This family business has thrived through three generations by adapting, prioritizing customer satisfaction and maintaining a low-pressure sales approach. That’s just part of this family’s passion for helping others.
It was 1963 when Dale Meyers Sr. returned home from the Navy and visited Roger Hogan, a high school friend who worked at a family-run furniture store in Rochelle, Ill. Little did Dale know this pit stop would change the course of his life forever.
The friend’s father invited Dale Sr. to try out the furniture business for 90 days. He was intrigued and accepted. Those three months would prove to be the beginning of a long and rewarding journey for not only Dale Sr. but his entire family.
“Sixty years later, here we are,” says Joe Meyers, Dale Sr.’s son and now co-owner with his siblings of Meyers Furniture & Flooring at 209 Powers Road, Illinois Route 251 in Rochelle.
Dale Sr. worked alongside Hogan, his friend-turned-business partner, for nearly two decades until he bought him out in 1980. The business became Meyers Furniture & Flooring, and in time the family opened a second location at 1901 Ill. Rt. 251 in Mendota, Ill.
Today, the family enterprise carries a vast selection of furniture including couches, lift chairs, dressers, dining tables and accents like rugs, pillows and mirrors. The entire family is involved, with Dale Sr.’s wife, Nancy, working payroll and their children – Dale Jr., Kelly, Derrick and Joe – immersed in the world of furniture.
Even as children, they took on responsibilities from opening boxes and dusting to working the sales floor. They learned the value of hard work and earned success.
“We were always told to earn it. We were never really given anything,” says Joe. “You want to work the sales floor? Start delivering and learning how everything operates.”
Customers are likely to be greeted by a member of the family when they step onto the floor, with the behind-the-scenes responsibilities divided up between the siblings. The 48-year-old currently runs the flagship store in Rochelle while his older brother, Dale Jr., runs the Mendota store.
Their sister, Kelly, works as the comptroller, overseeing the books for both locations, while Derrick manages the delivery crew for both stores.
The family is also spreading its wings. In September 2022, Joe and his brother, Derrick, purchased Chem-Dry Kishwaukee, a professional carpet and upholstery cleaning company serving Ogle, Lee, DeKalb, Boone and Winnebago counties. Joe’s oldest son, Evan, oversees the operation.
Meyers Furniture, meanwhile, stands out among other retailers due to its reputation for a low-pressure sales approach that encourages customers to explore at their own pace.
“When people walk in, body language can tell us how much interaction they want,” says Joe. “Sometimes the best way to help a customer is to give them the freedom to look without interference. Other times, people really want to engage and have us walk them through the process.”
What truly distinguishes Meyers Furniture is its commitment to selling directly from the showroom floor or by special order. This approach proved particularly beneficial during the pandemic, when customers sought immediate availability rather than waiting for extended periods. Yet, the family has always operated that way, says Joe.
“We do all our own repairs, so we don’t outsource it or have a third party,” he says. “From start to finish, from the sale to delivery to service, there is an owner involved in every step of the Meyers experience.”
This hands-on approach instills a strong sense of pride and dedication in the company’s push for customer satisfaction.
Over the years, the company faced several challenges, like high interest rates in the 1980s. During this period, the Meyers sold products at a loss due to uncertain replacement costs.
“Say Dad sold a dinette set for $300 but when it shows up, his cost might be $325. Well, the store just lost $25 because at that time inflation was so crazy,” says Joe. “We were rolling the dice and hoping we sold it for enough to make something.”
The Meyers family persevered by taking calculated risks. They also had to carefully manage costs such as electrical bills, real estate taxes, maintenance and insurance to ensure profitability.
Another major hurdle came two decades later when the housing market collapsed nationwide. In response to the economic downturn around 2007 and 2008, the family adopted a belt-tightening approach.
“My mom always says, ‘You pull up your bootstraps’ and look at whatever cost you can cut, and that includes your personal lifestyle because you’re in it for the long game, not the short,” says Joe. “There are times when we have to take a pay cut or eat rice and beans instead of steak.”
During the housing market crash, the Meyers family demonstrated creativity and resourcefulness by organizing promotional events like Beach Sales, where customers received discounts for wearing beach attire and could participate in activities like digging through sand for “treasures” such as grilling meats and furniture accessories. These efforts not only generated excitement and engagement but also helped the company navigate a challenging economic landscape.
The tenacity and determination displayed by the company’s founder, Dale Sr., and his wife, Nancy, remain an inspiration to the entire team. Both are in their 80s and are still actively involved in the business.
“It’s been interesting to experience the low points and see the perseverance, especially in my father,” says Joe. “He’s been here for over 40 years and the guy still carries sofas around.”
The family is already following in his father’s footsteps, teaching the ropes to the next generation.
“All 11 grandkids have logged hours at the store,” says Joe. “Five-year-olds can be incredible salespeople.”
To fellow entrepreneurs, Joe gives the same advice he offers his children: to maintain success and longevity in a rapidly changing world, the key lies in embracing change with an open mind and a determined spirit.
“Things change and evolve, and you have to be willing to hold tight to your morality or values while adapting the way you do things,” says Joe.
Dale Sr. often reminds his children to persist in the face of slow business periods, knowing that unexpected success may still come.
“Dad taught us there are cycles and you have to keep them in check because you can get emotionally wrapped up into it,” says Joe. “It could be dead all day and then the last person comes in 20 minutes before you close and does four days worth of business with you.”
The Meyers family also encourages aspiring entrepreneurs to research diligently, not just in terms of market trends, but also in assessing the lifestyle that accompanies their chosen path. Joe emphasizes that true success lies not solely in monetary gains, but in a balanced and fulfilling existence.
“A big bank account doesn’t equal happiness,” says Joe. “For us, despite the stresses of working with family, the benefits are greater. You know the cliche ‘find something you are passionate about and it won’t seem like work, but a labor of love?’ Our business is focused on furniture, but our passion is family. We hope people feel that when they walk into our store and maybe take a piece of it home along with that new sofa.”