The year is 1946. Minimum wage is $.75 per hour and the price of gold is $35.00 per ounce, Frank Sinatra turns out an incredible 57 songs during the year and February 10th Reese Electric opens their doors for Business!
Reese Electric was started by Ben and Viola Reese. Ben was born in Bandon and went to school there. He began his electrical career in Bandon in 1936. One of his early jobs was wiring the temporary "Tent City" for the homeless after the big fire in 1936 that nearly destroyed all of Bandon. Their first office location was 1200 South Broadway, Coos Bay, in a little house which is now the present location of Hansen's Animal Hospital.
In 1947 the business moved to 781 Virginia Avenue in North Bend and rented space in an old dairy building. Some neighboring buildings at the time were the First National Bank, The North Bend Hotel, the White House Lady's Clothing Store, and the Safeway Store.
The North Bend Hotel had a Western Union Office and a Greyhound bus stop where passengers waited in the lobby for the bus.
In 1948 they moved to 2011 Union Avenue in North Bend, a location that Reese Electric would occupy for the next 62 years. By the mid-50's Reese Electric became the local Frigidaire appliance dealer. Another store was opened on Broadway in Coos Bay across from the Egyptian Theatre. The sales manager in Coos Bay was Les McKay who was also a sports announcer for the local radio station. Les Hosted the "Play by Play" for the Lumberjacks, a local professional baseball team. Many patrons would stop by the store to meet the man whose voice they had been listening to on the radio.
Not only did Reese Electric carry appliances, but they also carried television sets when they first came out. Cable, when it first came out, was very expensive to connect to. Reese Electric had a cable connection brought into the shop and when there was an interesting sports event, all the men gathered to watch it. The company's main focus in the 1950's regarding electrical work was in residential house wiring as there were many subdivisions being built. Reese Electric employed anywhere from four to eight electricians as the projects allowed. The appliances and televisions started phasing out in the later 50's as the business shifted more toward electrical contracting. This brought the business in the 1960's.
In 1965 George Reese began his electrical apprenticeship program while working for his father. George completed his electrical apprenticeship in 1969 and began working in the field as a journeyman. After work George spent most of his time learning to bid jobs. In 1965 George married Sharen Sorensen and their daughter Kristine was born in 1966. Sharen joined the family business in 1970.
Ben and Viola Reese continued to operate Reese Electric until 1976. At that time they began their full time retirement, selling the business to George and Sharen Reese. During the early 80's when the economy slowed down, the company employed only one full time electrician and one part time electrician. As the economy started picking up, the business started to grow steadily and has continued to do so. Reese Electric had around 25 employees at the time of their 50th anniversary, 1996.
In 2004 Reese Electric was sold to Randy and Becky Rema. Randy is a Coos County native, born at Keizer Memorial Hospital in North Bend, now the Coos County Annex. For the first year of ownership things stayed pretty much the same with a total staff of 22 employees and one location. In 2005 a growth spurt hit Reese Electric like nothing we had seen before. Sales grew by about 70%, more employees were hired, vans and trucks were also purchased. This trend would continue on into 2006 and 2007, and Reese Electric peaked with a total of 63 employees in mid-2007, a 250% increase from 2004! Work was plentiful with projects continuing at Bandon Dunes Golf Resort and lots of service work.
In 2005 Yockey Electric in Bandon was purchased from the Motheral family and became Reese Electric, which it remains today. Also in 2005 a branch was opened in Florence, this lasted for 3 years until there was just not enough work in this retirement community to support a shop there.
In 2008 with the slowdown in the economy, our workforce shrunk some and we currently have a team of 44 on hand and Reese Electric continues to be a leader in electrical construction on the Southern Oregon coast, serving a 210 mile area, from Newport to Brookings.
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