Top Hat Chimney Sweeps has a new owner, but customers shouldn’t notice a difference.
“We are not going to change anything. We’ll take what Ray (Johnston) had and make sure they get the same service they got from Ray and try to make it even better. He had a good reputation with his customers. said Randy Sabo, owner of Chimney Doctor of Bedford, which bought the business from Johnston on Sept. 1.
Johnston started the company in 1980 shortly after completing a week-long training course in Stowe, Vermont.
Johnston and Sabo had known each other for about 10 years. About two years ago Johnston, 62, decided he wanted to try selling his business so he could retire.
“Randy contacted me shortly after an article appeared in the Blair Business Mirror (July 2016) about me wanting to retire and sell the business,” Johnson said.
However, at the time, Sabo wasn’t quite ready. In the meantime, his sons, Zach and Korey, have become partners and certified chimney sweeps, so he decided to talk to Johnston again.
“He was still for sale; it was a good fit,” Sabo said.
Sabo plans to keep the Top Hat name.
“Ray had it for 36 years; we didn’t want to change it. We want people to understand that we are still Top Hat. With Ray’s respect and reputation, it wasn’t a difficult decision to buy it. It was a great deal.” Sabo said.
The purchase allows Sabo, which had served customers in the Bedford, Johnstown and Somerset areas, to double its business.
He and Johnston are working together to make it a smooth transition.
“I work with him and I meet his clients, I learn to do it his way. I want to learn from him. His clients love him. Some people were in tears when he told them he was retiring. Sabo said.
Johnston plans to work with Sabo until next year.
“It’s part of my exit strategy. I knew I couldn’t do it forever.” Johnson said.
Johnston had been Blair County’s only chimney sweep.
“It’s a dying business. It’s not an easy business. People don’t grow up saying they want to be a chimney sweep. Ray was one of the pioneers of the business,” Sabo said.