It’s business as usual in Henefer
Driving through Henefer, population of about 700, visitors can notice a brilliant mixture of the old and new houses, cars, people and even businesses.
They can often see residents quietly sitting on their porch swings or gently rolling through one of the town’s few stop signs on their way to get some groceries at the town’s only store.
If they is there early enough, the traveler might be able to see Randy Ovard, business owner and first-term mayor, driving in to make bread at that store one he has owned for 33 years.
Grumps, a combination gas station and convenience store, is a staple in Henefer; as is the other company — the Dairy Tank Company that Ovard runs from a building connected to the store.
"My main business is the refrigeration business and Grumps is just something I enjoy and that the public needs in order to get fuel and groceries," Ovard said.
When Ovard was growing up in Henefer, he said there was a little service station in town that used to supply fuel. A very quick stop having no more than $1,000 worth of purchasable merchandise. There was also a grocery store in town, but it has since been turned into five apartments.
"There has always been, with the exception of about a year, a fuel station here. But one of the reasons we started Grumps is because with the refrigeration business we’re on call 24-7 and we needed to be able to get fuel. So we needed to start it so we would have access to gas."
Ovard’s father, who went by the nickname Grumps, started the dairy refrigeration company in 1965, and then sold it to his son around the time they opened the store.
"My father’s nickname was Grumps," Ovard said. "He was given that nickname not long after he was born and he went by Grumps for most of his life. We decided to name it after him and then I bought him out of both businesses about 28 years ago. We worked together about 10 or 12 years."
Now he employs about 10 people between the two businesses, including his wife, who does the accounting for both.
"I tell people there’s a Wal-Mart everywhere, but there’s only one Grumps."
Although he said his first job is the refrigeration company, he still spends a lot of time at the store. He goes in every morning at 6 a.m. to stock the cooler, cut deli meat, make bread, create sandwiches and open for business. Then he travels across the state helping to keep Utah’s milk cold. Ovard said that’s where most of his income comes from not from selling gas.
"Very few stations make any money on it, and with the gas prices going up how they are, it’s really hard to smile when you have to buy any fuel," he said. "So one thing I’ve done is I have not put in a card-operated pump. If you have a card-operated pump then they’ll just put their card in and leave, but if they have to come inside then they’ll see a candy bar or a Big Gulp and they’ll buy something inside the store."
Although Grumps is the only place in Henefer to buy those types of items, there are 24 other businesses in the city, 23 of which are operated out of the homes of the town residents. Fox Color Lab, started by local Wayne Fox, employs about 60 people, Ovard said, although many of them aren’t from Henefer.
Shelly Olsen, manager at Fox Color Lab, said that most residents go someplace else to work. Some go to Ogden, some go to Evanston, some go to Park City. She said even Fox moved to Draper once his children were out of high school.
"You would probably find that the main employer of Henefer residents is probably Holcim Cement Plant Company just three miles outside of Henefer," Ovard said. "They probably employ between 140 and 150 people and quite a large share are Henefer natives. You’ll also find a lot of Heneferites working elsewhere because Henefer is only 25 miles away from Park City, Ogden and Evanston. You could probably describe Henefer as a bedroom community with almost everyone traveling at least 25 minutes to go to work."
The home-run businesses include everything from lawn care to carpet installation, from ornamental ironwork to construction and photography. But despite the fast growing number of new home businesses, Ovard said the number of new homes is much slower.
"Henefer is probably the best kept secret in the county," he said. "If people knew how close we were to that many great places the growth here would be a lot more, but the homeowners here don’t want to sell. It’s pretty hard to get a lot in Henefer. Growth is generally only one or two homes at a time."
There has been a home in Henefer filled with Ovards since his great-great grandfather came as a Mormon pioneer. Now there are 17 Ovard families in town, but only one of them owns Grumps, and only one of them is the town mayor.
"Thus far being mayor has been a very interesting experience," he said. "Being a mayor is a 7-day-a-week, 24-hour-a-day job. It’s not something I’d want to make a lifetime career of, I’ll tell you that, but I pretty much like what I do."
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City Hall in December posted strong sales-tax numbers, powering past projections and nearly equaling the figure from the same month in the previous year, as Park City continued to beat expectations amid the continued spread of the novel coronavirus.