Pierce Home Furnishings celebrates 60 years
BRODHEAD Consider your weekend shopping plans. Now, imagine the year is 2072, and you're still shopping at the same location, for the same thing, and the store is still run by the same family.
Seem unlikely? Not if the history of Pierce Home Furnishings in Brodhead is any indication.
Jack Pierce opened the furniture store at 1201 17th St. in 1952. His son, John Pierce, took the reins after Jack retired in 2009.
John said he learned how to run a successful business by following in his father's lead.
"Dad had a passion for the furniture business," he said. "He loved the furniture business.
"I got his passion and desire … to be successful. You'd never know how competitive my dad was by looking at him, but I played golf with him."
John Pierce said he always knew he would return home to run the family business.
Before doing so, though, he earned a business degree from UW-Platteville and spent a year in graduate school at UW-Madison. After that, he managed a chain of grocery stores in Madison.
"That was where I learned about managing people and managing the business," John said. "How to make the store look nice, how to deal with people, all of it."
John joined his father in 1979 to oversee a closeout sale at a Beloit location that was bought by the Beloit Corp. John was 28 years old at the time.
"He (Jack) let me learn the business and make mistakes as I went along," John said.
Now, the business has six showrooms spanning 34,000 square feet and employs three delivery drivers, one part-time and one full-time secretary and six sales representatives. John, who also works as a sales representative at the store, said his staff is the primary reason for the business's success.
"The help that I have in this store is phenomenal," John said. "We have very little turnover. (Sales representative) Gloria (Reichenbach) has been here 40 years. That's got to say something."
The sales staff has the geographic bases covered—two of them live in Brodhead; two live in Orfordville, and two live in Janesville.
When Highway 11 was rerouted through downtown Brodhead in the late 1970s, the store lost its prime location along the highway.
"We made the decision to stay put and advertise more, to keep overhead low," John said.
That low overhead allows Pierce to provide free delivery, which many competitors have stopped offering.
To John's mind, location isn't everything.
"People will travel to buy quality," he said.
John subscribes to a straightforward approach to maintain his expectations for quality.
"American-made is my big push. I want our furniture to be built by American people," John said. "I want to keep the American dream alive."