DODGE CITY — A family legacy is a valuable commodity in a community. For Waters True Value and the Waters family, their 125-year legacy will continue in Dodge City as they move into the next chapter of their business journey.

Gerken Rent-All, operated by the Gerken family, will purchase Waters True Value and continue the family legacy that runs through five generations in the Waters family.

All the Waters True Value stores will be renamed Waters Hardware. The rental operations in each store will be rebranded as Gerken Rent-All, said Kimberly Smith, marketing and advertising manager for Waters Hardware.

"We're still Waters and have the same relationship with our customers. We look forward to serving them and moving into the future as we help them with their projects," Smith said.

Waters has locations in Dodge City, Salina, Great Bend, Junction City, Manhattan, Wamego and Emporia. When customers walk in the door after the change over, they will see familiar faces that they have dealt with for years. Employees at all seven Waters locations will remain the same, Smith said.

The partnering of these two great companies will allow for continued strong service and improved product offerings across both rental and hardware," said Rusty Gerken, president of Gerken Rent-All. "Jim (Waters) and I both understand that unique challenges and rewards of running family-owned businesses in a way that meets the needs of the local communities, maintains a strong financial foundation and continues to evolve with advancements in the field. I'm honored to carry on his family's legacy with Waters Hardware."

The decision to make the change started as a matter of practicality.

Jim Waters, president of Waters True Value, knew that his children were pursuing careers outside the hardware business and he wanted to make sure the business would continue into the future. He talked with Rusty Gerken, whom he has known for a long time, and decided to sell to Gerken who will combine the hardware with his rental business, Smith said.

Merging the two companies will assure that customers will continue to get the quality service and products they have come to know and expect.

"Along with my wife, Bev, and the entire Waters Hardware team, we would like to thank the communities that have supported out family business over the years," Waters said. "Most importantly, I'm excited about what the future holds for Waters Hardware and its employees thanks to this new partnership with Gerken Rent-All."

Gerken Rent-All has 13 locations in eastern Kansas and western Missouri that includes two hardware stores.

Some of the items available at Gerken Rent-All include scaffolding, excavators, dumpsters, lawn aerators, big mowers and many other items for big jobs and one- time projects, Smith said.

Waters Hardware will continue to sell their usual hardware products as well as party and wedding rental items including tents, tables, chairs, serving ware, inflatables along with plants, shrubs and trees.

"We operate in smaller communities," Smith said. "We try to have a little bit of everything."

The process of changing over to new ownership will include some cosmetic changes both inside and outside store, including new signage, over the next few weeks. A grand opening will be coming sometime this fall.