In this brief clip, Andy Gathy, current owner of Heights Hardware, talks about his father and how he came to acquire Heights Hardware. He talks about how they used to offer a sleugh of services, and are thinking about going back to them. He mentions the benefits of joining ACE Hardware as an affiliate. He also talks about how Heights Hardware used to offer a sleugh of services, including plumbing and electrical work. He concludes with a discussion of three men and how they are part of the Heights Hardware family.
Andy Gathy [00:00:01] Okay. So a little a little other note about the history I mentioned Oscar Elton, and he was, he was a cousin of one of our family. And my father came actually he's, he's from Hungary and he came to this country. He left Hungary in '56 and ended up here finally in '62 after, you know, traveling around a little bit. And, you know, he got in the construction trades and home, home improvement area, I guess you call it. And, you know, when he came to this country, Oscar's family, he basically was his, you know, closest family. So they, they helped him out quite a bit as far as getting to this country. And when he was here, you know, they were a great support for him, helped him get on his feet. And so eventually, you know, my dad got on his feet and, you know, he had his own construction company. And, and Oscar, you know, Oscar sold it to a cousin, Carl. And eventually when Carl decided he wanted to sell the store, my, you know, my dad was actually a customer here. You know, since he was in the trades. He, you know, he decided that, hey, this, you know, it's a good idea. And basically, that's how our, you know, my my direct family got into the business. You know, from my father working in the trades and deciding, you know, it would be a good idea to, to buy the store. And then, you know, it, you know, the store used to [when my] father first purchased the store, we used to do a lot of service still. We, we used to have a full, full-time plumber, electrician. He used to have a crew of people that did home remodeling. You know, we don't really offer that services and those services anymore. Like I mentioned, it's just it's a different world now. And it's hard to find. You know, it's it's hard to find people to do that for you. You know, it just it's just different now. But, yeah, one time, you know, we were full, full service. You know, we used to install hot water tanks and, you know, come out and rewire your house. And if you need a kitchen remodel, you know, what are. You name it, we did it here. You know, maybe, maybe one day we'll get back into that. We'll see.
Mark Souther [00:02:26] One last question I thought of too is when the affiliation with Ace Hardware started or if that goes way back?
Andy Gathy [00:02:27] Yeah, Ace Hardware. When my, when my father purchased the store, I believe we were still purchasing from a, from a company called George Worthington and it just it made business sense. Without, without getting too much into it. My father, you know, people from Ace started coming around and asking if he'd be interested in joining Ace. And, and it made financial sense to, to switch, you know, he kind of saw, saw into the future and decided that Ace was probably the right way to go. And lo and behold, here we are. We're still in Ace. Ace is still the number one dealer-owned co-op for, for the hardware store industry. So, you know, Ace gives us buying power and, you know, we're able to pass on [our] lower costs on to our customers. And I think that's part of the reason that [we're] still here today. There's not many more. There's not many small independents left around. So it was back in, I believe it was back in '81. '80 or '81 that he switched over to Ace.
Mark Souther [00:03:38] Okay, thank you.
Andy Gathy [00:03:39] So, you know, it's kind of funny because I mentioned that, you know, we used to be full service as far as plumbing, electrical and all that. And, you know, it's interesting that we still have a fellow named Brian, Brian DeWit working here. [He's] more of a part-timer. You know, he works on Sundays and he's our electrical wizard. And he, you know, he fills in for us when we need him, hopefully if, you know, if need be if we're, you know, he'll work whenever we need him. He's still around. And he was actually here. He came with the hardware store when my dad bought it. He, he's very knowledgeable about everything Cleveland heights, old houses, plumbing, electrical, just he's probably been in, in, you know, 50 percent of the houses here. He's done so much work. And then also a fellow named Norman Long, who he was our resident plumber here, he's, he's not really doing any anything for us anymore. He's, but he's still part of the family here. It's kind of funny, you know, I was just looking at the timesheet here and, you know, Norman's still on there. Well, Brian's still on there because he's still working here part-time. And then, you know, Oscar is still on the timesheet, even though he's passed now maybe eight, ten years ago. It's just one of those things that's part of the store. And, you know, it's always going to be here, so.
Mark Souther [00:04:56] Thank you very much.
Initial interviews in this series were conducted between 2011 and 2013 at the Coventry Village Reunion in support of Historic Heights App Tours, a Cuyahoga Arts & Culture-funded grant project sponsored by FutureHeights, Cleveland Heights Historical Society, and Cleveland Heights Landmark Commission. Additional interviews were collected in 2018 in coordination with the Cleveland Voices podcast.