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CeilingConnex: Proud to a Part of Yankton’s History

At CeilingConnex, we are proud to be a hometown, community-minded company. We value personal relationships, quality service, and American jobs. We also believe that local businesses should support the local economy as much as possible. CeilingConnex’s hometown values can be found in our products and reliability, as well as our location.

Based out of Yankton, South Dakota, our business is currently operating from the historic Gurney building. This building, which housed the Gurney Seed and Nursery Company for decades, is an important landmark in our town, and we are proud to do our part to keep this historic building in operation.

History of the Gurney Building

The Past

After fighting to preserve America in the Civil War, Lieutenant Colonel Charles W. Gurney opened a seed company in eastern Iowa, eventually moving his operations to Dixon County, Nebraska in 1882. In Dixon, a northeast-Nebraska county on the Missouri River, Gurney recognized the value that a river town could have for his business. He would build his trade and eventually move his company across the Missouri, to Yankton, South Dakota, where the Gurney Seed and Nursery Company would stay for over a century.

The company established a seed house in Yankton near the banks of the river. Through this building, the company expanded, providing jobs to the area and serving the needs of customers all across the globe. By 1924, the company was not only selling seeds and plants in 46 states, they were also shipping products to five foreign countries.

This building held multiple purposes, including the headquarters for business operations as well as the base for the Yankton’s radio station, WNAX. Charles Gurney’s grandson, John Chandler "Chan" Gurney, a talented radio voice, recognized the advantage that a station could give a business. One of Gurney’s main rivals, Field’s Seed and Nursery Company, was having success as the owner of a radio station in Iowa, which allowed them to easily promote their products. After researching Field’s, Chan recommended that Gurney Seed purchase WNAX in Yankton. After the transaction was complete, WNAX moved their studio and tower to the Gurney building, adding another layer of history to the location.

Throughout the 1930s, the Gurney building became one of the premier shopping centers in Yankton. The building held hairdressers, dry goods, groceries, jewelry, medicine, and more. Through WNAX, the business was able to promote the location and become an important part of the entire town.

The family-owned business was sold in 1942, but the company stayed in Yankton and continued to provide jobs to residents, all while maintaining its headquarters in the Gurney building. Through the decades, it continued to change hands between numerous owners, but the business stayed in town and by the mid-1980s was providing over 700 local jobs.

Unfortunately, the business was bought by a marketing firm and eventually moved to Indiana in 2000, ending a Yankton heritage that lasted 118 years.

While the business and jobs were relocated, the Gurney building remains a part of Yankton. The location has now been converted to the “Gurney Landing”, and hopefully it will eventually contain apartments, retail outlets, and office suites.

Seeing a chance to be a part of Yankton’s history, CeilingConnex is one of the businesses that makes its home in the unique Gurney building. We use this building as a warehouse, taking advantage of the loading dock and wide space that allows trucks to move in and out with ease. It also gives us room to expand and store products as we grow. Other businesses in the Gurney building include a CPA office, massage therapist, and a publishing company. 

The Future