By Everett Brazil, III
The Newkirk Herald Journal
NEWKIRK — Garry Bilger has long been a pillar of the Newkirk Community, operating three different businesses and supporting numerous organizations for many decades, including the Chamber of Commerce. The Chamber is now honoring him for his many efforts, selecting him for Business of the Month for June 2019 for Bilger Real Estate and Newkirk Mini Storage.
Sitting at his desk at his downtown office, he reflects on his many years in Newkirk, and the honor the Chamber has bestowed upon hm.
“It’s a nice honor,” he said. “It’s just something that make you think, they noticed our efforts.”
Bilger is not originally from Newkirk, hailing instead from Cashion, Okla., near Kingfisher. He and his wife, Beth, arrived in 1968 because of a job with the USDA-U.S. Agriculture Stabilization and Conservation Service, now part of the Farm Service Agency (FSA). Like the modern FSA, they administered programs, such as the wheat and feed grain programs and administered conservation payments, among many other activities.
He remained with them for 28 years until retirement, after which he obtained his real estate license and opened Bilger Real Estate, which is still in operation.
His experience with the USDA made him more than qualified for the job.
“I love working with people, primarily, and I had quite a background in farming,” he said.
The business today not only sells houses within the community, but also businesses, as well as rural properties outside city limits.
It would be in 1982 when he expanded into the storage business, which was relatively new to Kay County. The lot of his first storage site contained another business of his, a carwash, located South Street and Peach.
“I had bought a lot, and it had a little car wash on it, and the car wash only utilized part of the land, and I wanted something else to put on it,” he said. “The mini storage business was kind of new. It was in its beginning stage in the area.”
He would ultimately expand Newkirk Mini Storage to new locations, including South Street and Walnut, Sixth Street and Maple and North Maple Street, across from Newkirk Public Library.
Bilger is planning to expand his Mini Storage site at Six Street and Walnut, but had to close the car wash after 35 years of service.
“There was a new one that was built, and I needed to do some service upgrades, and I needed to cut back some, and that is what I did – I closed it,” he said.
Bilger and his wife have also been active elsewhere in the community. They both previously served as Chamber President, as well as in Lions Club and Kay County War Memorial.
The Chamber is proud to honor Bilger Real Estate and Newkirk Mini Storage as the June Business of the Month.
“(Bilger’s) been a cornerstone of the community forever. He raised three children here. He believes in shopping Newkirk first,” Chamber President Debbie Leaming said. “He’s been a long time Chamber member, as well.”
Bilger has no plans to slow down anytime, and promotes Newkirk any chance he can.
“I think Newkirk is a wonderful place to raise a family. There are some nice people here,” he said. “I wouldn’t encourage people to move here if I didn’t believe that.”