Southland Trophy in South Charleston marking 75 years in business
If longevity deserves a trophy, make it a big one for Southland Trophy, Sign & Billiards in South Charleston.
The family-owned business, which started as a pool table manufacturer, is marking 75 years in business this year.
Jeff Hash, and his wife, Robin, are keeping the business going that Hash’s father, Jim Hash, started in 1942 in South Charleston. With pool tables no longer the main focus, Southland Trophy can custom design any type of trophy, plaque or acrylic award that customers need. Southland Trophy also produces custom signs for businesses.
Southland Trophy started out as Southland Billiards Manufacturing on MacCorkle Avenue, and, for more than 60 years, produced a line of pool tables made by hand by Jim Hash and other family members. When Jim’s wife, Ethel, joined the business after retiring from Kroger in the early 1970s, she added trophies and awards.
“That’s when it became Southland Billiards & Trophies; she added the trophies, plaques and awards,” Jeff Hash said.
He remembers his father being skeptical about adding trophy making to the business.
“He said, ‘You’ll never make any money selling them little trophies.’ Two or three years later, she had eight employees,” Jeff said.
However, in keeping the billiards aspect of the original business alive, Jeff continues to refurbish, restore and sell pool tables that were built by his father. Hence, the name, Southland Trophy, Sign & Billiards. The business is at 1109 Jefferson Road, South Charleston.
“I can put you in a pool table,” he said.
Jeff said that pool table sales aren’t what they used to be, compared to his father’s heyday in the business. These days, he works on and adjusts pool tables and also refurbishes and resells tables he has acquired that were made by his father. Jeff and other family members continued to make custom pool tables until 2008.
Now, “I deal in used tables that were made by us. I’ve sold probably 20 tables in the past two years,” he said.
The biggest part of Southland’s business today is making custom awards that include plaques and trophies. But Jeff said even those aspects of the business aren’t what they used to be.
“Plaques are probably the largest part of our business. We still do a lot of trophies, but the thing is, a lot of Little Leagues, they’re not giving out trophies to the kids anymore.”
Jeff said when corporations or community organizations are faced with budgetary constraints, “the first thing that gets cut is the awards budget.”
Southland Trophy custom makes all of its trophies and awards for customers.
“Every plaque or acrylic (award) is designed based on input we get from the customers and also the information we get about the person whose going to receive it. I sit in here every day and custom design artwork for people’s awards.”
Trophies, too, are put together in the store using Southland Trophy’s vast inventory of shiny, hardwood parts; embellishments and figurines.
Jeff said he’s proud of Southland Trophy’s ability to stay in business over seven decades.
“I’m proud of it -- I really am. We have made it this far, when thousands of other small, family-owned businesses have gone under here in the valley. It’s been hard to keep the place open. I didn’t think I’d make it this far.”
He attributes Southland Trophy’s staying power to its emphasis on customer service and making sure every product is the best it can be. He remembers his mother closely examing each trophy and plaque before it left the store.
“Nothing left the store that she didn’t unwrap it and examine it and make sure that the customer would be proud to present that item to some outstanding person,” Jeff said.
For more information about Southland Trophy, Sign & Billiards, call 304-744-2501.