I’ll be the first to admit that speed is part of my driving vocabulary (although I have a clean driving record at this point). When I have to cover a lot of ground on my contractor visits, I tend to push the accelerator a little harder.
Naturally, the sight of a red Mustang caused a minor palpitation. I shrugged my shoulders and decided to grin and bear it. Maybe on this day I’d slow down a bit. I had to make two stops at the winners of our “Best Contractor to Work For” contest. The first was Meyer & Depew Co. Inc. in Kenilworth and the second was 75 miles to the east at Runnemede Heating Co. Inc. in Runnemede.
Meyer & Depew is no stranger to The News, having been part of a feature I did on New Jersey contractors last year. So I don’t think Bobby Ring will be too offended if I talk about Runnemede and not about his company, which lies in the shadows of the Newark/New York metropolis.
Runnemede is a small town, population of 10,000 or so, and is close to the New Jersey/Pennsylvania border. I couldn’t find it on my Hertz map but luckily it found me as I judiciously studied my Internet driving instructions. The locale is small and quaint. It seemed to be a place where more people passed through on their way to somewhere else, than stopping in to visit.
What impressed me the most were the people of Runnemede Heating Co. When I met owner George Stanch and his sons, Jim and Jeff, I knew I was in for a good story. After talking with their staff and touring their facilities, I had a good story.
The company epitomizes what I call the “family spirit” of our independent hvac contractors. They are easy to talk with, knowledgeable about their trade, good to their employees, and a solid part of their community.
They span two small buildings on the town’s main street. One houses their retail walk-up business and the other, about 100 feet to the east, houses the service side-general offices.
When I say “houses” I’m not kidding. The retail store is a former residence and a full kitchen is still in use. In fact, data-entry clerk Caroline Wildermuth sits at the edge of the kitchen, only a few feet from the refrigerator.
The Stanchs are worthy winners and they enjoyed the “slight intrusion” that I and freelance photographer Debra Byers made when we spent a couple of hours with them. In fact, Byers, a veteran of hundreds of photo shoots, said the Stanches ranked right at the top of her list of “good sports.”
I hope the Stanchs last many years in Runnemede and I would like to pay them a return visit someday. I also hope The News has put one more feather in their cap. They deserve it.
By the way, my driving record is still clean.