Rogers BehlerYoung Enter The Hall

September 30, 2002
| By Katy Rent |
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GRAND RAPIDS — Rogers Department Store and Behler-Young Co. have joined the family.

The Family Owned Business Institute Hall of Fame, that is.

The institute’s hall, which is affiliated with the Grand Valley State University Seidman School of Business, recognizes notable family-owned businesses for their significant impact on and contributions to the region.

The companies were selected by a committee of five GVSU executives and were reviewed on a set of criteria.

Each business was judged based on whether it:

  • Demonstrated exemplary leadership through its continued family ownership for more than 45 years of operation as a family business that is still privately held or privately controlled.

  • Had at least one generational change of corporate family leadership.

  • Made a significant economic impact in the region as measured by the most recent year’s sales, or related instruments, in dollars.

  • Had active community and philanthropic involvement.

  • Exhibited industry leadership.

  • Contributed to the economic diversity of the region.

John Canepa, former Old Kent Bank chairman, said family owned businesses shell out 65 percent of all the wages in the city and produce 50 percent of the products made here.

“Both of these family businesses have chosen to stay the tough course and are a leading catalyst for economic growth in West Michigan,” Canepa said. “We can also credit them with our community growth and these community pieces would not have come to fruition if not for support of family owned businesses.”

With three generations dedicated to remaining privately held, family-owned and committed to its customers, community and associations, Behler-Young, wholesale distributors of heating and air conditioning, started out as a partnership between two childhood friends.

In 1926 Wayne Young and John Behler established a business partnership and distributed sheet metal products, manufacturing sheet metal pipe and fittings for the gravity, coal-fired furnaces it marketed.

After World War II, the second-generation families took over with Jack Behler running the manufacturing component and Dick Young focusing on growing the distribution business.

Today, the company is run by Doug Young, Wayne Young’s grandson and touts its civic, community and industry involvement with its support of numerous community activities and organizations.

As the second 2002 inductee, Rogers Department Store, founded in 1955 by Hy and Greta Berkowitz, also is dedicated to the community, customers and employees.

Operating until 1960 in a small store on a stretch of country road called 28th Street, Berkowitz, known fondly to his employees and customers as “Mr. Berk,” saw the store’s potential.

He erected a 7,000-square-foot store on the property where it stands today, and then followed that with 10 expansions to reach the current 150,000-square-foot facility.

In the 1990s members of the next generation, including grandson Dan Hurwitz, who is now president, became involved in the business.

Rogers Department Store has operated for 47 years and continues to support the community through the Hy and Greta Berkowitz Foundation and other charity events and organizations.

“With this core community strength created by these family businesses, our ship has come in as a community because these business’ ships have come in,” said Mark Murray, president of GVSU. “We thank these businesses for making this a great place to live, work and have a family.”           

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