The construction industry is reeling, but that didn't stop Todd Hiester from opening a showroom to showcase his skills as a hardwood floor artisan. It fulfills a longtime desire.
"This showroom is ... my effort to say, 'I can do this, I want to do this,' " said ..Hiester, who owns Todd's Hardwood Flooring Co. in Clovis.
Hiester is a floor craftsman. He has been restoring and installing hardwood floors in the Valley since 1999. He scrapes, sands and builds floors using natural wood such as hickory and maple -- often using his favorite 1940s-era planer.
His handiwork is evident in many custom homes throughout the area.
The masterpiece of the new showroom in Old Town Clovis at 634 Pollasky Ave. is a custom-designed, hand-laid, scraped and finished hardwood floor. It is made of long-length, 1-inch-thick hickory -- and took eight days to finish. In the center is a star made of walnut, hickory and maple bordered by maple accents.
"This is a very special floor," Hiester said. "But it shows what we can do."
He hopes his custom niche helps him stand out in an industry that includes giants such as Lowe's, Home Depot and other regional and national companies.
Back at it
Two longtime Valley businessmen have created a new payroll service company, Payality.
This is round two for Chet Reilly and Bill Van Beurden, who first created a payroll company, Kingsburg-based Total Pay Management, about 15 years ago. That company landed on Inc. magazine's Inc. 500 list of fastest-growing companies in America. The pair sold Total Pay Management to a national competitor in 2004.
They started Payality in November. Van Beurden of Van Beurden Insurance Services is chairman of the board and Reilly is company president.
Payality offers payroll services, but also handles taxes and W2s. The company plans to expand soon into managing employee benefits, workers' compensation, recruitment and other services by partnering with existing firms.
The company employs six people, but Reilly said he expects it to grow quickly.
Banking on the Valley
Porterville-based Bank of the Sierra is continuing to grow its branch network, announcing plans to open new offices next year in Farmersville and Selma.
Farmersville, a community of about 11,000 in Tulare County, has been without a bank branch of its own since May. That's when Westamerica Bank closed the branch it took over after the failure of Merced-based County Bank.
Kevin McPhaill, chief banking officer for Bank of the Sierra, said he expects the Farmersville branch to open in the first quarter of 2010 in the former County Bank/Westamerica building on Visalia Road, west of Farmersville Boulevard.
The bank also has branches in nearby Exeter and Visalia.
In Selma, Bank of the Sierra will join a banking scene that already includes Bank of America, Citibank, Union Bank and Westamerica Bank.
McPhaill said the branch will be near downtown, in a new office to be built in a shopping center at the southeast corner of McCall Avenue and Arrants Street. The company expects the branch to open in the third quarter of 2010.