Jerry Hooper had a mission to preserve history by restoring the buildings representing that history. In 1982, he saw this come to life in Midstate Contractors.
The company has been passed on to the next generation. Brothers Doug and Bart Hooper, as well as their sister Cindy Kemper, now own the business, and its division of Midstate, Cornice Works. All three of their spouses are involved: Bart’s wife Robyn, Doug’s wife Melanie, and Cindy’s husband Tom.
“It was another generation. My brother was working half days when he was in high,” Bart Hooper explained. “Tom has always worked here. When I was in high school, I was working part-time. When you were out of school, Christmas breaks or summer breaks, Dad always had us all working.”
The current owners have put their children to work in the family business, too.
“In the summers when the boys were 13 or 14 years old, everyone else was sleeping in and the boys had to start working,” said Robyn Hooper of her son and nephews.
“Now my brother’s boys are working here and my daughter,” Bart said of the next generation.
Heath, Hunter, and Mallory Hooper have stepped into the family business. Mallory always knew she wanted to work at Midstate.
“I had an interest growing up in it and then in college taking historic preservation classes,” Mallory elaborated.
Jerry was involved, in asking questions and showing interest in jobs they were completing or advising the new owners until he passed away in 2020.
“He never officially retired; he just started fading away. He worked out here, then would work a little less. He would help and participate. He was always interested, obviously – he put his life into it,” Bart said of his father.
Their work can be seen throughout Marion. Signs include ReMARCAble, Taste of Memphis, Harding Harbor, Style 124, HER Realtors, and Willy + Wade. Additionally, they completed the first phase of the Harding Home restoration. They worked closely with the Ohio History Connection in this process to have historically correct updates. The updates included inside and outside the home.
“We built an auxiliary kitchen. Harding had so many guests all the time and would not go out to eat. He would only eat at home,” Tom said. “They had two kitchens. He didn’t like to entertain out. We restored it and put it back.”
“Some of the things had to be specific to match. They don’t make the stone foundations anymore, so we had to make a custom mold to make the new stones to match it,” Bart explained of the need for fabrication.
“Midstate is on-site work and Cornice works is fabrication in the shop,” Mallory discussing the newest division.
Cornice Works includes custom fabrication and restoration. They also do work for other contractors. When working on restoration, sometimes the changes have to be seen up close to be noticed.
“It’s fabrication, but it’s more replication of historic woodwork or metalwork that most people have no idea how to even start making,” Kemper explained.
“The silhouette doesn’t change.” Mallory went on.
“If you need things hand fabricated or problem solved, that’s where we come in,” said Bart.
The company has a staff of 24, with a core crew of 10 years or more experience. Leadership views their staff as artisans.
“Do your work to the highest quality and let your results speak to everyone that you are a true artisan,” Bart tells his staff.
“Our emphasis is on creativity. No job is the same. Each job requires customizing – different methods, different materials, different styles. We don’t have many jobs we can use pieces from the last job on a new job,” said Mallory.
“Everything is unique each time,” Bart said.
Though the company has completed restoration work throughout the state, they are also in the midst of working on repairs to the historic Marion Palace Theatre.