GREENSBURG — Herbert Sales and Service, a business staple in Greensburg for 40 years, is closing its doors.
Nancy Herbert, sole owner and proprietor for the last 25 years, has decided to retire, take care of her farm and enjoy her family.
Herbert’s Sales has an interesting history, as Herbert explained.
Herbert’s brother-in-law, Merle Herbert, had owned the business since 1979. Merle worked for Mitchell Industries, and when Mitchell closed, Merle, his brother and a friend went into logging as a profession. Merle purchased a Husqvarna chainsaw, and a fellow logger admired it, so Merle sold it to him.
“Merle would take it out into the field and use it. The other guys liked it, so he’d sell it to them and order another,” Nancy explained.
This buying and selling of chainsaws continued until Merle decided to open a Husqvarna dealership.
Nancy explained that when Merle and his friends retired from logging, Merle went into the Husqvarna chainsaw business. He picked up a Stihl dealership from businessman Bud Keith, and ran a store featuring both brands.
“You didn’t see that much, because Stihl and Husqvarna are competitors, but it worked for him,” Nancy said.
In 1995, Nancy took over the business. In 2003, she moved into her present location, 935 E. Main Street.
“I wanted a bigger space, and I’ve been here ever since,” she said.
Nancy said her biggest customer continue to be loggers, and that she has clients in Ohio, Michigan and all points in Indiana.
And how did you grow her business?
“By word of mouth,” she said. “People liked dealing with me, and they knew that if I didn’t have it I could get it for them, so word of mouth was the best advertising for me.”
Logging customers learned early that if they gave her a hard time she’d give it right back.
“They knew if they picked on me they’d get it back, but you have to kid around with people, it’s part of being friends,” she said.
What advice can she offer new business owners?
“It’s hard to just start a business like this unless you were brought up in the industry,” she said. “The big box stores carry the big saws now, but if they buy from a big box store who’s going to fix their saw if they run into any trouble?”
Nancy also prefers doing business the old-fashioned way.
“I’m not into computers, and I still write my tickets out by hand,” she said as she patted a stack of sales tickets on her desk. “I use pencil and paper, and nowadays you can order online ... and a lot of the dealers are going that way as a trend, but as it is with farming or logging, you’re not going to walk in off the street and start a farm or a logging business. You have to be raised into it from very young. People who do that nowadays are getting fewer and fewer. There just aren’t that many private business owners out there nowadays who can help you with if something goes wrong.”
What will she do with her time once she’s completely retired?
“I’ve got a farm out there to take care of, and there’s lots of grass to mow, so that will keep me busy,” she said. “And I’m not getting any younger. I’m 70. I’ve worked my time and now it’s time for me to take time for the farm.”
Herbert is discounting her merchandise until it’s gone.
“We’ve always provided a good service, so my regulars are stocking up ‘cause we’ll be closing soon,” she said. “My loggers come in and say, ‘Where are we gonna go? What are we gonna do?’ and deep down I feel bad for them, but everybody retires at some point or another. It’s bittersweet, because it’s going to be hard to say goodbye.”
Contact Bill Rethlake at 812-663-3111 ext. 7011 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.