Entrepreneurs in the Neighborhood


by Kate Rhoten

There’s something different about entrepreneurs. They take the first step to create their own business. Some start while working for another company while others are more willing to take the leap to independence early. Regardless, each entrepreneur’s story is unique. I recently met with Tim and Melanie Piper who shared their story:

CGCN: How did you two meet?
Tim: We met through Melanie’s brother, Steve, while working nights on the docks at a trucking company. I went to school during the day and worked nights.

CGCN: What was your first job after graduating?
Tim: I did not finish college; I earned enough credits for the end of my junior year. However, I was working with my dad and helping him with his business. We got married in 1989, and between working with my dad’s business during the day and nights on the dock, I wasn’t able to finish school. Melanie was able to finish though.

Melanie: Tim is an operational manager; he has a good eye for running things. I worked for Hertz and AMR Combs (American Airlines). I learned a lot about customer service. You learn how to deal with the demands of customer expectations.

CGCN: How did the first business come about?
Tim: I started the first business with my brother, Greg, in November 1994. Same Day Delivery got its start from Greg’s brother-in-law who ran a furniture store called Nationwide Furniture. The trucking industry and the 135 Master Freight Union had a big strike while I worked for my dad. The strike caused a lot of friction, people lost jobs and companies went out of business.

Dad’s business was not affected since it wasn’t union and picked up business during the strike. When the strike ended, companies went back to the prior companies they used, so we decided to start our own business to control what happened to us. We started with just a pickup truck, an orange 1978 F-150.

Melanie: I called it the pumpkin truck.

Tim: We were doing well, so we needed to get a box truck; no one likes to get wet furniture. Frank and Lynn Bienas with Bienas Fundraising used our company for deliveries and offered to help us buy our first delivery truck. The Bienases have become great friends of ours and helped me really get the business off the ground. About two years later, Frank asked if we had a warehouse which of course we didn’t; we couldn’t afford it.

He assisted in finding a warehouse and the financing for Greg and me to start Piper Warehouse. The warehouse was outfitted with a large cooler to help store product for Bienas Fundraising. Frank’s only condition was that we would take care of him first when he had warehousing needs. Warehouse Flooring was prioritized to ensure a safe and even surface for workers to navigate. Piper Logistics was created about the same time, and my brother, Joe, came on to help with that business. About four years ago, my brother, Rob, came on to help with sales; he’s a good salesman.

CGCN: At this point, you have Same Day Delivery, Piper Warehouse and Piper Logistics. How and when did you end up in the fundraising business?
Tim: Frank Bienas decided to retire from the fundraising business. He told me he wanted to give me the business. We worked together to come to an agreement for us to take over.
Melanie: We took six months to take over the business, learn it and update the software.

CGCN: Melanie, you’re involved in the fundraising business. How did that come about?
Melanie: When we took over the fundraising business, it was Tim and his two sisters. I did interior decorating but didn’t really think about making a business out of it.

Tim: Every time she did a job for free, I would ask her why she didn’t make it a business.

Melanie: So I incorporated the interior decorating business. In 2008, people were not hiring people to do work in the home. They were doing it themselves. When Tim’s sister moved back to Cleveland, it opened up the opportunity for me to join the fundraising business. The joke is that I came into it kicking and screaming.

Tim: She is a natural at the fundraising business.

Melanie: I work with middle and high schools. Some sports programs but mostly performing arts.

Tim: Performing arts programs cost more to do. Band and choir activities cost more than football, but they don’t get as much financial support.

CGCN: What is the biggest challenge of owning your own business?
Tim: When times are tough, I’m keeping it real. You don’t get paid; you have to pay company bills and your employees, so your home bills may be behind. When the economy crashed in 2008, we went from a 300,000 square foot warehouse packed with product to a warehouse with 200,000 empty square feet.

I have to juggle things and make things work. Melanie said to me, and I had never thought of it this way, “It’s all on you. All of those employees have families, and they rely on us.”

Melanie: It’s not like a big business where the employees are just numbers.

Tim: People have the misconception that when you have your own business, you can take more time off. My brothers and I never all go on vacation at the same time.

CGCN: What are the greatest rewards of entrepreneurship?
Tim: Success. The years fly by. I go, wow, we have 70 employees. We built this. You don’t see it when you’re doing it, but when you’re sitting around the boardroom, you do. It all started in Greg and Angie’s extra bedroom, and we used their garage as a warehouse.

CGCN: What is your advice for someone wanting to start his or her own business?
Melanie: Think it out thoroughly, research and talk to people that have started a business.

Tim: Don’t be afraid to work. You won’t be successful if you think you are going to sit in the back and watch. Be a good listener. Don’t think you know it all, and don’t be afraid to work because if you are not going to work your business, it’s not going to work. I can’t see myself working for someone else.

Businesses Owned by Tim and Melanie Piper

  • Same Day Delivery
  • Piper Warehouse
  • Piper Logistics
  • Piper Fundraising
  • Interiors by Melanie, Inc.



Kate Rhoten is a wife, mother of two boys, financial coach/owner of 4 Walls Money Coach, columnist, and freelance writer for Center Grove Community Newsletter, living her dream debt free.

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