Ashley Furniture plans store on South Main Street

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   A home furnishings store is looking to make a home here in Bowling Green. Ashley Furniture has applied for a zoning variance to put up a large sign at 816 S. Main St., in the same strip of stores as Big Lots and Subway. The location was formerly a Hallmark store. “They just want a larger sign to be seen from the road,” said Bowling Green Planning Director Heather Sayler. The variance request will go before the Zoning Board of Appeals on Sept. 14, at 7 p.m., in the city Administrative Services Building, at 304 N. Church St. Ashley Furniture has had a warehouse in Bowling Green for several years. The warehouse, located in Bellard Business Park on the north end of the city, is currently undergoing an expansion to double its size, Sayler said. The retail Ashley Furniture site is leasing the South Main Street space from Southwood Plaza LLC/Tolson Enterprises, in Toledo. “Having a filled-in space is wonderful,” Sayler said Friday morning. And having a retail store in the same community as the warehouse will make it more convenient for customers, she added. Also moving into the same strip of stores is a Rapid Fire Pizza restaurant, which will be located just to the south of Ashley Furniture. The zoning variance for Ashley Furniture was requested by Advance Sign Group, to allow the construction of a wall sign that would be 191.42 square feet in size, which is 79.42 square feet larger than allowed in the city’s B-2 general commercial zoning district. The request also asks for permission for the sign to extend 4 feet, 2 inches above the roof line, which is not allowed under zoning. The application stated that since the façade of the building is being remodeled for the furniture store, the larger sign will be better suited to the scale of the new façade. The sign on the building, reading “Ashley Homestore Select,” will be the only sign for the new business. Ashley Furniture currently has retail locations in Findlay and in Spring Meadows shopping center near Toledo.

Makers of adult incontinence products to expand

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   It’s a sad fact of life. As the nation’s population gets grayer, they have a greater need for adult absorbent products for incontinence. That means more business for a Wood County company that has been meeting those bladder control needs for more than 40 years. So the company, Principle Business Enterprises, is looking to expand in response to greater demands. The company, located north of Bowling Green, near Interstate 75 and Devils Hole Road, is planning a $4 million expansion which would add 47,000 square feet to the existing building. On Tuesday, the Wood County Commissioners approved an enterprise zone agreement with the company for 100 percent real and personal property tax abatements over 10 years. Principle Business Enterprises currently employs about 235 people, and will create at least five new jobs with the expansion. That estimate is very conservative since each new line at the plant will employ six or seven people. The firm produces various products for incontinence, including “Tranquility” and disposable swimwear, and footwear like Pillowpaws and slipper socks. “We are really making a difference in the lives of people with difficult physical challenges,” said Chuck Stocking, CEO of the company. “The bad news is people need our products,” Stocking said Tuesday to the commissioners. The good news is, the company is continuing to work on meeting the demands for adult absorbent products and wound care items. “We’ve had such consistent growth,” said Larry Jones, CFO of Principle Business Enterprises. “As the boomers shift into that period of their lives” when they have more physical needs, the company is expanding to meet them. “It’s a good problem to have,” Jones said of the company’s need to expand. Stocking also told the county commissioners that the company is now working with the Veterans Administration. “It took us seven years to crack the code on how to do business with the Veterans Administration,” he said. “We have a team working on better care for our veterans.” The long term vision for Principle Business Enterprises includes additional expansions, Stocking said. Jones said the company provides a safe and good work environment, so the longevity of its employees is quite high. Wood County Planning Commission Director Dave Steiner also said the company is a good neighbor. “They have been good corporate citizens as well.” As part of the enterprise zone agreement, Principle Business…

Can Ohio farmers get in on craft beer market?

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   It took intense “hops sensory observations” – otherwise known as sitting around drinking beer – for some Ohio agriculture experts to raise a question. Why aren’t Ohio farmers raising hops to supply all the craft beer makers popping up around the state? “We got to thinking, can this be done in Ohio?” said Brad Bergefurd, a horticulture specialist with OSU Extension in Piketon. The answer is, yes, he told a crowded room at the Northwest Ohio Ag-Business Breakfast north of Bowling Green on Thursday. Truth is, hops used to be grown in Ohio a century ago. But three factors shut down the beer-making crop – prohibition, downy mildew and pesky aphids. The hops market in Washington and Oregon survived since those harvests were shipped overseas where alcohol was not banned. Those two states continue to grow the vast majority of hops used to make beer in the U.S. Bergefurd suggested that now may be the time for Ohio farmers to consider getting back in the hops business. “One-hundred years ago we grew it,” he said. “We can do it.” In fact, right on the ground of the agricultural incubator on Ohio 582, is a small quarter-acre hops yard. It is one of three scientific hops yards in Ohio, studying if farmers in this state could find a place in the beer trade. The U.S. brews more than 5 billion gallons of beer a year. Small craft breweries are a growing trend, with the Ohio Department of Commerce reporting more than 186 in this state alone. Those breweries  produce more than a million barrels of craft beer annually. “There is quite a demand,” Bergefurd said. “Hops is what makes the beer.” The other trend of using locally grown items, and publicizing those to customers, means Ohio brewers are looking for hops grown and raised in this region. “The brewers would like to have more of a local product,” Bergefurd said. “These guys and girls are investing millions in these breweries. They aren’t going away,” he said. While Ohio farmers have picked up the pace, they have some distance to go if they want to supply local breweries. In 2012, there were just three hops farmers in the state, Bergefurd said. That number has grown to more than 60 members in a guild, with just over 200 acres planted in hops. But in order…

Art Supply Depo opens up shop in Bowling Green

  By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Hardly two weeks after celebrating the fifth anniversary of the opening of the first Art Supply Depo in Toledo, Jules Webster and her crew has opened up shop in Bowling Green. The second Art Supply Depo will mark its grand opening on Friday with a ribbon-cutting ceremony at 4 p.m. and an opening party. The store is open this week 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. As was the case in Toledo, the opening is timed for the start of classes at local universities. Opening up an Art Depo Supply in Bowling Green was a natural, Webster said. Faculty and students from the Bowling Green State University School of Art as well as artists from Bowling Green were already faithful customers. Webster saw “a gap in the market.” “Bowling Green has such a strong art program it seemed a little crazy that Bowling Green didn’t have a specialty art supply store,” she said. When considering the new store, she checked the numbers at UT versus BGSU. UT has 175 undergraduate art majors; BGSU has 625 undergraduate and graduate art majors. While artists from Bowling Green would travel to Toledo for supplies, it often wasn’t convenient especially for younger students who didn’t have cars. Webster said staff has been “hoarding supply lists” from BGSU students in previous years to help guide stocking the shelves. This location also better serves artists in the surrounding communities of Perrysburg and Waterville, some of whom were reluctant to travel to downtown Toledo, even though as Webster points out, it’s the safest part of the city. Here they’ll also have ample parking. With the School of Art less than a mile away from the shop at 435 E. Wooster St. and residential areas in the neighborhood, she said, “we’re in a more vibrant, active community.” Art Supply Depo, she said, sets itself apart from big box stores in its extensive inventory. Here artists can buy top quality paper in all sizes, including extra-large sheets. While a big box store may carry the top 25 colors of Prima Color Pencils, Art Depo carries all the colors, 150 of them. The same with Golden acrylic paints. The store’s staff also sets it apart. “Everyone on my staff is a working artist,” she said. “Everyone on my staff is someone I’ve known for a couple years, people I can trust with my customers…

Food truck rules leave bad taste for vendors

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green’s mobile food vending ordinance is not exactly a recipe for success for food trucks. Mac Henry would like to open a food truck business in Bowling Green, but told City Council Monday evening that its ordinance is too restrictive. Henry, who lives just outside the city, said the ordinance limits hours of operation to 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and restricts food trucks to 150 feet from the throughway. The rules are “not very conducive to opening a food truck in this town,” he said. Henry said food trucks are currently “a big part of the culinary innovation” going on in the nation. City Council president Mike Aspacher said council is the body that would have to make any changes to the ordinance. He added that modifications would only be made after the ramifications are studied. Council member John Zanfardino agreed with Henry that changes were in order. “Right now our ordinance is totally prohibitive, if you get right down to it,” he said, mentioning the growing trend of food trucks. “I think it’s a coming thing.” Council member Sandy Rowland noted the success of food trucks in Perrysburg, where the businesses set up one evening a week. “It might be an opportunity to provide people with something to do,” she said. After the council meeting, Henry said he doesn’t have a food truck operation now, but would like to get one started. “I’d like to get into it,” he said. “I thought it would be a good opportunity to try something like that in my hometown.” Henry said he realized mobile food businesses can be a “touchy subject,” since they are seen as competition for brick and mortar restaurants already in business. But food trucks offer young people a chance to break into the business, he said. “Ultimately, if you’re a young individual and you don’t have that much capital, it’s a good way for Bowling Green to give a young person a chance,” he said. Also at the meeting, Mayor Dick Edwards told city council that he would like them to pass a resolution dedicating the former school site at West Wooster and South Church streets as a green space. The community has waited a long time for the city to take action, he said. “We’ve been through the eager part – now it’s anxious.” “This is an…

Gooden named to new post at Center for Innovative Food Technology

From Center for Innovative Food Technology Dave Beck, president and CEO, Center for Innovative Food Technology, announced Mike Gooden was hired as business development and supply chain analyst.  He is responsible for designing training programs and delivering assessments related to supply chains for food manufacturers. Gooden has more than 35 years of experience in logistics, productivity, operations, quality, regulatory, and continuous improvement with General Mills and Pillsbury. Throughout his career he has also served as a supply chain consultant, conducted hundreds of third party food safety audits, has experience in new plant startups, and is a member of the American Society for Quality. He earned his bachelor’s and master’s degree at Middle Tennessee State University.

Eden Boutique offers fashion paradise in downtown BG

By DAVID DUPONT BG INDEPENDENT NEWS A shopping trip for clothes that left Kati Thompson dissatisfied provided the impetus to launch her new business. Eden Fashion Boutique, 186 S. Main St., Bowling Green, will mark its grand opening with a ribbon cutting Friday at 11:30 a.m. The shop will feature contemporary women’s clothing and accessories, including the active leisure line Albion. Thompson said Eden will be the exclusive Ohio dealer for the line. Still Thompson envisions her shop as something more. She wants Eden Boutique to be “a place for all women to gather and have fun and feel love. I know that has nothing to do with clothes, but I just want to be that space, that positive atmosphere.” That means having a spacious interior that not only displays the clothing well, but is easy to move around in. Thompson and her husband, Dave Thompson, have six children, including two foster kids. Thompson said she knows what it’s like to try to move around a shop with a stroller. She also made sure the restroom can accommodate a mother with children. Also, “I wanted to bring an opportunity for women of all sizes to shop together.” When Thompson went out to Los Angeles to purchase inventory, she brought a team – her sister and a couple friends. “Each of us have different body types.” They could looked at the clothing differently. So they may say: “That looks cute on you, but not on me.” The stock includes a large selection of denim, so women can find just the jeans that fit just right. “I tried to bring in a lot of unique fabrics and patterns, not something you can pick up any store in the mall,” she said. “The premise is we’ll only have a limited number of items. When it’s gone, it’s gone, so everyone in town isn’t walking around wearing the same thing.” That’s exactly what she was looking for that she didn’t find earlier this year. A 2004 marketing graduate from Bowling Green State University, she envisioned what the perfect shop for her would be. “I wanted to come into a space that was well curated with a unique selection of items, not something everyone in town would have, and a place where the inventory would change regularly.” Thompson said she knew she wanted to be in the 100 block of South Main, and on the…

McComb now part of water & sewer district

From NWWSD At a recent board meeting for the Northwestern Water & Sewer District, final, detailed approval was given for the merger between the district and the village of McComb. According to Northwestern Water Sewer District President Jerry Greiner, “We have green lights all the way around now, and we officially took over McComb July 27th, 2016.” This acquisition by the District allows the village to get a much needed wastewater plant upgrade, as well as allowing the village to now receive attention and repairs to its water distribution system. Greiner states “The basic monitoring, attention, maintenance, and upgrades can now be folded into the District’s everyday operations schedule, which should really help the folks in the village.” The Village of McComb has approximately 700 users including its independent village school system. Another important user is Hearthside Foods, a regional cookie factory, which has approximately 1600 employees.

Lt. Gov. makes it her business to help Ohio businesses

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor was right at home talking to the Bowling Green Chamber of Commerce members, sharing their disdain for governmental red tape that bogs down businesses. “I was with you, fighting the bureaucracy,” Taylor said, speaking of her time as a CPA prior to entering government. That frustration led her to cross to the other side. “I discovered what I really wanted to do was serve,” Taylor said during the mid-year chamber luncheon this past week. “I wanted to be a part of writing the laws.” She started out small, running for a position in city government, then worked her way up to state representative, then state auditor, and finally to her current position as lieutenant governor under John Kasich. In government, Taylor said, she has been able to fight for taxpayers, bringing about regulatory reform. “The status quo is never acceptable for me. We hold every state governmental agency responsible for their regulatory impact on business,” she said. “If the answer is – ‘That’s what we did before’ – that is not acceptable.” Taylor described her approach as a “common sense” strategy, to look at how regulations such as those protecting the environment were affecting businesses. State rules were reviewed with a special emphasis on looking at the impact on business, she said. That analysis led to 60 percent of the rules affecting businesses being rescinded or amended, Taylor said. “We have to understand, what we do in government does affect business and job creation,” she said. Consequently, Ohio’s unemployment is down and wages are rising faster than the national average, Taylor said. “Everywhere we go, we are using common sense.” As lieutenant governor, Taylor sees her other role as making a sales pitch for Ohio. “My responsibility is to sell Ohio.” And that can be a tough job sometimes. “We don’t have a beach.” If people examine Ohio’s work record, they often take a second look at the state. “Once you get here, what a wonderful place it is to live,” she said. “They are taking a serious look at us and making decisions to come to our state.” But Ohio faces some challenges, like the opiate/heroin crisis, and infrastructure costs above and below ground, Taylor said. “We have made progress, but there is more work to do,” she said of the opiate issue. Roads, water and sewer…

Chip Myles says pizza pub is not closing

Chip Myles of Myles Pizza Pub in Bowling Green took to social media Wednesday to swat down rumors that the restaurant is closing. In a video posted on the pub’s Facebook site, Myles said:  “We are not selling Myles Pizza Pub. I have had the building Myles Pizza Pub is in  for sale for the last couple years but right now we’re still open and we’re still doing business.” As of Wednesday, the restaurant still had signs on its door advertising jobs openings for wait and kitchen staff. In the video, Myles said he was honored by all the “inquiries” about the status of the business.  

Pastors Mary Jane and Gary Saunders honored for working to make BG better for everyone

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News On receiving the I Love BG Award with his wife, Pastor Mary Jane Saunders, Pastor Gary Saunders sounded what could have been the keynote for the Bowling Green Chamber of Commerce’s Mid-Year Meeting and Awards Program. “We’re better together,” he said. And that in one way or another was a message that came through in all the award presentations. Fitting for the award that she and her husband were receiving, Pastor Mary Jane Saunders said that when they first moved to Bowling Green to  assume the pulpit at First Presbyterian Church of Bowling Green, they “immediately fell in love with the community and wanted to become involved.” “We were called by a church dedicated to justice and inclusion,” she said.  “This church has been supportive, not just supportive but encouraging. It’s because of First Presbyterian that we’ve been able to be active.” Sheilah Crowley, last year’s I Love BG award winner, detailed that involvement in her introduction. They have been leaders in the BG Ministerial Association, the campaign to stop the repeal of the city’s non-discrimination ordinance, Not In Our Town, the city’s Human Relations Commission, the interfaith breakfast and the Presbytery of Maumee Valley. Gary Saunders said that guiding “our life journey together” has been a belief that “diversity is an opportunity not a problem.” “To the extent we can grasp that and live it out, we can all step forward together,” he said. After the luncheon, held at Nazareth Hall in Grand Rapids, Mary Jane Saunders said it was the people who made the couple fall in love with Bowling Green. “There are people who share a vision of wanting the community to be better for everybody, and they’re willing to work for it, not just talk about it.” Not In Our Town embodies that. “It’s a grassroots thing,” Gary Saunders said.  It bubbled up both on campus and in the community.  “It’s a vehicle to gather together and express what our best self is. That’s what Not In Our Town is all about.” NIOT prompts community discussions of “the important issues we really need to talk about. Sometimes issues are tragic events, or issues swirling about like Black Lives Matter and Islamophobia. We need a place to talk about it. We have a long way to go, but we’re getting there.” The Chamber also awarded its Outstanding Customer Service Award to…

Mode Elle Boutique makes presence known in downtown BG

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Stacie Banfield started off by taking fashion into customers’ homes. Now the business has a home of its own, and in a prime piece of Bowling Green real estate. Mode Elle Boutique opened for business Friday on the northwest corner of the Four Corners in downtown Bowling Green. The shop reflects Banfield’s long passion for fashion. It offers a collection of young contemporary, missy and women’s clothing, accessories and handbags. The emphasis is on fun, affordable and distinctive fashions. Banfield travels to apparel markets Las Vegas, Los Angeles and Dallas to personally select merchandise for the shop. And because she wants her customers each to have her own look, she stocks only a limited number of the same items. The shop offers more than a clothing buying experience. Because of its collaboration with the Golden Vanity Salon, next door on West Wooster, the shop can offer “full styling experience… from top to bottom.” The partnership between Banfield and Golden Vanity owner Haley Reese goes back to the start of both enterprises. Banfield, a 2006 graduate of the University of Toledo with a degree in communications, started Mode Elle as a mobile boutique, “style on demand” in late 2012. She would do home parties and trunk shows for “working women and busy moms.” That business was a way for Banfield to get a foot into fashion with the flexible schedule she needs as a mother. The 2000 Rossford High School graduate and her husband Josch now have two sons Kellan, 7, and Grayson, 4. The family lives in Lambertville, Michigan. Reese worked as an assistant buyer for the enterprise. When Reese opened Golden Vanity a year ago, she had Banfield bring the rolling boutique into the shop for the ribbon cutting festivities. That was met with so much enthusiasm that Reese welcomed Banfield into a corner of the shop to offer her wares as a featured vendor. Banfield also has an online presence at: From the start they talked about the possibility of expanding if the retail space to the east with frontage on Main Street ever became available. At that time, it was home to Mosaic, a clothing consignment shop. When that business closed in spring, Banfield made her move. Within a few weeks of Mosaic vacating the space, she and her husband were busy taking down the wall that separated the salon…

Arps Dairy milks its story to secure its place in the market

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Lambert Vandermade milks cows for a living. He bottles milk for hobby. And that means he also has to tell a story. Vandermade, president of Arps Dairy, told his story of how a Netherlands-born dairyman came to own a long-standing Ohio business and what he envisions for the future at the July Northwest Ohio Ag-Business Breakfast Forum Thursday morning.  The event was hosted by the Center for Innovative Food Technology at the Agricultural Incubator Foundation. Vandermade came to Northwest Ohio with his family from the Netherlands 16 years ago as they searched for a way to grow their family dairy business. In the Netherlands, he said, land is a scarce resource. The country is a third the size of Ohio. In the Netherlands, the family had 60 cows and raised 200 sows.  They did the work themselves with no employees. The European quota system, now ended, meant they were assured of making a small amount of money from the milk. The pigs provided more chance for profit. When they came to Ohio, after investigating other areas of the country, they started with 600 cows, “created 10 jobs” and were introduced to a federally regulated system so complex, Vandermade said, “I still understand about half of it.” The Vandermades now milk 1,400, cows on two farms in Defiance County, one devoted to maintaining older cows. “Dairy is a very complicated market,” Vandermade said. “The market has shrunk down to a very few, very large companies.” That puts a particular burden on the milk processor. Large retailers use milk as a loss leader. Low milk prices lure shoppers in the door. But that makes it hard for small companies like Arps to compete, he said. Vandermade’s frustration with the marketplace led him to wonder: “Can we lay a better link between the farmer and the consumer? The consumer is becoming further removed from the farmer and were not doing anything to bridge that gap.” With that in mind, Vandermade approached the Arps Dairy, which still maintained that link. Nothing came of those initial talks, so the Vandermades pursued another project, building the spread for older cows, about five years old, as a way of extending their productive life. It is good for the business, which pays $1,800 to raise a cow to the point she starts producing milk, and good for the animal. Then with that project…

Rapid Fired Pizza to open BG location

Ed. note: The company now reports that the target date to open the new store is March 1, 2017.   Submitted by RAPID FIRED PIZZA Rapid Fired Pizza is happy to announce yet another new location coming soon to Southwood Plaza, 816 S. Main St. in Bowling Green. The new store is scheduled to open in December “We felt Bowling Green was a great community and was a market we just had to be in!” said Kelly Gray a co-founder. This restaurant will be operated by a franchise group planning at least five stores in the northern Ohio market including the Lima location that will open in August. The Bowling Green location features 4,500-square-feet and will have enough seating for 100 people. “We were looking for easy access for students, residents and area professionals plus with our new online ordering system, it will be easy to skip the line and have your freshly made pizza or salad ready for a quick bite between classes or on a lunch break.” Gray said. Rapid Fired Pizza allows customers to choose from an 11” thin or 9” pan pizza, eight sauces, eight cheeses, over thirty toppings, and fourteen dipping sauces to build their perfect pizza, or try one of the 10 craft pizzas on the menu. It’s then cooked in 180 seconds. Customers can also order craft or custom salads in addition to breadsticks and desserts. The concept was founded in Kettering. Less than 1-year-old, Rapid Fired Pizza has 11 locations under construction or open with the signing of this location. Opening dates will continue to be announced on the website. A typical Rapid Fired Pizza location employs 20-30 people. “Because of our simplified operations and low cost of entry, we’ve experienced tremendous growth over the last few months and are preparing to bring an amazingly good, amazingly fast pizza to other states in the very near future” said Ray Wiley, a co-founder. “We have a strong team that is dedicated to building the Rapid Fired Pizza brand.” To learn more about their Rapid expansion, visit the website at:

Library board accepts low bid on Walbridge project

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News The price tag of the addition and renovation of the Walbridge Branch of the Wood County District Public Library is coming in under budget. The library’s board Tuesday accepted a general contractor bid of $849,000 from Midwest Construction of Holland. The board also accepted the company’s bid of $3,350 for shades. The administration has decided not to pursue a second alternate bid for benches and plantings. Library Director Michael Penrod said they will wait until the project is finished to do that work. The estimated cost for the bid was $1 million. Of the 10 bids submitted seven were under that number. Tom Stuckey, the project administrator, said to have that number of bids submitted was “phenomenal.” The one concern with the Midwest bid was how much under it was the others. The unsuccessful bids ranged from $929,800 from Spieker to $1,165,777 from Cross renovation. Penrod said he was pleased so many area firms were interested in the project. Several board members questioned the low bid. Stuckey said he did go back to talk to company officials, and they assured him they “capable and confident that they are ready to proceed.” Stuckey said he’s worked with the company on other projects. “They’re a capable company. They’ve been around a long time. They have the wherewithal to do this project.” Ellen Dalton wondered if they might cut corners, or if they were hiring cheap labor. Stuckey said he will be on the site monitoring construction. The company hires union labor, and all workers must be paid prevailing wage. He said that sometimes how low a bid comes in is determined by what the subcontractors say they can do their parts of the projects for. Some companies may have a single preferred subcontractor, and therefore don’t get a lower price. Stuckey praised the board for its work on the project. “There will be great pride in this. I’m looking forward to the groundbreaking.”