Most people don’t realize it but Greenwood is home to a business, VanHearron, that manufactures and bottles all manner of solvents and sealers. You may not know because it all takes place in a nondescript building that sits on the South side of town that used to house Greenwood Industries. "You just never realize that there is this much going on," said John VanGorder. "People are always amazed at the size of this place because you only see it from the front."
Owners of VanHearron, John and Donna VanGorder, came to Greenwood from Binghamton, New York in 1996 to visit John’s mother and they never left. John worked as a service technician at several car dealerships in Fort Smith and then into industrial flooring before going into business for himself.
"I just got to the point where I was tired of making other people money and decided it was time to make myself some," said VanGorder. "I kept running to things that I needed in the field to solve a problem that nobody made. So I figured out how to make those products myself to solve my problems."
The VanGorders started making their own products in 2006 and went into full time production of sealers and cleaners in 2009.
A year and a half ago John and Donna were approached by the retail giant Lowes about creating a product line for the specifically for the hardware store. "They told us that they are always looking for products that are very specific and nichey that they can add to their line so they contacted us and asked us to custom blend a product for them."
The VanGorder’s product will launch at Lowes this month. It will be in 500 stores for starters and then nationwide late this year or early next year. The product is called Enhance and Seal and it brings out the color of paver stones and seals it from the weather and makes the stones mold and fungus resistant.
More than just mixing the chemicals, VanHearron prints their prints all of their own labels, brochures and fills the bottles themselves which makes them more flexible than other companies that have to have their product bottled for them.
The VanGorders also offers custom branding where, for a price, VanHearron will mix up a product for you, bottle it, design the labels and create literature to go along with it.
John says that business is good and that he has had offers to buy the company, but stated that until he can sell it for enough money for he and all of his employees to retire that he will not be selling the company. "We have a real soft spot for the people that helped us get here," said John. "If they can’t retire with me, then I don’t want to retire. And besides that we are just having too much fun."