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Late businessman’s company to remain in local hands

Rath buys Kim Wagner’s Progressive Specialties

Rath Progressive-121

Terri Schneider, left, owner of Rath Information Systems, and Tara Wagner, who finalized the sale of her late husband Kim Wagner’s Progressive Specialties Co. to Rath, pose Friday outside the Rath office. (EXAMINER PHOTO | REUBEN MEES)

The business the late Kim Wagner started 30 years ago will live on under continued local leadership after a recent sale.

Mr. Wagner’s widow, Tara Wagner, and Rath Information Systems owner Terri Schneider said Friday that Rath has bought Progressive Specialties and will incorporate it into its existing business.

Although the transaction was not completed until Nov. 26, discussions began before Mr. Wagner’s Oct. 10 death.

“Kim and I had given a lot of thought to this and his desire was to see the company continue under local leadership,” Mrs. Wagner said. “This seemed the most viable to us. We wanted another local company that shared the same reputation and values of commitment, integrity and loyalty.

“We wanted to continue the commitment to customer service and (Rath is) very well respected in the community because of how they treat their customers.”

Progressive Specialties, which Mr. Wagner started Oct. 4, 1982, sells a variety of items — from standard ink pens, key chains and coffee mugs to specialized awards or cowbells like those circulating at Benjamin Logan High School recently — customized with business logos or other designs.

“It’s a whole line of advertising specialties,” Mrs. Schneider said. “If you can put a name on it, we have it.”

While Rath was Mr. Wagner’s first choice for taking over the business operation and the transaction went smoothly, it was still difficult, the businesswomen said.

“It was quite an emotional discussion on all our parts,” Mrs. Schneider said.

“But that’s what sealed the deal for us,” Mrs. Wagner added. “Terri “got it” on multiple levels; she understood how difficult this was for a man who built a company in a community he loved.

“Kim’s wish was that if he sold the company Terri would take what he built and morph it into her own.”

Another major concern for Mr. Wagner was the security of his office manager, Marilyn Robb. As part of the transition, Ms. Robb was hired by Rath to continue to serve customers seeking the services previously offered by Progressive Specialties.

“Marilyn will continue with Rath, which will make an easier transition for clients,” Mrs. Wagner said.

“We see it as a very positive move and it speaks to Kim’s legacy,” Mrs. Wagner said. “We’re excited about this. It was a very sad day for me, but now I’m anxious to see what happens.”

Rath is located at 221 E. Columbus Ave., directly across the street from the Progressive Specialties office, which made the physical aspects of the transition quite easy.

While the previous Progressive Specialties phone number will remain in service for the time being, Rath’s main telephone number is 593-1911 and the fax number is 592-4165.

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