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Need Input

Bryan_5 Member Posts: 270
Well Rich I am one of those DIY homeowners. I am about 20 minutes away from you. I will tell you that I have the darndest time getting quality parts. I dont like having to buy junk from those large box stores. And half the time they dont even have what you need. So when you open up let me know I will be there and support your efforts. I would much preffer to give my money to a real person or family then some corprate stockholders.


  • mp1969
    mp1969 Member Posts: 226
    Advice needed

    Last week Thursday my 23 year old stepson had his left hip replaced and in September he will have his right hip replaced also. Michael suffers with juvenile rheumotiod athritis which he has had since he was 11. JRA is a progressive disorder that attacks joints throughout his body.This surgery hopefully will give him enough mobility to return to work in sales (which he loves)and the newer treatments he receives for the jra will hopefully hold the disorder in check so he can function his hands, wrists etc.
    My question is this: I have in the past 3 months found employment doing what I do best, working as a lead plumbing service tech for one of the finest firms in the Milwaukee metro area. I am very comfortable there and hope to work there for the next 12-15 years until I retire. I am in the process of scaling back my own firm and have put it on idle at this time.
    Since I have a decent client base and a structured company, I am toying with the idea of converting it to plumbing component sales only. This move would tailor a position in sales for my son and I would only act as the experienced consultant. With the uninformed purchases that the general public makes at the box stores I feel that value comparisons and sound adviced would be welcomed by marginally informed consumers.
    I of course will clear this with my current employer and not compete against him.
    As I value the sound advice of the wetheads and know their sincerity I am asking for input as to whether this is worth considering.
    We would start initially with word of mouth and networking and progress to a web site and other means of exposure after seeing the results.
    Sorry about the length of this post, however we are trying to find a suitable way for Michael to work with his disabilty.

    Rich Kontny (MP 1969)
    [email protected]
  • Mike T., Swampeast MO
    Mike T., Swampeast MO Member Posts: 6,928

    Has never been easy but it has become exceptionally difficult. Most markets became overly saturated in the last couple of decades and now with economic downturn the saturation has reached cut-throat levels.

    The world's largest retailer has done a VERY good job of convincing many that price is the only factor that they should consider. As they can buy the complete output of foreign "factories" and have a complete and exclusive shipping/distribution/insurance/finance system they are able to put goods in their stores for significantly less than anyone else and their volume allows extremely small profit margin.

    While no-one else seems to be able to duplicate this sytem entirely, they certainly try. Managers of the "big box" stores have considerable latitude in pricing much of their merchandise to their local market conditions. In the absence of mega-competition their "commodity-type" items will be priced at or below the level of local small competition, BUT they are making significantly more profit--both by selling inferior products and their huge company-wide volume. This can allow them to effectively subsidize their mid-range goods to the point that you could not keep your doors open selling the same/similar at same/similar pricing.

    Their return/exchange policies are extremely liberal--often because they negotiate special "allowances" with manufacturers--a break you are HIGHLY unlikely to receive.

    Those retailers who have survived have likely done so with good service and quality and their customers tend to be very loyal. It can take a LONG time to build such a base.

    Niches for small retailers are becoming fewer and fewer. As competition shaves margins at the "big box" level, they add more and more categories to kill competition in the hope that they can later raise the price to reasonable levels, thus enhance their bottom line.

    Little guys are often forced to deeply discount high-end merchandise, a strategy that often backfires as it is difficult to sufficiently raise volume to compensate. Remember that the truly wealthy rarely concern themselves with mundance matters as they are busy building yet more wealth. They are used to hiring people to do their selection for them and now instead of offering a relatively small discount to such, they buy from you at deep discount yet STILL charge their clients full retail PLUS fees.

    In a market economy all of this is expected, BUT the big boys have been able to "negotiate" breaks from government as well. Local and state governments often subsidize their development with property and other tax concessions--I find this particularly amazing for anything retail.

    As zoning laws tend to cluster these establishments together and their parking requirements are fantastic, they must find huge expanses of relatively cheap, undeveloped land. As the traffic--caused mainly by this development I might add--builds to intolerable levels, literally billions are spent by all levels of government to make access to them easier and easier. This really amounts to a GIANT, "hidden" subsidy. While the wages they pay aren't particularly high, they ARE able to provide benefits that you will find difficult to match--often retirement plans of extremely questionable worth that look REALLY good on paper. They also tend to hire lots of part-time help to which they pay no benefits. The exceptionally complex nature of our tax code isn't there to help the little guys by the way--it's there to help mega-corporations, accountants and "investment" bankers.
  • Art Pittaway
    Art Pittaway Member Posts: 230
    If you want to visit

    an operation that is doing exactly what you are describing, come to Rockford, Il. Axberg P & H runs a "homeowner outlet" in the same building there shop is. It's called "Cool-Heat Supply" (815-873-1517) and I think it's has been around for over 10 years. They beat up the local jobbers for price on all the usual hydronic and forced air parts, and will sell a furnace filter or everything the DIY wants. Another one is Jensen's in Woodstock, Il., lot's of pretty plumbing stuff and if you don't want to install it they can do it. But remember, it's retail, the same joker that goes to HD will visit you, bad checks, unreasonable demands, stupidity, and ignorance that doesn't want to learn. The word "Code" will get a blank stare, and you have to look past your desire to strangle at times. Cash and credit card, period. My wife runs a small business (different industry) in our home and I get a laugh when she tells companies like Grainger, the city of Rockford and Amerock they are COD. And then gets a check. She's 10 years in business this year too.

    Best wishes to you, Art
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