HAMPTON -- Hampton native and household name Roger Bamesberger forged his own path through life, working hard the whole way, stepping into the family business and now into the ranks of guests honored by the York-Hamilton County Cattlemen.
As part of the honor, Bamesberger is being recognized Jan. 28 at the organization’s annual banquet for his limitless contributions to the agriculture community, which the businessman has been doing for nearly his entire life.
“I grew up in Hampton,” Bamesberger began, perched on a stool in the office of his welding shop in Hampton. “I delivered papers here in town for a number of years and my dad (Merle Bamesberger) helped me a little bit. And then in ‘58 when I was an eighth grader, my folks and I, well there was a gentleman out in Wyoming that said he would take me for a summer and I went out there and started working.”
The first year he was feeding cattle, he recalled, which was accomplished by scooping silage out of an upright silo, into the back of a pickup and then, while driving along, out of the pickup and into bunks.
“Then the next year they got a feed wagon and I got demoted to mucking cows,” he said with a laugh.
Bamesberger contributed there for four summers. Moving on to his high school years, he explained that he still didn’t work in his dad’s shop.
“You know how kids and parents are,” he chuckled.
But Bamesberger did have friends he worked farm ground with, including Jerry Klute, Vern (LaVern) Klute, Ed Klute and more during the summers.
“Then I graduated from high school and I kind of floated around and did a lot of different stuff,” he said. “I went into the service and was gone for a couple years, and then I came back and worked in Omaha for a little while.”
After working at Gate City Steel in Omaha for about three months Bamesberger returned home, circa 1967, as his dad had a position open and he thought he’d better apply -- and that maybe he’d enjoy it. Having gained welding experience in the service, during the Vietnam era to be exact, Bamesberger quickly picked up the knack for metal work -- especially on heavy equipment. Bamesberger also married his wife, Bonnie, in 1967 after leaving the service.
“I really can’t tell you how I really felt when I came back,” he said. “I was just kind of, more or less, looking for something to do.”
He never knew he would end up with his dad in the same operation.
“But I’ve been here ever since,” he said. “Dad started this (Bamesberger Welding) and I think he probably was in business close to 40 years. And then I bought him out and we’ve been in business now about 35.”
Bamesberger explained that he had originally asked his dad if he wanted to sell only a portion of the business and be partners, but he wanted out, so his son bought “the whole works from him.”
“Otherwise I said, you know, that I was ready to get out and start my own,” he reported.
The shop that his business calls home was built in 1968.
Challenges of a working man
Though he agreed that things have worked out over the years, he also recognized that success did not come without its challenges.
“When you’re working like what we did during the day in that period of time, the kids had to take some sacrifices from me not being around,” he said.
That’s the bad part about it, he continued. However, that definitely did not mean he wasn’t there for support.
“We were there to support them whenever,” he said. “(Like) college and the push having that available for the kids to be out in college and be able to get the jobs they want and be able to help the community with the things that we felt were important. We tried to help them wherever we could.”
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Bamesberger nodded in agreement, with a large smile, when asked if he has enjoyed carrying on the family name and business. He also noted that daughter Danielle is now working with him, but that doesn’t mean he’s stopping anytime soon. The family also includes daughters Tiffany Mickells and Lindsay Glaug.
“I’m here every day,” he said. “I (just) don’t work as hard as I used to.”
That being said, the veteran metalworker added that he is also around if anyone needs advice. This particular sentiment comes with a tender backstory. “One of the things I missed with my dad,” he said, “is that he passed away shortly after I bought him out. That was one of the things I missed, I couldn’t talk to somebody about something.”
Bamesberger is now able to provide his experience and advice to a handful of employees and high school students as they come along.
“Up until last year I helped the school (Hampton High School) for three years,” he said. “I went up and taught a class for an hour every day. Then Joel (Miller), I think he took it over after that. I enjoyed doing that.”
While growing the business and working, he put in six days a week -- Monday through Saturday -- so he didn’t have time for much of anything, he noted.
“When I worked for my dad that was standard operation,” he said with another light laugh. “And then when I took over the business the guys would show up at 7. So I would try and have things lined up before 7. I didn’t really do anything personal around here.”
Now that Bamesberger has taken to an easier stride in the working world he noted a few fun hobbies that have once, or are currently, occupying his time.
“We did a lot with the (American) Legion, helped build some buildings,” he started, “But (other than that) I started snowmobiling in ‘68.”
He reported that he, Bonnie and the kids would go with another group around three to four times a year, all through the kids being in high school.
“I haven’t ridden now for about five years,” he said. “But we take off and go out of town two, three, four times a year.”
Bamesberger and his wife frequently go out on buying trips for her floral shop in Aurora, Honeysuckle Lane. The pair also travels to show off a car at a car show “every once in awhile,” he said. He also spends time on an acreage inherited from his father.
“I spend a lot of time out there during the day or in the evenings,” he continued. “And I work with trees, blue spruce trees. that’s kind of a getaway, I guess you might say.”
Working with his hands is something else he enjoys, Bamesberger agreed.
“See, my grandpa, he could do all of this with his hands,” he said, motioning around him. “That’s something that I’ve always enjoyed doing. So, I’ve (also) got a frame shop that I mess around with and if I get tired here (at the shop), I’ll go up there and I’ll make picture frames and stuff like that out of wood. Come Christmastime I’ll put something together for people.”
Back on the topic of being named an honored guest by the York-Hamilton County Cattlemen, Bamesberger brought the conversation around to his involvement with the agriculture community through Bamesberger Welding.
“I think it’s quite an honor to be selected to have an award like this,” he said with a smile. “When I started the farmers and the cattle feeders were out here and we would work on feed wagons or grinder mixers pretty much every day. That’s changed pretty much over the years, but I guess the honor is that these people entrust in us the ability to take care of ‘em.”
It’s humbling, he repeated.
“If it (wasn’t) for the people in the community, the farmers, the cattle feeders, the truckers,” he said, “we wouldn’t have what we have today. So you’ve got to give them a lot of praise for helping us be established the way we are.”
In a sort of symbiosis, Bamesberger and his crew help the farmers, who in turn give them their sustained business. It’s a good balance, he agreed. Bamesberger is also involved in the agriculture sector by managing the acreage he mentioned earlier, which is being rented out as cropland.
Most recently he and the crew at his shop are in the midst of helping the agriculture program at Hampton High School by building the cattle shed and gates for their growing livestock education program. He was even found, at the time his interview was supposed to start, working away on a project for Mark Klute’s manure spreader.
“We do a lot for Bob Wert. We had his manure spreader in here the other day,” he mentioned, on the topic of always working with those in agriculture. “We’re in the repair business and when you’re in the repair business you’re available most (always). You don’t have established hours.”
In a later comment, Bamesberger added that Wert grew up around him in the shop, as Wert’s dad spent a good deal of time there. Jim Dose was another good friend, one that Bamesberger spent a lot of time with helping him in high school.
About 80 percent of Bamesberger’s business is ag related, he confirmed. They do have a few “commercial accounts” but those are ag related, too.
“We’re working on combines in Hastings,” he said, “and we’re working on plumbing in York or Bradshaw, wherever we have to go.”
That’s where the major business has always been.
“And that’s pretty much where we stayed,” he said. “We’re here to service the people.”
As far as he’s concerned, that’s the right thing to do.
“This is a real humbling experience to be selected,” he concluded. “Without those people we wouldn’t have it.”