SIDNEY — The Sidney Rotary Club took a trip down memory lane recently as Mike Lochard showcased his family’s business’s past, present and future.
The third-generation owner of Lochard’s Inc., in Sidney, told Rotarians how his grandfather started the business in 1945 in a garage on County Road 25 A — and got into the metal fabricating industry almost by accident.
“A guy in Dayton was in the shop in 1968 and noticed all of the machinery and tools,” he said, noting the man needed a belt guard for one of his industrial machines. “He said, ‘You have all the tools. I’ll bring you one and see if you can duplicate it.’”
Lochard said the next day, there was an order for 500 additional parts, “and we were in the fabricating business.”
In 1951, his grandfather purchased property on North Street and built what would become Lochard’s Appliances, a full-line General Electric dealership which sold washers, dryers and refrigerators for decades.
“That GE salesman must have been something, because before he left, my grandfather was selling GE appliances, all of them,” Lochard chuckled.
While Lochard discussed a number of historic points in the company’s past — including thriving hardware, plumbing, heating and air conditioning sales and service arms, as well as the fabrication — it was the recent past which made him beam with pride.
Lochard told of projects on which the company has partnered with both the Ohio State University and Ohio Northern University to help complete. One was a custom-made “tail-gater” for use at OSU events, while the other had astronautical implications.
“A group of engineering students at Ohio Northern got a grant to design and construct a replica of the moon-rover,” he said. That grant led to the local company’s helping the students design a perfect replica, which now sits at the Neil Armstrong Museum in Wapakoneta.
Lochard also touted the advancements in technology and the impact it has had on his business.
“The new laser machine cuts more than four times faster than the one we bought three years ago,” he said. That new laser set the company back about a million dollars.
Lochards currently employs 68 full-time staff at its locations in Sidney.