A previous version of this story misidentified Mr. Heck. His first name is Bud.
FLORIDA — Bud Heck had just graduated from Siena College when he decided to start a ski shop named Alpin Haus with John Daly.
Neither of them had a blueprint of what exactly to do with the shop. They were just two kids from Amsterdam, born and raised, who had known each other since kindergarten and who liked to ski.
Fifty years later, the Alpin Haus employs more than 200 people and has expanded to four locations in the Capital Region, with a fifth in Port Jervis. And instead of just selling ski equipment, they have expanded into selling swimming pools, boats, RVs and snowmobiles. This weekend, Alpin Haus will be celebrating its anniversary with a special sale.
“It’s a way of celebrating the success of our 50 years with the employees and customers,” said Katie Osborn, Heck’s daughter and also the Alpin Haus marketing manager.
Osborn wasn’t born when the shop opened but she remembers helping out from a very young age. The school bus would even drop her off at the ski shop, where she would stamp brochures and, during open houses, help cook hot dogs for customers. It was a family effort.
Bob Brundige started at Alpin Haus 41 years ago and still works part-time when he can. He was also born and raised in Amsterdam. After serving in the military, he enrolled at the University at Albany, and during his junior year started part-time at Alpin Haus. By the time he graduated, he decided to stay on full-time.
“At that time, I was so comfortable, I felt so good about the business, about Alpin Haus, and about the people I worked for,” Brundige said. “I thought I’d give it a shot and try it as a full-time employee and as it turned out 41 years later, here I am.”
Heck himself didn’t picture how big the venture he had started in 1964 would one day become. After selling only ski equipment for a year, they decided to sell RVs. After RVs, they sold snowmobiles. After snowmobiles, they tried motorcycles, which they eventually stopped selling, and moved onto swimming pools.
“Whatever opportunity came our way, we took it,” Heck said. “I think the flexibility helps us succeed.”
Osborn credited the success of the business to how it has treated its customers and employees over the decades.
“It’s always been a big family. I’ve always considered the employees as part of my family,” she said. “There are employees who work with us today that I’ve known my whole life.”
“Never thought it would get as big as it is now,” Brundige said. “But Bud Heck is the same person as he was back then. He’s such a good person, so compassionate. He cares for his employees.”
The Heck family still owns and operates Alpin Haus; John Daly sold his interest in the company in 1994 to Heck’s sons Andy and Greg.
Bud Heck still helps out, although his daughter says he is semiretired and Andy Heck is president.
The anniversary sale will take place today through Sunday at all of its locations in the Capital Region. Hours differ, but for the main RV store, on Route 5S in Amsterdam, the hours are 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday. There will also be barbecues Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. at each location. The other locations are 1863 Route 30 in Amsterdam, 22 Clifton Country Road in Clifton Park and 30 Gordon Lane in Wilton.