Biz Buzz: Dubuque monument maker expands; owners join boat dealer; optical center moves

Jeff Mont-gomery

Biz Buzz shares business tidbits from around the tri-state area. This week, we highlight developments in Dubuque and Bellevue, Iowa.

A longtime Dubuque business is taking an unorthodox approach to ensure it can grow — and stay put — at the same time.

Lenz Monument broke ground on an expansion project to its facility at 1672 Central Ave in October. Owner Richard Neuses said the project will increase the facility’s square footage from about 900 feet to nearly 5,000.

Gaining this much extra space once seemed an impossible task: With limited acreage, Neuses realized he had to get creative.

“Knowing that we couldn’t go left or right, or front or back, we decided to go up,” he said.

Founded in 1876, Lenz Monument creates a diverse selection of personalized memorials.

The need for a larger space became painfully apparent this year, as the grim realities of COVID-19 compelled more residents to ponder, and plan for, the worst-case scenario.

“It has scared a lot of people, and I think they are just getting prepared,” Neuses said.

Neuses said the extra space will be used for production, showroom space and offices. After spending decades in cramped conditions, Neuses is excited the operation will finally have some room to breathe.

He’s also excited the business will be able to remain in the downtown, which it has called home for more than a century.

“At one time, we were thinking about leaving the downtown and going out to the West End,” he said. “In the end, we thought it best to stay right there.”

Neuses emphasized that the majority of construction is taking place on weekends and the business remains in operation despite the expansion.

Lenz Monument can be reached at 563-582-1350.

NATIONAL ACCLAIM

A Bellevue boat dealer and service shop recently earned a national award for its customer service.

Nicole Brenny, co-owner of Bob’s Marine, said the business was recently presented with an award from Ranger Boats, a prominent boat manufacturer based in Arkansas. Brenny explained that Ranger routinely offers customers a questionnaire after they purchase a boat, inviting them to rate their shopping experience.

The feedback on Bob’s Marine was so impressive that Ranger Boats awarded the Bellevue outfit with is Customer Satisfaction Index Award last month.

Brenny said the recognition came as a pleasant surprise to the family.

“They (Ranger) are a large company that sells their boats nationwide, and we are from the small town of Bellevue,” she said. “This is a big deal for us.”

The national recognition comes at a time when Bob’s Marine is undergoing some changes at its top levels.

Brenny and her brother, Ryan Hutchcroft, recently became co-owners of the business. They share ownership with their mother, Deb, and father, Bob Hutchcroft, who has owned and operated the business for four decades.

Brenny said that returning to the business is something that felt natural.

“We grew up in this business,” she said. “It’s something that is in our blood.”

Bob’s Marine is located at 29088 U.S. 52 and can be reached by calling 563-872-4055.

A NEW HOME

After spending more than two decades in its original location, a Dubuque optical business has found a new place to call home.

Eyedeal Optical last month moved to 2644 Pennsylvania Ave., taking up residence in a building that formerly housed the local Girl Scouts.

Owner Bob Pierce said there is plenty to like about the new location.

It offers more space than Eyedeal Optical’s previous office on John F. Kennedy Road, and gives Pierce the opportunity to own his storefront, rather than leasing it.

The new surroundings also provide a welcome change of pace.

“In the old location, it was a busier road and could be dangerous getting in and out,” Pierce said. “Here, we are right across the street from Flora Park and the pool. It has more of a neighborhood feel to it.”

Pierce began his career at a national eyewear chain before choosing to start his own business in 1997.

Eyedeal Optical offers examinations and provides contact lenses and glasses.

It now employs two workers, in addition to Pierce. With extra space in the new location, that figure eventually could grow.

“I am sure that’s going to happen sometime down the road, but at this time we are not hiring any new workers,” he said.

Eyedeal Optical can be reached at 563-557-0995.