Small Business Spotlight: The WOLF Radio

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!

 

In an age of online streaming and cookie cutter corporate owned radio stations, there’s a local radio station that continues to grow and thrive. WLOH, better known now as The WOLF, has carved out a   place in Fairfield, Hocking and Perry counties with a unique sound and commitment to community caring.

Talk to owner Mark Bohach about this business plan and it’s quickly clear that it’s not about business at all. “We really do care about our community. It’s that simple. And that’s why everyone here is involved in boards and organizations,” he said as he began to name all the local organizations that he and the staff support. From the library board to Young Professionals of Lancaster to the YMCA and lots in between, Mark and his staff make it a priority to be involved.

The last few years have represented a period of tremendous growth for the station beginning with the switch from talk radio to a country format in 2015. Since then, they’ve rebranded the station The WOLF and added a tower in Perry County, expanding their services to an important but underserved community.

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Community involvement is integral to the success of The WOLF FM.

Being locally owned and operated, Mark calls the station “the anti-corporate media” with a chuckle. “We are the opposite of those big companies,” he said. “We play country music but we want to know what our listeners think. We support our community and the community supports us. That’s how it should be,” he said.

The casual listener would likely think the station sounds so professional and clear that it must be coming from a large market like Columbus rather than from a small studio on Lancaster’s Columbus Street. The sound quality is superb and local personalities give the station a professional but fun feel. Their bread and butter is classic and contemporary country music spanning sixty years. “We play both Georges,” he boasted. “Jones and Strait!”

They also air local, state and national news plus weather and sports. High school football and basketball are popular as well as Ohio State University, Cincinnati Bengals and Columbus Blue Jacket sports. They have five local DJs to keep things moving with a mix of talk about the music and good natured chatter. They also give priority to talking about events and issues important to the community. The Brownfield Ag Network provides farm news while the Nashville based Big D and Bubba in the Morning provide a popular syndicated radio show with plenty of room for the local news and weather listeners need.

Mark does on-air work, some ad sales and keeps the station’s technology current and running. His wife Arlene is the General Manager, running the front office and keeping the business end of things operating smoothly.

WLOH are the call letters but the brand is the WOLF. “We wanted to keep it simple and memorable. And it’s visual. You see it, you hear it. You know what it is,” Mark said. “The WOLF actually took off a lot faster than I expected. People were listening but they couldn’t remember our name. Now they know who we are.”

 

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He is conscious of what the future will bring. “We have to ask the question. What is our place in the 21st century media environment? We’ll be having a meeting with the key players here to talk about that,” he said. “After years of growth, we’ll be sitting down to take a breath and to discuss where we are going. How do we remain relevant to our listeners?”

“You can get country music anywhere but you don’t get the local community just anywhere. A lot of people think of radio as a technology. And it is a technology that we use to deliver a service. If we forget that we are a service, we are lost.”

The changing role of technology in this century hasn’t missed the radio world. Online streaming allows listeners all over the world to tune into their hometown radio station. He said they can see where listeners are located and they often seen Afghanistan and other countries with a U.S. military presence pop up during high school sporting events. “People can hear the hometown news and listen to the game from wherever they are in this country or across the world,” he said.

The technology here is impressive. The studio was designed and built by Mark and their work is computerized and largely automated. Satellite receivers feed in up to the minute news and weather. News breaks, songs and ads are scheduled to run and everything feeds seamlessly but can be overridden by a DJ. Weather emergencies and Amber Alerts are programmed to break into regular programming.

He said the staff of eight is cross trained so that no one has a specialty but everyone is able to do everything. “I am blessed. We have great people here.

“So many corporations use technology to save money. We spend money on technology to serve our listeners better.”

This service they provide extends into a host of areas. For example, Mark regularly interviews Meals on Wheels Executive Director Anna Tobin about their activities. They do live remotes at events like the fair and incorporate upcoming events into their conversations around the music.

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Sales Representative Rachel Jones

Sales Representative Rachel Jones joined the company a little over a year ago. Mark is teaching her the ropes of owning a radio station as her goal is to eventually own a station of her own. She talked about the station’s approach to advertising. “Every business is unique and we treat them that way. What works for a car lot won’t work for a radio station,” she said while describing how she creates unique commercials for each advertising customer to help them get the most bang for their advertising buck. “I talk to them about their goals and help them see the best way to go.”

“When we add a client, we want to keep them for life,” Mark added. “That means getting to know them and understanding them,” he said. The radio station does rely on the support of advertisers to keep the business successful.

While Mark and others in the company are contemplating the future, they are also deeply rooted in the past. The station began as an a.m. station in 1948 and Mark beautifully tells the story of how the station has evolved since that time. The walls are covered in vintage WLOH advertising, awards and pictures. The 1963 a.m. transmitter that powered the station from 1963 to 1990, no longer operational, remains part of the décor.

Mark is complimentary of his staff and community and is clearly proud of the work they do in Fairfield, Hocking and Perry counties. “It’s a fun business and we love what we do,” Mark said. “I’m just grateful we’re able to do it.

Tune into the Wolf at 104.5 FM Lancaster, 99.3 FM Logan and 102.9 FM New Lexington. You can also listen to live streaming online or using their mobile app on your device. Visit them online for more. 

They also welcome new advertisers. Find advertising and contact information by clicking here.

 

 

Small Business Spotlight: Buff Lo Dip

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 Duane Boring to describe his product Buff Lo Dip and his eyes light up. “It has the taste of dipping buffalo chicken wings in ranch dressing, just minus the chicken,” he says with a smile.

DuaneGood served hot or cold, this locally made dip can be used on or with almost anything. In fact, he names a long list of items his customers use it on as a condiment including hamburgers, hot dogs, tacos, baked potatoes and sloppy joes to name a few. It’s also commonly used on pizza, as a dip for chips, chicken nuggets and vegetables. “People get pretty creative with it sometimes,” he said.

Buff Lo dip – and yes, that’s the spelling – buffalo without the ‘A’, was born out of necessity in Duane’s home kitchen. “Years ago, there was a fast food restaurant that offered a similar sauce for dipping their chicken nuggets. I loved that stuff and had it at least a couple of times a week but they discontinued it,” he explained.

Since no one was selling anything like it, he decided to make his own for dipping those fast food nuggets.  “No one was selling it so I got up one Saturday morning and started pulling things out of the cupboards. I started mixing things up and wrote down the measurements each time so I would remember how to repeat it. And you know something? What I came up with was better than what they had in the first place!”

When his family liked the product, he packaged up samples to take to church. “I went to church with bags of eight ounce sample cups for a couple of weeks and asked people to try it. After a while, people were meeting me at the door wanting more. They wanted it for all kinds of things. They were putting it on sandwiches, pizza, all kinds of things. I just made it for my chicken nuggets!”

jar.jpgWhen requests to purchase the dip started to come in, he knew he had something special. So he began the year and half long journey to start his business and to learn the legalities of producing, selling and distributing food.

When he rolled out his Buff Lo Dip at McArthur Super Valu on July 11, 2011, that first order of 234 jars sold out in two days.

Today he has his own kitchen facility and distributes in thirteen states, thanks to Rural King. But he has a stronghold in gas stations, local groceries and other stores throughout southeast Ohio, Cincinnati, Columbus, Kentucky and West Virginia.

The former insurance agent oversees all aspects of his family business including production, marketing and working with distributors. His company van now has over 300,000 miles on it as he crisscrosses the country introducing new audiences to Buff Lo Dip at expos, trade shows and events. From a chicken wing festival in Memphis to the Holiday Market in Cincinnati and hunting and fishing expos everywhere in between, it seems that Duane has left no rock unturned as he works to grow sales.

He credits the partnership with Rural King for helping the business grow into new markets including Florida, Tennessee, Alabama and Missouri. “It’s great when you’re working a show and you’re able to tell someone who just said they love your dip that they can buy it a Rural King in their own community,” he said.

They can also ship to anywhere in the United States.

However, Buff Lo Dip isn’t just about making money. He is all about giving back and offers a fundraising program for non-profits. One example of fundraising success is the work he does with Future Farmers of America (FFA).  “I like working with FFA and last year was our biggest fundraising year with them,” he said.

As he talks about the business, he shares a good bit of wisdom that can be applied, not just to business but to all aspects of life. “Listen to everyone’s advice and use some of it because everyone in the world will tell you what to do. You have to listen, decipher and take from it what will work for you.”

He has another sound piece of advice regarding getting what you want. “My son has asked how I keep getting into different stores. I tell him that I walk in with a jar of dip, a business card and a smile on my face. What do I have to lose by asking? If I don’t ask, the answer will always be no. Why not give it a shot? The worst that will happen is they’ll keep my sample jar and not order anything,” he said.

The Vinton County native said that his wife Trish and three kids Zac, Levi and Amanda have been supportive of the business and all have played different roles in making it successful. “It’s not a huge company. We’re not millionaires or anything like that but I like what I’m doing and that’s more important than making a lot of money at a job you hate.”

Find Buff Lo Dip in a store near you with their location finder or just visit their website to learn more about the company.

Like and follow them on Facebook or Pinterest.

 

 

 

 

 

Canal Banking Center To Host Realtor Class

Our Canal Banking Center hosts a continuing education classes for realtors every fall and it’s time for another one! Our next realtor CE class will be co-hosted with First American Title in Canal Winchester on September 17.

“Ethics: You Be the Judge” will feature speaker Sally Steining, an attorney for First American Title, and will meet the Ohio Ethics requirement for realtors.

This class will cover who can file an ethics complaint as well as the process for filing a complaint, including the new online form. The class will use a polling app so that attendees can use their cell phone or table to vote on answers to fact patterns for about twenty actual Ohio ethics complaints and the discipline used.

VP of Lending, Mortgage Loan Originator Chad Meadows co-hosts the event on behalf of VCNB. “I enjoy interacting with many of the realtors that have supported VCNB over the years and have been important referral sources for the bank. Additionally, it has become somewhat like a tradition every fall to get together at this event and many look forward to this time where important and timely topics are discussed by very seasoned and knowledgeable speakers,” Meadows said.

The class will be held at Kingy’s Pizza Pub from 12:30 to 3:30 p.m. Snacks and drinks will be provided during class and pizza after class.

RSVP to Josh Cecil at jcecil@firstam.com.

 

 

 

 

Small Business Spotlight: Tim’s Wood Shop

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!

Tim's wood shop exterior

Look around America’s small towns and it’s sometimes hard to find skilled craftsmen making quality goods. That’s why Jackson is fortunate to have Tim’s Wood Shop, a small business in the community for more than thirty years.

One key to success has been their ability to change with the times and with customer demand, according to owner Tim Crabtree. The Oak Hill native actually started the business as a furniture shop in 1977. Tim said it had long been his dream to make furniture professionally but soon realized that making a living in this field would be challenging in southern Ohio. At the same time, he saw a demand for high quality custom doors and wood trims so he left furniture making for this more secure business model in 1987.

Growing the business over time, Tim has earned a reputation for quality products and service.

But the business has continued to evolve in recent years as the demand for custom wood flooring has increased so much that it is now the focus of the business.  “There is a lot of competition but our niche is that we do have a quality product. It’s better than what you will find elsewhere,” he said.

Most of their flooring is made with rift quarter sawn white oak but he noted they are happy to make flooring from any Appalachian hardwood that they can acquire including red oak and walnut.

While engineered flooring now comprises about half of the wood flooring market, Tim said there are different advantages and disadvantages to both engineered and hardwood flooring. For example, the price of flooring found in big box stores is lower but the veneer is often easily ruined by moisture. On the other hand, hardwood floors can be repeatedly repaired with sanding and refinishing. “What we do is more durable, the millwork is better and honestly, it’s a better long term investment,” he said.

The business is a family affair with help from Tim’s brother as well as Tim’s wife Lois who helps run the shop. An experienced woodworker in her own right, Lois helps with creating the chevron and herringbone floors. She said that most customers choose traditional plank flooring but there is a good market for these specialty floors.

flooringShe also explained that they offer two grades of wood – “Select grade” which typically is without flaws and has consistent color as well as “Character grade” which may have knots, variation in color and other small flaws. “It just depends on your taste and what you’re looking for,” she said, explaining that most customers choose the better grade while some still prefer the character that comes with flaws.

They sell their products locally as well as to distributors across Ohio and in other states.

In addition to themselves, Tim’s Wood Shop currently employs six people but they are looking for workers who have experience as well as those who are interested in learning. “We’re as busy as we’ve ever been so we do need help,” he said.  “We’re better than a big company on quality and sometimes we’re even more efficient but we do need good workers to make that work.”

Tim said they are always looking for ways to improve efficiency. One way they have done this is by transforming sawdust into firewood. The sawdust is turned into two pound bricks that are pure wood. Virtually ash free and creosote free, they have no additives or bugs and are a popular firewood source in the area. It sells for $175 a ton. Tim credits the Jackson County Economic Development Partnership for a $20,000 grant that helped fund the $92,000 machine used to create this product.

Tim’s Wood Shop is located on Athens Street, near Osco in Jackson. The large blue building has served many purposes over the years and was once a King Edward Cigar factory. Look closely at one side of the building to see a King Edward ad.

Want to know more? Tim’s Wood Shop is located at 117 Athens Street and is open 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. Click here to visit their website or call 740.286.4535.

Spotlight: Ohio’s Small Town Museum

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When Charlie Morrison was a boy, he wanted to own a museum. So it should come as no surprise that he has championed Ohio’s Small Town Museum since it began down the street as just some shelves in his family-owned grocery store. “I graduated from the school here and didn’t know a thing about my own town,” he said. “People need to know about where they’re from.”

67416041_1451872351618262_3329583880515616768_nToday, the 88-year-old still works most days at the museum he co-founded along with friend Bob Hines and a host of volunteers. Established in 1975, the museum is run by the Ashville Area Heritage Society and a group of volunteers who pitch in to help wherever needed – cleaning, giving tours, curating artifacts and simply keeping the museum ready for visitors.

The museum occupies the corner of Long and Wright streets in buildings that once were the post office and Dreamland Theater which once showed silent movies. It’s packed with photos, artifacts and memorabilia from Ashville and other small towns in the area.

A museum tour with Charlie is a treat for a history buff as he shares stories and personal experiences that give life to the items that line the museum’s cases and walls. In fact, point to an artifact and wait for Charlie to pull from his personal experiences and tell a story.

The old dairy? He’ll tell you about washing bottles there for fifty cents a day and about the horse drawn wagon used to deliver quart bottles of milk to houses up and down Ashville’s streets. “That horse knew the route better than any of us,” he exclaimed.

Charlie was there to assist in digging items like old class photos and a classroom clock from the trash when Ashville High School closed – ask and he’ll show you his and his wife’s senior portraits on graduating class composite photos that were destined for the dump.

cab companytheater seatsHe can tell you about the technology used to test a driverless car on Ashville’s streets in 1969 and about the tinkerer who invented the world’s first traffic light. Charlie’s enthusiasm for the history of his community is contagious as he muses about the stories preserved as well as the ones that have been lost to time.

His expertise on the town was gathered over a lifetime. Born here, he graduated from Ashville High School and took over the family grocery store in the 1950s. He and wife Mona will soon celebrate 69 years of wedded bliss, living in just one place – the home he built for them his senior year of high school. He’s a former town mayor and councilman and the locals call him Mr. Ashville.

That’s why, even though many have worked to make the museum successful, it’s difficult to separate the museum’s story from Charlie’s own story. Luckily, the museum has an arsenal of fascinating things to say on its own.

The prized item here is the world’s first traffic light which was invented by an Ashville man named Teddy Boor. A prolific inventor, Boor used common household items to create a traffic light that looks like something from the Jetsons. It operated continuously from installation in the thirties until 1982 when it was given a permanent home in the museum. Here, it continues to operate and delight museum visitors.

There’s a collection of books by Ashville authors, military memorabilia, antique toys and a display dedicated to James Reeves Hulse V – the only Munchkin in the Wizard of Oz who hailed from Ohio. The Pickaway County man was born March 16, 1915 and, at the height of 4 feet, 6 inches, was ideal to play the part of a Munchkin villager in the 1939 classic.

The last edition of The Pickaway County News, printed July 31, 1969, rests atop an old newspaper proof machine. An entire section is dedicated to longtime Ashville physician Dr. Ralph Hosler while a sign for the Ashville Cab Company occupies a small but prominent spot beneath an antique telephone. Offering 24-hour service, they requested that customers “Call us for pickup and delivery service” at YU 3-2501.

Museum guides will even tell you the story of Buster, the dog who voted for Herbert Hoover in 1928, and of Chic-Chic, the pet chicken who bought his own lunch at a local restaurant for years. Chic-Chic was the pet of Mrs. A.B. Cooper. Every day, Mrs. Cooper would drop a dime on the kitchen floor and say “Chic-Chic, go down to Clyde Brinkers’ and get yourself something to eat.” The chicken would pick up the dime with his beak, and walk to Clyde Brinkers’ restaurant on Ashville’s Long Street where he dropped the dime down on the step. Then he would peck on the door and wait to be fed. Locals still called him the King of Ashville at the time of his death in the 1950s.

67352699_2085485081757304_3404277265918328832_nThere literally is a treasure or charming story in every nook and cranny of the museum and new items are added all the time. One local resident dropped off a vintage camera while we were visiting and someone else had donated a box of pictures from an attic a few days earlier. “When we were getting this started, I think we were in every home and every attic in Ashville looking for things,” Charlie exclaimed with a laugh. “Attics are the best because people put stuff up there and forget about it. Unlike a basement which is always damp, the attic stays dry and the items are preserved.”

Charlie laments how little people know about their own communities – not just in the past but today as well – as modern people prefer television and iPhones to sitting on the porch and visiting; internet shopping over supporting a small business; and driving out of town for entertainment over letting their kids ride bicycles and play with their neighbors.

Yet he recognizes that times have changed and that this is just a natural part of life.  “I just want kids and people in this community to know where they came from, to know about their towns whether it’s Ashville or South Bloomfield or some little town that people have forgotten about,” he said. “I like telling about the little town of Ashville and all the crazy things that have went on here over the years.”

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Ohio’s Small Town Museum is located at 34 Long Street in Ashville. Call them at 740.983.9864, follow them on Facebook or visit their website. The museum is open Tuesday through Friday 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and Saturday 9 a.m. to noon. Admission is free but donations are welcomed.

Want to help? They are always looking for Ashville area people to volunteer. You can also join the Ashville Area Heritage Society – rates start at $10 a year for senior citizens and $20 for individuals. Families, organizations and small businesses are $25 a year and large businesses are $200.

Small Business Spotlight: Raccoon Creek Outfitters

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!

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Small business owners tend to be passionate about their work. Even so, it’s hard to match the enthusiasm and pure joy of Bobbi Hoy when she talks about Raccoon Creek Outfitters, the Vinton County business she and husband Dustin started together.

What began as a dream is now in its third season and growing every year. “People thought we were crazy when we opened. We started in April 2017 with 28 canoes and eighteen kayaks. Now, we’re in our third season and have 106 boats. There are times we have them all out on the water at once,” Bobbi said. “It’s amazing how much we’ve grown.”

2.jpgRaccoon Creek Outfitters does it all.  They offer kayak and canoe rentals, a store and campground. They even offer their grounds for event rental.

The livery offers canoe and kayak rentals for five and seven mile routes, giving customers everything they need for a leisurely trip down the Raccoon. “This is a good creek to start on. It’s not fast moving water so you can go at your own pace,” she said. “One thing that makes it a little different is that we left the tree tops. That means it’s not just a lazy river. You have to paddle, to steer, and that makes a more enjoyable experience.”

All skill levels are welcome at Raccoon Creek Outfitters but they are pleased to introduce their passion to the beginner. “It’s ok if you’ve never even held a paddle before. We’ll take you out to the landing, show you some techniques and let you practice before we send you out,” she said.

3With 34 acres situated along the peaceful shores of Raccoon Creek in eastern Vinton County, it’s an ideal place to camp. Primitive campsites are available along the creek banks while RV sites with electric hookup are available as well.

A shelter house and large kitchen are available to rent for events such as reunions, parties and festivals.

Plus, the store offers a large variety of Bonafide and NuCanoe kayaks, life jackets, fishing gear and other supplies. They also sell Bending Branches Paddles, Yak Attack gear, Anchor Wizard anchoring systems and Venom Lures.

But the Raccoon Creek story isn’t really about the boats and other tangibles the business offers. It’s actually about the people and the exploration of the natural world they encourage here.  “We say that you may come here as a stranger but you will leave as family because if you’re a friend of ours, you are family,” Bobbi explained.

Their sense of friendship and family extends to their team as well. “We don’t have employees or staff. We are a team here and everyone is valuable to the team,” she said. “My husband and I always had jobs where we worked for someone else so we know how important it is to feel valued. That’s why everyone has a say and that’s part of the reason everyone loves coming to work.”

boat 1.jpgDustin Hoy worked for and managed another canoe livery for several years, learning the ropes in hopes of someday pursuing his dream to own his own livery. “Dustin is the backbone. He’s knowledgeable in every aspect of the boats and, if he doesn’t know it, he’ll learn. It’s his passion, his dream, and I’m lucky enough to be living it with him,” she said with a smile.

It is a family affair as Bobbi’s brother manages the business while her two kids help out as well. “Family is everything to us and we are proud to have our family working with us and cheering us on,” she said. “We wouldn’t be here if not for Dustin’s mom (Arretha Hoy) who helped us get this place and for so many others who have helped us along the way. If it wasn’t for them we wouldn’t be here.”

She also credits those who help to promote the business every chance they get. For example, her sister Adeanna Chandler was the first customer they put on the water and one of their biggest fans. “She has a stack of business cards and she gives them to everyone she sees. She advocates for us in so many ways and my appreciation for her is big to say the least. My parents Dean and Carol Chandler, also tell everyone about us. It means the world when people have your back!”

The Raccoon Creek Outfitters team consists of Mark Chandler, Rose Chandler, Cecilia Chandler, Bret Chumley, Brett Coleman, Justin Turner, Clinton Lester, Tessa Hoy, Alina Hoy, Okey Fitzwater and Arretha Hoy. They also credit their Pro Staff Team of Matt Davis, Reed Carpenter, Michael Jennings and John Shef.

When talking about the people who have made a difference, she mentioned several customers who have supported the company from the beginning including one family from Canada that comes every year as well as locals who come as often as they can.

“We are truly blessed. Life is so short, you have to learn to appreciate the little things and the wonderful people who surround you. Blessings come in all forms and we are overwhelmingly blessed,” she said.

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The company makes an effort to go the extra mile and to give back for all the good fortune they have enjoyed. From serving breakfast to campers every morning to free movie nights to helping out with community events, Bobbi said that her team enjoys staying busy and being involved.

They also offer a number of discounts including a ten percent discount for paddling their vessels to current military, veterans, nurses, law enforcement officers, EMTs, firefighters and teachers. Discount rates are available for 4-H clubs and large groups too.

Free Movie Friday is open to the public. Movies are family friendly and usually start around 9 p.m. every Friday from Memorial Day to Labor Day, weather dependent. Both visitors and the community are welcome to bring a chair and snack to enjoy this free event.

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Conveniently located near Lake Hope State Park, Uncle Buck’s Riding Stable and Dance Barn and the Moonville Tunnel, the staff encourages customers to take advantage of other activities in the area. It’s also just a short drive to the Hocking Hills State Park and to Ohio University in nearby Athens. “Whatever people are doing, we just want to help them get outside and to enjoy nature,” she explained.

Visitors will hear countless species of birds as well as frogs, whippoorwill and the gentle splash of an occasional fish jumping in the water. “There’s nothing like floating. I love being on the water. It’s so peaceful to hear the birds and the wind in the trees and to just become one with the water. I sound like such a hippie,” she exclaimed.

Visit their website or follow them on Facebook to keep up with upcoming events like Capsize Cancer and many others.

 

 

 

Small Business Spotlight: Jack Pine 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!

multi color pumpkin group

Jack Pine’s signature piece is the pumpkin which he, and artists he trains, create in all shapes, colors and sizes.

When Jack Pine was a young man, he set out on a cross country road trip in search of adventure.  He landed in Seattle with $200 in his pocket and a pet ferret at his side – only to find that the real adventure had just begun.  Today, the renowned glass blower is honing his artistry in the Hocking Hills, bringing his life story full circle just a few miles from where it began.

Today, Jack Pine is known for his blown glass pumpkins and other delectable pieces of finely crafted art but his roots are quite humble. His studio sits off the St. Rt. 180, on a wooded lot close to Rock House, one of the Hocking Hills State Park’s most popular destinations. Here Jack and artists he trains create glass art that is sold and shipped nationwide. Visitors are welcome to stop by for a glass blowing demonstration or to shop in the retail store.

The artist is a self-described country boy whose roots run deep in Hocking County. He described growing up in Tarlton as one of the best things that could happen to him. “I wouldn’t trade my childhood in Tarlton for anything,” he said while describing small town life with his two pet ducks, a town full of people he knew and parents who brought art into his life.

Both parents were artists in their own right – his dad was a DuPont factory worker who engaged in artistic pursuits including inventing while his mother was a talented painter and sculptor.

The 1983 Logan Elm High School graduate describes himself as a quiet, creative kid who was sometimes a target for bullies. A scholarship to the Columbus College of Art and Design offered opportunity to follow his lifelong passion for art but he still lacked funds to pay for his full education. So he did a stint in the Army which he calls “life changing.”

“The Army equalizes everyone. It strips away your previous identify and makes you all the same. For me, that pulled me up,” he said. “I had always been quiet and reserved so it brought me out of my shell.”

He came home to college after being stationed in Germany for a couple of years. “I didn’t actually graduate. I ran out of money for school and I wanted an adventure.”

His destination was Seattle where the art scene was like mecca for glass thanks to artists like Dale Chihuly who co-founded the nearby Pilchuck Glass School.  So he pointed his Ford Escort west, car camping and visiting an aunt in Colorado along the way. The stories of this meandering journey past the Grand Canyon and up the west coast are captivating as are his stories of breaking into the glass scene.

He was actually homeless for a short time before taking a job in a grungy store that “sold gas, sandwiches and not much else.”  Here Jack became friendly with a customer who took an interest in the young and connected him with a glass blower who needed help. Jack fudged his way through an interview to become an apprentice at Mt. St. Helens Glassworks which used ash from the eruption of Mt. St. Helens to create hand blown pieces like kerosene lamps. “They quickly figured out that I had no idea what I was doing,” he laughed. “But they could see I was hungry to learn and agreed to teach me. I was super enthusiastic to learn.”

While he had no trained experience in glass blowing, he has long been fascinated with fire. In fact, he recalls childhood campfires where he enjoyed watching glass bottles thrown in the fire transform in the heat. “I’m a bit of a pyro,” he exclaimed.

Jack’s career has taken many twists and turns since those early days at Mt. St. Helens. Most notably, he landed at a studio in Boulder, Colorado where he began to fine tune and experiment with his craft. “I don’t mind making the same piece all day every day. That’s how you learn to finesse the materials and I love that. I love the constant state of learning,” he said.

It was here that a friend asked him to create a glass pumpkin, an innocent request turned life changing opportunity. “I made a pumpkin with a glass stem and realized I could sell them at the Pumpkin Show.”

pumpkin collectinHe arranged with his employer to use their workspace in his down time to create a trailer full of pumpkins he could haul home to the Pumpkin Show. “It was a gamble but I sold every last piece and knew I had something,” he said. He returned home to Colorado and began preparing for next year’s festival, beginning a tradition that has continued ever since.

For a period in the nineties, Jack took on a couple of different business partners, learning more about the business side of the art world. “I really don’t like that side of what I do,” he frowned while discussing problems he encountered as an artist partnering with investors.

He eventually came home to Ohio, setting up shop in a warehouse in the Short North Arts District of Columbus. He also began traveling the country, doing shows and developing a wholesale business that allows art lovers to find his work in stores like museum gift shops across the country.

While he was happy to be back in Ohio, Jack still longed to come home to the country. “I’m a country boy at heart,” he said. “I spent most of my childhood outdoors so I really don’t belong in the city.” When he located the property that is now his studio, he could see potential to do great things. “I’ve spent my life telling people about the beauty of the Hocking Hills. To be able to come home and create an attraction in an area that I love is a dream come true,” he said.

The studio, opened in December 2017, is about a mile and a half from Rock House and six miles from Laurelville. Most of their visitors seem to be tourists seeking adventure or maybe just some R&R while in the Hocking Hills. However, he invites locals to stop by as well. They do daily demonstrations for guests and a retail shop is available to purchase pieces as well.

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They also offer introductory workshops where students can learn the basics of glass blowing and make a piece with the aid of a master craftsman.  Plans are underway to make improvements to the property and for the creation of a school where budding artists can learn or improve their glass blowing skills.

Jack likes giving back to the community too. Last year they hosted a Summer Solstice Festival where proceeds benefits Sparrow House in South Perry. They plan to host the event again this year and to gift the proceeds to the Laurelville Fire Department. It will feature live music, food, kids’ activities and artists selling their work.

Visit Jack Pine Studio at 21397 Ohio 180, Laurelville or call 740.332.2223. Click here to visit them online  or on Facebook. Want to know more about the Summer Solstice Festival? They will post information on their Facebook page closer to event time!

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!

 

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.

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.