After more than 80 years serving its community from Rockford’s Midtown District, this family-owned firm is on the move, taking its expanded inventory to a larger, more centralized location. Here’s how they made it happen.
Guler Appliance Co., in Rockford, has always gone the extra mile for its loyal customer base.
For decades, this solid family business has endured many challenges and has happily continued, but perhaps its biggest change is happening right now.
“After being located in Rockford’s historic Midtown District for 86 years, we’ve made the decision to move to a larger location at 4435 E. State St., near Alpine Road,” says Andy Guler, vice president. “The building we’ve purchased is a little more centralized in Rockford and will allow us to serve some of the communities to the east more conveniently.”
This is welcome news for Guler Appliance, as the company has been bursting at the seams in its longtime location. The store opened bigger and better space at the end of April.
“Once the extensive yearlong remodel of our new location is complete, we’ll have four to five times more showroom space, and our facility will be state-of-the-art,” Guler says. “We’ll be able to feature more exciting products and expand our services to meet even more of our customers’ needs for decades to come.”
This change wasn’t taken lightly for this third-generation family business, which has operated in Rockford since 1936. Daily operations are handled by President Dale Johnson, who joined the business in the late ’70s. Guler and office manager Dawn Stock are grandchildren of the original owner, Andrew Guler.
Guler’s father, the late Darwyn, joined the family business after he graduated from college in the mid-1960s.
“Although I’ve joked that I’ve been in the business since birth, it wasn’t until my dad started approaching retirement around 2015 that I started working in the business,” Guler says. “When my dad retired in 2018, Dale became president, I became vice president and together we fully took over the day-to-day operations.”
Guler Appliance has built a strong customer following in the greater Rockford area because of the parts, service and products the company offers. Many items needed for an efficient, comfortable and stylish home can be found inside. The store carries brand-name mattresses and appliances, literally, from A to Z – Amana refrigerators to Zephyr range hoods – and nearly everything in between.
The company has an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau, and it has been rated one of the region’s best appliance dealers. Guler Appliance also has garnered several certifications and accreditations from the manufacturers whose products they service and sell.
There are many secrets to the endurance and success of Guler Appliance.
“We want our friends and neighbors to know that the experience they’ll have purchasing from us can never be re-created at big-box stores, warehouses, regional stores and mega stores,” Guler says. “We’re experts on the products we carry and we’re full-service from start to finish. We’re always just a phone call away if you need us. This will never change, and as we grow we’re excited to bring even more products and services to our customers.”
Employees are the key in helping a business succeed. “Our employees aren’t just people who show up and perform a task,” says Guler. “They’re an extension of our family.”
Some employees have been with the company for decades.
“Our sales professionals are the most knowledgeable in the field,” Guler adds. “Our delivery and installation personnel are highly trained and always go the extra mile to make sure the customer’s experience is everything they expect. Our service managers and technicians are always there for our customers when they need them. We care about our employees and, in turn, our employees care about our customers. It shows.”
Currently, Guler Appliance employs around 25 people, but as the business grows, it’ll have room to grow.
Since the start of COVID-19, there has been a massive increase in the demand for household goods, and appliances have been at the top of many lists. Because of that demand, coupled with supply constraints, many appliances are back-ordered at the manufacturing level and delivery times have become less predictable.
“The first question many people understandably ask is, ‘What do you have in stock?’” Andy says. “We’ll do everything we can to fulfill their needs.”
Andy recognizes these past two years have been challenging for every business, especially smaller ones that have endured through highs and lows.
“We’re sympathetic toward them and hope they get back on their feet as soon as possible,” Guler says. “Fortunately for our business, we’ve seen a big uptick in sales because so many people have spent this time in their homes. They’re upgrading, remodeling and rebuilding, and appliances and mattresses are a big part of that.”
Guler hopes that as COVID-19 continues to recede, more people will resume doing things like traveling and dining out, but he expects the increased investment in home to continue for the foreseeable future.
“People have started enjoying their own homes and want to create a sanctuary that their families can gather in,” he says. “We hope they continue to turn to us as a reputable, family-run local business for their appliance and mattress needs.”
Every business, no matter what product or service it provides, has its challenges and mistakes.
“In more than 80 years of doing business, there have certainly been miscalculations from time to time,” Guler says. “Obviously, learning from them and avoiding them in the future is critical. But in a business like ours, we always need to grow, innovate and try new things, because we’re always looking to the future. While not every trend and fad will be around for decades, we want to give our customers every option that we can.”
Is there any advice Andy would give for businesses looking to grow? “Take care of your customers, and they’ll take care of you,” he says. “That sounds simple and maybe a little cliche, but it’s not always an easy task. You can’t always satisfy every customer’s needs or wants, but you need to do everything in your power to try. Treat every customer as a friend and have empathy for them and their situation. Whether you’re selling a product or performing a service, if you treat your customers as a friend, they’ll appreciate you and help you grow.”
Longevity is a hallmark of Guler Appliance, and keeping it going into the future requires the same degree of customer attention, tenacity and flexibility that have carried this family-owned business for nearly a century in Rockford’s Midtown District.
“We’re very proud of our legacy,” Guler says. “We’re constantly mindful of the hard work that the first and second generations put into this business. Their innovations helped us survive and thrive, and their legacy will always influence our decision-making and motivate us to keep working hard to earn the trust of every customer.”
And now, another new era begins as Guler Appliance continues its philosophy of personal customer service at its new Rockford location.