Guy Clark Jr., pride was apparent in his smile today as he spoke about his business, Cedar Street Sales & Rentals, celebrating its 25 anniversary.
Getting to this milestone was a lot of hard work, he said.
"It's still long hours and taking the time taking care of customers," Clark said. "I think it's all about relationships and not being afraid to try new things and being innovative."
Clark was a heavy truck mechanic when he decided to open an underfunded tool and rental business in Le Roy. Then one day Harvey Cummings of Cummings and Baker in Batavia suggested he sell his business and partner with Cummings and Baker to open a rental shop in Batavia. Cummings and Baker had an empty building on Cedar Street that would be suitable to the new enterprise and Ricky Palermo came on as a business partner as well.
In Le Roy, Clark wanted a tool shop. He didn't plan on getting into a rental business but found people wanted to rent things, so that's what he did. Part of the motivation for opening in Batavia was that the owner of the rental shop that was in town the owner was older and ready to retire, Clark said, so that seemed like an opportunity.
The first employee didn't draw a paycheck. That was Clark's mother, who wouldn't think of it. After his father retired, he worked at the shop for 10 years before he passed away. Now the business is all Clark's and he works with his two sons (his daughter has also worked at the business in the past).
Working with his family is just a lot of fun he said.
"The whole family has worked here at some point," Clark said. "It is just plain fun and we get along so great. We all do the same thing every day. Whoever's available, you wait on someone or take care of them or do what you need to do. There are no real roles per se. You just show up and do what you got to."
There was no real plan to bring his sons Adam and Connor into the business. It just happened.
"About the time Adam got out of college the wife of one of our longtime employees pass away and he abruptly retired," Clark said. "Adam was just graduating and I said, 'I know that's not your plan, but could we count on you for the summer anyway just to get us there' and that was five years ago."
When Connor graduated, he decided he wanted to give the family business a try himself.
"He said, 'Hey, if there's room for me I'd like to give it a shot.' "
Clark said he couldn't be happier working with his sons every day.
"It's credible," Clark said. "It's a lot of fun. I mean, it really is. We have a great time and 2017 was our best year ever in virtually every department and I think a lot of it's due to them. Their new vision, their new attitude. They are one step ahead of me with everything. I mean they're motivated and into it."
With 25 years under his belt, Clark hasn't forgotten how he got his start.
"I owe thanks to Harvey Cummings and Ricky Palermo for the opportunity to begin with," Clark said. "It's been great. People are pretty cool around the Genesee. The relationships you build over the years is pretty special."
The anniversary celebration is Friday and Saturday. There will be a free breakfast and a free lunch, equipment demos (including the new robot lawnmower pictured below), prizes and drawings and a ribbon cutting at 2 p.m. tomorrow.