Cindy Reed knows what is going to happen to the historic Art Deco Ohio Gas Company building, at the corner of Lynn and High Streets in downtown Bryan, but she’s not talking.
“It’s been sold and renovations are underway,” she said, but offered no other details because, “That’s their news to tell.”
Reed, president of the Ohio Gas Company since 2019, was more than happy to talk about her own news though during an open house for public officials Thursday afternoon on the company’s new campus at 715 E. Wilson St.
“We renovated the old operations center, upgraded the meter shop and added a new business office to improve efficiencies, but really it’s just nice having all 54 employees in one place,” she said.
The company is the fifth largest natural gas distributor in Ohio and currently serves 50,000 customers in Williams, Fulton, Henry, Defiance, Paulding and Lucas counties. It still has satellite offices in each county.
“We have employees who live in each (county) and they need space with parts and pieces to support timely responses,” she said.
The Ohio Gas Company, incorporated in 1914, after selling stock options for capitol the year prior, and its entire history is on display throughout the campus hallways.
“We got started when the Panhandle Eastern Pipeline Company ran lines from Texas to Detroit to support the auto industry,” said Richard Hallett, who served as the company president before Reed. “We were right in the middle, at the right place and at the right time to tap into that.”
The 90-year-old cloth maps that meter readers used in Napoleon and Archbold are framed and mounted outside Reed’s office and Mr. Sniffer — a bloodhound trained to detect underground gas leaks — still watches over everyone.
“He was part of the company back in the 1950s,” Reed said. Jim Tuddle was the company president back then and his daughter Bonnie was responsible for taking care of Mr. Sniffer. The bloodhound liked to get loose and hang out with kids in the schoolyard up the street.
The company sold its own gas appliances after World War II and their ads with the “Happy Wife/Happy Life” slogans are murals on the break room wall.
In 1996, a meter technician installed a gold-plated meter for their 40,000th customer “and we still have that,” Reed said. “We switched out for a regular one and our engineer still has it tucked away.”
The big blue neon sign outside the former downtown office that cast a glow over the courthouse square for 60 years is indoors now, inside the meter shop. “We needed a big space for it,” Reed said. “There’s no way we were leaving that behind.”
Some of Ohio Gas’ best history is still walking around.
Bob Sperling, manager of gas operations and appliances, has been with the company 42 years. “I’ve done it all — electricity, chemistry, metallurgy,” he said. “It’s actually been pretty exciting.”
Sperling has hung under bridges, fought through storms to repair pipe lines and worked all hours to keep lights on, furnaces warm and factories running.
His pride and joy is a single junction box still in service somewhere in Fulton County.
“I built it at home with my daughter when she was 3,” he said. “She’s 32 now and it’s about ready to retire. I’m going to wrap it up and gift it back to her.”