The Beginning

The natural stone products that Thorntree purveys were formed in nature millions of years ago. While we haven’t been around nearly that long, founder Stuart Rae is no newcomer– he’s accumulated over 35 years of stone knowledge. Stuart and his dad, Clive, set up shop in 1980, shortly after the Rae family arrived in Texas from South Africa (listen to Stuart’s accent).  Their first shop was a small office and adjoining warehouse on West 34th Street.  From there, they primarily sold slate roof tiles to a small but forward-thinking group of custom home builders.  Father and son then went on to calling on architects (from the big book known back then as the Houston Yellow Pages), showing Thorntree’s first line of natural slate flooring in five colors, imported from South Africa.  Eventually, in the early 90’s they opened a small showroom in Highland Village, near the Galleria, which introduced Thorntree’s name and unique slate products into the retail Houston market.  This showroom space was managed by Stuart’s mom, Berry Rae, who was instrumental in the early success of Thorntree, spending 15 years working tirelessly building the design and builder clientele that would be key in the company’s early and growing success.   Since the early days as a natural stone company, Thorntree has evolved into a multi-faceted, multi-dimensional entity, supplying some of the most highly celebrated commercial and residential projects throughout the nation with refined glass, hand-painted tiles, and the world’s finest porcelain. 35 years later, Thorntree now has two Houston locations, both have full service showroom galleries.
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See it in real life

Yes, our catalogs are very easy to use and our products have been painstakingly photographed. But there’s no substitute for seeing your natural stone or porcelain in real life, running your fingers across its surface, and hefting its ballast in your hands.

We have two locations, conveniently situated in Houston, Texas: one on the northwest side near Jersey Village, and the other just inside the 610 Loop on the Katy Freeway. Stop by any time to see what your materials are like in real life.

If paying us a casual visit just isn’t in the cards, we’ll be happy to come as close as we can to emulating the showroom experience, by sending you samples.

Get in touch!

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Origins

The Raes are from South Africa, but have now called Texas ‘home’ for over 35 years.

South Africa has the largest, most industrialized economy on the African continent. It’s a land full of natural resources and natural beauty, and an enterprising spirit pervades its citizens. Stuart often goes back to South Africa, both for pleasure and business.

What’s a thorntree?

Also known as the acacia or wattle, this arboreal icon is one of the most recognizable flora of the African savannah. Its elongated thorn-covered limbs  provide ample shade for lions and cheetahs while the tree’s crevices heed a cozy space for pheasants to nest. The thorntree plays host in one of the most fascinating displays of symbiosis nature has ever revealed: tiny ants make their homes inside the acacia’s thorns and drink its sap, and in return, defend the plant from parasites. Its flowers are used in perfume, and gums and tannins are instrumental in a variety of industrial and food production uses.

The thorntree is symbolically synonymous to our company in that it is a deep-rooted, strong and sturdy support that fosters growth over time and acts as a safe-haven to the natural wildlife surrounding it. As the thorntree interacts with nature to achieve balance and harmony, our company works in unison with our natural resources– the quarries– our employee team, the architects and designers and our end-users to achieve the most forward and aesthetically appealing installations.

A global supply chain with prompt delivery

With such a broad inventory of products literally being hewn from mountains and fired in kilns all around the world, it may seem like quite a stretch to get anything delivered within a reasonable amount of time.

Not so! Thorntree has built our business around a smart supply chain, sourcing stone and porcelain methodically to maximize availability based on demand.

We don’t always have it in stock, but it’s readily available almost all the time.

Hands on your plans

You‘re never on your own when you need something from Thorntree. Our sales and delivery process is very hands-on; we’re always available to look at your plans and specs, make recommendations, offer product information, discuss prep, installation and maintenance, and anything else we can to make sure your project goes just how you want it.

At Thorntree, doing business goes beyond a handshake; it’s about a firm commitment to quality, great value, and enduring relationships.