Volume 47

The Building of History I: Richard Harmeyer

A Self-Made Businessman Who Tinkered in Just About Everything


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I say those words (above) with all the respect that I would give my grandfather, Wallace C. Dunn. They came from the same stock of hardworking small businessmen in Ottawa County. Richard Harmeyer was an Ottawa County farm boy growing up just west of Genoa, Ohio on Route 163. When he was 10 years old, his father gave him a Holtein calf for his first business operation. This is not uncommon, many young men and women who live on a farm begin raising animals in the Ohio FFA programs and for the county fairs in northwest Ohio. The long line of small businesses began in the middle 1950’s for the son of Otto and Juanita Harmeyer!


Reality of business came to Richard at 12 years of age when working after school on his parent’s two farms picking tomatoes, harvesting beans, corn, and herding Holstein calves that he experienced bankruptcy. He turned to bailing hay, working for his father, learning what hard work and determination could reap. He enjoyed 3 children with his first wife, Mary. Steve, John, and Beth continue working some of the businesses Richard created or work in a business of their own.   


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In the 1950’s, Richard along with some of his close friends, created a heavy machine construction business. Building the Ohio and Indiana turnpike’s infrastructure, gave him valuable experience managing people and heavy equipment. By 1964, Harmeyer Construction Company was one of the largest in the Western Basin Toledo Region. Oil well drilling became popular in the mid 1970’s and Richard drilled close to 100 wells in the region, especially around the Van Wert, Ohio area. A recession hit the region in 1979, and with the Reagan administration and the purchasing of Middle East Oil, the “Oil Boom” came to a crashing halt, $45 per barrel in the late 70’s to only $10 in the mid 80’s.     


A few years in the scrap metal business (very successful by the way) and the hazardous  waste business, gave Richard Harmeyer his fill of business ventures. Being a strong member of St. John Lutheran Church, he and Lenore (his wife of 42 years) decided to retire on his beautiful farm on Helwig Road, just northwest of Genoa. There he enjoys his twilight years of life with his extended family of ten. He is determined to beat his stage 4 cancer that he has and make sure his family is taken care of!! Richard is just another man amongst the great small businessmen of the Western Basin Toledo Region, specifically, Ottawa County. 


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