A&E Exclusive: Holsapple Engravers Devastated by Dallas Tornadoes

The family-run business is left picking up the pieces after a swarm of tornadoes hit Dallas on October 20.

On October 20, 2019, northern Texas was hit by a pack of tornadoes. Fortunately, there were no fatalities, though the impacts were widespread across the Dallas area. Holsapple Engravers in Dallas was one of the many businesses devasted by the natural disaster. 

The family-run business, which has been in the same location since 1977, is in the process of working with an insurance company and a restoration company to try to recover what is salvageable. 

Claude Holsapple Sr. started the shop in downtown Dallas in September 1943. Holsapple Sr. was a jewelry hand engraver and taught several others how to hand engrave back then. His son, Claude Holsapple Jr. joined the shop in the 1950s and was a jewelry hand engraver as well.

The children of Holsapple Jr. are the current owners and third generation of the family to run the business. Siblings Jeff Holsapple, Julie Hardgrave, and Debbie Lohden own the shop together, along with Julie’s husband Dan who started working at the shop a year after they were married 47 years ago. 

According to Julie, several family members have worked at the shop, but now it is just her, Dan, Debbie, and Jeff. There is one employee aside from the family, Ray Boyer, who started working there when was 20 years old. Boyer still works three days a week after spending the last 62 years there. 

Throughout the years, engraving methods changed with the addition of machines and computers, Julie explains. Holsapple Engravers curtailed to the times and became a full-service engraving company; it now offers all kinds of engraving, still including jewelry. 

“We are hoping to reopen as soon as possible,” Dan Hardgrave says. “We are grateful to our suppliers and customers for being flexible and totally understanding.”

According to the family, the tornadoes that hit Dallas that night did a great deal of damage, not only to businesses, but many people lost their homes. “We are so lucky that none of us had damage to our homes,” Dan adds.

The family is working with a leasing company for a new location, as the building was condemned a few days after the storm and will be demolished. Hardgrave says they are waiting on the machinery to be cleaned before they can begin to assess it. 

In the meantime, the family has one process back up and running from their home, which is sublimation. They had to replace their sublimation printer and supplies, but the main computer still works as well as the heat press. 

“We have wonderful, loyal customers who many of us have known most of our lives,” Dan expresses. “We are grateful to them for their patience as we work through this.” 

Dan tells A&E that they are trying to find other companies to help their customers with pressing deadlines, and many competitors and clients have offered their services in whatever capacity needed. 

Holsapple Engravers hopes to be open and starting back with more equipment in the next three to four weeks. 

“We are at the mercy of the restoration company and how fast they can work,” Dan concludes. “We are grateful that we have insurance and will be able to re-open and continue our family business.”

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Julia Schroeder

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