Living in Minnesota, another story of the collapsed, but maybe recovering economy, is the end of the Home Valu business and stores. Up to only a few years ago, this was a vibrant company with locations in several states. The business was started many years ago by Rudy Boschwitz and his wife as a construction materials supplier known as Plywood Minnesota. In keeping with their tradition of customer satisfaction and involvement, they even had people from all walks suggest new names for the business when they changed with the times to a complete home improvement company. The new name was, Home Valu. A family owned and operated business from day one. The elder Boschwitz’ stepped back some years ago and their four sons took over operations. At one point, there were over 1000 employees of the company and franchises. As the business slowed, Rudy and wife rejoined operations in a galant effort to turn it back around, but to no avail. The company has many good and loyal employees that have been with Boschwitz’ for years and years. The business has recently shrunk to just a few locations until the plug was pulled this week.

    Why does a local company, with a great reputation fail? Simple. There is no longer loyalty and relationships for business partnerships. This company was virtually price competitive with the market, but more than likely potential partners or past regular customers started going to the lowest price, regardless. I’ll bet the final product of Home Valu’s former clients and partners suffered. You need to understand, you can’t place an exact dollar value on quality client service. Will the upstart new business partners or out-of-state partners be there to give the extra service, to give that emergency delivery to the job site at 6:30pm, or give expert hands on help? I doubt it, which explains the reduction in quality products and services by Home Valu’s former business partners. What baffles me is the customers of the business have their own bottom line to answer to. Why do they think they can work their suppliers out of any profit they need to make to be able to make a profit themselves? I’ll tell you why they do it. It’s the consumers ourselves! That’s right, we as consumers “work” the vendors so hard to save a few bucks, we forget what’s important. Forging relationships with retailers, contractors, and vendors is the most important thing we should be doing as consumers. When you pound the contractors into the ground, mostly by getting competing bids or lower bids, or you pound the retailers into the ground, mostly by “price-shopping”, the consumer usually comes up as the long-term loser.  The contractor, usually the one with the best reputation, that you have a tight relationship with will be the one that goes the extra mile for you to earn your satisfaction. That’s very important in today’s world since it seems it’s never cheap enough or good enough for us in this “me” culture. Believe it or not, all car dealers pay the same price from the factory for the product.  All the car companies build good cars now. The best policy for you is to go to a dealer you can trust to develop a relationship with.  Obviously they should sell and service the car of your choice. Do the best you can to get a price you’re happy with and buy the car! Again, if you end up shopping price all over town, you may find one that’s offered at a slightly lower price but, is that dealer’s location convenient for you? Do they offer as good a reputation, as complete a package of after purchase benefits, and are you as comfortable with the staff of that dealership? Price should not be THE deciding factor.

    As consumers,we have helped to put businesses under. Because we are enamored by “PRICE”, it forces smaller but better quality companies to suffer in the wake of the mega-companies, who can absorb losses as long as it takes to take control of the market. I believe that mentality is morally and ethically wrong. It is a mentality coming from Wall Street and Corporate America. Those entities simply don’t understand Main Street America business and values. We all have seen what a great job Wall Street, GM, Chrysler, the banking industry, the insurance industry, and the mortgage business have done for us! RIGHT!

   I was in the auto business for over twenty years. I represented and sold great cars, the last dealer I worked many years for was a terrific company. But, even with increased pressure and longer work weeks, my pay checks shrunk. I sold great cars, they didn’t go down as badly as the domestics and our dealer’s sales numbers held there own but my checks shrunk. I have many friends and associates in the landscaping business. I’ve seen many of them close down in the past few years. The competition is suffocating.  The smaller local guys are getting hurt by the big national companies moving into Minnesota. Same thing goes here. Who is going to service the customers after installation? If you think the smart middle management guy who doesn’t know the difference between a shovel and sea-green juniper can help you, think again.

    We have witnessed in the past two years what corporate greed and mismanagement is capable of doing. This segment of our national economy just about brought the world to its financial knees. As consumers please don’t follow them. Support your local businesses, build relationships with them, understand they are profit and loss businesses, so be fair. Look at your big picture, with every major purchase or improvement you endeavor. I will guarantee you, you will be far happier in the long run by becoming a business partner with the businesses in your neighborhood. Thank you.

Cam Obert



  1. Dan Bennington Says:

    I cannot agree more. I only wish more people would see today’s blog.

  2. Brad Obert Says:

    There is much I agree with in your piece. However, good luck with hoping everyone will support the local guy vs. cheap/internet products and services. This has been the biggest reason Walmart is so successful. Relationship building tends to be easier with small business, Home Valu is a small business in the scheme of things. Just mho.

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