The Big Walnut area is growing. Residential growth is on the rise, and along with residential growth comes new businesses and the growth of existing businesses.
An integral part of the eastern Delaware County business community is the Sunbury/Big Walnut Area Chamber of Commerce. In June, John Fox came on board as the chamber’s new Executive Director.
Fox said being a former business owner, he’s definitely pro-business; and the chamber of commerce needs to prepare for rapid growth in the decade ahead.
“We plan to make the Sunbury/Big Walnut Chamber of Commerce more of a community-oriented organization as we move forward,” Fox said. “Some people think a chamber of commerce is just about business, but I think it’s both.”
The year saw two new additions to Sunbury’s Industrial Park – Arrow Industrial Supply and Mae Fence.
In April, Stan Hildreth, representing Arrow Industrial Supply co-owner Jeff Jordan, approached members of the Village of Sunbury Planning & Zoning Commission for informal discussions about building an 11,300 square-foot facility on a 1.32-acre lot at 660 Kintner Parkway.
Following several formal visits to zoning, variance approvals, and a fast-track through Sunbury Village Council, Arrow Industrial Supply’s plans for the $840,000 facility were approved.
Arrow Industrial Supply repackages nuts, bolts, and other hardware for resale. The company has 13 employees – five of them work in sales on the road.
“We’re a distributor for 75,000 small maintenance and repair parts — fasteners, cutting tools, and abrasives,” Jordan said. “The company did $2.4 million in business last year, this year we’re on pace to do $2.6 million. We’ve had double-digit growth every year since 2009.”
On May 1, Mae Fence owner Timothy Surprise moved his business location from Delaware to 725 Kintner Parkway in Sunbury Industrial Park.
Surprise, who is originally from Chicago, opened Mae Fence in Ohio in 2010, but Surprise said the fence fabrication and building tradition that he adheres to goes way back to his grandfather Joseph Keefe, who began fencing in Chicago in 1927.
Today, 10 separate companies dot the Midwest, each owned and operated by one of Joseph’s grandsons. Sunbury’s Mae Fence is one of these companies.
“Because my grandfather was a fencer I’ve been doing this literally my entire life,” Surprise said. “We do primarily residential fencing plus some commercial, and we specialize in Cedar; but the one thing different about us is, we fabricate everything ourselves.”
Mae Fence moved into the former Mulch 1st facility; Mulch 1st moved to State Route 37 west of Sunbury, east of Carters Corner Road.
Owner Scott Wagner, who started Mulch 1st in 2007 at the Kintner Parkway location, said the new SR 37 location is more visible, easier for customers to locate, and provides a more retail-friendly environment.
Wagner said Mulch 1st is a class IV compost facility recognized by the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, allowing it to accept source-separated yard waste. Mulch 1st recycles yard waste and manufactures it into specialty triple-processed mulches.
The Middlefield Banking Company opened its doors at 492 West Cherry Street in Sunbury on October 4. Sunbury Branch Manager Warren Cox and Middlefield Bank’s Central Ohio President Charles Moore had been involved since early August in the renovation of the former Delaware County Bank & Trust Branch office at the west end of the former IGA Plaza.
The 100-year-old Middlefield Bank Corporation, headquartered in Middlefield, Ohio, is a publicly-held bank holding company with $760 million in assets that operates 11 full-service banking centers and an LPL Financial brokerage office serving the Ohio communities of Chardon, Courtland, Dublin, Garrettsville, Mantua, Middlefield, Newbury, Orwell, Westerville, and now Sunbury.
“Sunbury is a growing community, it has the rooftops, and our community bank offers services that will be important to the people living in this community as it grows,” Moore said. “We believe we’ve found a good partner in Sunbury for a branch site. One thing we make certain of, we want to complement and support the communities we serve.”
Earlier this month members of the Sunbury/Big Walnut Area Chamber of Commerce gathered at 480 West Cherry Street in Sunbury for a ribbon cutting ceremony at the village’s newest eatery, Jersey Mike’s Subs.
Owner Tyler Washington said the Sunbury Jersey Mike’s Subs is his first business venture, but carries with it the more than 50 years of Jersey Mike’s Subs reputation for freshness and quality.
During 2016, one well-established Sunbury-based business, Forman Realtors, celebrated its 50th Anniversary serving eastern Delaware County and beyond. In 1966, 50 years ago this year, Ted L. Forman put a For Sale sign in the ground and Forman Realtors was born.
A Sunbury native, Ted Forman was also instrumental in founding the Delaware County Board of Realtors and served on the Big Walnut Local School District Board of Education.
Reporter Lenny C. Lepola can be reached at 614-266-6093.