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BIZ appliancenter24p Appliance Center co-owner Julie Abbey said her father, Chuck Oswald, stressed customer service to her and her brother, John Oswald.
Appliance Center co-owner Julie Abbey said her father, Chuck Oswald, stressed customer service to her and her brother, John Oswald.
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Published: Tuesday, 7/24/2012 - Updated: 2 years ago

Maumee 2nd-generation store celebrates 49th anniversary

Appliance Center credits success to founder's example

BY KRIS TURNER
BLADE BUSINESS WRITER

There's no room for sibling rivalry or bickering at Appliance Center in Maumee.

John Oswald and Julie Abbey -- a brother-and-sister duo who are the second-generation owners of the store -- said they've never had an argument in the almost 25 years they've worked together. Running the 49-year-old store is about family, people, and a commitment to service, they said.

"We actually like to be together. We also have a good balance," said Ms. Abbey, who is vice president of Appliance Center. "He takes on things I don't want to do. I've let him be a visionary and he's let me be a visionary in my way."

The store celebrated its 49th birthday over the weekend and will continue its festivities throughout the week. Both Mr. Oswald and Ms. Abbey attribute their success and dedication to their father, Chuck Oswald, who died in 2004.

The late Mr. Oswald started the store in 1963. His children carried on the business when the late Mr. Oswald was diagnosed with cancer in 1994.

The store expanded from 9,500 square feet to more than 48,000 square feet in 2009, and has gone beyond dealing in just appliances, although it still carries a wide variety of them. Appliance Center also sells electronics, furniture, and mattresses.

"It's gotten so big now as far as one store goes, we can't do it as just a family business with a few people," said Mr. Oswald, who is the president of the company. "It takes a small army to run a successful business."

The store has more than 100 employees but hasn't lost its emphasis on customer appreciation, Mr. Oswald said. The values Mr. Oswald learned as a 13-year-old breaking boxes apart in the back of the store have stuck with him, he added.

"Every customer has got to be the most important customer," he said. "We want all of our customers for life."

Ms. Abbey said her father, who grew up in public housing, hammered customer and employee appreciation into his children's minds.

"It's important to really treat people the way you want to be treated, the old golden rule," she said. "Running a successful business has to be good for you as the owner, good for the employees, and good for the customers. That's the trifecta."

It would be nice if a third generation of the Oswald family would step up to control the store some day, but that remains to be seen, Ms. Abbey said. Ms. Abbey's daughter is pursuing a teaching career and Mr. Oswald's children are very young.

"I have a succession plan -- it's my brother's kids," Ms. Abbey said. "I hope they do take it over. There are not a lot businesses that transition to a third generation."

Contact Kris Turner at: kturner@theblade.com or 419-724-6103.



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