Business success secrets revealed, in Parkrose

And, find out why you’ll want to put Giant Parkrose Community Rummage Sale and Cruise-in on your calendar: It’s this Saturday, September 18 …

There’s always a great meal waiting – this time, served at The Grotto – for folks who attend the Parkrose Business Association monthly meetings.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Talk of the upcoming Giant Parkrose Community Rummage Sale, and local businesspeople sharing secrets of success – even in a depressed economy – were the topics at the summertime meetings of the Parkrose Business Association (PBA).

Learn more about the Community Rummage Sale – it’s at the end of this article.

PBA President Wayne Stoll, with Century Associates, welcomes members and guests.

Instead of pitching his business, Dennis Harvey of NW Pest Control uses his “Member Moment” to offer a tour of his eco-friendly home, as an organization fundraiser, on September 25.

Surviving the recession, Parkrose style

During these recessionary times, many businesses in outer East Portland have been shuttering their shops. But, Bob Brown and David Ableidinger told how their businesses have stayed afloat – and even prospered.

First up was Bob Brown, of Bob Brown Tires:

“We got hit with big interest rates in the last recession, a decade ago,” Brown began. I really didn’t want to go through another recession. But our business continues to be operated by our family, so I’m staying on.”

Bob Brown, a long-time Parkrose businessman at Bob Brown Tires, shares how his business has been able to stay afloat during the recession.

Speaking about the retail portion of his business, Brown said, “We’ve slashed our inventory. Traditionally, we’ve specialized in premium tires. But, lately, we’ve sold more low-end tires than every before. We still do a lot of brake service and other mechanical work, which is good.”

One way they stay competitive, Brown added, is to belong to buying groups. “It helps us compete very well. Some of the national chains charge their retail stores more for their merchandise than our retail sale price.”

When sales are down, resist the lure of discounts, Brown cautioned. “Every time you discount a product, you must sell much greater volume. We don’t want to compete with mass merchandisers – we can’t win. We do compete on service, giving customers more than they expect. We’ll give away some emergency service; hopefully, the customer will come back and buy from us.”

Bob Brown admonishes businesspeople to keep a close eye on cash flow.

Check cash flow; keep workers happy
“You’ve got to keep your employees happy,” Brown advised. “Too many companies, when business turns down, will try to ‘slash their way’ to profit. But, if your best employees go away, you won’t get them back.”

Three more important factors, Brown added, are “Cash flow, cash flow, cash flow!”

His commercial business has waned, he revealed, because of the decrease in the construction trades. “You have to be concerned about your commercial credit. You want to make sure you get paid – to help keep your good credit. We recognize when customers are not paying, and put them on a ‘credit hold’. It’s best to just let ’em go, if they’re not paying.”

One more thing, Brown said, in conclusion: “Reputation is everything. Hopefully we have succeeded.”

David Ableidinger of Parkrose Hardware, tells how his family-owned company has grown since 1948.

Nailing down success, at Parkrose Hardware
Another Parkrose area business icon, David Ableidinger, talked about how Parkrose Hardware continues to fare during the recession.

Ableidinger said his family business, started in 1948, first took roots in Parkrose, then the Gateway area, and after that in the Kenton neighborhood, before it moved back to NE Sandy Blvd. in 1969.

“Since I started in 1975, this has been my only job,” Ableidinger said proudly. “It’s a good job; you learn how to serve customers and deal with people.”

His brother, Brian, joined the business fulltime in 1989, we learned. While Brian was overseeing bookkeeping, David drifted into managing inventories, bringing in computers, and providing commercial and retail hardware.

The business saw “heavy competition” when Home Base and Builder’s Square came to town in the 1990s. Today they also have a fully-stocked store in the Vancouver, WA area – but also compete with Home Depot, Lowe’s, and Costco.

However, he said, that over the years they’ve supplemented their retail business with equipment and party rentals – and by developing a commercial outside sales force that has become a leading supplier of industrial fasteners in the region.

Long-term employees have added stability – and good customer service – to his business, Parkrose Hardware’s Ableidinger says.

“One of the reason we are successful,” Ableidinger said, “is that we have long-term employees. One has been with us for 28 years; another, 22 – and others for 20, 1, 7 and 15 years. We tend to keep employees, if they like the business.”

Ableidinger went on to list several concepts that help keep their business going, in all kinds of economic conditions:

  • Don’t be deeply in debt to lenders; have cash on hand to cover costs;
  • Purchase right; try not over- or under-stock;
  • Make sure your business has good “street appeal”;
  • Look for areas that are wasteful, and make the more efficient – including plant operation; and,
  • Consider reducing payroll costs by reducing employee hours – say, from 40 to 38 hours, when business is slow.

Sharon Fowler, of the Holiday Inn Portland Airport Hotel & Convention Center, talks up their first-ever Community Rummage Sale.

Announces September Rummage Sale
Sharon Fowler, director of catering, Holiday Inn Portland Airport Hotel & Convention Center, presented the Giant Community Rummage Sale in Parkrose to be held on September 18.

From 10:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m., Parkrose Business Association and the Portland Airport Holiday Inn & Conference Center are putting on this first-time-ever outdoor charity event.

In addition to tables laden with merchandise, there’ll be delicious barbecue and a beer garden on-site; and live music, too! The Pharaohs Street Rodders are producing a vintage and classic car show and holding a raffle, as part of the event.

Many organizations will benefit from the proceeds, Fowler pointed out, including:

  • Scholarships for Parkrose High School graduating seniors,
  • Parkrose community beautification projects,
  • Big Brothers/Big Sisters,
  • Strides against Breast Cancer,
  • MIAP (Missing in America Project),
  • Prostate Cancer research, and
  • Breast Cancer Research.

For more information, contact Marsha Lee at (503) 257-3229. The Holiday Inn Portland Airport Hotel & Convention Center is located at 8439 NE Columbia Boulevard.

© 2010 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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