The New Era - All about Sweet Home since 1929

Radiator supply business owners opt to stay in SH, move to former mill

 

August 23, 2016

WILL GARRETT, right, looks over the crowded Radiator Supply House facility on Highway 20.

Radiator Supply House has been steadily growing since its opening day, March 3, 2003, and it’s not stopping now.

On March 1 that year, the company did a mass mailing and had 15 phone calls on its first day of business, said Will Garrett who owns and operates RSH, at 4432 Santiam Highway, with his brother Ryan.

Now it is an international operation.

“In 2003, (it was) just a box shop,” Will Garrett said. “In 2006, we put a little assembly line in here, an assembly shop. In 2009 we put in our full fabricating facility. We’ve just grown since then.”

Last January, the company had 22 employees but had added seven more by July.

They have purchased the 12 acre former site of Clear Lumber on 47th Avenue and plan to expand even more.

Linn County Commissioner Roger Nyquist and Albany-Millersburg Economic President John Pascone, have been big supporters, Garrett said.

Their current location is 18,000 sq. ft. of building space. The new site offers about 30,000 sq. ft. and a potentially more scenic view.

“There’s just under a five-acre pond on it,” Garrett said. “Ultimately, it’s not going to happen overnight, but we’ll renovate it the whole facility. It’ll be a modern -looking facility.”

RSH has entered an investment fund agreement with Linn County for $30,000, which the company will repay over the course of five years. They also received a $30,000 loan from the county that is forgivable if the company creates and maintains at least 10 full-time jobs in addition to its 24 positions that were in place when the loan was made. They’re also working on additional funding from Business Oregon.

Research and development, purchasing and sales are areas in which Garrett said they are looking to build.

A positive attitude and stellar ambition are the key qualities Garrett looks for in potential employees.

“Everybody that’s in our sales office started in the shop,” Garrett said. “One of our salesmen here, he was a high school student that came over after hours and in the summer, and then he went into assembly and after that he went into TIG welding. Now he’s one of our best salesmen on the phone.”

The Garrett brothers also got their introduction to working on radiators in the family business during their high school years.

“We didn’t have an option; we were told we were doing this,” Garrett said with a laugh. “Our dad did radiators.”

Their father, Mitch Garrett, worked in different areas and settled in Klamath Falls for 17 years.

“That’s where we grew up, Ryan and I,” Garrett said.

In 1996 the elder Garrett had an opportunity in Medford so they moved there, where Mitch Garrett eventually bought another shop, with the help of a friend.

“Ryan graduated in ‘99,” Garrett said. “Half of his senior year, he’d come work half days in the shop. Then, in the fall of 2002, the proposal kind of was made for Ryan and I to come to Sweet Home.”

Mitch Garrett registered the name “Radiator Supply House” and secured a phone number.

Mitch Garrett, now retired, still lives in Medford but comes to visit about once a month.

THE GARRETT BROTHERS, Will on the left and Ryan, stand on the site of the former Clear Lumber mill, also shown below, soon to be the new manufacturing plant for their Radiator Supply House.

“He comes up here from time to time,” Will Garrett said. He’ll polish up some of these guys in the shop and kind of show ‘em a few tricks.”

At the Linn County Board of Commissioners meeting, Nyquist was enthusiastic about the development.

“For everything that ails America today, they ought to follow these two brothers around for a day,” Nyquist said. “That entrepreneurial spirit of some younger folks building a business model that creates all kinds of opportunities for them and their employees...it’s really neat.

“So getting the chance to go to a bigger facility, further strengthen their business, and owning their own property, it’s very positive event for all of Linn County but particularly the Sweet Home area.”

 
 
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