Building a new chapter in life (Belleville Telescope)

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40th year in operation good time to turn business over to another young family, say Scandia lumberyard owners

By Cynthia Scheer Telescope News

Richard and Soni Raney recently accomplished two goals: They worked to “full retirement” age and they passed the 40-year milestone of ownership in their Scandia lumberyard and hardware store, Raney’s Home Center. They are now ready to retire, Soni Raney said, because life is short. The couples final day at the store will be May 23. The store will then close for inventory before new owners Brent and Megan Melby take over.

The Raneys, together with Brian Larson, purchased the business on May 1, 1975, from Charles and Roberta Klima. The trio operated L & R Building Supply for two years before Larson went back to farming, Soni Raney said. The Raneys kept the business and re-named it. They are still in the same building they purchased four decades ago, although they’ve remodeled it over the years.

“For a lot of years we didn’t have any employees,” said Soni, who was a part-time teacher in the mornings and a bookkeeper and sales clerk in the afternoons. Her husband often worked alone in the store in the mornings.

Richard’s parents, Bob and Doris Raney, helped with the store if the couple was gone. The couple built trusses for several years and added kitchen and cabinet design to their business many years ago. Soni did all of the design and consulting work until the couple hired an employee to help with the kitchen and cabinet design a few years ago.

The couple’s children – their oldest was two years old when they bought the business – grew up in the store.

“There are stories of the kids playing in the lumber bins,” Richard Raney said.

Soni said the lumber bins meant a lot of work for her husband, who loaded and unloaded by himself all of the lumber from the overhead bins.

The couple built an addition to the building years ago, and all of the lumber is now stored on racks and moved with a fork lift.

Moving on

Soni Raney says she has been looking forward to retirement for the last five years. She hoped business would stay in the family, she said, but her children didn’t want to take it over.

The couple had other people express interest in purchasing the business in recent years, she said, and when the time came to finally select a buyer she was excited to sell the lumberyard and hardware store to a young couple.

The Raneys, after all, purchased the business as a young couple starting a family in Scandia. The tradition will be passed on to the Melbys.

“Brent and Megan are close family friends,” Soni Raney said. “And my son said they are as close to family as we can get.”

She said she is excited to move on and do other things, including spend more time with grandchildren, but leaving the business will be hard. She suspects it will be much harder for her husband, she said, who has worked in the business fulltime, and often alone, for decades.

“We are going to miss the people,” she said. “And we are going to miss contributing to the community and being a part of everything here.”