ELYRIA -- Like most people in business for themselves, Ron Rogers had traditions that included a morning cup of coffee with neighboring businessman and longtime pal Tim Haury.
That routine is coming to an end as Rogers, 62, is closing his well-known Bill Handy Mann Services home repair, remodeling and improvement business.
Rogers, 62, has owned and operated the business since 1980, when he purchased it from founder Bill Mann, who ran the small firm for 30 years from its founding in 1950.
Mann’s gray vans were a familiar sight around Lorain County for years.
Since buying the business, its workload and number of employees fluctuated over the years, as did its location, which moved from Perry Court to rented quarters on Yorkshire Court and back to Perry Court where Rogers built a warehouse-style building.
But now it’s all winding down due to factors including Rogers’ own health issues, which he declined to discuss.
“This is so very bittersweet because our business was actually the best it has been this year since 2008 (when the recession hit),” Rogers said. “It was like old times.”
Yet despite the noted upturn in business, it wasn’t enough to turn things around.
“Being busy doesn’t always equate to making the kind of money you need to stick around,” Rogers said. “I actually tried to go out and hire a couple more people, but I couldn’t find qualified help.”
Despite a surge in business this year, Rogers was facing increased pressure from big box stores offering installation of flooring and appliances at cheaper prices.
Rogers’ health also is factoring large into his decision.
“You work a lot of hours doing this and trying to take care of your employees and the business, and now it’s time to care for myself,” Rogers said.
Over the years, his business grew to a 3,000-customer base by doing good work on small jobs.
“We’d first take on jobs like changing a light switch or something and that would later become a big job like remodeling a kitchen or bath, or redoing basements,” Rogers said. “We made a living off small jobs … that was our niche.”
Rogers also learned how to counsel customers into making smarter decisions.
“You’d have someone who would spend a lot of money for something like granite countertops and then want to keep an old sink that only cost a couple hundred dollars,” Roger said. “It makes sense to do the job right since you’re making an investment for the long haul. You want things to last.”
One of the most interesting periods for Rogers was an eight-year relationship the business had with Mills Van Lines, a major moving firm for whom Rogers would construct special packing crates for transporting valuable goods such as paintings, wine bottles and glasses, and items made from marble.
“They moved a lot of vice presidents and CEOs for companies such as BP,” Rogers said. “They’d pay us to fly all over. We’d work in Denver, Los Angeles, Mesa, Ariz. It was very interesting work.”
Rogers and his wife plan to move to the Columbus area to be closer to family.
“It’s a blow to everybody he knows,” Haury said of Rogers’ decision.
A longtime member and trustee of the city’s Elks Club, Rogers “probably knows half the town,” according to Haury. “He’s an all-around good guy… a good, honest businessman.”
Contact Steve Fogarty at 329-7146 or firstname.lastname@example.org.