Mike Zerbach worked in construction in the Roseburg area.
Mark Zerbach worked for Boeing in the Seattle area.
Despite the distance, the brothers talked regularly over 30 years or so. One subject that came up repeatedly during their phone calls in recent years was becoming business partners.
The talk became real in June 2010 when Mike and Kelly Zerbach and Mark and Judy Zerbach purchased Your Kitchen & Bath.
Mark retired after 32 years as a structural design engineer with Boeing and returned to his hometown.
“Working together has been good,” said Mike Zerbach, 50, a 1981 Roseburg High School graduate. “We’ve always been pretty close. It’s been easy working together.”
“We look out for each other,” said Mark Zerbach, 56, a 1975 RHS grad. “You shouldn’t go into business with someone unless you’re sure about it. We look out for each other first and then ourselves.”
After the purchase, the brothers bought their own building and moved the business a few blocks to 288 N.E. Ward Ave. in Roseburg. They remodeled to include a 3,000-square-foot showroom, a shop and offices.
Mike Zerbach has been in the construction business in Douglas County for the past 20 years, having worked for Lieberman Construction for three years and then owning and operating his own business, Zerbach Construction. His son, Brandon, is now a co-owner of Zerbach Construction.
The brothers described Your Kitchen & Bath as a destination for a complete residential or commercial project. The business provides the plumbing fixtures, cabinet and tile options and arranges for subcontractors to do the work.
“We can handle it all here, whatever is needed from start to finish,” Mike Zerbach said. “We have lines that can compete with the box stores, that are comparable in price to the box stores.”
Mike’s role is to be a showroom salesman, visit sites and bid on projects and schedule the work. His wife, Kelly, keeps the company’s books.
Mark Zerbach reviews the bids and checks on products for projects.
“There’s been a few nights when I thought to myself, ‘Am I doing the right thing?’ ” Mike Zerbach said. “But it’s working out well. We’ve had a lot of customers come in, we’ve gotten really good support from the community.”
Mark Zerbach said he is optimistic there will be a recovery from the recession and that construction will pick up. He also explained more older people are remodeling their bathrooms and kitchens to make them easier to use. Walk-in and roll-in showers and bathtubs are becoming more popular.
While the Zerbach brothers have had the business for only three years, it is actually 25 years old. Randy Ashcraft opened the business in 1982 and named it Res-Com Kitchen & Bath. Leon Noel purchased it in 1991, and a few months later changed the name to Your Kitchen & Bath. Noel owned it until selling to the Zerbachs.
“I’ve known Mike for 20 years, and over a few years I talked to him several times about buying my business,” said Noel, who was looking to retire.
Noel had to wait a couple of years until Mark Zerbach retired from Boeing, but then an agreement was made.
“It was worth the wait,” Noel said. “I can’t say enough about that whole family.
“My concern was the business keeping my employees,” Noel added. “I cared very much for my employees, and I asked Mike and Mark to keep them. It worked out extremely well.”
At the time of the sale, there were six employees. There’s been enough business that Your Kitchen & Bath now has eight employees.
Noel said that later this year, the Zerbachs will make the final payment to complete the sale.
“We’re really busy,” Mike Zerbach said. “This summer it’s definitely picked way up with some new home construction and some commercial work. All indications are that we’re climbing out of the slump and moving forward. All the (product) reps that come in say the I-5 corridor is doing well.
“It’s cool to be here, where I’m able to help friends and family with their projects and to do quality work for them,” he added.
• News-Review business reporter Craig Reed can be reached by calling 541-957-4210 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.