Fire fails to scorch business owner’s morale
By Scott Bellile
The owner of a snowmobile, ATV and UTV dealership that burned down last month in Hortonville said he’s intent on starting anew at the same site.
“At this point we are working on building, trying to get back up as soon as possible, hopefully before winter,” Lon Tesch said. “As a contractor I know the challenges that come.”
On Aug. 17, Tesch lost a building that housed Valley Snowmobile & Powersports as well as Tesch Construction and Management Inc.
The overnight fire at N1610 Midway Road rendered everything inside a total loss, including office space, inventory, a parts room, a car hoist and all his tools.
Tesch said it appears lightning caused the fire, although a fire inspection failed to determine an official cause. Nothing appears to be suspicious, he said.
The structure was there since Valley Snowmobile & Powersports began about 35 years ago, Tesch said. A smaller work building and Tesch’s house were spared by the fire.
“We had trees right next to the building, which they’re scorched,” Tesch said. “But [the flames] didn’t get into the pine plantation, which that could have been disastrous for other people’s properties … The biggest blessing to me is nobody got hurt. You can’t fix lives. Even though I’m in major distress, I’m surviving and everybody else is, too.”
A passerby and a neighbor called in the fire Aug. 17 after 2:30 a.m. Tesch, who normally sleeps through nothing, said he’s been a heavier sleeper since a knee surgery five weeks prior, so it wasn’t until fire truck lights illuminated his window that he awoke.
Dale Fire and Rescue and Hortonville-Hortonia Fire District eventually put the fire out.
Closing shop crossed Tesch’s mind after he saw his building in ruins, he said, but his desire to continue serving his clientele won him over. He said he prays his customers will remain and thanked the community for the support during the stressful ordeal.
Tesch is carrying out business as much as possible in the meantime. He asks customers who placed orders with Valley Snowmobile & Powersports before the fire to call him if he hasn’t already called them, as he’s lost some names and phone numbers to the fire.
Although Tesch is a contractor, he’s leaving the rebuild to other trusted professionals during the hectic time. But he said he’s already thinking up ways to make his next business better.
“I’ve learned already from this,” Tesch said. “You need to learn from every event in life. We never quit learning no matter what.”