As our community ages, younger business owners in the area are taking on more leadership roles.
For many, the global pandemic disrupted workers and motivated older company staff to retire. Since Waynedale has a great amount of legacy, family owned and landmark businesses, keeping our beloved local businesses going is important.
One such owner is Nick Brown, who assumed ownership of Rich’s Auto Center recently. Brown, who is only 40 years old, started with the company in 2005, working his way up from Master Mechanic to owner.
“Rich and Cindy (previous owners) were looking to sell the business, and I happen to be the perfect candidate,” Brown said proudly.
Brown said he hasn’t changed much since assuming leadership. “Everything’s pretty much the same. We’ve updated the computers and some of our policies.”
But the core tenets of the company, located at 2135 Sandpoint Road, remain steadfast, he explained.
“We still hold the values that Rich’s has always had,” Brown said, “Quality, integrity, and helping the community.”
He added that his staff has been a tremendous help in the transition. “We have a good team that helped me out a lot,” he said. “I got a lot of help to get things done.”
At present, Brown commands a staff of 10 – five service technicians, two service advisors, an office manager, and even his father, Larry, who runs the shuttle service to get customers back and forth while their vehicles are being serviced.
And Brown has kept one of the shop’s most popular traditions alive, as well. Each year, the business holds the famed fundraiser celebration for the local pet food pantry, Charlie’s Birthday. Charlie being the adorable dog owned by the former owners, who often hung out in the shop waiting room, keeping customers company while they waited for their cars to be finished.
These days, Brown’s dogs are seen at the shop more than Charlie, though. “I bring Tucker and Shadow in to work with me,” he said. “Tucker is a good lobby dog.”
As for the future? Brown would like to expand his staff and possibly his shop.
“We’d really like to expand and add more employees. And it would be great to add onto our building, as well.”
Another Waynedale shop now run by a younger manager is Hill’s Market at 3203 Lower Huntington Road.
Bryce Hill has taken over the store, after having labored there nearly his entire life.
Hill’s great grandfather, Lee, founded the store in 1940, and the store’s control has been handed down through the generations since then. The market constructed a new building in 2016.
Bryce Hill, who is only 31 years old now, started working at the store as a teenager, doing everything from working the counter, to sweeping the floors, to breaking down boxes. “I’ve been on the payroll since I was a little boy,” Hill noted with a chuckle.
Hill noted one of the major challenges of being a younger businessperson is getting the respect of others in the business community.
“People see young, and think they don’t have to pay attention,” he said. “Whenever my father calls instead of me, things tend to get done a lot quicker.”
Hill noted the best way to earn that trust and respect is to show up everyday and do a good job running his business, which has a staff of about 20 people.
“I think the managers understand what needs to be done, and we take care of them too. And I’ve known them for so long. I feel like I’m putting my time in and I think they see that and respect it. If I just keep doing that – putting the time in and working hard, then the proof is in the pudding.”
Regardless, Hill believes the time for a younger generation of business folks may be now, as younger owners may be more willing to gamble and be more adventurous.
“The tradition is for people to turn the business over to their children,” said Hill, who insisted his title be listed as “Butcher.”
“But younger people are more willing to take risks, as opposed to older folks who are more set in their ways. But we young people are definitely out there,” said Hill.