Bank Where You See Our Logo

Do you know how to spot a VCNB branch?

We have seventeen locations in eight Ohio counties and they operate under a few different names – Friendly Bremen Banking Center, Canal Banking Center, Hocking Hills Banking Center,  Jackson County Banking Center, Pickaway County Banking Center, Ross County Banking Center and, of course – Vinton County National Bank.

Embracing a community name is our way of embracing our communities!  While they may operate with different names, all of these bank branches are a part of the VCNB Financial Family and all embrace the same values and priorities that have been developed since our first bank opened in McArthur in 1867.

But how do you recognize a VCNB branch? That’s easy. Just look for our logo!

VCNB_V_CMYK

Regardless of which VCNB branch you went to when opening an account, you can bank anywhere you see our logo. Need help finding a VCNB office? Click here!

 

What We Mean When We Say Relationship Banking

VCNB Billboard - Relationships Across Generations - (Rt. 50 Kenjoh Outdoor)

If you’ve seen our advertising and billboards this spring, you know that we’ve been talking about “Relationship Banking.” You might be wondering what that actually means.

To us, relationship banking is exactly what it sounds like. It’s about building relationships with our customers, bonds that last through a lifetime and often through multiple generations.

Whenever someone retires from our bank, we inevitably have customers who mourn the loss of their banker. For so many of our customers, their VCNB banker isn’t just someone who opens their account or loans them money. That person has helped them through many stages of life. From their first checking account to saving for a car or getting a first mortgage – their VCNB banker has offered sound advice over the years and has been with them through many stages of life.

This is how we’ve been successful for 152 years. We love helping you and hope to have the opportunity to help your kids and your parents and your friends as well. We want you to trust us so much that you open your child’s first passbook savings with us and that you don’t hesitate to recommend us to a friend searching for a new bank.

Our customer list is filled with countless examples of families who have been with us for generations. Don’t you want a banker you can trust? VCNB is here for you and for your lifetime of needs.

 

VCNB Team To Compete In The Buck Fifty

When the Buck Fifty kicks off in Chillicothe Friday afternoon, a team from VCNB will be among a field of nearly a hundred teams hoping to conquer the challenging overnight relay race through Ross County. The course winds through several communities, along back roads and through the area’s state and national parks. While the region’s rolling hills and winding roads make a scenic backdrop for a run, the course is a grueling 150 miles of physical and mental challenges.

But this relay race isn’t just about winners and losers. It’s also about raising money for an important cause in Ross County. Buck Fifty proceeds benefit the Drug Free Clubs of America Program in Ross County.

VCNB Head of Consumer Lending and VCNB Team Captain Tom Oyer said that helping raise money for this important cause was part of the reason the bank wanted to participate. “It’s an important cause here in Ross County. All the money raised is used to combat the drug problems in the community, specifically young people in schools,” he said.

Race jersey

Look for the VCNB team jerseys during the Buck Fifty Friday and Saturday!

The bank’s participation in this third annual event was actually the brainchild of VCNB President Mark Erslan and Personal Banker Dustin Nusbaum. An avid runner, Nusbaum logs ten to twenty miles every week and has supported the Buck Fifty since its inception three years ago.

The Buck Fifty funds this program which has attracted 65 percent of all Ross County high school students, using a drug free pledge, education and incentives to keep kids clean.

The race begins on Friday and ends Saturday, mainly with ten person teams and just a handful of elite five person teams. The bank’s team consists of ten people from Chillicothe and other areas where the bank has branches.

Each ten person team is divided into two vans, with one van on the road at all times while one person is running. While the terrain is challenging, the schedule is grueling. It calls for participants to run several miles at a time, at three different times during a 24 hour span.

By day, Bryan Radabaugh works as Vice President of Operations at the bank’s McArthur office. In his free time he’s been training and looking forward to some family time with his two grown children who have also joined the bank’s team. “It’s going to be a lot of fun,” he said. “I’m in the same van as my kids so we’ll get to have some family time,” he said while describing the competitive spirit of son Bret, age 23, and daughter Hannah, age 20.

While Nusbaum has experience running this course, it will be a first time experience for the rest of the team. “It should be interesting for all of us. It’ll certainly be a challenge. You know, running is physical but it’s a mental thing too. Your body is saying ‘I can’t. I don’t want to do this.’ But you have to stay focused and use your mind to keep going,” Radabaugh said.

The VCNB Buck Fifty team consists of:

Mark Erslan, Chillicothe
Bryan Radabaugh, McArthur
Tom Oyer, Chillicothe
Mike Thurston, Pataskala
Gracie Rarick, Pataskala
Keirstan Mirgon, Lancaster
Josh Palmer, Pataskala
Dustin Nusbaum, Chillicothe
Bret Radabaugh, McArthur
Hannah Radabaugh, McArthur

“We’re all just proud to represent the bank and hope to do a good job,” Oyer said. “More than anything, we’re happy that the money raised at the Buck Fifty will be used for such a good cause.”

Best wishes to all of these volunteers who make up our team. We are proud of the work you do for the bank and look forward to seeing you compete this weekend! Want to learn more about the Bucky Fifty and how the money raised will be used locally? Click here for details.

A Fond Farewell: Earl Later Retires

Talk to Earl Later about how he spends his time outside of work and you have to wonder how he even finds time to work at the Salt Creek Banking Center. That’s actually no longer a problem for the longtime banker since he retired from the bank last week.

Earl has worked at our Laurelville branch since before it was part of the VCNB Financial Family. He started at Salt Creek Bank in 1995, bringing with him years of experience as a lender at other banks in Logan. When he started at Salt Creek, part of his job was to organize loan records and modernize forms to overhaul tracking and record keeping systems. “I spent a lot of time just getting files straightened out and updating forms so that we could have a better system moving forward,” he explained.

Earl Later retires 2He cut back to two days a week fifteen years ago but says he is now ready to retire from the bank and direct his attention elsewhere. And there is no shortage of things to keep him occupied.

Earl’s life with his wife Brenda keeps him active and busy. For the past six years, the two have been rearing two young boys – the children of Brenda’s deceased niece. Now aged 12 and 13, the boys are involved in school activities including soccer and basketball. “That keeps us going, having the boys and all their school work and sports and things they’re involved in,” he said.

Brenda also operates a cottage bakery business out of their home. From wedding cakes to party cupcakes to cheesecakes for a local restaurant, she stays busy with baking and decorating. He helps out as her runner, picking up supplies and assisting with deliveries.

He’s also looking forward to organizing his wood shop so that he can use it for future projects. And that’s without mentioning his ten acre Rockbridge property where he mows about five acres of grass, does snow removal and other maintenance.

Earl also credits a lifetime of hard work as he described growing up on his father’s farm. The Rockbridge property that now is home to a popular antique and craft mall was once his father’s busy farm.  “You name it, we did it. I drove tractor, baled hay in the summer when it’s hot. I learned to work hard.  Now I like to mow because it clears the mind, it’s a different world out here,” he said.

Earl also has a son, Mark, who lives in Logan. The pair have an annual tradition – they attend a NASCAR race together and try to visit a different track each time. “We’ve been to a lot of different tracks and we look forward to it every year.”

“Of course, I’ll miss talking to the customers and I’ll miss my coworkers but it’s a changing world and it’s a good time to retire. Nothing stays the same. That’s the one constant,” he said. “I like to keep the blood flowing. A lot of people, when they retire, they just sit down. The key is to keep active,” he said. “To me, old age is about fifteen years older than I am.”

 

Small Business Spotlight: The Olive Branch Coffee and Pizzeria

Small businesses are important to communities and running a business is tough work. That’s why we feature a small business in one of our communities every month!

Ask Tamie Wallake to talk about her business The Olive Branch Coffee and Pizzeria and you might expect her to tell you about the delicious food they make with fresh ingredients. You might expect her to brag about how they’re able to prepare fresh subs, custom pizzas and salads in a matter of minutes. You might expect her to mention the relaxing atmosphere and the coffee shop that invites customers to stay.

If that’s what you expect from a conversation with Tamie, you would be wrong.

Instead, her eyes sparkle and her demeanor brightens as she discusses how she and her husband Bryan use this business to help people who need a second chance. The Olive Branch helps people who are recovering from tough breaks and poor life choices that may have resulted in addiction, homelessness or crime.

The story of how this business came to be and of its place in Canal Winchester is actually quite complex and one that is rooted in faith and service to community. Bryan is a real estate broker and Tamie is a former realtor. Together, the pair have a history of building and selling businesses that fill a need,  including a golf course, a fitness center, and a construction company. “We have a talent for building businesses but not an eye for growing them. So, after selling the golf course we were looking for a new project.  I felt like God wanted me to do a daycare,” she explained.

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That’s why they opened Heaven Sent Children’s Academy which employs 35 teachers to care for 200 children. Empty acreage next door to the daycare was beckoning to be filled but the pair weren’t certain what business they should pursue next.

When Bryan came home and announced he wanted to open a pizza shop, she said her reaction was not initially supportive. “What do we know about making pizzas? I thought he was crazy,” she laughed. “But then I started thinking about the good we could do and how we could help people who are struggling because they made bad choices at some point in their lives.”

Those people who are struggling often slip through the cracks, becoming a statistic or sometimes a story on the evening news. But through the daycare, through her sister who is a foster parent, and through the couple’s nonprofit organization called Breaking Chains, she saw firsthand the dire need that many members of the community suffered with every day.

She tells some of those stories – not of statistics – but of real people who couldn’t get ahead even when they tried and who needed a second chance to start their lives anew.

She speaks of a young man who was homeless and who had a felony conviction. A hard worker that no one would hire because of the conviction, he had nowhere to live and a newborn baby. So Tamie and Bryan stepped up to help the young family and learned why it is so easy for people like him to be forgotten. “He was really trying but couldn’t get a job, couldn’t get a place to live because of bad choices he made years before. It’s no wonder people struggle when they can’t get a second chance,” she said.

“I realized I could use this business to help people like him. So I agreed to make pizzas if we could use it to help others and to give back,” she said. Consequently, they donate monthly to two charities including Breaking Chains which assists people coming out of homelessness and drug addiction.

But Tamie and Bryan didn’t want to just make pizzas. They wanted to make excellent pizza with fresh ingredients, quick service and the best customer service in town. They first attended pizza school at Good Fellas in Staten Island, New York. Good Fellas is renowned in the pizza industry for making some of the world’s best pizzas. They teach their students to use the best ingredients to make their dough and sauce from scratch.

Customers can watch their dough pressed and the pizza made before their eyes. It’s slid into a brick oven and baked for 2.5 minutes before coming out piping hot and ready to enjoy.

Signature pizzas include a BBQ Chicken Pizza with sweet bbq sauce, mozzarella/ provolone mix and cheddar cheeses plus chicken, bacon and onion. Diners can also choose from a host of meats, vegetables and cheeses as well as eight sauces to make their own custom pizza. Plus they offer signature subs and salads as well. Vegan and gluten free customers will have no trouble finding delicious options on the menu. They even offer a cauliflower crust.

Many of their ingredients come from a community garden behind the restaurant. Daycare children from Heaven Sent help tend the garden, learning about the how food grows and the importance of worms. “These are city kids and they have a chance to learn about growing food. Plus, what we don’t use here is donated to Heaven Sent so nothing is wasted,” she said.

Open the door to the Olive Branch and you are immediately hit with the divine smell of baking pizzas and melted cheese. The next thing you’ll notice is how prompt, courteous and helpful the staff are at all times. “We focus on customer service. We want the customer to be number one and we want the product to be excellent. We’ve worked to give them a sense of ownership and we are always working on customer service skills. Honestly, we have the cream of the crop here, a great group of kids,” she said of their staff of twenty.

“We are careful not to have too many second chancers here at one time,” she said as she explained how the ownership employees feel in their work extends to helping newcomers learn the Olive Branch way.

In addition, the business offers a coffee shop which serves One Line Coffee, a Columbus business that roasts coffee fresh when it is ordered. They actually offer more flavors than national chain coffee shops and have a peaceful atmosphere for conversation, meetings and quiet reflection. Smoothies, hot chocolate, espresso and frapuccino are a few menu items. Plus there are muffins, homemade cinnamon rolls, breakfast pizza and burritos. Homemade donuts are available Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

coffee shop

Comfy chairs welcome customers to the coffee shop.

The business has a distinct area for the pizza restaurant, a quiet area complete with a fireplace for the coffee shop as well as party space for bridal showers, Bible studies and birthday parties. “We literally offer the best of both worlds. We have fast, courteous service but we also have good quality ingredients, good food and a pleasant dining experience,” she said.

With the business approaching its two year anniversary, Tamie and Bryan have one eye on semi-retirement. “We understand that we are good at building businesses but we’re not so good at taking them to the next level and growing them,” she admitted.

That’s why they have engaged their grown sons to take over the Olive Branch. Braden will take over the marketing and Jeff will manage the daily operations. “Jeff has the mindset and the ability to take us to the next level and to do things here, to do things with people that I could never do,” she explained. “I’m at peace with stepping away from the daily work and trusting it with him. And I just know it’s going to be a real blessing for him and for others.”

Tamie and Bryan will take a break to rest before deciding their next move. She looks forward to finding greater balance in her life and to enjoying some freedoms that are hard to achieve when running a business every day. But she remains passionate about the message on their shirts – “It’s not just about the dough. Pizza with a purpose.”

She clearly is devoted to helping people by filling needs in the community and through addressing specialized needs that impact individuals and families. “Being able to do this has been a true blessing for us. Being able to take a break and to come back having found some balance, I think we’ll love it more,” she said with a smile.

The Olive Branch Coffee and Pizzeria is located at 5600 Gender Road in Canal Winchester. Dine in, carry out, request delivery or arrange curbside pickup. Order online, follow them on Facebook or call 614.524.6888.

 

 

 

 

Bonnie McDevitt To Retire This Week

Bonnie McDevitt retires 2019

Bonnie McDevitt

Ask Bonnie McDevitt to talk about herself and her upcoming retirement and her initial response is that there’s not really anything to talk about. Her next response is to start talking about the people in her work life and how much she will miss them.

A seasoned banker and customer service professional, Bonnie will retire on March 29 after working as a teller in our Pataskala branch for twelve years.

Before coming to work at our Friendly Bremen Banking Center in Pataskala, Bonnie worked as a teller for another bank for several years. Before that, she was Head Cashier at the JCPenney Outlet Store, working at the popular store for nearly twenty years.

Bonnie’s customers and coworkers will tell you that customer service is always her focus and priority. It is these people – her regular customers and her longtime coworkers – who Bonnie says she will miss the most. “I’ll miss a lot of customers, people I see regularly. But I’ll really miss my coworkers. Some of them I’ve worked with for a lot of years,” she said.

Retirement is something that has been on the horizon for some time. She cut back to part time hours three years ago, something that she says has helped with the adjustment. “I’ve gotten used to having free time so it’s not like I’ll just wake up someday and have nowhere to be.”

The Scio, Ohio native has been working since she was just sixteen years old. From babysitting to running a cash register to lots of other jobs in between, she says that growing up in the small Harrison County town was beneficial. “Never have I regretted growing up in a small town. It was a good place to grow up and I got a lot of good experience and values from being from a small town,” she recalled. “I’ve had a good life so far!”

While Bonnie looks forward to retiring, she is conscious of the need to stay busy and to have purpose in her life once she is no longer headed to the bank every day. She has two grown children and four grandchildren and her eyes shine with pride as she describes each of them. She particularly enjoys seeing her two youngest grandchildren participate in extracurricular activities including basketball and football.

Bonnie also has a group of girlfriends from her JCPenney days. They gather regularly to socialize and play Euchre. “We’ve been playing cards together for years and years. Some of those girls, I’ve known since they were young. Some of them for 34 years!”

“My daughter wants me to stay busy. She’s all the time on me to stay active and to have things to do so I think she’ll keep me busy” she said. “You have to have the right mindset. You have to have a positive mindset and to find ways to not become bored. It’s too easy for people to become depressed when they’re not active. I don’t want that, I want to stay active,” she said.

Bonnie is thrilled that spring has arrived as she sometimes walks in her Pataskala neighborhood. She also enjoys jigsaw puzzles and isn’t intimidated by the challenging ones. She intends to volunteer some and hopes to soon begin volunteering at Mt. Carmel Hospital. She’s already talking about finding a small part time job once the newness of retirement wears off.

“Life is a journey and I’m ready to enjoy the next chapter,” she exclaimed!

Bonnie’s last day will be Friday, March 29. Customers are invited to stop by that day to celebrate and enjoy cake and punch.

 

Gem Beverages: A Southern Ohio Tradition Since 1923

Black and white

The three Holzapfel Brothers – Henry, Frank and Leonard are pictured watching the first bottles of “Double Dry Ginger Ale” coming off the production line at the Gem Bottling Plant in Wellston in the late sixties.

If southern Ohio had an official drink it would most certainly come from Gem Beverages in Wellston. This longtime family business has been distributing Ski and Gem Brand drinks for decades, delighting generations with their unique flavors and colorful packaging.

The company distributes Ski, Diet Ski, Cherry Ski, Tropical Ski, Double Cola, Jumbo Orange and Gem Cream Soda from the 11th Street location that’s been home to Gem since the fifties.

Owner Rex Holzapfel is just the third owner of the business since it opened in 1923 and is proud of both his product and the business’ history.

The business began in 1923 when two local men – Will Corn and Harvey Malloy started a bottling business in an old garage that was located where the Kroger parking lot now stands. On Saint Patrick’s Day 1938, Holzapfel’s father and two uncles purchased the business with a little help from their mother. “My dad was born in 1923 so he was the same age as the business. He was fifteen years old when they bought it. He was the youngest but he worked and received a paycheck just like the other two,” Rex explained.

The bottling and distribution business expanded over time, as they bottled their own line of Gem flavors. In 1956, they replaced their Gem cola when they began bottling Double Cola. A few years later, the company began bottling Ski, which eventually became a regional favorite.

The elder Holzapfels – Henry, Frank and Rex’s dad Leonard – remained involved in the business even after Rex purchased it in 1996. Leonard would continue working on reports and making bank runs until shortly before his death at the age of 95.
“The three of them would go to Lee’s (Lee’s Steakhouse is a popular local restaurant near the Gem headquarters) every day at 1:30 or two o’clock. They always went for coffee. They could be arguing about something but once the coffee came, the argument was done and that was that,” he said with a smile.

This went on every day for nearly six decades. When Frank died in 1999 and Henry in 2000, Rex said that his wife suggested he needed to have coffee with his dad. “I thought I was too busy but I made the time. Ended up going every day for eighteen years and I’m glad,” he said.

The business has long been a family affair. His brothers, cousins and others have worked after school and summer jobs over the years. Today, Rex’s own children are involved in the family business. His daughter does the books while his son drives a route. “In fact, it seems like almost everyone has worked here at some point. The kids laugh because when I’m out I’ll say, ‘that person used to work at Gem Bottling and that person used to work at Gem’ and the kids will ask ‘WHO didn’t work there!’ I just laugh,” he said sheepishly.

Unfortunately, the industry has seen a number of changes over time that have made his work a bit more challenging. It was a tough decision but Rex said they chose to close the bottling division in 2006 and to focus on the distribution side of the business. “It was a hard decision but it was something that needed to be done. I went from working 55 or sixty hours a week and not making much money at all to turning a better profit in half that time,” he said.

Once up on a time, Rex said that soft drink bottlers could be found in nearly every town. “It’s just how it worked. Local drinks, national soft drinks, they all used local bottlers. Now it’s getting hard to find those smaller bottlers. It’s getting hard to find someone that will bottle for you,” he said.

The highly competitive soft drink industry is ruled by large national names that can afford to buy shelf space in grocery and convenience stores while some large retailers refuse to carry regional brands. “This makes it a lot harder. But our drinks have a following. Ski has a following and the customers demand it around here.”

When asked what he would tell someone who hasn’t tasted Ski, Rex laughed. “I would tell them they haven’t lived! It’s the best thing since sliced bread,” he said. “When people ask what it tastes like I always say it tastes like Mountain Dew but better.”

Ski was born in 1956, a product of the Double Cola Company of Chattanooga, TN. In their advertising, the company boasts that it’s made with “real lemon and real orange juices with a kick.” The country band The Kentucky Headhunters mentioned Ski in their 1989 song “Dumas Walker.”

The band originated in the Greensburg, Kentucky area which was a big Ski bottling area. When suggested that they immortalized Ski with their song, Rex laughed and suggested that Ski immortalized the Headhunters. “We were around a long time before they were,” he quipped.

bottles

Multiple flavors of Ski and Gem brand products are staples in stores across southern Ohio.

Rex is also quick to point out that Ski has continued to grow in southern Ohio while Pepsi and Coke have not. He said that they first introduced Ski in Vinton County in 1961 and that the drink’s popularity spread like wildfire in that community. From there, it gained popularity in Jackson County and beyond and has continued to grow.

Today, Gem Beverages is responsible for distribution of the Ski brand and other drinks in eight counties including Jackson, Vinton, Athens, Hocking, Ross, Pike, Meigs and Gallia. They recently began delivering to the Duke and Duchess stores in Chillicothe because customers requested it.

He said the best way for customers to get a product in their local store is to simply ask store management to carry it. “That’s how we ended up in Duke and Duchess, customers were asking for it,” he said.

The drinks are available in a variety of sizes including twelve and six packs of cans, 20 ounce bottles, 12 ounce long neck bottles, 16.9 ounce six packs and two liters.

In looking toward the future, Rex says he plans to “just keep doing what we’re doing. By the grace of God, we’re still here,” he said. But he has a secret weapon in the form of a nineteen year old who he calls “the face of the future.”

Rex and John 2

Josh Lung and Rex Holzapfel are pictured outside Gem Beverages in Wellston.

Josh Lung started at Gem with an after school job a few years ago and says that he loves working there. “I just love being here. I don’t know. It’s a great place to work and great people to be around,” Josh said with a huge smile.

“You know how some kids like to play sports? Well, work has always been Josh’s sport,” Rex said of the young man who he has known since he was a small tot. “He reminds me of me sometimes, the way he gets so excited about this place. He’s definitely the new face of Gem.”

Today, Rex also enjoys working with his son Kevin and daughter Kerri. His wife Vicki owns Holzapfel Family Clinic in Jackson and the couple have four grandchildren- Olivia, Kash, Easton and Maizy plus another on the way.

Laurelville Lobby Reopens Monday

Since we began remodeling the Salt Creek Banking Center in mid-January the lobby has been relocated to the back of the building where customers have used the back entrance and are sometimes inconvenienced by our construction.

This is why we couldn’t be more thrilled to say that the wait is over and the lobby remodel is complete. Customers may resume using the front door on Monday!

With this remodeling project, the bank is embracing a new style of doing business that we believe will be not just aesthetically pleasing but a better experience for the customer.

The remodeled space is light and airy with digital screens for advertising and a wall featuring images from the town’s long history. The drive-thru has been reconfigured as well and now uses a video system for customers to interact with their bankers through high definition cameras and monitors.

More importantly, most of the staff has been trained to be Personal Bankers who can help customers with most of their banking needs.

The idea actually harkens back to an earlier time in banking when every employee could help a customer with almost all their needs. Whether customers are making a deposit, opening an account or applying for a consumer loan, Personal Bankers can help with all these needs without passing the customer off to another employee.

Branch Manager Holly King is enthused to begin using the new space.  “I am very excited that the new lobby opens on Monday! I cannot wait for my wonderful customers to see the beautiful history wall and experience this exciting time with us,” she said.

Customers and the public are welcome to stop by to see the work we’ve done. “Even if you don’t have bank business, we hope you’ll stop by to see how nice it looks and to have a cup of coffee with your bankers,” Holly said.

Other improvements include some upgrades to back office areas and to the building exterior.

 

Are You Still Paying For Christmas?

Note with words pay off debt concept.We have a question.

Are you still paying for Christmas?

If you’re like millions of Americans, the answer is yes – you are still paying for the joy and excitement of this last Christmas morning and maybe even a few before it.  Allowing credit card debt to add up is a common mistake and, sadly, reducing debt is always a lot harder than allowing it to accumulate.

If you want to pay off your credit card but aren’t sure where to start, we have some basic steps to get you on the right track.

  1. Face reality – How much do you really owe? Do you have one credit card? More than one? Add up those balances and keep that total in mind.
  2. Make a budget – No one enjoys the ‘B’ word but a budget or a spending plan is the most effective way to get your financial house in order. Not sure how to budget? We wrote this guide a few years ago.
  3. Study up to lower expenses – Study your budget and consider how you spend your money. Are you living within your means? Are you spending too much on impulse shopping or on weekend entertainment? Are there big ticket items like car insurance that you could save on with a little comparison shopping? Save money where you can and apply the savings to your debt. Click here to read about saving money even when you think there’s nowhere to cut. 
  4. Be timely – Each time your credit card payment is late, you face a late charge. Pay at least the minimum payment on time to avoid those charges.
  5. Pay extra – With online payments, it’s easy to make an extra credit card payment. So if you have a windfall –some unexpected overtime, a tax refund or some garage sale earnings – make an extra payment.
  6. Stop adding more debt – This should go without saying but you’ll never pay off that card if you keep adding to the balance. If you must use it, be sure not to charge more than you can pay off that month.
  7. Stay motivated – Staying focused on a budget and debt payoff is hard work. Look for inspiration anywhere you can find it. Hang a debt payoff thermometer on the fridge, read success stories on Pinterest or talk to like-minded friends who are also focused on financial goals. Another great motivation tool? Dream about how good it will feel to not have credit card debt hanging over your head.

 

Small Business Spotlight: Bernie and Max Stained Glass Studio

Small businesses are important to communities and running a business is tough work. That’s why we feature a small business in one of our communities every month!

window and bernie

Bernie Evans talks about the work needed to repair this church window in his workshop at Bernie and Max Stained Glass Studio.

To the casual observer, a piece of stained glass art is just that – a pretty piece of art. But talk to Bernie Evans and you’ll quickly learn that working with stained glass involves a logical process that requires patience and problem solving skills as well as artistic ability.

Bernie is the mild mannered owner of Bernie and Max Stained Glass Studio in downtown Chillicothe. The studio is a resource for all things stained glass including the tools and supplies for creating glass art, classes and workshops to learn the process, restoration and repair services for older panels, lampshades, and the creation of unique stained glass pieces for purchase. The walls of the retail space are lined with sheets of stained glass in nearly every color imaginable and the store features locally made stained glass pieces – both large and small.

What is surprising is that the business started out as just a hobby. Bernie explained that he had some health issues that put him off work from the paper mill in 2005. “I needed something to keep myself from going crazy and I just started playing with it,” he said.

retail 2

Bernie and Max Stained Glass Studio features a number of locally created pieces that are for sale.

Guitar lamp

This dimensional guitar lamp was designed by Bernie. He donated one like it to Rock For Tots several years ago. It sold for $5,000 and was donated back the following year by the winner. It sold again for $7,000 that year.

After returning to work for several months, Bernie decided it was time for a change so he retired from his job and started the business from his home. He eventually moved into a small retail space in downtown. The business is now in the old Oddfellows Lodge on Paint Street, providing about 14,000 square feet of space as opposed to the 1,400 square feet available in his first storefront.

When asked how he learned the art, he said he is completely self-taught. “One of the things I got from my grandpa is my ability to pick things up pretty easily, to be able to learn on my own,” he said.

Employee Pam Hatton was cleaning a stained glass lamp when she chimed into the conversation. “His problem solving is incredible! Ingenuity is the word that comes to mind. If he can’t find the tool he needs, he makes it. And he can make or fix anything,” she praised.

He says that practice and patience are key to working with stained glass. “Practice and patience. Patience and practice. Students always want it to be perfect the first time and it just doesn’t work that way. It takes time to learn, practice to be perfect and you never stop learning,” he said.

He teaches the art in classes, workshops and other group settings that cover introductory to advanced techniques. His Introductory Class teaches the basics of the copper foil method of stained glass construction. Students will also learn about safety in glasswork, how to work with patterns, how to cut glass, grind, foil and solder. This class is typically held the first and second Saturday of each month from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and is limited to six students.

Another popular class, the Lead Came Class is more advanced and teaches students how to construct panels with strips of lead came. This class is scheduled when there are enough interested students.

They also offer a class that teaches more advanced students to work dimensionally by building their own jewelry box or lamp shade. In addition, they welcome groups and parties for fused glass workshops.

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This piece is a Bernie Evans original.

Pam, now retired from the VA, came to Bernie and Max as a student.  “That was about six or seven years ago and I just never left,” she laughed. Now she works a few days a week, creating lovely pieces that are sold in the store.

Larger pieces can be created for residential, church or commercial clients. For example, windows of all sizes, kitchen cabinet doors, lamps and wall hangings are commonly created here.

As much as Bernie loves talking about stained glass and the education the studio provides, his eyes light up when discussing the restoration and repair services they provide. He seems most at home in his basement workshop where workbenches are covered in hundreds of multicolored tiles related to his current project – the restoration of a chapel window for Chillicothe Correctional Institution.

glass work

Bernie demonstrates the restoration process on part of a stained glass window from a chapel at Chillicothe Correctional Institute.

Each restoration piece is brought into the workshop where it is documented and rubbings are made before the piece is taken apart, the lead is removed, the glass is cleaned and it is put back together again using appropriate restoration lead.

Each case is unique. For the CCI project, Bernie had to design and fabricate special metal frames for each large section of the 26 foot tall, twelve foot wide window. “We never shy away from a challenge,” he acknowledged. “I like working on the old stuff. I like getting my hands on something that’s 150 or 175 years old,” he said with reverence.

That thought led Bernie to discuss the abundance of stained glass windows that have been damaged by the very methods employed to protect them. He talked about efforts taken in the last fifty years to protect the windows from acid rain, vandals and other threats by covering them with panes of glass or plexiglass. Unfortunately, when the sun shines directly on these windows, the air space is heated to a high temperature and the lead used to construct the windows is softened. “They thought they were doing good but, to do this properly, you need ventilation at the top and bottom to allow for air circulation. Now we are facing the consequences of these well intentioned actions,” Bernie explained.

While there are stained glass studios like his in Ohio’s cities, it’s uncommon to find this specialty in a small town. “There are very few that do this kind of work so we get a lot from outside the area. Columbus and Cincinnati have studios but there’s no one else left in southern Ohio.”

He credits his mother Mary Lou for her involvement in the studio from the very beginning. “She got involved and was an integral part of the studio.  She was here every day, making stuff until the age of 85,” when she passed away Bernie recalled. “We still have a few of her pieces here,” he explained as he pointed to the corner that was her workstation and where some of her last pieces she made still hang and will never be sold.

Bruno

Bruno is the store’s mascot, watchdog and host. Some customers pop in just to visit with him.

The other important character in the studio is a six year-old Pug named Bruno who is sort of the store’s mascot, watchdog and host rolled into one. Bruno comes running when customers pop in and ask for him, basking in the glow of attention. Bruno is clearly the apple of Bernie’s eye as the little dog provides both comic relief and companionship throughout the day.

Bernie is reluctant to share about the good things he does for the community but it is clear that the East End native and retired firefighter/EMT loves his town. He speaks fondly of a three dimensional guitar lamp that he donated to Rock For Tots several years ago. It sold at auction for $5,000. The next year, the buyer donated it back to the auction and it sold for another $7,000. “I just couldn’t believe how much it sold for and that it sold for even more the next year,” he recalled with a hint of pride in his voice.

After chatting about the ins and outs of the business, its origins, the cast of characters that come through the door and modern threats to antique stained glass, there was just one topic left to cover.

Who is the Max in the studio’s name?

Bernie chuckled at this question. “Max was my first pacer defibrillator,” he said, explaining that it’s official model name was Medtronic Maximo but Max for short. “The reason I was off work to take up stained glass in the first place was my health. I literally couldn’t have done it without Max,” he grinned.

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Bernie and Max Stained Glass Studio is located at 65 N. Paint Street in Chillicothe. Stop by or call them at 740.775.1054. Click here to visit them online or to follow them on Facebook.

They are open Tuesday through Friday 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and Saturday 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.