Small Town News


Former owner still trying to quit

Arthur Graphic-Clarion of Arthur, Illinois

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Business Of the Month

"Yeah this is Eli," said the voice on the other end, "so you want to interview me?"

If he wouldn't have told me his age, I would have guessed him to be in the 50 to 60 years old range.

Since this article is more than a month overdue (my fault) and due to our schedules, I handled the interview over the phone.

Gingerich Pump Shop was nominated by Ron White, owner of Arthur Coin Wash. Those of you who know Ron would agree that the only thing he can't do is what he doesn't have the equipment for, and plumbing is on that list.

White highly recommends the pump shop to others because of their willingness to work late. He had Gingerich Pump Shop install water heaters at the laundromat. They worked well into the night to finish, so Ron could be open the next day. Ron also appreciated the quality and speed of their work.

Gingerich Pump Shop had its beginnings in 1951 when Eli Gingerich began selling and installing air-powered water pumps to the local Amish community.

"Most Amish had no running water or interior bathrooms, and when I put in the pump they asked me to install the bathroom and hook up running water," Eli said. "I bought my supplies at Railroad Salvage in Decatur for two reasons—number one, they were fairly cheap, and number two— I didn't have a license, so I couldn't buy at wholesale suppliers."

After Gingerich acquired his plumbing license, the business kept growing and at one time had five full-time employees.

One of his former workers and nephew, Daryl Gingerich, served as an apprentice under Eli. Today Daryl has a successful plumbing business in Mattoon—D & M Plumbing.

When asked what the most enjoyable work consists of Gingerich said, "I welcome challenges. For example, when someone calls and says the boilers or heating system is malfunctioning, I like to figure out what's wrong."

Every job has some not so pleasant duties, and plumbing isn't exempt. .

"Naturally, those are in the line of working with toilet stools and septics and tight crawl spaces." As an afterthought he added, "Having to pull out a pump in zero-degree weather when it's snowing and blowing is no fun either!"

In 1999 Gingerich Pump Shop was sold to Eli's nephew, Ira Gingerich. The workforce today consists of Ira and two of his sons, Gerald who has been there for 10 years and Ryan who started not too long ago.

Jake Stutzman has taken care of customers at the shop and fixed wringer washing machines for the past eight years. Mike Newman and Sam Herschberger have also been there a number of years. Also, there are two part - time employees, Edward Kaufman and Edward Petersheim.

"And," said Eli, "I'm still working myself. When Ira bought the business he asked me to work one year before retiring. Now 10 years later I am still working, 84 years old, and haven't quit."

Sounds like 58 years of being in the plumbing business has become a habit...or maybe it should be said 'a healthy habit'!

Till next month, Mary Otto Note to readers: Nominate your favorite local business by leaving a message at 268-5095. No business has been nominated for January yet.

(Editor's note: Mary Otto and husband Merle own and operate Cabin Cove, a retail and wholesale supplier. Mary writes the "Business of the Month" column, formerly called "Indispensible Business of the Month." If you have a favorite business you would like her to interview, please contact her at the number above.)

Copyright 2009 Arthur Graphic-Clarion, Arthur, Illinois. All Rights Reserved. This content, including derivations, may not be stored or distributed in any manner, disseminated, published, broadcast, rewritten or reproduced without express, written consent from SmallTownPapers, Inc.

Original Publication Date: December 23, 2009

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