Making History in Woodbury: Warners' Stellian 'listening to our customers'
Warners' Stellian Appliance prides itself on the variety of appliance brands it carries and its focus on energy efficiency.
But what the family-owned appliance retailer really believes sets it apart is something even simpler.
"We're listening to our customers," said Rick Hartmann, manager of the Woodbury store. Hartmann said during his time in the industry, there has been a variety of changes dictated by consumer preferences. "I think the industry started to listen, and I think we have here really what the customer wants."
Warners' Stellian, which marks 15 years in business in Woodbury this year, emphasizes that basic retail tenet: listen to the customer. Warners' Stellian stocks a full range of appliances from basic water filters to grills, vacuum cleaners and water heaters, not to mention washing machines, dryers, stoves and dishwashers.
Customers are coming into the store with more knowledge than ever before, Hartmann said. There is more information available to them, so they research products and then enter Warners' Stellian for something else:
"They want service," Hartmann said, from the point of sale to delivery and installation. "Pricing is important but I don't think it's the driver. I think service is the No. 1 thing."
Customers won't remember what they paid for an appliance, Hartmann suggested, but they will remember the service they receive. To that end, Warners' Stellian has grown its service department.
"We've got to know that we're not the only folks in the game, so we strive to be the best in the game," he said.
The company has been in that game for years.
Warners' Stellian opened its Woodbury location in Valley Creek Mall in 2002, but it has a long history. Three generations of the Warner family have been selling appliances in the Twin Cities for 60 years.
According to company history, Jim Warner was hired as a bookkeeper at Stellian's appliance store on St. Paul's Snelling Avenue in 1954. He bought the business in 1971 and grew the company. His nine children took over ownership and four actively operate the business. In addition, there are 14 third-generation Warners working for the company.
There are retail stores in Woodbury, St. Paul, Apple Valley, Edina, Minneapolis, Maple Grove, Coon Rapids, Shakopee and Rochester.
The Warners' Stellian culture revolves around core values of family, loyalty, fairness, passion, inspiration and customer focus, said Hartmann, who's worked there since 2003. They value employees having knowledge of the products, so the sales staff must go through a comprehensive training program of at least two weeks when they are hired. Employees are introduced to the company culture and training with various department heads.
"We just do not throw somebody on the sales floor" upon hiring, Hartmann said. The company also has monthly training sessions and vendors are constantly coming in to offer training on products, Hartmann said.
Appliance features are changing. Home appliances are available in more colors and textures, and they are designed with convenience features. A washing machine, for instance, has an app that can be downloaded from a vendor to allow the owner to start the washing machine remotely.
Warners' Stellian is a Woodbury Area Chamber of Commerce member, but expect to see more of their representatives in the area. Hartmann said he wants store employees to get more involved in the Chamber and in the community.
"Obviously it's great for Warners' Stellian, but the sales person gains some personal growth," he said.
In addition to handling a steadily growing base of in-store sales, the Woodbury location has proven a successful base for working with home builders in the east metro and western Wisconsin, Hartmann said.
"We're thriving," he said. "We're trying to listen to what the customers want."
Warners' Stellian Appliance is located at 1750 Weir Drive, Woodbury. For more information, call 651-714-9790.