JERSEY SHORE - By his own admission, Enos Kimball was a businessman who operated companies not by the book but by the seat of his pants.
A high school drop-out, he's started, run and sold off more businesses than he can probably name.
Bonner Sports & RV, 5335 N. Route 44, Shore is one of the businesses he's owned.
These days, it's owned by Robert Reeder, a man who admires Kimball's business savvy, maverick ways and sense of humor. Reeder, Kimball and Kimball's son, Enos "Butch" Kimball recently sat inside the offices of Bonner Sports to recall some of the early days of the company.
Kimball, who'd been in business in his native Delaware, launched Bonner Sports in 1969 as Kimball Trailer Sales.
He recalled being told that starting up a such a business in the Pine Creek Valley would lead to nothing but bankruptcy. Bankruptcy didn't happen, but the energy crisis in 1974 arrived, and with it, bad times for some businesses. It looked especially bleak for a mobile home and trailer enterprise.
But Enos didn't panic.
Instead, he did something that many people would have considered foolhardy, if not downright crazy - he borrowed some money.
"I put up everything I owned," he recalled. "I bought 100 mobile homes."
He purchased them cheap and sold every one of them. Reeder can only marvel at such brazen business moves.
"Can you imagine doing that today?" he asked. "It would have taken weeks to get that kind of money from a bank."
Kimball laughed at the memory.
"I actually had to close because I ran out of inventory," he said.
And then he did what seemed only right at the time for him: He took a long vacation to Reno. Reeder said the business world needs people such as Kimball, who sneer at the business play book and operate by raw instinct.
One of the reasons he bought the company from Kimball's son in 2007, who at the time was operating it as an RV service business, was because it had the Kimball family name attached to it.
Reeder was not completely unfamiliar with Kimball's business. After more than 20 years working for Jersey Shore Steel, he had opened up Bonner Sports in Avis in 2006 where he sold ATVs, motorcycles and bicycles. And so, he moved his business from Avis to the Pine Creek Valley site.
"I just knew it would work," he said. "This facility was a natural tie-in to what I was doing."
Reeder encountered his own big hurdle in 2008 when the economy collapsed. But he got through those tough times.
For one thing, the gas industry was beginning to boom in the area.
"We did nothing but grow," he said.
He also kept in constant contact with Kimball.
"Enos has mentored me every day," Reeder said.
He said he's received a lot of satisfaction out of owning the business, despite the long hours. The neat thing about it, he said, is that his parents used to come there and buy mobile homes when it was Kimball Trailer Sales.
In other words, he's come full circle.