Joel Folkerts sits in an office inside one of the new business spaces in the old Van Wall implement building on Sixth Street. Remodeling of the building is bringing some life back to the northernmost end of the main street business district.


Folkerts said he and his brother, Brett, who are partners in ERI, which is a distribution business mostly for Sony medical supplies, moved into the space in mid-October 2017.


“We saw Dave’s listing,” he said of Dave Sly’s listing for the business rental space,”and this is more of a centralized spot for us. I live in Ames; my brother lives in Des Moines.” They had been working out of Marshalltown.


Since taking over ownership of the building last year, Sly and his business partner, Brad Lenz, have carved out niches for six businesses on the property. The Folkerts brothers were the second business to take a spot.


“Our first tenant,” said Sly, “was Dirk Zuercher. He refurbishes and resells restaurant equipment.”


The third committed business was Farm Bureau, which will move from its office space along Lincolnway into an office space that faces Sixth Street and goes all the way back to the alley. Sly explained that the front part of the Farm Bureau offices will have a couple separate office spaces, and the back area, he said, will feature a nice conference room.


Also coming in and opening officially April 1 will be VT Nails, which is presently doing business along South G Avenue in Nevada. The salon will have a business space with lots of windows facing Sixth Street. Its owners, Christina and Cory Nguyen, are excited about the newly remodeled space that will bring them into the downtown area. They plan to be in the building earlier than April 1 to prepare things. They hope customers will call them at their regular number to make appointments during the transition, as they will continue to provide service during that time.


Other businesses that are part of the grouping include JRM, which owns bars in Iowa and Minnesota; and On Track Construction, owned by Matt Runge of Nevada. Runge’s business will take over all of the old shop area, plus have offices that face Sixth Street at the furthest north spot in the building. Sly mentioned that a grant he got from Alliant Energy will help insulate the back end of Runge’s area and put in new LED lighting.


Sly said remaining spaces are filled by service/warehousing business people.


Overall, it’s been a very successful endeavor, Sly confirmed. “We had it cash-flowing within six months, and we’re almost perfectly on our targeted revenue.”


Expense-wise, he said, “we spent about 20 percent more than anticipated and a lot of that was electrical. In some cases, tenants’ needs were bigger, and that cost more.” But it’s all worth it, he agreed.


This week, Sly was expecting to see new signs and lighting coming for the front of the building. He also predicted that painting the building in a slate gray color will begin soon.


Sly is proud to have utilized many locals in doing the work needed to prepare the new business facility. Major construction, he said, has been handled by Bob Lehman of Lehman Construction. Electrical has been handled by Jason Couser of (C & M Electric). Plumbing has been handled by Matt Thompson and Steve Dobernecker. All materials have been provided by Nevada Lumber Company, and financing has been through State Bank.


Back to Joel Folkerts — he’s happy to be among the renters in the new business complex and said it’s fun to have business neighbors and talk to them about what they do. “We’re an eclectic group; we really do span a large demographic.”