Business of the Month:
Jay & Sherry Groom – the Troll Hole

Meet the Trolls Who Make Alliance Theirs

It’s all in how you look at it –  half empty or half full? Sherry and Jay Groom did not grow up in Alliance. But once they got to know the community, they saw it was full of opportunities.

“Alliance is a place where we could try out our dreams and schemes,” says Sherry.

Since 2009, the Grooms have purchased eleven downtown buildings and developed four businesses. The high quality of affordable property combined with the close-knit community makes it a business incubator with lots of promise. One of their enterprises is the Troll Hole Museum, which employs four part-time baristas/tour guides.


Troll Hole Museum & Cafe

Sherry acquired her first troll doll at age five. She never stopped and eventually owned over three thousand troll dolls. That put her in the Guinness Book of World Records!

As a psychiatric nurse and owner of the Villa Maria Dementia Care Center in Alliance, Sherry knew firsthand the ups and downs the downtown community experienced. So she thought, if news media from around the globe were interested enough to contact her for a story, then certainly curious tourists would make the effort to see her troll collection.

That’s when she decided make downtown Alliance the home of the world’s only troll doll museum. The Grooms bought the building at 228 E. Main Street. It had been empty for four years. Three 6-foot holes gaped the roof and water poured in. It was quite a challenge, but what also poured in was community encouragement.

With the help of city officials, the Alliance Chamber of Commerce, Arts in Stark, the Alliance Area Development and others, the Troll Hole Museum now features more than 10,000 troll items in cool, fun settings that amuse tourists of all ages from around the globe, including the U.K. and Australia.

The museum also features the Grumpy Troll Cafe, featuring hand-crafted coffee, frappes, smoothies, gourmet tea, waffles and more.


The Art Emporium

The Art Emporium is located adjacent to the Troll Hole and carries a large selection of gifts, ranging from fine art by gifted local and international artists to souvenirs.  

It specializes in unique, one-of-a-kind gift items – a perfect match for the one-of-a-kind Troll Hole museum.


The Enchanted Threads Fiber Arts Studio

Located at 40 N. Arch Ave., the Enchanted Threads Fiber Arts Studio is where you will find everything from the raw materials to make your own creations to finished products by highly skilled crafters in the fiber arts. Knitting, crochet and felting enthusiasts can’t wait for the Wednesday Night crafting classes. Full-time resident artist David McDowell’s exhibits are also popular attractions.


Community Support

Through all of these creative endeavors, the Grooms are grateful for all the community support. “Rob Hankins CEO of Arts in Stark has been our mentor and without his guidance and support we would not have survived the challenges,” says Sherry. They heartily commend the support and cooperation of the 20/20 Arts Council and University of Mount Union, the Canton Visitors Bureau and the Alliance Tourism Committee.


Carnation Cleaners

The Grooms are big believers in recycling and green initiatives. “The ultimate in recycling is refurbishing old businesses,” asserts Sherry. So they renovated the building at 121 E. Main St. – originally home to Richards Washerette, founded in 1934. In 2015, the business was revived as Carnation Cleaners, featuring energy- and water-conserving machines and paperless billing and reusable garment bags.


Let’s Turn the Old Heggy Building Into a Castle!

Sherry invites everyone to join together to create the largest work of public art in the midwest. “We are turning the old Heggy restaurant building (located at 317-319 E. Main St.) into a ginormous art installation, depicting Camelot and the Knights of the Round Table myth in ruins blended with images of light and recovery,” Sherry says.

Included in the art installation is a challenging cipher (puzzle) based on ancient legends of Merlin and King Arthur that visitors will be challenged to solve using a provided trifold and other tools, just like  a real castle!


Great Opportunities for Entrepreneurs

Sherry urges everyone to Make Alliance Theirs: “Alliance is thriving and growing and has untapped potential and great opportunities for entrepreneurs who like to think outside the box and be innovating.” 

For more information about any of these, contact Sherry Groom at 330-596-1157 or visit…and Make Alliance Yours!

Alliance is a great place to do business. Ask Chuck Kesterke. He grew up here, went to Marlington High School, and fondly remembers all the locally-owned, hometown businesses. 

“I always remember seeing the owners of the businesses working right alongside of their employees. There was always a face associated with a business, a sense of pride in whichever business it was, whether it be Buckey Joe or the ladies at Pisanello’s Pizza – my personal favorite!”

Now Chuck’s one of them – owner and operator of Alliance Stone and Cabinetry. In 2011, after years in construction, Chuck decided to start his own business. Alliance Area Development was there to help him set up shop and get things rolling.

Alliance Stone and Cabinetry specializes in custom kitchen design, custom cabinetry and stone countertop fabrication. They cover all aspects of remodeling and new construction from the design phase through implementation.

“One of the best things about owning a business in the design and construction industry is the client interactions. I enjoy listen to their ideas and making them come to life,” Chuck says.  

This attention to high quality detail and personalized service pays off – especially in greater Alliance. Chuck says, “It is a tight knit community, which is an advantage to small business and startups. It’s easy to get lost in the shuffle in much larger communities.”

“I chose to open my business in Alliance for several reasons,” he says. “I was born and raised here. It’s a great community to grow up in. And I wanted to feel like I was contributing to the area that I call home. Also, my wife is from the area and owns Penturf Dentistry along with her sister and father.”

The community welcomed Alliance Stone and Cabinetry both as customers and as supportive fellow business owners.  Chuck’s company gives back, supporting the YMCA and YWCA.  

That’s the kind of business community you’ll find in Alliance. Make Alliance Yours, just like Chuck Kesterke. Learn more about Alliance Stone and Cabinetry here.


Gwendolyn Cowens and Krystle Welty entered the Medical Assistant and Phlebotomy program at the Alliance Career Centre, leading them into a career they may have never imagined just a few years before.

Cowens and Welty were looking for careers that would offer full-time work, a stable income, and hours conducive to their family lives. They saw the success of the Medical Assistant program, and they were also enticed by the class hours. Cowens was able to take the day classes, while the night program worked better for Welty. “They have a schedule for everybody,” says Cowens.  

They were also impressed by the scholarship and financial aid resources offered by the Alliance Career Centre. These opportunities are open to all community members, as well as recent high school graduates seeking post-secondary school career training. These financial opportunities also apply to the welding, cosmetology, and the diversified medical studies programs.

Both Cowens and Welty accepted full-time hospital positions before they finished the program. Welty took a position from Alliance Community Hospital, and Cowens began working at Mercy Medical Center, who looks to the Alliance Career Centre when they need to hire because of the great reputation it has developed.

Cowens and Welty plan to continue building their skills through programs offered by their current employers. The Alliance Career Centre was the perfect stepping stone to launch their careers. Cowens is very excited for the opportunities she has to grow in her position. “It’s up to the individual if they want to be successful,” she says.

alliance-community-hospitalAlliance Community Hospital. They’re reaching out to keep Alliance happy and healthy.  Like free blood pressure screenings at the Alliance Farmers’ Market and the Heart and Sole walking program at the Carnation Mall. The hospital also partnered with Alliance native Dr. Michael Grimes to give Alliance high school kids free Fitbits so they can exercise and track their progress.

These are just a few of the many ways the hospital and its caring providers help people avoid the hospital with proactive wellness. But if they need great care, the Alliance Community Hospital is also an “evolving” facility, which means it adapts to the needs of the people and include partnerships with Aultman Hospital, the Cleveland Clinic Akron General and others to provide cancer, orthopedic and other health services.

ACH also serves the community through fundraisers such as Charity Golf Classic, held in June, raised $40,000, and the Stepping Out for Hospice 5K held in August.

ACH embraces the Planetree Philosophy, while advocating patient-centered care integrates complementary therapies with today’s highly technical medical expertise to give patients the best possible healing environment.

Serving the community since 1901, ACH is always striving to find the right combination of services, programs and community support to make Alliance theirs!

Alliance-born Joe Schatz was an employee of Winkle Industries in Canfield, Ohio before he purchased the company. He took over, grew it and relocated to his hometown. He’s proud that he didn’t lose any employees during the move.

That’s a testament to his respect for their hard work and his recognition for making Winkle and his two other business a success. Here’s a little about his three Alliance enterprises:

Winkle IndustriesWinkle Industries
Founded in 1949 Winkle Industries provides engineering design and analysis, manufacturing, remanufacturing, field services and aftermarket parts distribution to industrial markets worldwide.

LifeTechLiftTech Industrial Services
LiftTech Industrial Services performs a comprehensive range of inspection, installation, commissioning and repair services for industrial equipment and devices. LiftTech also delivers tailored corporate asset management programs as well as training for operator and maintenance personnel.

Originally founded in 1989, provides a full range of “sound engineering solutions” to assist clients from concept to completion for projects ranging from standalone devices to major capital expansions.

Mac Trailer Logo

What started as a one-man operation repairing wrecked trailers in a single-bay garage has grown to become the nation’s foremost manufacturer of dump, flatbed and transfer Trailers as well as pneumatic and liquid tank trailers.”

The Alliance-born company still has four facilities in town – the Alliance corporate offices, manufacturing plant, Aftermarket Parts, MAC Service area and MBR used trailer division, plus a Salem, Ohio’s manufacturing plant and MAC Liquid Tank Trailer (LTT) plants in Kent, Ohio and Billing, MT.

MAC Trailer encompasses over 668,00 square feet of campuses totaling over 105 acres, with over 1200 employees serving national and international markets.

“We’re a large company that operates like a small company,” says founder and president Mike Conny. “We treat all of our customers exceptionally, whether they are purchasing one trailer or a fleet of 500. A real person answers are phone. We listen to our customers.”

Mike adds, “We can take any man or woman who wants to learn about the transportation business and is willing to work hard and make them a success. There’s opportunity here at MAC Trailer and in Alliance.”

When great people and great organizations come together, amazing things happen.  That’s the story behind the Hester Mini Park Tree Planting.  Thanks to a mini grant from Alliance Make it Yours, matching funding from the Shade Tree Commission and the leadership of Keep Alliance Beautiful, there are now three beautiful Honey Locust trees at Hester Mini Park.  When these trees mature, they will provide shade to local children and adults who use the park for recreation and add the aesthetic of the already neighborhood community space.  Thanks to all of the great volunteers and organizations who are truly Making Alliance Theirs!

People listed in picture:

Barry Kridler (Kridler Gardens), Chris Zufall (Parks Department), Kathryn Miller (Shade Tree Commission), Andrea Lee (Keep Alliance Beautiful Coordinator), Leigh Mainwaring (Shade Tree Commission), Pat Stone (Shade Tree Commission), Malicahi (Kridler Gardens employee)

The Paver Place - Whitacre Greer CompanyAlliance’s own Whitacre Greer Company manufactured the bricks that pave the way from the U.S. Capitol Building to the White House.

The sidewalks of Pennsylvania Avenue were done from the Capitol to the White House on both sides of the street, using Whitacre Greer pavers  The paving was part of a billion dollar renovation to Pennsylvania Avenue in order to improve the overall presence. Whitacre Greer filled the order for 1,023,408 pieces of paving brick in July 1980, with instructions that the entire job had to be finished by December. The inauguration of President Reagan in January 1981 was to be the “grand reveal” to the nation.

Thirty-four years later, more than 890,000 of the 8 x 8 x 2 ¼ pavers are still on the sidewalks of Pennsylvania Avenue. The color, Candlelight, was very popular at that time.

Every year, millions of people walk across a product made by an Alliance company.

Robertson Heating SupplyRobertson Heating Supply, headquartered in Alliance, Ohio, is one of the largest, family-owned heating wholesale distributors in the country. It supports more than 5,000 plumbing and HVAC contractors annually with more that 20,000 different products.

In their 80+ year history, Robertson has provided more than a billion dollars in product to the plumbing and heating industry.

Morgan Engineering SystemsFor the last five years, rain has pushed the U.S. Open Final from Sunday to Monday.

The players are upset about it because they have the Davis Cup the following week and the fans are definitely not happy about it.

Originally, the feeling was that putting a retractable roof on the stadium was an engineering impossibility and couldn’t be done. The USTA said the stadium was built on swampland and could sink under the weight of a roof. The current plan is to remove a large amount of the very heavy seating in the upper decks to reduce the weight.

Morgan Kinetic Structures, a division of Morgan Engineering Systems, Inc., has been instrumental in the design and supply of engineering, components and assemblies at the retractable roof stadiums for The Seattle Mariners and The Toronto Blue Jays.

Morgan’s reputation for engineering, quality of manufacturing, state of the art system automation and diagnostics will enhance the success of this exciting addition to the stadium.