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A new era for the old

Hess Lumber celebrating 50th anniversary

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ABOVE: Dan Hess, owner of Hess Lumber, kicks back at his desk at the lumber company that is celebrating its 50th anniversary Monday. FRONT PAGE PHOTO: Dan Hess demonstrates using a belt-driven saw that was used in the historic days of the lumberyard that dates back to at least 1875. (EXAMINER PHOTOS | REUBEN MEES)

Kicked back at the desk of a lumberyard that dates back to at least 1875, Dan Hess flips through records that are now decades old.

He has a bit of everything, including historic photographs, old advertising materials, employee information from the 1930s that lists race and religion (a big no-no by today’s labor standards), sales invoices detailing customer purchases from many years ago, even a letter from the previous owner complaining about a shoddy shipment of yardsticks and the manufacturer’s reply.

“These things fascinate me,” he said as he thumbed through the yellowing papers.

It may have been that spirit of fascination with the old that has helped Mr. Hess and his family preserve a locally-owned lumber business in downtown Bellefontaine amid an ever-changing shift toward big box and chain stores.

Monday, Hess Lumber Co. will celebrate its 50th anniversary in the Hess family. ...

The company will have a customer appreciation event from noon to 3 p.m. Monday with pizza and a variety of giveaways including a basket-shooting contest coinciding with the kickoff of the 2014 March Madness college basketball playoffs.

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To mark the 50th anniversary of the Hess Lumber Co., Jane Hess Collins and her husband Mike Collins are offering a $1,000 scholarship to a Bellefontaine High School graduate who plans to study art.

 

Mrs. Collins, who is the daughter of the lumber company’s original owner Jim Hess and sister of its current owner Dan Hess, said the scholarship recognizes both her parents and the important role Bellefontaine City Schools has played in the family’s lives.

 

“I was in kindergarten when dad opened the lumberyard and still remember starting my first day of kindergarten at Northeastern Elementary when we moved from Coldwater. Dan was less than a year old and our brother Pat was four,” Mrs. Collins wrote in an e-mail.

 

“My husband Mike and I thought this scholarship would be a perfect way to recognize the lumberyard’s birthday, our dad (he passed away in December of 2007) and our mom, who is an artist. It is also a way for us to give back to Bellefontaine after I was selected as the BHS Class of 2009 commencement speaker and one of the first three inductees into the BHS Distinguished Alumni program. Dan’s daughter Sarah was a 2009 graduate.”

 

A link to scholarship criteria is available here.

 

 

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