PORTSMOUTH — Honoring a local family that has been a part of the business community for generations, Shawnee State University has announced the naming of the C.H. Lute School of Business. The SSU Board of Trustees confirmed the naming during the February regular meeting, which honors three generations of the Lute family: Lute Supply Inc.’s founder, the late Caleb Hobert (“Hobe”) Lute; son, Christopher H. (Chris) Lute, and grandson and current CEO/President, Jason Christopher Lute.
“The Lute family has contributed so much to the University and the community through their business and philanthropy,” Dr. Jeff Bauer, President of Shawnee State University, said. “I am pleased that we can recognize those contributions through the establishment of the C.H. Lute School of Business.”
The Lute family is proud to be long-time supporters of SSU’s growth and development.
“SSU is such an important part of our entire region,” Chris Lute explained. “The statement that has been used on the university billboards and advertising, ‘You can get there from here,’ says so much about endless opportunities created here in our backyard.”
Lute said the university’s role in future economic growth in the region can’t be overstated.
“Some young people may move away thinking there are not enough opportunities here in the Portsmouth area,” Lute said, “but by supporting SSU students studying business practices, entrepreneurship, and other approaches to success we can ultimately build more business and industry right here, providing more job growth and strengthening our economy as well as the quality of life in our community.”
Hobert Lute, along with his wife, Izetta, started the family business out of his garage as Lute Pump Sales on Argonne Road in Portsmouth in 1952. He quickly expanded into a range of plumbing and supply services.
Over the years the business thrived, relocated to Second Street and eventually occupied several blocks with its warehouses and showroom on Third and Jefferson Streets. In 2010 Lute Supply relocated to a newly remodeled 100,000-square-foot building in Rosemount which now encompasses its corporate offices as well as the Portsmouth Branch.
Hobert’s son, Chris, took the reins in 1975. The company expanded to Huntington, WV 10 years later and began their growth pattern and first step into expansion. Today the company includes 11 stores in four states. As a wholesale distributor, they primarily serve contractors with heating and air conditioning (HVAC) supplies, although they also provide plumbing, kitchen, bath, and hardware in some locations, including Rosemount.
The company employs more than a hundred people, including more than 20 at the corporate headquarters adjacent to the sales branch in Rosemount. They continue to be one of the top 100 wholesale firms nationally, according to the Wholesaler magazine, and top 150 wholesale distributors according to Supply House Times.
Chris and his wife, Marilyn, have been dedicated supporters of the university’s projects over the years. In addition to significant monetary support, Chris was a leader in SSU’s Reach for the Stars capital campaign and Marilyn served on the SSU Development Foundation Board as well as many years on the board of the Southern Ohio Performing Arts Association. In 2003, the family established the Lute Family Scholarship, which provides endowed support for SSU students majoring in business.
The SSU Board of Trustees confirmed the school’s naming in February following the resolution passage in December. The board approved the transition from a business department to the school of business in June 2021.
The C.H. Lute School of Business includes bachelor, associate, and minor degrees in seven disciplines including accounting, health care administration, information systems management, information security (cybersecurity), management, marketing, and sports management. To learn more about these programs at Shawnee State University, visit www.shawnee.edu/business.