Home Renovation is Business and Mission for Hummelstown Man

It may not match the classic Horatio Alger narrative, but Gregg Gehret’s story is an engaging one. The 58-year-old owner of Easy Siders Home Improvement Company brushed aside college offers to play football or wrestle and, instead, embarked on a 40-year journey that has brought him material reward and personal satisfaction.

“I grew up mainly in Steelton,” says Gehret. “It was a lot different place than it is now. My friends and I played all over town. We’d sneak into the steel mill, get thrown out and then sneak in again the next day – things like that. My parents thought I was playing ball at some field.”

Gehret Photography, on Steelton’s Front Street, was the family enterprise. “About the time I graduated from Steel-High, my dad hired a man to put siding on the back of his building,” says Gehret. “The guy who was helping him quit, and I was asked to replace him. I did the job so well that the installer invited me to work for him. I was always good with my hands. Took classes at Steel-High’s wood and metal shop, which, at the time, was better than the vo-tech school.”

About two years later, Gehret decided to go into business for himself. He became a sub-contractor and did side work, as well. “I used my dad’s Datsun pick-up to haul equipment and materials to a site, then rode my motorcycle to and from the site each day,” he recalls. “That’s when some of my friends started to call me ‘easy sider,’ after the movie Easy Rider.”

However, financial success was in the future. “I was still washing dishes at the 230 Diner during nights,” says Gehret. “I was so poor that, on the way home from that job, I’d stop at closed gas stations and drain the excess fuel from the pump hoses into my cycle.”

Eventually, Gehret leased a store front, and business picked up. “By the early ’80s, I had hired some men,” he says, “and began to take on more of a management role, although I retained a hands-on approach – still do today.”

About 20 years ago, Easy Siders moved from Steelton to Gehret’s five-acre property near Hummelstown. In 2001, it relocated yet again to South Hanover Street in Hummelstown. Late last year, the company occupied its newest offices at the east end of the borough. A grand opening is scheduled for next month.

Easy Siders’ success in a competitive industry has not been accidental. “You have to know your product, believe in it and back it,” declares Gehret. “I can’t afford to return to a site and fix a poor product. It costs me double. I have to take a man off an existing project and then pay another one to take his place.” Although best known for exterior work, Easy Siders also offers kitchen and bath renovations, using solid-wood cabinetry and quality fixtures that compare favorably in price to cheaper box-store products.

But it is not all about dollars and cents. Beyond monetary value are a company’s integrity and reputation. “When I first got into this business, making money was my main objective,” says Gehret. “Now, the main objective is to serve people and meet their needs. That change came about 20 years ago, when the Lord slapped me upside the head.”

Gehret is married with four children and six grandchildren. His family and avocations are an important part of his life. He is active in his church, enjoys hunting, fishing and building and restoring street rods.

For more information, visit easysiders.net.