PENDLETON — Rocky Hegele of Terrebonne has brought full fire protection services and other diversified businesses to Eastern Oregon.
Hegele’s main company is American Sprinklers Inc. with offices in Terrebonne and Portland and now with regional headquarters in Pendleton. American Sprinklers has a number of present and prospective fire protection projects in Condon, Boardman, Hermiston, Pendleton, Enterprise and Baker.
“When we first moved into Eastern Oregon, we bought Western Automatic Sprinkler in La Grande,” the 47-year-old Hegele said. “They sprinkler buildings from La Grande to Ontario, but there wasn’t enough work in that territory, and the roads to Pendleton and Hermiston in the winter were a problem, so we moved our base of operations to Pendleton.”
The company even is doing work at the Eastern Oregon Regional Airport in Pendleton, he said, but he could not discuss details.
A few active, planned or possible Pendleton fire protection projects include phase one of the Pendleton Children’s Center, the old Forest Service building on Southgate, the Odd Fellows Temple and the former Marigold Hotel. Hegele also has bought a business in La Grande and many commercial and residential properties in Pendleton.
Hegele’s dad, Chuck, founded American Sprinkler in Central Oregon in 1975. It remains a family company. His mom, Connie, wife, Alisha, and sister Candy work in the office. His brother, Travis, concentrates on business in Central Oregon and Portland. American Sprinklers’ business lines, including farming, employ 22 people. Before his father’s death in August at age 73, Chuck Hegele was able to show Rocky Hegele the company’s operations in Eastern Oregon.
Among the properties Rocky Hegele bought or leased in Pendleton are four buildings at the airport, 4900 18th St., five structures in the Westgate area, around the thrift store and Club 24, 1845 S.W. Westgate Place, and the former Stangier Auto Supply store, 128th, S.E. Second St.
“And a pretty nice house,” Hegele added. “We just closed on the old NAPA store. That’ll be our local headquarters. we’re building nice studio apartments in the shop. We’d like to hire locally, but our employees are a specialized group. They have to work far afield. They might pull into the shop at 8 p.m.”
Hegele bought another house for his crew within walking distance of Mac’s Bar & Grill.
“Our guys work hard and play hard,” he said. “They don’t need to drive company cars to the bar.”
American Sprinklers has a 14,000 square foot fabrication production shop, as well as a complete line of heavy equipment. It also installs gas, water and steam lines and has full design capabilities.
“My dad taught three things,” Hegele said. “One was to be diversified. Be able to do different things. Another was don’t borrow. We’re debt free. The main thing though was that money is condensed time. Money is what you take out of the time you put in. He and mom started with nothing.”
American Sprinklers handles all phases of fire protection, from engineering and design to installation and maintenance. Hegele said his company is sensitive to interior design goals. New technology has allowed sprinklers to be aesthetically pleasing, while still offering a ready defense against fire.
Other family businesses include hay farming, a rock pit and black Clydesdales, which pull wagons in the Westward Ho! parade during the Pendleton Round-Up.
Travis Hegele said he is looking forward to getting out of Portland and he, his wife and children want to move to Pendleton.
“It’s great to work in Pendleton,” he said. “A city of 17,000 with 500 apartments under construction.”