Locals remember area businesses


By Susie Spitler

For the Weekly Record Herald

WEST MILTON — The last of the spring Milton Memories took place June 9 and covered additional West Milton Businesses.

Shipman, Dixon and Livingston

Robert Johnston graduated from M-U in 1971 and passed the bar exam in the fall of 1978. Since 1994 he has been a senior partner in the law firm of Shipman, Dixon and Livingston. In 1982 he took over the practice of Kay Wagner at the present location at 316 S. Miami St. She eventually became a Miami County Judge.

The building was built on the former site of the Mast Lightening Rod Co. by John Queen. He had his Royal Coin shop in one half and lived in the other half. In 1988 the firm took over the building, sharing it with the Marshall Dillon Insurance Agency and now Lifestyle Realty. Circa 1985 partner Chuck Sell became the Law Director for West Milton, also serving Laura and Potsdam.

A member of their firm has served as Law Director for the City of Troy for forty-three years. Their firm provided prosecutors in Municipal Court for 23,000 cases last year. Robert’s son, Andrew, joined the firm four years ago. The firm bought Winifred Martindale’s firm upon his death and Allen Wagner’s firm upon his retirement.

Until recently, for a number of years they were the only law firm in West Milton.

Law Science Technology

Larry Dehus established his business, Law Science Technology in 1981, located at 326 S. Miami St. It combines science, law, the civil justice system and forensic science.

After obtaining his Master’s in biological chemistry from Wright State he worked for the Miami Valley Regional Crime Lab. He was there for ten years, working up to being their lead forensic scientist. They dealt with criminal cases and he saw the need for scientific investigation in civil law. For a couple of years he worked out of his home on Jay St. When he purchased the house where he is presently located it was a residence and a jewelry business.

They do research for Ohio as well as around the world. They do accident reconstruction and fire origination and cause. His son, Ben, has joined the business doing roof inspections and moisture cause and origin.

Administrative Assistant Kathy Hile has been with them since 1984.

Really Cool Stuff

Karen Callahan owns Really Cool Stuff at 5 N. Miami St. They carry a large variety of consignment items by more than forty local artists including jewelry, pottery, fiber art, paintings, handcrafted furniture as well as items from around the world. Stillwater Emporium was at this location but when St. Rt. 48 was closed for three months it closed.

Karen and Vicki Hathaway were making jewelry and decided to jump into their own business, even though they both had full time jobs. They renovated the interior and opened in Dec. 2005. When Vicki decided to withdraw Karen made the difficult decision to continue on her own. She is now retired and the store is her full time job. Her husband has been very supportive and is now a partner and makes much of the furniture and wood items. Many of the consignment people also help out.

They are now doing Internet sales and have a branch store in the Loft Theater in downtown Dayton.

The building opened in 1908 as a bank and, among other things, has been a restaurant and a barber shop.

Rudy’s Incorporated

Brian Rudy is the fifth generation to be involved in Rudy’s Incorporated. Samuel James Rudy started the business in 1904 as S. J. Rudy & Sons. Don Faulkner built the original buildings at Jay and Hayes in 1960.

The Rudy Family purchased the business from Don in the summer of 1985. In 1989 Bill Rudy was manager and added a drive through, Country Express, to meet the needs of farmers and pet and home owners.

In 1998 they decided to deal in grain only and in 2009 moved their corporate offices to Covington. In the summer of 2014 they began an operations project and brought in a crane that was 158 feet tall with a 170 foot long boom. This tripled their intake capacity as well as easing the harvest congestion at Hayes and Jay.

Their business is steeped in tradition, they are happy to be here, and feel customer loyalty is why they are still here.

Coate Concrete Products

Craig Coate talked about Coate Concrete Products, started in 1925 by Cecil Coate and his three sons.

They sold burial vaults in Ohio and Kentucky, which was slow during the depression due to lack of supplies. In the 1950’s they added septic tanks, and had another sluggish time in the ’80s due to the slow economy and drop in home building. Now a good bit of their business is due to ever increasing government regulations. He explained what and why about a number of those.

They are moving forward and a fourth generation of Coates are now on board.

Hamler-Gingrich Insurance Agency

Mark Hamler is now partnered with Matt Gingrich in the Hamler-Gingrich Insurance Agency at 102 N. Miami. It was started in 1927 by George Whitfield at 13 N. Miami, followed by Bob Krause in 1940 then Tom Hamler in 1958. In 1960 they moved to 21 N. Miami and in 1968 Russ Dillon joined the agency.

In 1988 they purchased the Monroe Federal Savings & Loan Building at 102 N. Miami. At that time it housed Bill Williams’ interior design business.

Matt joined the agency in 2005. Mark’s son Kurt has now joined the agency making it a third generation business. Two years ago they purchased the Favorite Ins. Agency at 115 Tippecanoe Dr. in Tipp City.

Mark is a M-U grad who received his business education in the New York City area. He was very happy and proud to come home to be a part of the West Milton business community.

Brickhouse Café

Jordon Siler represented Jolene Sell, owner of the Brickhouse Café at 2 N. Miami St.

The building previously housed the West Milton Record beginning in 1902. Mary Gordon held various positions there from 1929-1965. Kay Wertz remembers delivering the Record for five cents an hour.

Jolene is a M-U grad. She and her husband, Chuck Sell, had purchased The Willow Tree Inn, a local bed and breakfast. Jolene began a catering service and was looking for a place to house a kitchen that would meet the necessary requirements. The building had been refurbished and housed Java Mama’s. When that closed Jolene took advantage of the opportunity to open her own restaurant.

They can seat up to 42 people. They provide a varied menu including homemade sandwiches and desserts. She has seven employees. They know their regulars by name, some of whom get their own coffee. They provide curb service to some regulars when it is necessary. During a very bad winter storm Jolene told her staff to not come in as they would not be busy. It turns out they were very busy, so everyone got busy and prepared their own food. It truly is a hometown place to be.

Kroplin’s Jewelers

Mark Kroplin is a M-U grad and owner of Kroplin’s Jewelers at 24 N. Miami St. His dad, Jim, was influenced by a cousin in the jewelry business and attended a watchmakers college.

Jim spent four years in the Air Force, living and doing side jobs out of a trailer at the same time. When he left the military he worked for Rike’s and in Troy and Greenville, while searching for store space. Windy Fleming’s Watch Shop in Milton became available so he worked there from 1950-1957.

He moved to North and N. Miami Streets for three years, having a small corner, two cases and a watch bench. He wanted to move to “center city”, eventually renting the present building from 1950-1968, when it came on the market. He bought it and moved into the south side, the Pearson House moved into the north side, and there are apartments upstairs. The building has been a hotel and housed a dress shop, among other things.

Mark earned a college degree in business and checked around with area jewelers. All encouraged him to join his dad in the business. He became certified as a diamond cutter and earned his Masters in Business. In 1984 he purchased the business and the building. They are a full service store doing watch and clock repair, jewelry engraving and carry a variety of jewelry andgift items.

A few other comments and memories discussed:

• July 9 the Brickhouse will begin serving dinner and will have a full service bar

• Bob Johnston remembers being on the Coate Bros. baseball team with Coate Septic Systems printed on the back of their shirts

• Miller’s Dept. Store had the first TV downtown, he would put the set in the window and 10-20 men would stand outside to watch the boxing matches

• there were three auto dealerships in town

To hear many more stories and details watch the complete session on the local access station, watch on You Tube, purchase a DVD or borrow one from the M-U Library. For further information all Barb at 937-698-6559.