patients at St. Jude’s selected words to match each letter of the alphabet. The words they selected represent their interpretations based on their personal battles with cancer. After creating the ABC’s, the children made magnificent pieces of art to go along with their interpretation of the letter.
Stonewood is thankful we had the opportunity to sponsor the letter “C”, which to Roman, the 8 year old artist, represents CURE!!! We could not think of a better letter and word to select. Roman won us over!
We are pleased to share with you this one-of-a-kind piece of art and cannot wait to have a copy of it hung in our office! We will be praying for Roman, and praying for a CURE!
What is it like to wine and dine in a Stonewood home? Dutch Girl Chronicle shares the details!
Dutch Girl Chronicle made a visit to Stonewood’s 2016 Artisan Home and shared her experience with all of her readers! She’s a Minnesota blogger that brings her topics to life; she can make you laugh, make you smile, and you can find yourself often being able to relate to her quotes and personal experiences. Take a look at how her visit to one of Stonewood’s custom homes went!
Stonewood was featured in the 2017 February issue of Lighting & Decor magazine! Editor-in-Chief Nicole Bowling said, “Smart homes incorporate technology but are also designed thoughtfully, efficiently, and with a multifunctional slant”. Stonewood’s custom home on Casco Point proved to have all the necessary goods to land it as the ‘Last Look’ feature in the recent issue.
The home features Smart Technology through a main control system, Savant. Lighting, blinds, music, television; all this can be controlled from an iPhone or iPad. In the kitchen, homeowners can enjoy coffee just the way they like it with a programmable Miele built-in coffee maker. Lastly, a separate vacuum system including a hand-held vacuum that rests in a specific disguised compartment of the counter, as well as a floor vacuum, make for easy clean up!
Here’s a fun aerial shot of a couple of homes on Tonkawa road in Orono on North Arm bay of Lake Minnetonka. From the left, a Mediterranean style home that was featured in the Luxury home tour, then a rustic mountain home also featured in the Luxury home tour, next a hole in the ground that is soon to be a mountain modern home to be completed early summer 2017. That makes makes 11 homes built by Stonewood on North Arm Bay!
The cottage-style Craftsman exterior with cedar-shake siding, rustic, reclaimed barn timbers and handmade cement tiles and countertops add unique architectural accents to this home.
Gorgeously crafted warehouse style doors open to a climate-controlled wine room. A Marvin bi-folding door with Phantom Screen opens the sunroom to the outdoors.
This five-bedroom, six-bath home also features white-oak hardwood floors and lofted ladders in the children’s suites. Other amenities include a 566- square-foot art studio, boathouse with cantilevered deck and a three-car garage. Read more…
Judges’ Comments: “Nice big windows…for a traditional house it’s all decked out with contemporary on the inside | The roof pulls it together well. Love the white rooms with black doors and trim.”
This is what really gets us excited. Fingers dark with graphite. Layers of trace paper. Ideas that exist more in our mind than on paper but that come to life through conversation, sketching, wadded up discarded drafts, then… it starts to feel right. A great week of seeing dreams become real.