(With updates from farmers and employees)
CANAL FULTON, Ohio — People who knew David Hill say he was a good businessman who put his customers first. The 57-year-old, who owned Hill’s Supply, a well-known dairy supply company, died Dec. 1, along his wife, Shin — apparently from carbon monoxide poisoning.
Bill Holland, inspector for the Summit County Sheriff’s Office, said when deputies and the fire department entered the home, emergency carbon monoxide alarms started going off and officers had to exit and ventilate the home at least 30 minutes, before re-entering.
Holland said some levels inside the home were as high as 300 ppm, with other places as high as 2,000 ppm. Anything above 100 ppm is considered dangerous to human health.
Holland said the couple was found near the indoor swimming pool, leading authorities to suspect the pool heater may have been a factor.
Holland said there is no suspicion of foul play, and the Summit County Medical Examiner’s office confirmed the case is “being investigated as an accidental poisoning.”
David Hill and his family sold and serviced dairy equipment in Ohio since 1979, and also did business in neighboring states. The company was founded by David’s mother, Dolores Hill, who died in October, at 86.
News of his death shocked area dairy farmers and his co-workers, who said he had a good work ethic and a positive relationship with his customers and his employees.
“I’ve never met a more generous man in my life,” said Frank Burkett, a dairy farmer from Canal Fulton. “The guy had the work ethic of a farmer.”
Burkett, who is also president of Ohio Farm Bureau Federation, said he was best friends with Hill for at least 10 years.
He said he enjoyed vacationing and spending time with the Hills, whom he described as adventurous.
Burkett was one of only a handful of people to attend the Hills’ wedding, which was held on a frozen lake in Michigan, with the couple wearing snowmobile suits.
“We were put on this earth to be a blessing to other people, and Dave and Shin Hill were definitely, undoubtedly, a blessing to everybody they touched,” Burkett said.
Chuck Ferrell, sales manager at Hill’s Supply and a 20-year employee, said David was a people person, with the customer and with his own employees.
“If one of his employees had a need for something, he was more than happy to help them out,” Ferrell said.
There were times when David also helped out his competitors, offering equipment and supplies when needed.
Ferrell said he had fond memories of spending time with David and his family, at David’s cabin in Pennsylvania, and at local events. Ferrell said David was the kind of person who liked to have fun when the work was done.
John Macho, the robotic milking service manager at Hill’s Supply, said the employees are working together to keep everything going, including sales and service.
“We’re working together as a group,” Macho said. “Obviously, none of us had the same ability that Dave did, but when you add us all together, we do.”
Willing to teach
Macho said David was a generous and thoughtful boss, the kind who could do any job at the company, and was willing to teach others how to do different jobs, as well.
David’s brother-in-law, Jeff Fedorko, is serving as acting president over the estate.
Don Schalmo, of Schalmo Builders, helped build the current Hill’s Supply location in the 1980s. Schalmo said his family has been friends with the Hills since at least the late 1940s, and that the two families operated on a shared principle of putting customers ahead of profit.
He said David was an honest man, who lived up to his part of the deal, and making sure his customers got what they were promised.
“That’s the kind of guy Dave was all the time — you can’t beat that,” Schalmo said.
A public memorial and social is being planned for Dec. 10, at 10 a.m., at Greensburg United Methodist Church, in Green.