LEBANON, OHIO — A $10 million shoe factory redevelopment project in Lebanon is just one of the ambitious business ventures of a local family of “serial entrepreneurs.”
The Alexander family already owns a handful of retail businesses, a recruiting company and more than 50 commercial or residential properties throughout the region, and continues to grow. “The Shoe” is its most ambitious undertaking in Lebanon. The family also owns a whole block on Main Street downtown.
Keith and Dee Alexander, their son Nate Alexander and daughter Kristen Ponchot lead the family enterprise. It includes clothing and home decor businesses launched on Main Street in Lebanon, but with locations at the Dayton Mall, Liberty Center and throughout the region.
The properties for the businesses, including a coffee and gift shop on the first lot mapped out in 200-plus-year-old Lebanon, are owned by the parents or one of the family businesses.
“There’s probably 20 different moving parts,” said Nate Alexander, who joined the family business about four years ago.
The entire East Main Street block has undergone major renovation.
“The Alexander Family has been making a significant investment in properties throughout Downtown Lebanon for quite some time now. The restoration and renovation of these buildings has remained consistent with the historic character of our Downtown. This investment has supported exciting new businesses opening up, and is furthering Lebanon’s reputation as a great place to live, work, and visit,” Lebanon City Manager Scott Brunka said in an email.
Keith Alexander, 62, a retired General Electric engineer, said the couple bought and initially lived in their first property, a small home in Mason, almost 40 years ago.
The Alexanders have lived just outside Lebanon for 30 years and started the business empire through acquisition of rental real estate in Warren County.
“Approach life’s opportunities with a servant mindset,” Keith Alexander said, seated in an office behind the latest location for their Rose & Remington store in Lebanon.
The family’s block of Main Street begins just east of Lebanon’s central crossroads, Broadway and Main Street, and ends at the new Rose & Remington, which opened in November.
Next to the Lot 1 coffee shop, the first business on the block is the Green Country Market, the family’s first retail business, opened about nine years ago. Their first Sammie & Tink children’s clothing store is also on the block.
“When we came here, there was nothing,” matriarch Dee Alexander recalled.
These businesses were started and are still operated by her and her daughter, who serves as buyer and operations manager, Dee Alexander said.
“Keith is our visionary,”she added, while recognizing their son’s growing influence.
The former shoe factory building, envisioned as a microbrewery, with restaurants, retail and convention spaces, possibly a rooftop bar, is a block south of their Main Street businesses.
Burlap & Birch is another new retail store, split off from Rose & Remington, opened in January in the East Main Street block. Plans call for the addition of three Rose & Remingtons for every Burlap & Birch.
“It is an affordable, eclectic home store,” Ashley Dennis, a marketing and social networking specialist for the Alexanders, said, adding the family’s stores all aim to beat competitors through lower prices and personal service.
Just south on Broadway is Curve & Cloth, an extension of Rose & Remington for “curvy women,” said Dennis, the company’s “fashionista,” according to Nate Alexander.
The Alexander Recruiting Co. (ARC), formed to staff the family businesses but expanded in July into recruiting of engineers and IT workers, among other job types, operates from another old building, located across Main Street.
“Nate decided to expand the operation into a staffing agency due to his previous recruitment experience and brought additional help on the team,” A.J. Forinash, ARC recruiting director, said in an email sent after a meeting last week at the ARC office.
“This was around the time Keith Alexander retired (last summer) from GE,” Forinash added. Alexander is also managing partner of the recruiting business.
The Alexanders are also redeveloping a block of Mulberry Street, just east of where the city is planning an entertainment district.
“Serial entrepreneurs” was how Nate Alexander described his family during a presentation on the proposed $10 million shoe factory redevelopment to Lebanon City Council last month.
The original store is named after Kristen’s 8-year-old twins, Ava Rose and Luke Remington Ponchot.
“Rose & Remington was growing so fast,” Nate Alexander said, recalling how they decided to expand the recruiting business.
In addition to the enlarged Lebanon space, there are Rose & Remingtons at the Dayton Mall, Liberty Center, Mason and across the Ohio River in Kentucky.
They plan to add 10 stores including in Columbus, Indianapolis and Kentucky.
“We will be going national,” Nate Alexander said. “We’ve doubled (in growth) every year since we started (in 2014).”