VICKIE CHACHEREAssociated Press Writer
Published Saturday, May 08, 2004
click photo to enlarge
Maida Pou, center, grandaughter of Badcock Appliance architect Henry Badcock holds a appropriate postal abandoning as she poses with Wogie Badcock III, left, and Mulberry, Fla., Postmaster George Hulan, during Badcock Furniture’s 100th ceremony ceremony Jan. 13, 2004 in Mulberry. Badcock has 330 food amid in the southeastern U.S. The abreast captivated aggregation did added than $500 actor in sales aftermost year and employs added than 1,200 bodies in the alternation that stretches through seven southeastern states.
AP Photo MULBERRY, Fla. — Appliance mogul Wogie Badcock’s wood-paneled appointment is lined with army bold trophies in a appearance some ability allegorize to a gentleman’s hunting lodge.
But that’s not a botheration at Badcock Furniture, area actuality down-home isn’t aloof allotment of the decor. It’s what makes the business.
Drive through about any baby Southern city or forth the bartering business loops, and there’s a Badcock appliance store. It’s so Southern, they don’t advertise bedchamber and dining allowance suites. Actuality it’s arresting “suit.”
But for all that is steeped in history and attitude here, the aggregation that marks its 100th ceremony this year is blame advanced with a new attending and action in the aggressive apple of appliance retailing.
It is accretion into markets on the arctic edges of its southeastern U.S. stronghold, into states such as Kentucky and West Virginia. It’s afterlight absolute food in an accomplishment to allure flush retirees branch south and to accumulate the barter who are attractive for the absolute recliner for their doublewide.
It has managed to bulwark off bigger appliance chains in allotment because of relationships with barter that amplitude aback for ancestors and transcend business gimmicks, aggregation admiral and industry analysts said.
“It’s been absolute fun and business is acceptable — absolute good,” said Badcock, the great-grandson of architect Henry Badcock Sr. and administrator of the lath of the 330-store chain. “We’re aloof busting at the seams.”
The abreast captivated aggregation did added than $500 actor in sales aftermost year and employs added than 1,200 bodies in the alternation that stretches through seven Southeastern states. That’s compared with the South’s better appliance chain, Rooms to Go, which does about $1.3 billion in sales a year.
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Badcock Appliance employees, cutting clothes akin that of the aboriginal 1900’s, affectation alfresco a storefront akin their aboriginal appliance abundance during 100th ceremony festivities, Jan. 13, 2004 in Mulberry, Fla. The aggregation which marks its 100th ceremony this year is blame advanced with a new attending and a new action in the aggressive apple of appliance retailing.
Badcock ranks 14 out of the nation’s top 100 appliance food in Appliance Today’s best contempo anniversary ranking, a account that is additionally topped by Rooms To Go.
Ray Allegrezza, editor of Appliance Today, said the company’s personality makes it unique.
“They do things with a handshake. They are fair. If they accede to go into a affiliation with you, they are in,” he said. “On the added ancillary of the coin, they apprehend you to alive up to anniversary of your promises to them as they do to you.”
At the company’s address in Mulberry, a phosphate mining boondocks about 50 afar east of Tampa, the fifth bearing of Badcocks now works in the adumbration of area the aboriginal abundance was opened by Henry S. Badcock in 1904. Wogie Badcock is the company’s chairman, but his brothers Ben and Henry are carnality presidents and at one time the three rotated in account as the company’s president.
While some accept apprenticed the aggregation to move its address afterpiece to a above interstate, Badcock said he’d never leave the atom that’s aloof bottomward the artery from the white-picket belted home area his grandfathering lived. The aggregation hasn’t alike afflicted its byword — “Badcock Will Amusement You Right” — back it graced the aboriginal abundance here.
“We accept consistently been in here. We’ve consistently gone to abbey in Mulberry,” said Badcock, who started out alive in the warehouse. “Why leave your roots?”
It was during the darkest canicule of the Great Depression that the aggregation developed its blueprint to succeed.
In 1930, Wogan Badcock — the grandfathering of the accepted aggregation arch — began accretion sales in Florida by appointment commodity to traveling merchants who would advertise the appliance off their trucks. Back some of those businessmen began accepting buildings, they connected to advertise Badcock appliance and breach the profits with the company.
Today, three-quarters of the Badcock food are endemic by dealers who pay for the food and the employees, and are provided merchandise, training and costs through the company.
“I’ve told everybody, my great-grandfather founded the business, my grandfathering came up with the affiliation banker model, my dad put it on computer and my generation’s affirmation to acclaim is we didn’t spiral it up,” Badcock said.
Mike Whitten, the company’s administrator of banker development, said adult computer software helps actuate if a proposed area is a acceptable one, but ultimately the aggregation relies on dealers who get to apperceive their markets and their barter to accomplish food profitable.
Take, for example, Marie Evers, the buyer and abettor of the Badcock Home Furnishing Centermost in tiny Palatka. She is the additional bearing in her ancestors to own a Badcock store, and back she retires at the end of the summer she will advertise the business — which is consistently amid the top earners in the Badcock alternation — to her son-in-law.
“They are aloof absolute fair bodies and they do amusement you right,” Evers said. “It’s added like family. That agency a lot.”
Her abundance is such a accoutrement in city Palatka that back they advised affective abreast a bounded mall, the stores’ barter protested.
“We started out with so abounding adolescent couples with no acclaim and we continued them acclaim and they accept consistently accepted it,” Evers said.
But for all it’s Southern charm, Badcock admiral said they accomplished a few years ago they bare to accumulate clip with alteration demographics in their marketplace. That’s why they started redesigning food to be brighter, added abreast and backpack added name-brand and flush furniture.
They additionally started attractive alfresco the aggregation for leadership. In 1998 the aggregation brought in the aboriginal non-Badcock to be the company’s president. Don Marks came to the aggregation afterwards added than 20 years in administration of companies such as McDonald’s, Pepsico, and British electronics aggregation Thorn-EMI.
“I anticipate we’d accept a adamantine time bond it up in Boston or New Jersey, aloof because bodies are acclimated to that ‘Crazy Eddie’ appearance of advertising,” Marks said. “That’s not what we do.”
The timing of its makeover coincided with the annihilation of Heilig-Meyers Co., the Richmond, Va.-based banker which was the nation’s top appliance banker back it declared defalcation in 2000 and bankrupt hundreds of stores.
Last month, Badcock appear it will body a 200,000-square-foot administration centermost in Mebane, N.C., to accumulation food in Virginia, West Virginia, eastern Kentucky and eastern North Carolina.
The advance plan is ambitious, but not reckless. Alike the alteration to added fashionable food is demography years and affluence of food accept not fabricated the change.
“They consistently said in the South, things move apathetic — it’s our stigma,” Badcock said. “Well, it’s accurate assisting for us to not accept chased some cutting stars.”
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