SOUTH BETHLEHEM and SLIGO – While the name is the same, a long-standing local business has begun a new chapter serving the area under new ownership.
Tim and Troy Heeter, co-owners of Heeter Lumber, announced recently that their three area stores have been sold as of Jan. 4. The new owners, Bradley and Jenny Heeter of Knox, said that while there is no relationship between the two families, the new Heeter Lumber Inc. will continue to offer the same products and quality service customers in New Bethlehem, Rimersburg and Sligo are used to.
“Tim and Troy Heeter are staying on to help with the transitions making sure that customer service and product availability remain at the highest level possible,” said Brad and Jenny Heeter of plans for the immediate future.
Plans also include the retention of much of the current staff.
“[The stores] have very knowledgeable, dependable and loyal employees,” Brad and Jenny said. “We are going to keep as many as we can, along with adding a few new ones, ensuring that the new business, Heeter Lumber Inc., continues in a positive direction in the future.”
Brad and Jenny Heeter currently own Heeter Enterprises Inc. — located in Salem Township just outside of Knox — which specializes in concrete construction, excavation and hauling, among other services. The couple said that they hope the new stores will enable them to diversify the business into different areas that complement their existing one.
The new owners pointed out that they wanted to expand because their sons expressed an interest in joining the family business.
“They will be managing the lumber, hardware and redi-mix concrete division of our family business,” Brad and Jenny said. “The opportunity [to buy] came up, and we are going to run with it, full steam ahead.”
Tim and Troy also noted that, while there was no plan to sell the business immediately, they knew it was a real possibility down the road.
“We knew that this day was going to come because there’s no fifth generation,” Tim said. “None of the kids are wanting to continue on, so, [a few] years down the road...we would have been hoping for something like this to happen.”
“We weren’t looking, we never advertised, and it just kind of happened,” Troy concurred of the transaction. “Our kids all moved away and have started their own lives, [and] we didn’t have any of our immediate family left.”
That was when the new owners entered the picture.
“We got the opportunity with this family, which is a wonderful family,” Troy said, noting that the chemistry between the two families made the decision to sell even easier. “They’re so enjoyable to be with and to work with; it’s just been kind of a blessing in disguise. I’m not too sure [things work] out that way all that often.”
Tim agreed with Troy’s assessment of the family and the proposal to sell.
“The night Troy and I called mom, I said, ‘Mom, I think Dad would be happy with these folks because they’re really hard workers,’” Tim recalled, noting that his mother concurred.
Reflecting on the longevity of the business and the four-generation span it has covered in their family, the Heeter brothers said that they were having mixed emotions about the change.
“It is very bittersweet,” said Troy, who manages the Rimersburg and Sligo locations. “We started working when we were 10 years old and worked every break when we were in school, worked after school, and Saturdays all through college.”
Tim also said that the move was bittersweet.
“I’ve been torn the whole time, and probably still am torn because it’s my whole life,” he said, noting that he started working in the New Bethlehem store as soon as he could drive. “Anybody starting the next chapter in life, there’s always that little bit of apprehension there, but I know my dad would be pleased.”
Stepping into a business that has been part of the three communities for more than 100 years in Rimersburg and Sligo, and since 1959 in South Bethlehem, is a huge responsibility, Brad and Jenny said.
“We will be offering the same quality products, [such as] hardware, lumber and redi-mix concrete, that are offered now,” they said. “Delivery and customer satisfaction will be at the top of our priorities.”
The new owners also mentioned plans for the future.
“As we get more familiar with the stores and customers’ needs, we have plans to renovate existing stores, and offer new services and products for our customers,” they said, adding that there are also plans to expand and open more locations down the road. “Adding new inventory and products is something that we will constantly be looking into.”
In addition to the Heeter Lumber franchises, Brad and Jenny also purchased Rhea Building Supplies, a staple business in Knox since 1922. The couple noted that this acquisition, along with the three Heeter stores, gives them a new enterprise with more than 206 years of combined business life.
Tim and Troy said that while they’ll be around helping with the transition for a while, they want to thank residents of all three communities for their support and friendship.
“[We] just want to thank the community for their patronage, and more importantly, their friendship over the years,” Tim said. “Coming to work every day was a lot more joyful knowing that we had such a strong-knit community.”