Newspaper Archive of
The Ponchatoula Times
Ponchatoula , Louisiana
November 28, 1985     The Ponchatoula Times
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November 28, 1985

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Experienced and friendly Himel's keeps Ponchatoula rolling Staff Report Himers Auto Parts has been doing business in Ponchatoula for 38 years of service, while changing all the time. Of course, in the world of auto parts, change can often mean that a distributor has stopped stocking old parts because he has changed his invento'y to just new models. Stanley Cowen's wasn't looking for new parts when, after searching the countryside for a hard-to-find part and failing, stopped in at Himers Auto Parts, 280 West Pine. He was searching for an electrical coil to fit his World War I! South Pacific U.S. Amphibious Landing Vehicle (a Duck in popular parlance). Himel's had the part in stock. Ron Latshaw, manager of the local Himel outlet for the past seven years, says he has many similar stories to relate, including his own successful search for complete brakes and hard- ware for his vintage 1956 Oldsmobile which ended at the Himel Auto Parts counter. Other local parts men working at Himels all have their own favorite stories: Joe Griffin, who has been 10 years in the business, another long- timer Gene Coumes, and Frank Scroggs. One recalls finding all of the very hard-to-find parts at Himels to provide hydraulic hoses, adapters, and filter for a log splitter, for example. Assisting the operation in the office is Miss Laura Silva. Himers opened in Ponchatoula in 1947 at a location on Railroad Avenue, having been started in Covington in 1918 by Herman Dennis Himel St. Herman Dennis Himel Jr. and his brothers and sisters still own the firm, which has 49 stores in Louisiana and South Mississippi. Himel's moved to its current location when the A&P Supermarket moved to its new location and out of where Himers Auto Parts now does business on East Pine and North Seventh. Himel's specializes in NAPA (National Auto Parts Association) parts and supplies - an extremely popular brand nationwide, and locally: "If you get your car fixed in Poncha- toula the chances are excellent you are driving off with Himel parts under your hood. And a lot of people are doing their own car work. The average age of a car on the road today is eight to nine years old. But our wholesale trade is our main business, the merchants of the area," said' Latshaw. New' innovations at Himers Auto Parts include a completely-computerized inventory, which helps the store keep up its reputation of always having parts in stock. NAPA has also started producing paint and body work supplies which Himel is stocking. Add to this the offering of surprisingly priced items such as paint sprayers, Igloo coolers, Homelite chain saws and you get an idea of a well-rounded shop for the male on your Christmas list. Soon to come to the local store will be a completely redesigned display area, one of many improvements planned to match the new road being completed out front. Their tractor, truck, diesel, auto marine and small engine parts are ready and waiting, for mechanics or Saturdays for those "tree shade mechanics" out to save money on car repair. Himel's and Homelite are proud to announce that Himel now handles the complete line of Homelite Jacobsen Pro- ducts. From chainsaws, mowers, pumps, generators, string trim- mers & accessories. We have it all and offer our own service. Himel's & Homelite built on quali- ty, dedicated to service! Reg. 229.95 I W/CASE & FREE I BAR & CHAIN s209.95 Reg. 369.95 I .951 Pump it all... Don't get left a Homel,te pump. in the darK. HIMEL AUTO PARTS 4N00PA) ' .o+,,,..+ IINCE 1|15  + Heavy Duty Generators "EVERYTHING AUTOMOTIVE" KC'rrN4 BRANDN HAMMOND IDNCHATOULA Hammond Hwy. 51 280 W. Pine 120 S. Cypress 542.41272 386-6664 345-5130 | THE PONCHATOULA TIMES, NOVEMBER 28, 1985, SEC. B., PAGE FOU Three generations of Gabriels build top building supply ou t00et in area Staff Report Harry (3abriel Jr. confirmed during his was a big job. Now the door comes as ... Times interview that an even larger unit and you just set it in place. I Harry J. G'abriel Jr. and his family "jansion is in the company's future, roofing materials it's the same. Fil developed a small lumber shop into the ATd still the Gabriel tradition of doing glass mats have replaced the t largest building supply store from business in downtown Ponchatoula is covered paper. There is no deterioratiO' Hammond ,o the lakes, from Livingston going to hold strong. "We have land whatsoever. to St. Tammany parishes, here in Ponchatoula (a tract on the "There are less contractors ev With the reopening of main street north side of West Pine near the current year. It's a hard row. so many su- they are looking, forward to further location) for expansion, and we do plan contract a house these days." he addeO expansions of their businesses within to expand." stated Gabriel. Asked to give a forecast for Poncha the Ponchatoula city limits. He said that the nature of his business toula's future. Gabriel had this to offer: Gabriel's huge indoor lumber and has changed significantly over the "I see us staying as a bedroOrt building supply yard and spacious years, especially from the days when his community into the future. We will display area facing South Eighth Street father and other contractors built a solid residential construction betwe would have been hard to imagine in the house from the ground up. here and the Tchefuncte River ( pre-World War II days when Harry J. "We used to make the window, the Madisonville) on one side and right into Gabriel Sr., a Ponchatoula contractor, sash. the frame. Now we sell the Baton Rouge on the other." , + entered the retail lumber trade, complete unit - all metal. Making a door He had one comment to add: ' e l "Louisiana Cypress didn't want the and hanclinq it and putting in the lock will always be here in Ponchatoula.'" | retail end of it but people kept coming out to the mill and bothering them, so the idea was for my father to handle the retail business. But World War 11 came along and the government took all the cypress," recalled Harry J. Gabriel Jr. "After the war the lumber company decided to go into the retail side of it. This put dad in competition with them. But he did a lot of trim and molding work. "I came into the business in 1946. In 1951 I bought dad out and gave him a note for $3,500, which paid for all of the stock. I took it on my own and renamed it Gabriel Building Supply Company." But for the second generation Gabriel in the business, a name change was not enough. And Gabriel's began to grow Big and getting bigger rapidly. He expanded the business to I trade in plywood, lumber, hardware, and added to the original small building. There was a rental house on the property facing West Oak. And there was a tin shed where the company started and another building built for the expanding business. Finally, in the early-1970's the cunent building was constructed. It took a year to build an imaginative designer to figure out how to complete the job. Without shutting down the business the new Gabriers building was erected "over, under, around and through the buildings that were here. Once it was complete I was able to take down the buildings inside of it," recalls Gabriel, who has a framed photo history of the construction on display in the public coffee break area of the modem store. Now working with the third ; generation of the family to come into the business, sons Bob and Harry, Old exterior New interior ROAD OPENING SALE! PRICES GOOD THRU 12-7-85 Box Heaters No. 26 Foam Pipe ..BJ xeter Insulation' Inll In Minut...=.$  Years 2700/ft. * Sold ,er. 5 or 6 foot length W/Sprayer Pre.cut 7505 1+2;s No. 2Pine..n JL J Peerless q .,C KITCHEN FAUCET CLR Lawn Rake XLR G d Sh 1 ar en eve .. Your Choice Our 1986 Rerningtion by Tr e 10 Calendars are in! 3 Mobile Home Skirting 28"X60" PANELS