“(Lute Supply) closed on the building today (Wednesday, April 1). There is still a lot of architectural work to do, engineering work and things of that nature. The game plan is to move our operations out of the west end of Portsmouth to Rosemount,” Jason Lute, president of Lute Supply, said.
Currently the Scioto County Career and Technical Center occupies half of the building. The school is there on a short-term basis while construction is being completed on their main campus.
“The first phase will be moving our branch operations, plumbing, kitchen and bath showroom, HVAC distribution warehouses operations out there. They will move after we get the new counter area and new show room built,” he said.
Lute said there will need to be docks put on the front of the building.
“This will be our first major construction project in this area. We are hoping we can get everything approved and through whatever is required,” he said.
Lute said the company is always looking for an opportunity to move out of a lease. A number of the company's branches are leased from other people.
“When an opportunity presents itself, we will take a chance and invest in the building,” he said. “In the Portsmouth area its been kind of hard. There is not a lot of open land. We have looked at a few places around town when they have become available, (but) nothing ever suited us.”
He said the company was just about ready to start designing something on their existing property for a new facility in Portsmouth.
“It came down to get ready to pull the trigger on that and J.W. Village Market had gone out of business. We made a contact and started negotiations and communications with the folks that owned the building,” he said.
He said they had attempted to make contact with the building owner when Big Bear grocery vacated the building but nothing was ever established at that time.
Lute Supply has been in business since 1952. They have been at their current Portsmouth location since the late 1970s.
“My dad thought he was on top of the world at the time. They had a three-story commercial warehouse with two elevators. It was everything he had ever dreamed of,” he said.
“As we have grown over the years, I think at that point in time we had seven or eight employees and now we have nearly 100 spread over four states. The efficiencies of a three-story, two-elevator warehouse are just not there any more.”
He said the company's current location is 40-50,000 square feet of space. The Rosemount location is nearly 100,000 square feet of space.
“The building needs a little 'TLC.' The roof will have to be fixed in the very near future. That will be our first priority,” he said.
With the added space Lute said it will give the company room to grow.
He said there is a lot of retail traffic in the vicinity, from the various stores over the years and the businesses that are currently there.
“We do not know where we might go as to what new products we might offer, or what we might expand into,” he said. “With the additional square footage that's available to us we have discussed the possibility of creating a central distribution type environment.”
The company currently ships all of its products direct from manufacturers into their branches in four states.
“If everything falls into place, I think we should be able to get our demolition and modification work done and the area for the sales and the wholesale retail showroom area completed by the end of summer,” Lute said.
The company's corporate offices will move when the school moves to their new campus. “When they move to their new campus, we would be prepared to start our plans to move our corporate offices out there as well. But, there is no big rush,” he said. “My grandfather got to start the business, my dad got to build everything down here on Third Street and I get to take (the business) to Rosemount.”
Lute Supply has 13 locations in Ohio, Kentucky, West Virginia and Indiana. For more information about Lute Supply visit www.lutesupply.com.
WAYNE ALLEN can be reached at (740) 353-3101, ext. 208.