After God, family and friends, one of the things I am thankful for this week and throughout the year are the family businesses of our town.
I have no kick against big box and chain stores. They serve the needs of a significant number of people, or else they would not exist. Family businesses however, not only have the products and services I want, but give me a sense of connectedness to the community. Multigenerational family business connect me with the community’s history.
Our town is blessed with many superb family businesses. I would like to name some. For a manageable selection I will cite a few that have been continuously in business for three or more generations.
Hedges Supply is an electrical and plumbing business founded by the late Alton Hedges. Management was passed to his son, Frank, who in turn passed it to his son, Mark. Recently, a man in the order line told me: “I retired to the lake region, and work on my home only because I enjoy it. I buy here because these folks know what they are selling and how it works.”
While most customers there are contractors and skilled tradesmen, that DIYer perfectly summed up part of the Hedges difference: product knowledge. The other part is in the high quality of goods sold. It is noticeable even in a low-cost item like a steel receptacle box, made from a thicker gauge of steel than those available elsewhere. In sum, top to bottom, Hedges sells the very best products and tools it can obtain. Another bonus is the staff. Each is an original and engaging personality. Frank is also a raconteur par excellence, so if your enjoy reading true life stories about the way life was, should be, and sometimes still is, pick up one or more of his books. It may be a better and far less expensive therapy for the stresses of modern living.
From tractors and implements to mowers, from utility vehicles to fork lifts, you won’t find a place that knows and stands behind their products better than Moon Tractor. Brian Wilson, the forth generation of owner-managers, once told me: “Spring cleaning never happened here.” That is a good thing for customers, because you never know what treasures will be unearthed there.
Case in point: I bought a new two-cycle lawnmower there two years after the feds drove it off the market. Brian was introduced to the business by his father, Eric, Wilson, who was brought in by his father, who in turn came in through his father-in-law, from whom the company took its name. Eric is also a great storyteller, so if you happen to catch him on a slow day, you might get a story that will make you laugh so hard you forget your troubles for a while.
Jerry Haag Motors takes its name from a Cincinnati area GM automobile dealer. His son, Steve, eventually took over the Hillsboro operations, and greatly expanded its sales and service capabilities. Today, Steve’s daughters, Mindy and Mandy, are also involved in the company management. Steve has an encyclopedic memory of GM car and truck models and options his dealership has sold, yet his focus is on finding customers the vehicles they need. Service is what sets this dealership apart, and that is why I have known Cadillac and GMC buyers that order their vehicles from Jerry Haag Motors.
It is a life ambition to buy a new vehicle from Steve because his service department and body shop have treated me so well with cars I bought elsewhere.
So what is the point of this? Hopefully, you will be inspired to think of the family businesses in your own community that have been meaningful to you, and be thankful.
Creed Culbreath is a Hillsboro resident, former journalist and local advocate.