BOARDMAN Shedding sales, appliance shop focuses on service

BOARDMAN -- A small Maytag dealer that boldly moved its store into the shadows of the national retailers nine years ago is getting out of the sales business and moving off U.S. Route 224.
The 15-year-old business owned by the Farragher brothers is changing its name to Farraghers' Appliance Repair to reflect its new focus on service. It stopped selling appliances two weeks ago.
Todd Farragher said Maytag forced the change by adding Internet sales in January and by recently offering its appliances in stores such as Home Depot, Lowe's and Sam's Club.
The national retailers have forced prices so low that profits are minimal, he said. A local retailer will provide more service in terms of delivery and installation, but shoppers will pay only about $10 or $15 more per appliance before they switch to a bigger store, he said.
"If it's $40, they'll get a pickup truck and drag it home themselves," he said.
Keeping profits steady: Dropping the sales part of the business won't hurt profits, he said. Revenues covered the expense of offering the appliances but not much else once delivery and installation expenses were added, he said.
"These are big, bulky items that don't walk out of the store. There's a lot of labor that goes with them," he said.
In fact, focusing solely on service will add to profits, he said.
There will be more business because Maytag has reduced the number of authorized service contractors, he said. To be part of the network, companies had to computerize, agree to wear uniforms and meet stringent customer satisfaction requirements. Some area independent companies were dropped from the network, Farragher said.
The national chains that have added appliance sales need someone to do installation work, so they are calling Farraghers' when a customer needs such services as connecting a gas line.
There also is more work coming from Maytag because extended warranties are becoming more popular. In those cases, homeowners call Maytag, and then the order is sent to the local dealer.
More certifications: Farragher said his business is now authorized to work on Frigidaire products and that he expects to add more manufacturers now that it is not a Maytag dealer.
The business employs three people, including him and his brother Bill. Two delivery drivers were laid off.
Farragher said the building the company now occupies across from the Southern Park Mall is up for sale or lease. The small plaza has two other rental storefronts.
New site: The brothers want to move to a location with better highway access. They considered moving back to their former home on Shirley Road in Youngstown, which is right off an Interstate 680 exit. Farragher said they want to put their service trucks inside a garage, so moving there would require building an addition.
The brothers started the business in 1986 doing just appliance repair. In 1988, they moved from the basement of a Mahoning Avenue building to the Shirley Road building as their business expanded.
They moved to Route 224 in 1992 and then bought their current location in 1995.

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