Before you walk through the Power Shop’s front door, you will be sidetracked by all the shiny machinery in the yard. Vibrant yellow Cub Cadet lawn mowers of all kinds are lined up, drawing you to fawn all over them. If they don’t catch your eye, you can’t help but notice the tough looking Cub Cadet Challenger Utility Vehicles looking cool as well.
Step inside the doors of the Power Shop and you’ll still keep drooling. Keep in mind this happens whether you are a fan of outdoor power equipment and the work of using it or not. You just can’t help but think there must be something there that you need, the products are really just that impressive – chain saws, chippers, mowers, generators, weed trimmers, power washers, mowers, aerators. “Anything you need for your lawn that has a gas engine, we carry,” explains Rebekah Oliver.
When I sat down with Oliver, whose parents purchased the business 12 years ago, the Power Shop had just returned from the Home and Garden Show held at the NW Sports Hub. Boxes of fliers and brochures were still sitting in the corner waiting to be put back in their proper places. “We had a really successful show,” Oliver says. To her, “successful” means that they had a least ten solid leads on people wanting lawn mowers. “And there was a lot of interest in the Challengers,” she smiles.
Cub Cadet is the main residential line of products carried by the Power Shop. The Challenger is a new series released by Cub Cadet, and the Power Shop is able to service it since they take care of all Cub Cadet products. Their biggest sales item, however, is parts. They carry MTD (Modern Tool & Die), which makes products for Cub Cadet and many other brands, and AYP (American Yard Products.) “We sell parts online and ship locally and all over the country,” explains Oliver. People visit the Power Shop from Packwood to Longview, and they can order a part and it will be shipped to them. “It works really well for those who don’t want to have to make another trip to town to pick up an ordered part.”
Selling parts is the aspect of the seasonal business that helps it survive in the winter. Typically the Power Shop is very busy for the five months during spring and summer. Last year’s hot weather made for poor business as lawns died quickly, shortening the season to only about three months. Otherwise, during the off-season, the team takes that time to do projects and clean up. In the winter, they may sell items such as generators and water pumps, but unlike other outdoor power equipment shops around the country, with little to no snow, the Power Shop doesn’t carry snow blowers. However, turn to the Power Shop in the winter for service specials, encouraging customers to take care of their equipment. Machine repair and service happens very quickly as well, typically within one week.
Oliver is proud that in the last ten years they have more than tripled the business by putting in a computer system for inventory, work orders, customer equipment, and parts lookup. “It’s so much faster and more accurate. Customers don’t have to come in with all their information each time, it’s all right there on the computer.” The Power Shop serves a wide variety of customers – school districts, cemeteries, commercial sites, and landscapers, to name a few.
The best part of the business for Oliver is seeing customers get excited about the new equipment. “They’ll come in and talk about how much easier it has made their lives,” she explains. “That was a fun part of the Home Show – hearing we make a difference that allows people more time to play. They find that stepping up to a larger, nicer, higher quality machine cuts down on time and repairs. Some people really enjoy yard work, but no one enjoys the work when things break down.”
The Power Shop’s future plans include expanding the physical space, the building and covered space. They recently brought on DR Power Products. The company had always been a catalog business, but had recently been looking for independent dealers to take care of their customers.
They will continue to attend trade shows, hearing and learning about the latest equipment and how to use and repair it. This will help them continue to make changes to the product line they carry, including more utility vehicles.
Oliver states the goal of the business succinctly. “We’re not out to be least expensive but to have the best customer service, products, and parts. Our goal is to make sure they get the right product for their needs.”