By Jason Schmucker
Yetzer’s Home Furnishings and Floor Coverings is celebrating a milestone – 75 years in business in Waconia as a family-owned company. That streak puts Yetzer’s among the top tier of family-owned businesses in Minnesota, and even earned a proclamation from the Minnesota House of Representatives, presented recently by Rep. Jim Nash.
“It’s really something fantastic, and I think it talks very strongly to the Yetzer family and how closely they worked together, how much of a part of the community they are – one of the hardest working families you will see,” Nash said after reading the proclamation.
Yetzer’s was founded in 1941 by Will Yetzer, and was run for many years by Will Yetzer’s brother, Stan. Stan Yetzer’s son, Steve, bought the business in 1988 and still owns it today.
Steve Yetzer said the strong foundation established by his uncle and father has been instrumental in the business’ longevity.
“Between my uncle and my father, no questions asked, they did a wonderful job in setting me up,” Steve Yetzer said.
Steve Yetzer said he has watched the furniture and flooring industry change over the years, but he has continued his family’s tradition of focusing on customer and employee satisfaction and credits that satisfaction with the continued success of Yetzer’s.
“Their founding principles were ‘take care of the customer, take care of the employee.’ Will was one of the leaders in small business in setting up a profit-sharing account for employees,” Steve Yetzer said. “My uncle Will was very forward-thinking, very futuristic-thinking, always thinking, ‘What’s good for the business, what’s good for the community, what’s good for the employees?’ I’ve tried to, in my 30-plus years, continue that thought process.”
Kellie Sites, president of the Waconia Chamber of Commerce, thanked Steve Yetzer for continuing to follow those principles over the years.
“Thank you so much for being such good business leaders, for being an ethical business – just a high quality, awesome standard-setting business for our community,” Sites said. “We are so lucky to have you.”
Decades in the furniture business has given Steve Yetzer insight into how retail trends and consumer attitudes have changed over time.
“I grew up in this business. I started dusting and unpacking furniture in the fifth grade. I learned this business from the ground up,” he said. “Styles come and go, and things like that. Customers have gotten more demanding, and we’re a society of immediate gratifications, so they want it right away. The pendulum has probably gone back to our type of business in that a few years ago, people were looking for inexpensive stuff and it would be a throwaway in three of four years. They didn’t realize what that would cost them – it’s cheaper to buy quality products than it is to buy something cheap and then replace it.”
Waconia mayor Jim Sanborn said mainstays like Yetzer’s have been very important to the health and growth of the community at large.
“Certainly, this has been a cornerstone, and right in the center of downtown, and that’s really of two-fold importance,” Sanborn said. “One, to have been here as long as they have; and two, right in the center of downtown. They’ve seen a lot of businesses come and go around them, and they’ve really always been here.”
Steve Yetzer said that the community has been even more important in the growth and success of Yetzer’s.
“Thanks for 75 years of support. We wouldn’t be here without Waconia and the surrounding areas, because everybody has an option – they can buy wherever they want and in a lot of cases, they chose to buy from us and we sure appreciate it,” Steve Yetzer said.
The business’ founder agreed on the importance of the community to Yetzer’s longevity.
“People were good to us,” Will Yetzer said.
Steve Yetzer said that he doesn’t foresee Yetzer’s going anywhere anytime soon, and said another 75 years could very well be ahead of the company.
“I sure hope so,” Steve Yetzer said. “That’s what we’re trying to do in the transition period, in looking at the future and keeping Yetzer’s a viable business and a community-based business.”