Friendly personal service still existsPublished 9:34am Friday, September 11, 2009
By KATHIE HEMPEL
Niles Daily Star
In these days of an uncertain economy, many long for simpler times when small family businesses were the rule rather than the exception. There is much discussion about a return to entrepreneurship as one answer to the current crisis with its high unemployment rates.
This year Judd Lumber and Rental Center in Dowagiac celebrated its operation as a small family business in the same location for 150 years.
For the end of its Summer of Celebration the company held a draw for a 32-inch color flat screen television. The drawing was held Monday, with the winning ticket held by Andy Placher of Niles.
As Placher claimed his prize, conversation with Judd Lumber president, Dick Judd, turned to the challenges facing small business today and the advantages the two business owners still see in doing business “the good old fashioned way.”
“One of the biggest advantages for me doing business with other small businessmen, like Judd Lumber, is that if there is a problem you can get on the phone and talk to them and they care about fixing it. They believe in personal service here and that’s no joke,” said Placher, owner of Placher Construction.
“We operate as a community here. Here our customers are a name and not a number,” Judd agreed.
Placher spoke of knowing many of the Judd sales team by name and has even spent some leisure hours out on motorcycle rides with some. “You can become friends with those you do business with,” he said.
According to Placher’s experience in comparing the big box stores with doing business with small family businesses like Judd Lumber, the cost can at times be even lower.
“What many don’t realize about the big box marketing is that you may see some item in the flyers for a ridiculously low price, however if you then get everything else you need for a project, it can add up to more than you would spend here. And if you need help good luck! You get what you pay for. If you want a straight board you buy it here,” Placher said.
He added that the networking that occurs is important. Placher Construction business cards are available to other Judd Lumber customers and Placher in turn often recommends his clients patronize the local business.
Like so many businesses today, construction work has slowed down and while he has to shop around for the best prices for his customers, Placher still finds Judd’s pricing very competitive.
Personal service means a lot to these men who know what goes in to operating their small businesses. Judd even holds contractor meetings for the 30 plus contractors who deal with him largely for that added service.
“I never won any of the power tools at those meetings though,” Placher said. “I never won anything like this. It was a pleasant surprise.”