Heritage Haus's Rich History of Family-Run Business

 

Heritage Haus is the only local store that provides ceiling fan and clock sales and service. The family-run shop has been headed by Lillie and Martin Valis since 1988.

“I’m 76 now and still [working], and enjoying every day of it,” Martin said. “I look forward to going to work every morning. Not many people can say that. I enjoy the workmanship and doing the craft.”

Martin himself does the watch repairs in the store and Lillie runs the business. She also does clock repairs of her own.

“We try to base our service and our reputation on consistent, good service,” Lillie said. “I realize that 6 to 8 months on a major clock repair is a long time turnaround, but you have to work on a clock consistently to fix it.”

The Valis couple explained that major clock repairs often take several months to be completed due to the high volume of clock repairs that the Heritage Haus receives and the meticulous nature of the work.

“Most people say if you want it done quickly, take it somewhere else,” Martin said. “If you want it done right, take it to the Heritage Haus.”

Heritage Haus is a family-run store; Lillie and Martin’s youngest daughter Mellissa partially put herself through college working on clocks, and occasionally still dabbles in the work. Furthermore, the couple’s oldest daughter, Mary Ann, heads the ceiling fan repairs for Heritage Haus.

“Working with family can be either the easiest or the hardest job you’ve ever had,” Lillie said. “If you’re working for someone else, you can leave the job at the job when you go home. If you’re working with family, parents, husband, wife, you’re going to take that job home with you. There’s no leaving it at work.”

Lillie explained that Quorum International provides most of the fans in the store; additionally, Heritage Haus special orders Hunter and Casablanca fans. According to Lillie, “Quorum fans have the best warranty of any fan on the market that I know of.”

If the switches and capacitors on the fan are in working order but the motor is malfunctioning, Quorum replaces the fan, “no questions asked.”

If a customer brings the fan to the store, Lillie said, “All it’s going to cost you is your time and your gas for bringing it in [and] coming back and picking it up.” The store also offers a $75 service cost for year-round service. Furthermore, wall controls for these fans can be supplied by Heritage Haus for around $55.

History

Martin told San Angelo LIVE! how he had entered the watchmaking business. He explained that he had played football in the lineman position as a younger man. Martin and his wife lived across the street from a watchmaker at the time.

“He came up to me and said, ‘How many old lineman do you know?’” Martin said. “I thought a minute and I said, ‘I don’t know of any.’ He said, ‘There’s a reason for that. If you’ll want to learn the trade, I’ll teach you to be a watchmaker. You’ll never get rich, but you can make your living sitting down in an air conditioned building.’ That was pretty appealing.”

Martin claimed that it took him about three years to learn the watchmaking trade, while most people take about five. When a watchmaking position opened at K-Mart in San Angelo, Martin moved to the city and has been a watchmaker ever since.

According to Lillie, she and her husband bought Heritage Haus in 1988. The store had been in service since 1978, Lillie said. However, the building has a past that extends far beyond the clock business.

The Heritage Haus building was constructed prior to 1880. From 1880 to 1918, the building was the Arc Light Saloon. The Alexander family bought the building in the early 40s as the Liberty Café before it became Alexander’s Café. The mural on the wall of Heritage Haus was commissioned by the Alexander family in about 1958 to honor the building’s days as the Arc Light Saloon.

Legacy

When San Angelo LIVE! asked Lillie why it is important to hang on to antique clocks and watches, she said, “They’re not making them anymore. They’re going to be a part of history.”

Additionally, she claimed that antique clocks and watches are keepsakes that are part of family history.

Martin said business at Heritage Haus is “unbelievable,” and the store has built up a good clientele. The shop has been serving some customers for almost 30 years.

“We’ve been around since 1988, and we give the old-fashioned service, which you can’t get anymore,” Martin said. “If you have a problem and we can take care of it, we’ll take care of it. We stand behind everything we do. You don’t call some factory in Timbuktu or wherever; you talk to us and we handle it.”

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I have taken two of my German Blackwood Forrest Cuckoo clocks to the Heritage Haus for repairs. These clocks are both over 50 years old and were bought by my parents while stationed in Germany in 1962. These clocks have not ben running for over 15 years. Heritage Haus took their time cleaning the insides, repairing what they could in house and then explaining to me how to take care of the clocks to get another 50 years out of them. I will always recommend people to the Heritage Haus if they want great craftsmanship and friendly customer service. I hope their daughters will carry on the legacy when the time comes.

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