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.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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!

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.”

 

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.

 

Supporting Community By Investing In Ourselves

Artists Renderings of the new Pickaway County Banking Center in Ashville

 

Last month we told you a little about our core values – the things we value most and that make us who we are. We talked specifically about how we value community and the things we do to support our communities through volunteerism, donations and encouraging our employees to get involved.

Another way that we support our communities is through investing in ourselves. That sounds a bit self-serving but we believe in taking care of our buildings and putting our best foot forward whenever possible. A well cared for branch that operates efficiently is an investment in the community as well as in ourselves.

That’s part of the reason we have been undergoing upgrades at some of branches for the last several months. Last year we updated the storefront of our Circleville location and we’re putting the finishing touches on work at our Grove City branch while renovation projects are in full swing at our Laurelville and Lancaster West Fair locations. We recently finished demolition and clean-up of our Ashville building to make way for a brand new facility.

Plans are in the pipeline for improvements at other branches in the coming years.

Supporting the community means being good neighbors and we hope you’ll be happy with the results as we modernize and improve our locations in the coming months and years. The next time you’re in one of the branches under construction, be sure to ask the staff about the plans and have a look at the artist’s renderings of the new work!

Renovation Underway at Salt Creek Banking Center

VCBC SCBC Laurelville Exterior Render Elevation 073118VCBC SCBC Laurelville Render Elevation RED 073118We have started construction on a full renovation project at our Salt Creek Banking Center in Laurelville. This is now the third branch in a multi-year plan to renovate or replace all of our seventeen offices.

We are pretty fired up about the work we have planned here. In fact, when we saw the architect’s renderings of this office we all said a collective “Oh, wow!”

This renovation will usher into Laurelville a new era of banking that will empower most of our retail staff to help customers with all their needs and will create an atmosphere that is both personal and easy for customers to bank.

The work will begin with an exterior renovation that will include widening the front steps and making them easier to climb. The front door will be replaced with one that is wider and easier to open.

Inside, the interior will be remodeled to open the floor plan and add glass storefronts to three office spaces. Lower ceilings and new paint, carpet and lighting will create a light, bright and airy space to do business. A new history wall will spotlight the town’s heritage. Plus digital signage and iPads will provide customers with a more modern, hands-on banking experience.

During construction, temporary teller stations will be set up at the rear of the building and all customers will be asked to use the rear ADA entrance. Our Laurelville customers have been loyal for many, many years and we look forward to giving them a better place to bank.