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TAKE O N E FR E E

All

In the

Family

A Special Section of the SULLIVAN COUNTY DEMOCRAT Family-owned and operated since 1891 • Calllicoon, NY • Section F • January 24, 2017

the cornerstone of our economy


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ALL IN THE FAMILY

SULLIVAN COUNTY DEMOCRAT

JANUARY 24, 2017

schmidts wholesale: there’s a good reason you know this family trical and waterworks supplies. “We cover pretty much from Scranton, Pa. to Danbury, Ct., and from Binghamton to Yonkers,” affirms Chris Schmidt, Gary’s son and Schmidt’s president. Thanks to brand partnerships, Schmidt’s has exclusive rights to sell various supplies, and Chris’ team has worked hard to expand those territories. While Gary can still be found at Schmidt’s virtually every day and remains board chairman/corporate treasurer, he’s handed operational responsibility over to his son. They also run Catskill Property Management together, owning various residential and commercial

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industrial distribution, returning to the family business with an even deeper understanding of how to make it succeed. “It’s really what I wanted to do all along,” he nods. And it satisfied him in a way nothing else could. “When you work for yourself, you’re a little bit more in control of your financial destiny,” Gary explains, adding that “there are many days you go home and think about the challenges you faced and how you conquered them – and that’s rewarding!” After Fred’s death, Gary assumed full ownership, and Schmidt’s became a regional name in plumbing, heating, air-conditioning, elec-

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lessed with both a prime location and loyal staff, the Schmidt family has spent 63 years making Schmidt’s Wholesale a household name. Indeed, you can literally build a household from the thousands of parts and equipment the company keeps on hand at its Monticello warehouse. A few years before Route 17’s Exit 104 sprung up along Schmidt’s northern wall, Fred Schmidt bought this spot next to the old Mapes Farm. “There was no Quickway behind us and just a cow pasture to the left,” Fred’s son Gary recalls.

It was 1954, and Fred had amicably parted ways with Harry Sargeant, with whom he’d partnered in a plumbing business after serving as a World War II Navy flight instructor. “My father grew up in the wholesale supply business,” says Gary, and it was that experience which led him to open Schmidt’s Wholesale. “He was an entrepreneurial type of guy.” Fred’s wife Dorothy worked alongside him, and Gary learned much about the industry just by listening to his parents talk at the dinner table. “When I was 14, I started working every summer and school vacation here,” he remembers. Gary headed off to Clarkson University to earn his bachelor’s in

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STORY BY DAN HUST


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CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Gary, Chris and Lisa Schmidt are the family trio behind Schmidt’s Wholesale and Schmidt’s Rentals – Monticello businesses which have become indispensable to contractors, tradesmen and residents for many miles around.

properties in Sullivan and Orange counties. “Chris and I have the same sort of relationship I had with my father, and he does an excellent job,” notes Gary. “I was born into it,” says Chris. “I started working here when I was 12. My father handed me a broom, and I swept the floor – 60,000 square feet!” Chris soon graduated to assisting customers at the counter, and like his dad, found something so satisfying that he delved into every aspect of the family business. “There isn’t a single job here I can’t step in and do,” he notes, quipping that his leadership style is “manageCONTINUED ON 4F

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SULLIVAN COUNTY DEMOCRAT

JANUARY 24, 2017

AUTUMN SCHANIL | DEMOCRAT

The shelves at Schmidt’s are stocked top to bottom with parts and accessories needed for plumbing, heating, electric, ventilating, air conditioning and much more. CONTINUED FROM 3F

ty fluid day!” His wife Lisa is deeply involved, too, serving as human resources director

and the operator of Schmidt’s Rentals. “My undergraduate and MBA

degrees are both in the area of human resources, and I hold a PHR certificate in human resources, so

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ment by wandering – they call for help, and I go!” That’s not taking anything away from the close to 60 employees upon whom Chris keenly relies. “We have a lot of longtime employees, and we enjoy what we do,” he says, pointing out several staffers who have spent decades building Schmidt’s reputation. “My general manager has been here 40 years, my sales manager almost 30.” Chris, now 39, uses his experience and bachelor’s degree in entrepreneurship and business management (from Western New England College) to constantly assess the company’s position and future. “I look at a decent amount of reports, monitor every invoice,” he explains – though he also still can be found helping customers. “It’s a pret-


that role is a natural fit,” Lisa says. “As for the rental, when Chris mentioned trying a new business venture, I was on board and really wanted the ability to sink my teeth into a new challenge, so we agreed that Schmidt’s Rentals would be my ‘baby.’” Married since 2002 and an employee of Schmidt’s since 2007, Lisa doesn’t shy away from a challenge. “Learning the aspects of the new business has been a great adventure!” she relates. “Plus, learning to use power tools and equipment is quite a rush!” She’s relished the opportunity to grow the two-year-old Schmidt’s Rentals. “It has been wonderful to watch the idea blossom into a business – a business where we offer the community a wonderful rental and retail experience – that is truly satisfying,” she says. Lisa doesn’t mind being married to the boss either. “It is normally a great blessing,” she nods. “However, there are times when we bring work home with us, or it is hard to leave the office at the office.

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That does sometimes create a bit of tension, but we have been able to take the challenges in stride and are normally able to compromise on the best outcome for everyone involved.” That reflects how Fred and Dorothy first started the business together, and Lisa and Chris – who have a nineyear-old daughter of their own, Megan – look forward to keeping Schmidt’s an instantly recognizable and deeply valued community institution. “Our Florida, NY branch has been experiencing fantastic growth, and our waterworks division had its best year ever in 2016,” Lisa confirms. “I think that the Schmidt family will continue to respond to the everchanging requests of our customers – wherever that road may lead, we would like to be at the forefront!”

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Riverside Remedies continues a service tradition in Callicoon t’s no mere coincidence that Jeff Weyer works in the very same spot where his dad and grandfather plied their trades. The family behind Riverside Remedies adores this place. “I love Callicoon,” affirms Dr. Maureen Whipple, a practicing dentist in the hamlet for 23 years. Maureen is also Jeff’s mom, and she was the first to suggest he try opening a business – a very specific kind of business – near her home turf. “I’d been missing having a pharmacy in Callicoon,” she explains.

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The last pharmacy had closed some 15 years prior. So Jeff asked wife Jill to draw up a business plan – something she does quite often as the county’s assistant commissioner of Planning. “We work together pretty well,” Jeff nods, glancing at Jill. “I maintain what she’s created.” Jill in turn draws her inspiration from customers, asking them what they’d like to see in the store. Thus Riverside Remedies is a melding of both a full-service pharmacy and a browse-worthy gift shop. “If you don’t see it, say something, and we’ll get it!” says Jeff, pointing to the countertop sign that really does state such.

“When we first opened, we were heavily toys,” Jill recalls. “Having children, that was the mindset we were in,” Jeff adds. But eventually they pulled back slightly on the toy selection in order to add more cards, wrapping paper, toiletries and locally produced products. Sales went up – and now Jill adjusts the inventory every month. “If you don’t keep it fresh and alive,” explains Jill, “when you come in, you don’t notice it. You want to make it dynamic, so people enjoy the experience.” Jill’s design sense permeates the gift shop, while Jeff is more backoffice, literally and figuratively. His workspace sits behind the pharmacy

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counter, where he spends much time on the paperwork and budgeting crucial to Riverside’s operations. Not that you won’t find him helping customers. “I enjoy people – that’s my thing,” he smiles. So do pharmacists Gene and Julie Burns (a son-and-mother team) and pharmacy technician Shannon Hauser. Jeff and Jill are grateful for them all, considering them key to success. “Gene is like I am – we remember faces and names,” Jeff explains. “We’re certainly on the same page.” Jeff is also proud to say he receives “endless” compliments about Gene, Julie and Shannon, all of whom are

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STORY BY DAN HUST, PHOTOS BY JEANNE SAGER AND DAN HUST


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Married since 2004, Jeff and Jill Weyer (left) created and operate Riverside Remedies in Callicoon. Jeff’s mom, Maureen Whipple (right), inspired them to take on the challenge of creating a pharmacy and gift shop, which occupies space in a building owned by Jeff’s uncle, Ed Sykes.

local faces well-known to customers. Indeed, “it was part of our plan to become an integral part of the community,” he says – and that depends on his team’s customer-service skills. “Where I’ve learned from them, they’ve also learned from me,” Jeff says. The pharmacy offers compounding, specialty and delivery services not just for people but pets, too. Gene and Julie can also explain how to manage medications, synchronize medicines and otherwise aim for a healthy life. Riverside Remedies accepts Medicaid and all insurances, and offers syringes as a community serv-

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Start with shelves full of vitamins, supplements and O.T.C medicines and continue on to the excellent prescription service. Not to mention the chock full gifts and sundries part of the store where you can even buy t-shirts. At right, Jeff Weyer holds up a sign that speaks for the overall intentions of the store.

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ice (part of the state’s Expanded Syringe Access Program to cut down on the transmission of HIV/AIDS and other blood-borne diseases). This isn’t the first time a Weyer has served Callicoon, however. Jeff’s

office occupies a spot well-trod by his forebears. Grandpa Fritz Weyer was a butcher in this very space, back when it was a Great American grocery store. Later on, Jeff’s dad Fred managed the store. Today, Jeff’s uncle, Ed Sykes, owns the entire property. “He’s a good guy, Jeff,” Ed affirms. “I

have a lot of confidence he’ll get the job done.” Like his sister Maureen, Ed shops at Riverside regularly, likening it to the drugstore famed local pharmacist Jess Abel ran years back, where you could get far more than prescriptions. “He’s a very competent young man, he really is,” Ed admires. “I am a

proud uncle.” “I’m really proud of him,” adds Maureen. ���He’s hardworking, he’s innovative, and he and Jill are very involved in the community.” Riverside Remedies “is a great place,” she says. “It is gaining every day, and I urge the community to support it.”

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superior surfacing, ltd. where Keith Reardon ensures continued growth BY SHARON MACGREGOR

hile driving within a 100-mile radius from Bloomingburg from the months of April to December over the last 16 years or so, you may have seen one of the commercial trucks or equipment from Superior Surfacing Systems, Ltd., but you probably have never really thought about the man or his family behind the primarily commercial paving company, Keith Reardon. A music major in college with dreams of becoming a drummer, Reardon remembers his early twenties as a time when he shadowed his father, who was then employed by Sullivan Highway Products. Reardon learned about sales, esti-

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Forty years of experience means Keith Reardon, president, owner and founder of Superior Surfacing, keeps the best interests of the customer front and center in every single project the company undertakes. SHARON MACGREGOR/DEMOCRAT

blablablad since 2004, Jeff and Jill Weyer (left) created and operate Riverside Remedies in Callicoon. Jeff’s mom, Maureen Whipple (right), inspired them to take on the challenge of creating a pharmacy and gift shop,

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Above is an attractive retaining wall that was part of the renovation process at the entrance to Catskill Regional Medical Center. At left, Superior Surfacing works on the parking lot and walkways at Catskill Regional Medical Center in Harris.

CONTRIBUTED PHOTOS

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mates and engineering. As life unfolded, he married his wife Susie, who is the business’ Office

Manager, and they have a daughter Hallie, who helps out during the most hectic months of summer. “From the time I started this company, we have always done commercial work,” explains Reardon. “Start-

ing with parking lots and maintenance, our scope of work and expertise has grown over time, and in addition to the commercial site work, we specialize in sports courts such as basketball, tennis, tracks and hockey rinks. During this past year we completed 172 projects of various sizes, ranging in time from a few days or weeks, and revenue from $10,000 to millions of dollars.” A past project you may have seen is

the upgraded parking lot of Catskill Regional Medical Center in Harris. An alternative process was used for that job that is considered more green and involves reprocessing the existing asphalt with new material rather than having to dispose of the present pavement. Although the big yellow trucks may not be visible during the off-season, Reardon and strategic employees are behind the scenes scheduling the

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e From parking lots to pavements to tennis courts to helicopter landing pads, and sidewalks like the one seen above, Superior Surfacing will do the job that needs doing at your property - or business. At right is a freshly paved parking lot and drive-through lane for an M&T bank branch.

and paving projects.� When asked what his employees may say about him, Reardon thought a minute and said, “They’d probably say I am tough, demanding, but fair and appropriately generous. We share a great pride in our work.� Looking to the future of the company, Reardon is going to take a more active role with strong visible presence in Sullivan County construction activity. He is also considering

expanding the business significantly and with those plans come the need to add to the team. “I am looking for talent. We are in growth mode, which is a great place to be and I am looking for people,

especially those with an old-school work ethic, to join us.� Serious inquiries can contact Superior Surfacing Systems, Ltd. by calling 845-733-5507 or email sssltd@frontiernet.net.

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quickly approaching long days and work weeks of the business. “We take the time to shut down. The crew can recharge, maintenance is performed on the equipment and bids are placed,� Reardon said. “A key member of the team here is Project Superintendent, Kevin Murphy,� Reardon shared. “He is a lifelong resident of Sullivan County and responsible for the management and supervision of all major construction

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HARRIS funeral Home Seven generations caring for the deceased and the bereaved STORY AND PHOTOS BY AUTUMN SCHANIL

hen a loved one passes on, it’s difficult enough coming to terms with their death let alone trying to organize necessary funeral arrangements. That’s where the Harris Funeral Home steps in. “I understand what people go through and I think it’s important that they get taken care of in the best way possible,” said Funeral Director Elton Harris, “so when the funeral has been concluded, they have as much comfort as they can get.” Elton is the sixth generation of Harris’ to be in the funeral service. It all began with Jonathan Harris in

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Elton Harris is the sixth generation of funeral directors in the Harris family, and his daughter Kendra is now the seventh.

1820 who worked as a coffin maker and it’s continued down the line for nearly 200 years, making the Harris family one of America’s oldest families in the business. “My father had a business upstate and his father before him, and his father, and his father,” said Elton. “I got involved in the funeral service when I was about 12 years old, when I started working with my dad. “It’s just what we do. Even in high school, I just knew that this is what I was going to do. I really had no desire to be anything but a funeral director so I got my funeral director’s license after I did my residency in 1976.” And Elton’s youngest daughter Kendra has now become the seventh

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The inside of the Harris Funeral Home is quiet but warm, with the faint energy of friends and families that have gathered here over the years to say goodbye to a loved one.

in line. “When Kendra told me that she was going to go to funeral directing school, I was pleasantly surprised to hear that. And I told her that I was glad to hear it but ‘don’t do it for me, do it because you want to,’” said Elton, “and she said, ‘Oh no, I want to, because I know how important it is to take care of these families in the hardest time of their life.’” Kendra received her New York State Funeral Directing License in 2009 and one year later, graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Funeral Services Administration from SUNY Canton, the same school Elton received his CONTINUED ON 14F

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Elton Harris has kept this quote with him since college to remind him of the importance of what he does. Seven generations of funeral director certificates hang side by side on an upstairs wall of the Harris Funeral Home in Roscoe.

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degree from. For the Harris’ the most important aspect of what they do isn’t to make money or grow their business. They strive and are committed each day to meet the needs and requests of families in their most difficult time by providing them with dignified and affordable funeral services. “I think what makes the real difference is that having so many generations of experience, knowledge and loyalty to the service, allows you to understand that these are people that have passed,” noted Elton. “They

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aren’t just a body or another number. They are someone’s loved one, someone’s family member, and sometimes it’s even an individual we ourselves know.” According to Elton, the Harris family was so respected among their community that to this day people from three or four hours upstate that knew past generations of Harris’, call Elton and Kendra when someone has died. They will only have their loved buried by the Harris family. “The deceased don’t pass to make us money,” Elton stated. “We’re here to take care of them. To take care of their families.

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‘Keeping Our Readers Informed, Since 1891’

All in the Family The Lifeblood of Sullivan County’s Economy Published by

Catskill-Delaware Publications, Inc. Publishers of the

(845) 887-5200 Callicoon, NY 12723 January 24, 2017 • Vol. CXXVI, No. 64

Publisher: Senior Editor: Editor: Sports Editor: Editorial Assistants: Advertising Director: Advertising Coordinator: Advertising Representatives: Special Sections Coordinator: Business Manager: Business Department: Telemarketing Coordinator: Classified Manager: Production Associates: Circulation & Distribution:

Fred W. Stabbert III Dan Hust Carol Montana Joseph Abraham Kaitlin Carney, Richard Ross, Jeanne Sager, Autumn Schanil, Kathy Daley Liz Tucker Janice Vooght Cecilia Lamy, Barbara Matos, April Spruill Susan Panella Susan Owens Patricia Biedinger Michelle Reynolds Janet Will Nyssa Calkin, Petra Duffy, Elizabeth Finnegan, Ruth Huggler, Rosalie Mycka, Claire Humbert Linda Davis, Kohloa Zaitsha, Billy Smith, Phil Grisafe


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All in the Family 2017