Longtime Dubuque monument maker moving, expanding

A monument maker that has served Dubuque for nearly a century soon will move to a new, expanded location.

Brannon Monument Co. has purchased the former home of Key West True Value, 2100 Stonehill Drive, and is renovating it. It intends to move to that location later this year.

Owner Mike Brannon said the new location will give the company room to grow.

“It is more than twice the size of our current location, and the lot is four times the current one,” he said. “Our current location in the downtown has served us well, but our growth necessitated the move to a larger location. We were landlocked downtown.”

Brannon Monument was founded in 1926 and has remained in the downtown throughout the entirety of its 95-year tenure in Dubuque. The past 25 years have been spent in the current location at 1310 White St.

The business will continue operating at the White Street location until it moves into the new one. The long-term future of that site is uncertain.

“We will be selling our current location,” Brannon said. “We currently have some feelers out.”

In addition to its additional square footage, Brannon said there were other attributes of the property on Stonehill Drive that appealed to him. He said its location near the intersection of U.S. 52 and U.S. 61/151, as well its proximity to the Southwest Arterial, would be appealing to customers.

On top of that, he said, the vast building was “a blank slate” that could be tailored to the company’s needs. Crews are working on buildout, construction and other tasks in hopes of having the building ready for Brannon Monument in about four months.

The business is well known for cemetery monuments, memorials, brick engravings, engraved landscape rock and decorative stones for outside one’s residence.

“Anything that can be engraved in stone, we can do,” Brannon said.

Over the past 13 years, the company has significantly expanded its reach. It purchased Novak Monuments in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, in 2008 and Manchester (Iowa) Monuments in 2017.

Business has continued to accelerate recently, as more residents pre-plan funeral, burial and related arrangements for themselves and loved ones. This phenomenon has had an industrywide impact.

“We have conveyed to customers for a long time that pre-planning is much easier,” said Adam Thielen, funeral director at Hoffmann Schneider & Kitchen Funeral Home and Cremation Service. “We had more preplans last year than the year before, and this year we are on track to do even more.”

Thielen often works closely with Brannon Monument, arranging the final details for one’s headstone after the person’s death. He said Brannon Monument has a strong reputation throughout the community for its service.

“The families that we deal with who have worked with Brannon Monuments say they are a first-class organization,” Thielen said.