By Michael Schaffer - Managing editor
The Daily Iowegian
CENTERVILLE — The True Value Hardware store in Centerville has changed hands. It now goes by the name of Fogle True Value & Hardware.
Steve and Leona Fogle's first day as new owners was Aug. 24. Former owners, Jim and Dave Stephens, decided that after 36 years it was time to sell the business.
It took the Stephen's more than one try to convince the Fogle's to purchase the business, Leona said Friday morning, Oct. 25 during Customer Appreciation day. The first offer was three years ago, she said, but Steve was reluctant because he had a successful construction and excavation business that he enjoyed.
"It's been a very successful business," Leona said. "And we've raised a family and it's worked well for us."
But yet, Leona said, they couldn't help but think and talk about their impending retirement and Steve, getting older, found working in the winter cold and summer heat was catching up with him.
So, the Stephens' second try turned out to be the deal clincher.
Helping the Fogle's make the decision was Steve and Leona's current and previous work experiences. Steve, with his construction background and experience in electrical and plumbing and Leona's retail job as the manager at Dollar General.
"So, it just seemed like a good mesh for us, as a couple," Leona said. "We were very lucky that the Stephens' offered it to us and gave us a chance to buy it. It's a good store. We just need to update some things and get some new stuff in and bring a little more life to it."
The Fogle's see their purchase of True Value in multiple ways: Make a living now on into retirement; a legacy for their children and retention?
Leona said the idea they had when they decided to invest in the purchase of the business was that it would serve them through retirement and serve their children and perhaps convince them to stay in Centerville.
Leona said all three of her children work at the store. From running the cash register, stocking the selves or carrying customer purchases to their car.
"And then Logan, he helps the customers out and they just love that," Leona said. "They just think it's awesome to see an eight year old boy carrying out their paint. They think that's really neat to see that."
The Fogle's are currently in the middle of some minor interior remodeling. And they plan to expand what is already an extensive line of products.
Since the Fogle's took over, they have added six employees to go with the eight already there.
At True Value, it's all about customer service.
One long-time customer said he's never been anywhere else other than True Value where he's been told "Hello" so many times by the employees.
"'I'm so impressed,'" Leona said, recreating what the man's wife told her who told Leona. '"I got told, "Hello, can I help you," five times. I'll go into stores and people never even answer me. And she said he normally doesn't say too much, so that was a big compliment.'"
"The customers seem to be happy and we love having them come in," Leona said.
Keeping those customers happy is a friendly and dedicated staff of employees.
"It's not just a job to them where they put in 8 to 5," Leona said. "They want to help the customers find their stuff. I've got a good group."
In attendance Friday was Rob Bock, a True Value Company retail consultant out of the Kansas City region. Bock said the reason True Value stores are still relevant and successful is because of customer service.
"It's that personalized touch that a customer gets when they come into the store," Bock said. "People don't expect that."
Bock said consumers have become conditioned to expect an impersonal retail shopping experience and when they come into a True Value where they are greeted by employees who want to help them find what they want, it can be almost scary to them.
Bock said on the corporate level, they are very excited to see the Fogle's take over for the Stephens'.
"If that had not happened, there's always the possibility this store could go away," Bock said.
The Fogle's bring a level of excitement to the business and a local component, Bock said, which has made this True Value change of ownership "a great one."
"They're just so excited about the business," Bock said. "It's refreshing."
Leona said the purchase has worked out.
"We love it. It's awesome. Our kids love it," she said. "Business has picked up, so we're really happy."
Leona said people have a misconception about True Value stores because they think it's a man's-only store with hardware and outdoor products.
"And it isn't," Leona said. "It's for families who are building their lives from the ground up. We've got everything in here from start to finish. We've got stuff to light the sidewalks to heating their homes and cleaning. Just everything that helps make a family build their home and thrive."
The store is larger than it looks from the outside. And once inside, you'll find items you would never have dreamed they sold.
Everybody knows True Value Hardware stores have hardware but did you know they also sell kitchen appliances? Toilets? Showers?
As Bob Greene, who attended the store Friday during Customer Appreciation day said, "They've got everything in here."
Indeed they do. Everything from batteries to hand and power tools to auto and household items to lawn, garden and pet items to paint, stain and finish to lighting to electrical to nut, bolts and nails.
They offer equipment rental like skid loaders, trenchers and generators and wedding and party supplies.
Fogle True Value and Hardware is located at 201 Drake Ave. in Centerville.
Steve operates Fogle Construction and Excavation but plans to scale back a bit in order to run the hardware store, Leona said.
Steve, who is from Wisconsin, and Leona, born and raised in Centerville, have been married for 15 years and have three children: Mallory, 20, Mackenzey, 12 and Logan, 8.