Randy Harnish is a man who means business

June 21, 2013

By JESSICA WILLIAMS

Randy Harnish has worn many hats.
The native has turned a few pages in his storied business history, which dates back more than three decades with a convenience store.
Today, it includes a different convenience store, a storage business and a “hobby business.”
Country Cupboard opened in 1980, a partnership between Harnish and a friend, after he was laid off from Franklin Electric. He had also owned rental properties.
Harnish considers that store the first “full-line” convenience store in northeast Indiana, which sold a variety of products and included a deli and take-out food.
By then Harnish had purchased the location on Lancaster Street for the Handi-Spot and he sold the Cupboard in 2000.
“I had it 20 years and decided I didn’t want to grow old running a 24-hour-a-day, seven-day-a-week business, so I sold that and started the Lock-Up.”
The Wells County Lock-Up, located on South Main Street, is a family business, operated by Harnish, his wife and youngest son Brandon.
And he still owns the Handi-Spot.
“I don’t think there’s anyone in Northeast Indiana who has been in the convenience store business longer than I have,” Harnish says. “I guess that proves most people are smarter than I am, I don’t know.”
He still enjoys it, he says. In 33 years, he estimates 500 employees have worked for him between the two stores.
Harnish started the Lock-Up after attending a conference and hearing that the self-storage business was expected to see growth. He started with one building and now has eight.
In the meantime, Harnish started a “hobby business” with his son Shane. It started when Harnish used a vendor in California to restore war Jeeps with realistic guns -- the man decided to retire and Harnish decided to buy his equipment.
Hoosier Hot-Shot, named after a B-17 bomber from World War II, sells WWII-era machine guns — both 50-caliber and 30-caliber – to military vehicle collectors, re-enactors, museums and the film industry.
The guns don’t fire bullets; instead it is simulated  but realistic fire.
Metal castings are sent in and other local vendors are used to get the parts, which are then put together in the shop behind the Lock-Up’s apartment, where Harnish and his wife live.
“The detail is all there, right down to every little rivet.”
So why, after much success, has he kept his business ventures local?
“I was already here,” Harnish says.
And he doesn’t expect to stop turning pages anytime soon.
“I would never really want to totally retire, I don’t think,” Harnish says.
He credits loyalty and some luck for the success he has seen this far.
“This is Bluffton, (we) had a lot of loyal employees and loyal customers, those are the two things that kept it going,” he says. “And it’s the same way today with the Handi-Spot.
“Bluffton has just been a good place to do business.” υ

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