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Harley Reichart (seated) has sold his business to Craig Fisher, left. The business also employes Jeremy Fangman, Jane Kuennen, and Eric Kovac.

By Pat McTaggart

Freelance Writer


After servicing area homes and businesses for 35 years, Harley Reichart sold his Central Plumbing & Heating business to Craig Fisher last January 11. Fisher previously worked at businesses in Cedar Rapids and Center Point.

“I still go down to the shop,” Reichart said. “I’m still going out and doing job estimates.”

The history of Central Plumbing & Heating began in 1936 when Guy Stewart opened Stewart Plumbing & Heating.  Stewart ran the business until 1948, when he was bought out by Harold Knoke and Helmer “Swede” Hulversen. Knoke had worked for Stewart before World War II, and was well acquainted with the business and the work.

That partnership lasted until 1954, when Knoke bought out Hulversen’s share of the business. He changed the name of the business to Central Plumbing & Heating. In 1955 Dennis Beck went to work for Knoke, and 20 years later Knoke sold the business to him. In the interim, Knoke had a building constructed at 207 South Main Street in 1960 to house his business. The location was previously occupied by the Halpin Tire Company, whose building was damaged by a tornado in 1958 and was later destroyed.

Harley went to work for the business in 1980. “I had been the Water and Sewer Superintendent for Elkader,” Reichart recalled.  “That was a big help when I went to work for Dennis, because I knew where all the water mains and water and sewer lines were located in the community.”

Beck, Reichart worked hand in hand with other employees, who were hired as the business grew. Harley bought half of Central Plumbing & Heating in 1987 and bought Beck’s half in 1992.

“There really wasn’t any hesitation when I decided to buy half, and then all the business,” Reichart said.  “This was a place where if you worked more, you made more money. And that’s what I was looking to do.”

Harley’s biggest project, monetarily, was the Lands End building that now houses the County Offices on Gunder Road.  “It took us three months to do,” he recalled.  I had three employees then.  One did regular service work, and the others worked on the Lands End building.”

 Harley and his employees have been fixtures in Elkader and the surrounding area, working on jobs in all kinds of weather.  “I have probably been inside almost every home in Elkader,” he said.”

 “After 35 years I figured that was enough, and I decided to sell the business to Craig,” he added.  “Also, my wife has medical problems, which helped me make that decision.  I just want to thank all the customers that I have had over the years for letting me work for them.”

Fisher has hired name and name to help with the work side of things while Jane Kuennen continues to handle the office.

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