News
News Home
Quick Bites
Exploradio
News Archive
News Channel
Special Features
NPR
nowplaying
On AirNewsClassical
Loading...
  
School Closings
WKSU Support
Funding for WKSU is made possible in part through support from the following businesses and organizations.

Akron Children's Hospital

Hospice of the Western Reserve

Wayside Furniture


For more information on how your company or organization can support WKSU, download the WKSU Media Kit.

(WKSU Media Kit PDF icon )


Donate Your Vehicle to WKSU

Programs Schedule Make A Pledge Member BenefitsFAQ/HelpContact Us
Economy and Business


A sort of bookmobile for safety gear hits the gas fields
Ron's Workingman's Store reinvents itself with drill-to-drill sales calls
by WKSU's TIM RUDELL


Reporter
Tim Rudell
 
Ron's mobile store heads out for the drilling sites, well stocked with the gear crews are looking for.
Courtesy of TIM RUDELL
Download (WKSU Only)
In The Region:
The shale drilling boom is providing a boost for a northeast Ohio family business that has weathered the industrial economy for four generations.
Click to listen

Other options:
Windows Media / MP3 Download (4:10)


Ron’s Workingman’s Store just south of Canton’s downtown was doing OK despite tough times.  Ron Wilkoff, head of the family that also owns Wilkoff Industrial supply,had  gambled in the early 2000s, reasoning that even if heavy manufacturing was dying, power lines still needed to be fixed, waste disposed of, and infrastructure maintained.  He stocked up on “F.R.C.” — flame-resistant clothing -- and similar gear for people in need of protective gear on the job. 

Then came 2010, and Chesapeake Energy.  The Utica shale play’s biggest player opened its regional headquarters in Canton directly across the street from the store. And things got better than OK.  So much better, in fact, that Ron Wilkoff’s son Tyler, who runs the retail business, hired Chad Mace and bought a tripped-out truck.

“And we’ve launched Ron’s Workingman’s Store mobile, which is a 30 foot long Freightliner,completely self-contained," Tyler Wilkoff says. "It is literally a heated and air conditioned mobile store."

Adds salesman Mace,  “This is kind of a fist run venture.  Nobody else is running a full mobile store. There are boot trucks out there, but what we’re trying to cover the whole vast majority of what these guys need and want.”

Top-of-the-line is a relative thing
What they need and want is high end -- not in terms of fancy, but in terms of function.  And it is not cheap.  As a clerk in the store marks new inventory, Tyler Wilkoff explains, “I would say if you went and purchased just a very nice coverall from a company like Dickies, they’d be about $30.  These would probably be about a $129 or so. 

These days, the store’s hunt for workingmen is going further afield, taking the business literally to Columbiana, Carroll and other key areas of the shale drilling boom.

Not too much
Chad Mace is readying the truck for a run to a  site in Carroll County.  Even with a large vehicle outfitted with store racks, an electronic cash register, and an internet ordering system, he has to gauge just what, and how much, to bring to different kinds of job sites.

“These specific guys actually asked for slush boots, FRC rain suits. Most people will let us know what they need.  That’s what we’ll bring. But I’m bringing some extra boots along and a variety of other things, so that they’ll have an idea of what we have.”

As Chad Mace fires up the big white truck with billboards touting the wares of the store, Tyler Wilkoff talks about possibilities.

"I’ve seen out there that there are food deliver services, some people even come out and do laundry for these men.  The live-in big trailers (are) dropped at the site, so they really are living out in the woods.  I thinks there more opportunity for small businessmen like ourselves.”

Wilkoff says the gas and oil boom has already helped his family’s small business go from six employees to 10. 

(Click image for larger view.)


Related WKSU Stories

Kasich continues to push drilling taxes -- and warns of worse
Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Drug tests and drilling jobs are often in conflict
Thursday, January 10, 2013

Squabbling over drillers hiring Ohioans
Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Add Your Comment
Name:

Location:

E-mail: (not published, only used to contact you about your comment)


Comments:




 
Page Options

Print this page

E-Mail this page / Send mp3

Share on Facebook




Stories with Recent Comments

HOF's Canton expansion could take an island and make it a village
I live in the block from Broad St to the Hall of Fame and will be impacted by the expansion. I am in the process of selling my home and planned to long before i...

Cleveland redeploys police to replace rejected red-light traffic cameras
Periodic rotational enforcement without warning does NOT change behavior and the city officials know that. This is the basis of all officer-run enforcement trap...

New enrollment period offers more insurance options
The removal of federal funding for healthcare CO-OPs may limit the growth of the CO-OP movement. http://www.healthcaretownhall.com/?p=6381

The family of Boardman vet killed in Vietnam receives his medals
My name is Mike Eisenbraun. I am Larry's brother. I was 14 years old when Larry was killed in Vietnam. He has been gone for 46 years but it seems like yester...

Cleveland seniors are creating new wealth -- and facing new challenges
Why is anyone surprised that we people over 65 are not retiring? If you have been paying attention, defined company funded pensions were phasing out in the eigh...

Ohio company cuts off a dairy supplier after allegations of animal abuse
these people should be held accountable for their actions. i would be more than pleased to see a year or more behind bars. i will NEVER eat anything that comes ...

Goodyear recruits thousands of vets
What a wonderful interview! Excellent reporting skills by a talented young reporter! I look forward to hearing more from Ms. Schley!

Ohio Democratic Party begins the rebuilding process
I agree 100% with Sen. Brown. I think it is absolutely critical for the Democratic Party in Ohio to engage in the long, tedious, hard task of re-building from t...

They're talking again in the Macedonia bridge dispute
Norfolk Southern says the Ledge road bridge meets regulations for train traffic, however it was built as an overpass for a roadway and/or farm usage. I think t...

Cleveland City Council to consider transgender public restroom law
this is sick. I do not want my daughter in the same bathroom as a perverted 45 year old man. this proposed legislation could seriously damage the security of ch...

Copyright © 2014 WKSU Public Radio, All Rights Reserved.

 
In Partnership With:

NPR PRI Kent State University

listen in windows media format listen in realplayer format Car Talk Hosts: Tom & Ray Magliozzi Fresh Air Host: Terry Gross A Service of Kent State University 89.7 WKSU | NPR.Classical.Other smart stuff. NPR Senior Correspondent: Noah Adams Living on Earth Host: Steve Curwood 89.7 WKSU | NPR.Classical.Other smart stuff. A Service of Kent State University