The Press Newspaper
Jay Hellwig starts his work day around 8 a.m. and he likes to end it by 6 p.m.
"The work we do is a lot of residential work," Hellwig said, "And they don't want you to get there too early. Some evenings we get called out for a service call. Our line of business is a service we offer, so we have to cater to the customer."
Six years ago when Hellwig wanted to sell his family's business, Elmore Hardware, he had the complete backing of his wife, Joanne. The family's new business would be called Lighthouse Residential and Commercial Services.
"She supported me 100 percent," Hellwig said. "She also helps from time to time in computer work for the store. She completely supported me. It was a huge decision. Once I made the decision, I didn't look back and kept progressing with a new business. It was a risk like anyone else takes, but it's worked out real well."
Lighthouse Residential and Commercial Services is located at 18909 St. Rt. 51, just a half-mile from Elmore in the old Super Value building. Hellwig opened the service-oriented business on July 1, 2003.
He offers a wide range of services for homes and businesses, such as home repairs, lawn care, carpet and floor care, equipment rental, power washers, tree trimmers, screen and storm window repair, wallpaper steamers and key making. Hellwig also repairs and installs new countertops.
"A lot of our business deals with what people have right now," Hellwig said. "People aren't spending money because they are worried about what the (economic) future holds."
Hellwig is the company’s lone full-time employee. His son, Tyler, and daughter, Krista, both help out with mowing and painting in the summer. Tyler is a student at Woodmore High School and Krista is an agriculture major at Ohio State University's campus in Wooster.
Hellwig said his business has been solid since he opened.
"I've had my ups and downs," he said. "Overall, we've done very well the last five years and the people have treated me very well. We've had to trim some expenses like everyone else and get rid of some extra weight, and I attribute my success with being honest with customers and thankful for the reliable customers we have."
Because of the bigger retail stores that popped up in the area, Hellwig realized people weren't buying their products at the little stores anymore. They needed a local, service-oriented store.
In April 2003, Hellwig closed the doors to Elmore Hardware forever. He auctioned off the store inventory two months later.
"We were getting beaten to death by the big box stores - we couldn't compete with the prices they were offering," Hellwig said. "One thing beneficial to this business is I don't have to carry an inventory. By not carrying inventory, we don't have a lot of overhead."
Hellwig picked up skills as a handyman over the years, and he also worked for an electrical contractor.
His father, Myron, was in the hardware business for more than 30 years, and sold Elmore Hardware to his son in 1992.
Hellwig said it was a difficult decision to sell the business.
"Once I made the decision, I had to look forward to move into something else more feasible to fit the economy," he said. "People were looking for service work, but we also do smaller jobs that contractors don't want to take care of. We'll hang storm doors or paint houses - small jobs that people need done.
"A lot of our customers are people where both spouses are working and they're involved with their children and they don't have time to do work for their parents. We get referred to the parents and once we get there, a small job runs into a two- or three-day job."
Hellwig said nearly 80 percent of his business comes from repeat customers.
"A lot of my customers were customers at the hardware," he said. "We refinish hardwood floors ... We have a little bit of everything that keeps us busy. We offer a wide range of services and we probably cover a 30-mile radius of Elmore. The loyal customers keep coming back, and that's what makes us successful."
Hellwig said his hours are flexible, depending on the season.
"One thing that's nice about it is, with these type of hours I can stay involved with my son's sporting events and do the fatherly things," Hellwig said. "We try to keep our hourly rate low enough that it doesn't scare people away. It varies from what service we're offering, like if we have to do work in awkward places or in tough positions. But, it's a fair price that people can afford."