Customers of Norfolk Awning Co. will see a new face the next time they stop by.
The 68-year-old business, located at 710 W. Norfolk Ave. in Norfolk, recently was sold by Ron Skiff, who has been part of the business for almost as long as he could remember.
“Essentially, I was born into the business,” said Skiff, whose parents, Cliff and Florence Skiff, started Norfolk Awning Co. in 1947. “I went to work officially in May 1964.”
Skiff said his father started Norfolk Awning Co. after his service with the military ended and he began working for Dudley Laundry.
“They had an awning department there,” Skiff said. “He worked with another gentleman in the awning department. ... He left and went out to Scottsbluff, and Dad pretty much took over doing the awning work for the laundry company.”
Norfolk Awning Co. was first located in the downtown building that now houses Paulyn’s Dance Studio. It moved to its current location in 1952.
Skiff said he got involved with the family business early on. He left Norfolk briefly to attend college but eventually returned to work with his father.
“I’ve always liked it, from the very beginning,” Skiff said of working with awnings and tarps. “I used to go with my dad when I was little and help him out when I could.”
The business was purchased by Rick and Debra Volk. Volk is a construction worker from Meadow Grove who was intrigued by the work done at the awning company.
“I was surprised with all that Ron made back here,” he said. “It’s an array of things. You think of awnings and tarps, but he does a lot more than that.”
As a retail manufacturer, Norfolk Awning Co. sells what it makes directly to the end user. It handles permanent awnings and patio covers, screen enclosures and canvas awnings. It also makes roll curtains, fixed-frame and retractable commercial awnings, tarps for boats, trucks and wagons and a variety of other canvas products.
Volk said Rhonda Tyler would be a regular face at the business. He said Tyler had spent some time with Skiff, learning the finer details of the operation.
Initially, Skiff jokes about what his parents might say if they could see what the company they started has become under his leadership: “I’m probably not doing it right.”
Skiff said his father regularly spent time at the business after he retired, especially after the death of his wife in 1998. He would answer the phone and talk to customers about their projects. Clifford Skiff died in 2011.
Seriousness returns to Skiff after thinking about what his parents might say if they could see the company now. “I think they would both probably say they’re kind of surprised at how much it has evolved, the different products and different things we do. I think they would be relatively happy that it’s progressed on.”
Skiff said he doesn’t have many plans for himself now that he has retired, although there is a woodworking project he started a long time ago that he hopes to finish.
“We’ll do some traveling. We’ll do a little golf, and I want to take my grandkids fishing,” he said.