All in the family
Jun 8, 2014 at 12:00 PM
A family that works together stays together, and a local business can prove it.
T. J. Hosang Construction, based in Bellevue, has stood the test of time, having been in operation since 1872. Jeff Hosang, current owner of Hosang Construction, is a fifth-generation worker.
The company’s story began when Jeff’s great-great grandfather, Ferdinand Hosang, emigrated from Switzerland in hopes of finding work in the United States. He traveled to Cincinnati, since he had friends or relatives there, in search of a job. Eventually, he met his wife Anna, and married her before making the move to the Bellevue, where friends of Ferdinand’s bride lived.
In Bellevue, Ferdinand began building quality barns, which have been associated with the Hosang name for most of the last century. His son Alphonse, also known as A.J., joined his father and built 175 barns in the area, according to the company’s website.
Alphonse’s son, Gene, created his own construction business in the 1940s after his military service and was “talented craftsman” and a “very honest man,” according to the company's website. He made life-long friendships with his clients and gained their trust. Years later, Gene’s nephew, Tom, joined the company after high school and became an important member of the construction company. Jeff, Tom’s youngest son, would become interested in construction years later.
Jeff began T.J. Hosang Construction in 1991, sixteen years after his father died in a car accident on his way to work. He worked for the original company for 14 years and was admired for his dedication to his occupation. Today, he has some of A.J.’s tools and still uses some of his father’s tools to honor his memory.
Recently, family members discovered that the company might hold a point of pride in the state.
“We did some research about five years ago and we believe that we’re the oldest construction company in Ohio,” Hosang said.
Since Ferdinand founded the company, it specialized in barn construction but has added roofs, siding, building additions to homes and businesses and more to their repertoire.
“We do 75 percent residential construction and 25 percent commercial construction,” he said. “We do just about everything.”
Because of their quality work, customers from bigger cities have taken notice of the Hosang’s construction company.
“We serve our area, but we’ve also been as east as Cleveland, as south as Columbus, to Toledo and as north as Canada.”
Hen’s Island, the tiny island just beyond the Canadian border in Lake Erie, served as one of the most interesting construction jobs the company’s ever had.
For that project, workers had to take a plane to the island to make an estimate on the job and take a boat to the island every Monday and return every Friday while the crew was provided with room and board during the week.
“I’m not a big fan of planes, so I always took a boat whenever we went there,” he said.
The company had projects during a recent winter on Put-in-Bay and Kelley’s Island, where the materials would be shipped during the fall. In the past, the team worked on libraries in a few municipalities in addition to building five to six additions for Fricker’s in Perrysburg.
Thankfully, the family hasn’t had any “family feuds” during the years of his business.
“We’ve just had trouble keeping quality employees,” he said. “We try to keep them happy and here.”
Keeping employees was especially hard during the recent recession, when the company got rid of their laborers due to people remodeling their own homes to cut costs.
“During the first 15 years [of my ownership], the economy was booming and profits were plentiful,” Hosang said. “[Then] the economy took a hit and affected us too.”
Fortunately, they’ve built up their laborers again and have added a new office assistant, Kelley, to the staff.
“It’s nice having her here,” he said of his new employee. “I’m fortunate to have this crew.”
Hosang admitted that taking over the business was a challenge at first, just like recent troubles of finding new products.
“We’re trying to keep our customers interested,” he said.
Hosang has three sons—all of whom could take over the business in the future. But he’s not forcing them to do that.
“I’m hoping at least one decides to take over the business,” he said. “I’ve told all of them to go to college and get a 9 to 5 job, but it’s whatever they want to do.”
For now, the company wants to keep their reputation consistent with the standards their ancestors set years ago. Thanks to them, the company has become a “word of mouth business,” leading them to a positive, lasting legacy.
“It was the reputation that our ancestors built that has kept us in business,” he said. “They were known for being very meticulous.”
Hosang added that numerous houses and other buildings built 100 years ago by Hosang predecessors still stand today.
“It’s a testament to the craftsmanship they had years ago,” he said.
Surely, the legacy will continue as the Hosangs hold onto these important principles.
“We’re trying to provide them with the best craftsmanship we can. That’s how they’ll come back.”