The expansion of the multi-million dollar cosmetic company SeneGence to its founder’s hometown is having an impact all over the area including two of the most historic buildings in downtown Sapulpa.
Ben and Joni Rogers Kante are owners of SeneGence. Besides its mammoth expansion in Sapulpa the company has holdings in California, Canada and Australia.
They have acquired the old Theo. Berryhill Building at 115 E. Dewey Ave. and the Kress 5 & 10 Store at 121 E. Dewey. The two 100-year-old buildings adjoin each other.
The buildings will be restored/remodeled and become facilities useful for the company’s visiting executives who “will be spending many weeks each month helping to oversee various parts of our expansion into Oklahoma,” Joni said.
“We are very excited to have the opportunity to restore these buildings to their original beauty,” she said. “One building will become eight individual small apartments with a store front on the bottom floor to contain a soda fountain-like setup and a small convenience store for the travelers.”
Rogers-Kante said the Theo. Berryhill building will become a boutique/hotel with rooms on the second and third floors for those who stay one or two nights. A café also is planned for the ground floor. Design and work is getting under way.
Additionally, plans are in play to turn a building on New Sapulpa Road into a small temporary manufacturing facility, “hopefully fully operational within three to four months.”
“Again, we are excited to update the area with a beautiful facility that will house about 75 plus individuals,” she said.
Renderings for the manufacturing portion of the property is well under way. Manufacturing will begin as soon as possible while the front portion of the building is remodeled as a laboratory and office space. Products made there will then be shipped to the Tulsa warehouse where the pick n pack has been relocated.
Just over a year ago, Joni began to contemplate having a home near the country place she spent much of her childhood. They secured the old Country Club property next to that farmstead. That in turn has led the company to bring expansion plans to Sapulpa as well.
SeneGence next bought the acreage on Highway 33 next to OG&E for $1.5 million outright from the Creek County industrial Authority.
From their California home in Irvine, they had been planning to locate an additional distribution center in the Midwest that would be more central to their 50,000 independent distributors. St. Louis, Mo., Dallas and Oklahoma City had been considerations.
Besides the acreage, SeneGence bought and extensively remodeled what had at one time been the historic Purina Feed Store on South Main for a temporary distribution center. It was rapidly outgrown but will still be utilized during the transition.
“We are growing so fast as a company, the Main Street facility we opened last October quickly became too small as the originally planned pick n pack and has now become our company’s Midwest Call Center and office space for our growing employee base in Oklahoma,” Rodgers-Kante said.
Meanwhile, the company continues to meet as a team with Bass Construction (Will Berry of Sapulpa) and GH2 Design (Tulsa firm) to define exact plans and infrastructure for the 225-acre, 1.5 million square foot building needed for the SeneGence Campus. Infrastructure for this facility and its facilities, Main Office, Warehousing, Manufacturing, Pick N Pack, Restaurant, Gym, Park, SeneSuites Hotel, will begin by year’s end, she said.
And there’s one more taking place at the vacant lot on northeast corner of Main Street and Dewey Ave. where the Lawrence Cigar Store once stood and where a Coca-Cola sign on the side of that building proclaimed “Sapulpa, Cross Roads of America.” The Kante family has acquired that property and is partnering with the city and community entities to create a tourist stop there around that iconic theme and, according to several sources could see the sign as well as the Davis-Rule “Big Chair” photo-op icon re-appear.
“The project is an exciting one,” Joni said. “Ben, Alan, and I are thrilled to play a small role in seeing it to its successful fruition.”
The Kress Building was originally the site of an open Air Dome. The S.H. Kress Co. was located here from 1916 until 1970. It has been known as Kress Dime Store, S. H. Kress Co.; and has been home to America Abstract; Henderson-Gibson Attorneys; and State Farm Insurance.
The following is recorded as being from the Sapulpa Light, Aug. 1909:
S. H. Kress and Company bought the northwest corner of Dewey (Ave.) and Park Street. This was a lot fifty foot on Dewey and one hundred-thirty-five feet on Park. The purchase price was $20,000.00 or $400 per foot on Dewey. This (at the time) was the highest price yet paid for property in Sapulpa. The SH Kress Company stated that they would begin construction of a four story building before December 1, the first floor for the business and the other floors for offices.
This building was actually built as a two story building and remains today. The curved glass in the front of the building was sort of a trade mark for the Kress Company and some of the original glass remains. The original building cost $35,000 to build.
The Theo. Berryhill Building (not to be confused with the Earle Berryhill Building) was constructed in 1910. It has been home to a variety of businesses including several popular shoe stores. It first opened as S.C. Cleaners in 1910; in 1914 it was Kaufman and Meyer Dry Goods; Ladies Wear was added in 1916. Local historian Pete Egan ran the Sapulpa City Directory and found in 1926 it was Oklahoma Shoe Co. and Stonewall Store at 121 East Dewey; in 1928, it was Okla. Shoe and Plaza Hotel; In 1932 it was a radio company, then in 1934 reverted to a shoe store—Wilcox Shoe and office of E.W. Woodward. It was vacant in 1936. The address was adjusted to 119 E. Dewey in 1938 and it became Jacobson’s Department Store; 1940, Family Shoe Store; In 1946-47 it was listed as Marshall’s and remained so until 1963 when it became Henley’s Shoe Store. It was vacant again in 1980 and soon was followed by several endeavors including a consignment shop, Family Wholesale Center and Bargain World.