Family-owned Appliance Depot continues to thrive while gigantic big-box retailers continue to pop up across Twin Cities, family owned Appliance Depot in Inver Grove Heights has continued to expand its customer base thanks to expanding services and unrivaled customer service.
Ronald Zeien, one of Appliance Depot's owners, explains the company was founded by his father in 1958 and now he and three of his siblings are in charge of the business. "The next generation is working here now too," Zeien notes. "It really is a true family business. Our dad started it and we run it."
The store, which is currently located at 8980 Jefferson Trail W. (Minnesota Highway 149) in Inver Grove Heights, has been open since 1978.
In addition to Appliance Depot the business also includes J.R.'s Appliance Disposal, one of the largest home appliance and electronics recyclers in Minnesota. "We started that in 1988 when the Environmental Protection Agency really began its campaign to stop household items from ending up in traditional landfills," Zeien says. "As recycling has become more and more common the business has just really grown for us. It's been exciting to watch it happen and be part of it."
Customers can drop off items at the recycling center, which is located at 8980 Jefferson Tr. (also known as Highway 149) in Inver Grove Heights, or, if need be, J.R.'s offers pickup throughout the Twin Cities metro area.
Sales representative Mike Larson helps operate the recycling center. "We do our best to take as much as possible," Larson says. "We currently take appliances, electronics, light bulbs, batteries and many other items. We've been getting a lot of televisions and computers. In the summer we get a lot of air conditioners and in the winter we get a lot of furnaces." There are small service fees for each item, but special pricing is available for large amounts of items.
"The recycling of household items has really gone up with public education," Larson says. "People can drop off their items here six days per week or we can come get it."
Small Business, Bigger Service
For Zeien, his staff's ability to help customer address their concerns and questions quickly and accurately is one of the things that has helped the business not only survive but thrive and grow amongst a sea of chain stores.
"We know our products backwards and forwards," Zeien said. "All the family members that work here started out cleaning appliances. We know our products and are able to share that knowledge with our customers. I think that's why our customers continue to shop with us year after year."
Zeien is also proud of his company's reputation as one of the area's finest new and used parts dealers. "We also offer many used appliances. We're as big a used appliance retailer as you'll find, " Zeien says. "A customer might come in and say they're having a problem with dryer and they'd like to replace it. But after listening to them we might know they only need a $9 part to fix the problem. We're honest with them and help them find the part. That's another reason we have so many repeat customers."
Appliance Depot's warm and friendly show room is full of products form Maytag, Amana, General Electric, Jenn-Air, Hotpoint, Magic Chef and Goodman.
Appliance Depot provides and inviting place for customers to browse without pressure. "Our staff is always there to assist customer with their questions," Zeien says. "At the same time, we want people to feel free to look at our products and compare them to other stores."
Appliance Depot offers refrigerators, stoves, washers and dryers, furnaces, central air conditioners, water softeners and other products. "We're able to consistently beat the bigger chain stores in pricing," Zeien explains. "Sometimes we beat them by hundreds of dollars. We have anything you need for our house and it's always at the right price."
Zeien also says customers are better off with smaller retailers for service reasons. "With a smaller retailer you're much more likely to get help with a problem even after the warranty is expired," Zeien explains. "Smaller retailers know their customers and are able to provide services that the big chain retailers simply aren't able to provide. I compare us to our neighborhood hardware store. If you need advice on tools you go to the neighborhood store, you don't go the huge chains."
In addition to its impressive roster of products and services, Appliance Depot continues to focus on the future by continually adding services. "We've started offering financing, extended warranties and an Appliance Depot credit card, " Zeien says. "We're providing the services to make ourselves competitive with anyone."
Appliance Depot's already immense show room will soon be expanding. "We're going to add about 4000 more square feet to our store, something that will give our customers even more choices," Zeien says.
For more information call 454-5995. For more information on J.R.'s Appliance Disposal visit www.jrsappliance.com or call 454-9215.