A Changing Face for the Ralph H. Burns & Sons Business in Hillsboro

Following the recent deaths of Dick and Ruby Burns there were a lot of questions about what would become of their Hillsboro trucking company. We talked with their son, Ralph Burns who now owns the business and learned that the business is changing with a brand new business model. Ralph talks about what his parents and their business meant to the Hillsboro community and the changes he feels needed to be made so that Dick and Ruby’s business can continue to provide service to and play a major role in the community.

“What we are talking about and dealing with today is change whether it’s from a personal point of view or a business point of view or a community, change is always occurring and what happens and how do people move forward after that change” Ralph said. “The recent loss of my parents put a lot of pressure on me to figure out what to do because as you know, Dick and Ruby were a pretty big force in Hillsboro; they were a huge part of the community. But what’s  also happening is there’s change in the community. With the loss of my parents, Hillsboro‘s not quite the same. They were a cornerstone from a business standpoint. That has now fallen to me to continue to move forward. One of the things that I had to figure out was do I just close up shop –let it be a memory- or take a step and figure out how to make a go without them being around. For me it was a very easy decision. My Grandfather, Ralph Hanna started in that community as well. I think at his largest point, had upwards of 90 employees and built roads all through West Virginia. And then Dad came in and started hauling liquid asphalt for his father. And so for me to make that decision ‘what do we do?’ My first response is we are going to continue to be a presence- I don’t know how big, but we are going to be a presence.”

Ralph goes on to explain the changes he is instituting at the company.

“For the Trucking side we are standing down on being a transporter”  Ralph explains. “But we’re not not standing down on being a local presence in Hillsboro. One of the things that we have always done is been there for the families who need help with their automobile or tractor or any kind of thing like that. My first thought was we need to park the big trucks, we need to pull it back to Hillsboro aqnd make that a really good big sustainable business which does what it has in the past, which is take care of the community. And so that’s kind of where we’re at today; letting the trucks go –we’re in the process of shutting down the Henderson Terminal and coming back to Hillsboro. I am very excited about where we’re at in Hillsboro. We got a great mechanic there who’s been with us for a long time. Now we’re a West Virginia Vehicle Inspection Station. Probably within two or three weeks, we will have three different people who are certified to inspect vehicles; (a) brand new tire machine. Brand new credit card machine. Our goal is to take that type of a service and really expand it out and really give the people of Hillsboro and Pocahontas County and surrounding counties really good top quality service. Pretty excited to also announce that we’re breaking in our second mechanic. This young man served in the military. He’s from the area. He’s got tremendous skills on problem solving, maintenance. He’s just packed full of top quality skills and has been proven to be solid. (We’re) very excited to have our second mechanic to come on board on Monday and that’s kind of what we want to do in Hillsboro, take this and build it up, top quality stuff and open it up for everybody. Primarily in the past we have been about working on commercial vehicles, working on farm equipment. Our skill set is much broader than that so we’re kind of opening the doors to say ‘look, if you got tires to change, if you got a car that’s not working properly” we’re going to continue to drive that type of new business.”

Thank you Ralph, for sharing your thoughts on how you are moving forward with the Ralph H. Burns Company by following the path of service to the community paved by your parents, Dick and Ruby.

Story By

Tim Walker

Tim is the WVMR News Reporter. Tim is a native of Maryland who started coming to Pocahontas County in the 1970’s as a caver. He bought land on Droop Mountain off Jacox Road in 1976 and built a small house there in the early 80’s. While still working in Maryland, Tim spent much time at his place which is located on the Friars Hole Cave Preserve. Retiring in 2011 as a Lieutenant with the Anne Arundel County Police Department in Maryland, Tim finally took the plunge and moved from Maryland to his real home on Droop Mountain. He began working as the Pocahontas County Reporter for Allegheny Mountain Radio in January of 2015.

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