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Gary Richard – PC Richard & Son LI Success Story

November 1, 2013 @ 12:00 am EDT


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At LIMBA we like to vary our programs. This week I reached out to Gary Richard of PC Richard & Son fame. Although I met Gary almost 30 years ago it never occurred to me to ask him to speak at LIMBA. The story of a family owned business remaining in the family for 104 years is unusual to say the least.

The meeting began by him giving us a brief timeline of how his grandfather went from a penniless immigrant from Holland to a hardware store owner, appliance repair shop, and appliance sales.

Gary is very comfortable having an enlarged conversation with the group rather than a formal presentation and very quickly we shifted to that mode. He answers questions with directness and humor and is able to take a little ribbing as well.

He had a picture of the hardware store that his parents operated with an apartment upstairs where he was born, and he told us of that experience. The company blossomed under his father’s management with a philosophy that hasn’t changed over the years. “We don’t make sales, we make customers.”

When asked how do you perpetuate a family business and keep the well-educated and capable children interested in the business, “the business must become your life,” according to Gary. And because a substantial business needs people of varying skills, the members of the family are likely to find a spot that they can excel in. When you have logistics, store management, warehousing, human resources, repair shops and other needs, there is room for a wide variety of skills and interests.

Mr. Richard spoke about the growth spurts that occurred when the company absorbed the locations of the failed enterprises of Newmark & Lewis and later Circuit City. When Newmark and Lewis was operating they were doing about $200 million in sales and so was PC Richard, a year later PC Richard was doing more than $380 million in sales. Most of those additional sales were a result of retaining most of the Newmark & Lewis customer base.

The company considered going public against the advice of Gary’s father. After the investment house went through their dog and pony show and the deal was set Gary told the bankers that the deal was off. They insisted that they all go to dinner and have a few drinks and resolve the differences. “Why not, let’s have a good meal and enjoy some wine since we are never going to see these guys again.”

He didn’t have the heart to pull the trigger because all of what he and the two generations that came before him had built would be lost.

The employees of PC Richard & Son have had health insurance for the last 60 years. They will not keep a location going if the activity is low because it erodes the morale of the workforce. It is this kind of thinking that tells you that a satisfied workforce is as important as a satisfied customer base, and the two thoughts are closely related.

This program was sponsored by JVC Broadcasting and John Caracciolo. JVC had their sound technicians in the room and they taped the meeting. After the meeting JVC Broadcasting conducted a one-on-one interview with Mr. Richard