Norwalk Interiors helps 'bring your vision to life'

Zoe Greszler • Jan 26, 2019 at 12:00 PM

A Norwalk business has expanded its reach and what it has to offer its local customers. 

Norwalk Interiors, a division of Norwalk Tile and Marble, held the grand opening of its showroom Thursday at 10 N. Foster St. The location formerly housed Shipleys, which closed last year.  

Darrell and Liz Abner started their business 20 years ago as Abner Tile, where Darrell said they mainly offered tiling for chain restaurants such as McDonald’s and Red Robin. Since then through the business has undergone a couple name changes and added to its list of services. The business now also helps residential homes look their best — and not just with tiling, but with a whole range of options, from tiling to stone work to blinds. 

The cherry on top of this expansion of projects was made concrete when the Abners, along with interior decorator and manager Kathy Hammersmith, held the ribbon cutting for their showroom Thursday. Liz Abner said the showroom actually officially opened in July, but due to displays arriving later than expected, the couple decided to postpone the ribbon cutting until the business was properly set up. The couple said the nearly six month wait on their orders has been one of the biggest challenges so far for Norwalk Interiors.

That though delay didn’t stop some customers from finding them and taking advantage of what options they could see. Even though it’s only been a short while, business is booming and things are going “great,” Abner said.

“It has actually been doing pretty well,” her husband added. “We originally established it for the customers we already had, to supply them with all the flooring (options) instead of just the tile. That was the thought in mind but then with Kathy, she knows so many people too, and it’s just kept growing and growing.”

Darrell Abner said owning a showroom, a place to bring customers and give them options “is a first.” The family-owned and -operated business previously only had offices which to work out of.  

“I think the main benefit for me is we do a lot of work in Lakeside; we have big contractors over there,” he said. “Now they can have their people come here instead of shopping around. I think that’s going to help. And instead of just tile, they can get the whole house done now, down to the blinds.”

Hammersmith said the benefit she sees is being able to use the showroom to help others discover what they really like and to bring that to life. She said that’s something special about Norwalk Interiors. 

“You’re one-on-one, working with a decorator that wants to bring your vision to life,” she said. “It’s not my idea — it’s your idea, but I help you bring it to life. We will work with anyone. It can as simple as just a small bathroom or kitchen or a whole home project, or anything in between.”

Norwalk Interiors, which is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, and by appointment. The business offers hardwood, LVPs, carpet, Hunter Douglas blinds and shades, and specializes in all the tiles, marbles and stone work. Norwalk Interiors can be reached in person at the Foster Street location or by phone at 567-424-6319.


Bellevue 7th most affordable city

BELLEVUE — Bellevue was ranked in the top 10 most affordable places to live in the state.

A new study from financial technology company SmartAsset ranked the most affordable places to live in Ohio, with Bellevue coming in at No. 7.

This is SmartAsset’s fifth annual study on the Most Affordable Places in America. These communities are ranked on an affordability index, weighing property taxes, homeowners’ insurance fees and mortgage payments relative to income.

There’s a lot more to home affordability than the price a home buyer agrees to pay the seller. To find the most affordable places to buy a home, SmartAsset took a holistic approach, considering closing costs, real estate taxes, homeowners insurance and mortgage rates in our analysis.

Bellevue, for example, had average annual mortgage payments of $4,368. The city’s average household income also rang in decent numbers — about $51,875.

Specifically, the organization found the total cost over five years of these four expenses — closing costs, taxes, insurance and mortgage payments — for the average home in every county in the U.S., and every city with a population greater than 5,000. It then took that five-year cost as a proportion of median household income in each county and city to determine affordability.

The most affordable cities and counties were those in which total housing costs on an average house accounted for the smallest proportion of the median income.


BWC recommends rate decrease

COLUMBUS — The Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) proposed a 20-percent reduction in the average premium rate it charges private employers, its largest rate cut in nearly 60 years if approved by the agency’s board of directors.

BWC administrator/CEO Stephanie McCloud told board members fewer workplace injuries and falling estimates of future medical costs are driving her recommendation to lower rates for the ninth time since 2008.

“We’re pleased Ohio employers recognize that workplace safety is vital to the health of their workforce, their businesses and our state’s economy,” she said. “Their efforts to promote safe and healthy workplaces are clearly paying off, and they’re making it easier for us to maintain low and stable workers’ compensation rates now and into the future.”

If approved by the board at its meeting Feb. 22, the rate reduction would be effective July 1 and save private employers $244 million over premiums for fiscal year 2019. The proposed cut would follow a 12-percent reduction last year and a pattern of no increases since 2006. It would also follow a 12-percent rate reduction for public employers — counties, cities, schools and others — that went into effect Jan. 1.

Overall, the average rate levels for the 242,000 Ohio employers in the BWC system are at their lowest in at least 40 years.

Premiums paid to BWC not only cover health care and wages for injured workers, they support the BWC safety and hygiened division, which offers grants, training, consultations and other services to help employers improve workplace safety. Employer participation in these services has grown by more than 70 percent since 2010. Claims, meanwhile, have fallen 18 percent over that time to 85,136 in 2018.

The proposed 20-percent rate cut represents an average statewide change. The actual premium paid by individual private employers depends on a number of factors, including the expected future claims costs in their industry, their company’s recent claims history and their participation in various BWC rebate programs.


Credit union increases insurance

SANDUSKY — VacationLand Federal Credit Union (VLFCU) recently increased the insured amount of its members’ deposits. As of Dec. 1, deposits became insured up to $750,000.

This level of coverage is attained with the first $250,000 provided by the NCUA Share Insurance Fund and up to an additional $500,000 in private insurance from the Excess Share Insurance Corp. (ESI). Previously, deposit accounts at the credit union were insured up to $500,000.

“We are pleased to continue our long-standing partnership with ESI by providing our members with this enhanced level of protection for their deposit accounts,” CEO Bryan Myers said.

Currently, VLFCU is the only financial institution in Ohio to offer this level of deposit protection.


Law firm honored

SANDUSKY — Murray & Murray Co., L.P.A. announced that three partners have been included in the 2019 Edition of The Best Lawyers in America. Since it was first published in 1983, Best Lawyers has become universally regarded as the definitive guide to legal excellence.

Lawyers on The Best Lawyers in America list are divided by geographic region and practice areas. They are reviewed by their peers on the basis of professional expertise and undergo an authentication process to make sure they are in current practice and in good standing.

Murray & Murray Co., saw three of its own lawyers named to 2019 The Best Lawyers in America list: Dennis Murray Sr., Charlie Murray and Margaret Murray.


Record No. small businesses sold

BizBuySell.com's annual 2018 Insight Report showed 2018 broke records for small businesses bought and sold. Retiring baby boomers also continued to fuel the market as buyers eagerly exited the corporate world.

For the third year in a row, a record number of small businesses changed hands, according to BizBuySell’s latest annual report, a nationally-recognized economic indicator which aggregates statistics from business-for-sale transactions reported by participating business brokers nationwide. A total of 10,312 businesses were reported sold in 2018 — the most since BizBuySell start collecting such data in 2007.

The year’s brisk activity of businesses being sold represents a 4-percent increase over the previous record of 9,919 in 2017 and a 31-percent jump from 2016’s then high of 7,842.

Closest to the Firelands area, the Cleveland-Elyria-Medina region saw 25 closed transactions in 2018.

Businesses sold for a median sale price of about $340,000 in the region. On average, that’s 0.93 of the asking price. These businesses had a median revenue of $500,000 and a median cash flow of $92,807. Business buyers paid on average 0.5 times revenue and 3.15 times cash flow.

Businesses listed in Cleveland at the end of 2018 had a median revenue of $500,000 down from $585,586 at this same time last year in 2017.

Median cash flow for Cleveland businesses was $92,807, versus, median cash flow of $132,370 the year before.

In addition to the reported sale data, BizBuySell also separately surveyed business brokers and small business owners around the coutry about the market.

Brokers said they saw similar increases, with 65 percent of respondents reporting that their transaction activity increased in 2018, while another 21 percent said it remained similar to 2017’s active level. When asked why they believed the business-for-sale market has remained so hot, brokers credited an increasing number of buyers and sellers and the general improvement of the small business environment. Similarly, current small business owners credited the same factors as the reason for transaction growth.

“I think our society as a whole has put more emphasis on small businesses and has made the pathway to business ownership easier to see for first-time entrepreneurs, which is great as the market continues to perform well,” one surveyed owner said.

When asked why more listings were hitting the market in 2018, exactly half of current owners cited the growing Baby Boomer population that is now ready to retire. Another 34 percent believed owners did not want to manage rising minimum wage and health care costs while 32 percent said owners are motivated to sell based on concerns over upcoming economic or political regulations.

On the other hand, buyers also remain eager to try their hand at small business ownership. Current owners believe most of these prospective buyers are coming from the corporate world, with an overwhelming 59 percent crediting the increased buyer numbers to people looking to escape a “9-to-5 job.”

“The strong economy is giving people confidence to be their own boss, and move away from working for others,” another owner said.

Other reasons included buyer confidence that the economy will remain strong and greater access to capital due to increased personal assets.

“The business-for-sale market has remained balanced for quite a few years now, allowing both buyers and sellers to confidently enter the market and walk away with a deal to their liking,” said Bob House, president of BizBuySell.com and BizQuest.com. “Small business ownership is the American dream and with a growing number of listings hitting the market, there should remain a steady stream of entrepreneurs ready to take over these businesses.”


If you have an item for the business roundup column, send the information to the Norwalk Reflector in care of Zoe Greszler, 61 E. Monroe St., Norwalk, Ohio 44857, or email it to [email protected]

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