AMSTERDAM -- Ribbon-cutting ceremonies sometimes involve emotional stories, even tears, but those moments don't typically come from the building's original owners more than 30 years removed from operating the property.
That's what happened Tuesday during a ribbon-cutting ceremony for a newly renovated 67,000-square-foot, five-unit retail and professional office space building located on Wallins Corners Road off of Route 30 in the town of Amsterdam. The building houses four businesses, with 40 employees, but it is best known as the location of the original Alpin Haus.
Dan Roth, founder of DAN VANN Construction & Development LLC, said his company purchased the original Alpin Haus building for $68,000 at a Montgomery County tax foreclosure auction in October 2018. Roth's company operates more than 40 retail properties in the region, including locations in the hamlet of Tribes Hill, village of Hagaman and town of Broadalbin.
"There was an old insurance company here for years, and then it was abandoned for probably about the last five years," Roth said. "We're a renovator. We buy distressed properties. The previous owners really didn't do anything with it. We saw an opportunity, and this is what we do. When you look at Amsterdam, there is very limited professional office space, and everything is location, location. Also, I grew up in the area, so I knew this building had a story to it."
Montgomery County Executive Matt Ossenfort spoke at the ceremony and said rehabilitation of the old building, and the public's reaction too it, is a good example of the power of Amsterdam's tight-knit community.
"Investments like these by local entrepreneurs are exciting, especially when it brings new life to a facility that is such a part of the landscape,” Ossenfort said.
The building, with its iconic A-frame timber peaks, was built by the original Alpin Haus owners Bud Heck and John Daly in 1964. Alpin Haus started out as a ski shop with one employee, but grew to an outdoor recreational retailer with five locations in the Capital Region and over 200 employees. The company sold its original headquarters after moving into its much larger facility on the other side of Route 30 in 1986.
"The iconic part of it was the timber peak, but they went all the way down to the ground, so we cut them, flushed them off and squared up the new eight-by-eight timbers," Roth said, explaining how he incorporated the original look of the building into the renovated facade.
Roth said he got the full story of the founding of Alpin Haus one day while he was doing rehabilitation work on the site and John Daly showed up and told him how happy he was someone was doing something with the old building.
"It was a Sunday in July, I was working on one of the lower units and John Daly comes in, and I'd never met him," Roth said. "He spent about three hours here, emotional, crying, explaining to me his story, and it hit me that this was a guy who started his business when he was a young man, and I think of myself. I started my business as a disabled veteran right out of the military."
Roth decided to honor Daly and Heck with a permanent plaque explaining the history of Heck and Daly's ownership of the building.
At the ribbon-cutting ceremony Daly told his story. He said the building started out as a small A-frame structure that had been a liquor store his parents owned. He had it moved for $800 to operate a Ski-Doo snowmobile franchise, and the building and the operation grew from there.
"I told my mother and father that I was going to stop driving trucks and start a ski shop — they told me I was crazy, because I was getting union pay and my wife was pregnant, but we took a shot," he said. "I tell the younger generation, you've got to follow your dreams."
The building now includes four different businesses and one currently unrented 1,300-square-foot space.
The businesses are:
• Bluffworks, a NYC-based clothing design company that specializes in performance work and travel attire. The location is one of the company’s first physical offices, having previously based its employees exclusively through digital platforms throughout the U.S.
• CSA Tax & Consulting, a newly founded partnership between tax professionals Marcy Canale and Matt Stolz, comes to the site with years of local knowledge and relationships. The team selected the location because of its ease for clients who visit the area's other retail and professional sites.
"We just tell our clients we're in the old Alpin Haus building," said Marcy Canale, president of CSA Tax & Consulting.
• Open Canvas Beauty Bar, a full-service beauty salon specializing in hair styling and extensions, makeup and nail painting. The location, which will likely have about eight employees when at full capacity, was the culmination of owner Nikki Arndt's dream of expanding her home business into a modernized space. Arndt said she hopes to incorporate a masseuse or eyelash studio into the new space.
• GoodbuyZ Liquidation Outlets, which offers consumers goods at low-cost prices, was attracted to the site because of its design plan and easy access to a new, larger customer base. The company employs around a dozen employees and operates another retail location in Johnstown.
GoodbuyZ partner Michael VanHorne said this is his company's second retail store and he's hoping to build a chain store business with many locations.