Countertop Shop ‘decided not to participate’ in recessionWritten by Brigitta Burks | News Editor | BBurks@toledofreepress.com
Mike Langenderfer, owner of The Countertop Shop, credits his business’ best year ever, in 2011, with one simple decision.
“We took a look at the recession and decided not to participate,” Langenderfer said. The shop’s success story is being featured in the June issue of Stone World, a trade magazine on stone usage.
The store increased sales from 2010 to 2011 by 29 percent, something Langenderfer credits to the business’ superior customer service. “That’s pretty much how we’ve grown the business. We harp about customer service. One in a 100 times, [a phone call] will ever go to voicemail,” he said.
The Countertop Shop is largely a family affair. Langenderfer’s wife Karen runs the administration, accounting and payroll while daughter Melissa orchestrates operations, scheduling and purchasing. Son Nick participates in the sales part of the operation.
This isn’t the family’s first foray into business. In the late ’80s, the couple had a small sign company and later a cabinet company. In 2001, the Langenderfers bought a small countertop business and slowly began to phase out the cabinet side of the business by 2003.
Langenderfer found that countertops were a unique business. “Countertops are not a need item. They’re a want. When people come in to buy a countertop, they’re here because they want to buy a countertop. They’ve already thought about it,” the owner said.
The store offers an assortment of fabrication options from laminate to natural stone for wholesale, commercial and residential use. About 50 percent of business comes from remodeling, 25 percent from new homes and another 25 percent from light commercial work.
Despite the store’s recent successes, 2009 was a different picture. The Countertop Shop had been a major retailer’s go-to place for custom countertops in the area, but in 2009, that company began having countertops for the state made in Columbus. This resulted in a 25 percent loss of revenue for The Countertop Shop.
In spite of the tough times and through persistence and customer service, the store largely rebounded. Langenderfer credits some of that to his flexibility with clients. “We try to be as flexible as possible and work with the customer,” he said, adding that means long days and working weekends.
The shop also carries superior brands. “Part of it is we offer the name brand counters,” Langenderfer said, adding however, “We’re in the business to sell countertops, we’re not in the business to sell a brand.”
Even with 2011 being its best year ever, the store is already ahead of where it was financially last year at this time. “Our business has skyrocketed in the last couple months. We need more space. We need more help,” Langenderfer said of the shop that employs about 20 people. He said he is seriously considering moving to a bigger space near by and hiring five to six new people.
Langenderfer, a former U.S. Marine captain, is also thrilled about his business’ inclusion in Stone World.
“I’m excited about it. I get Stone World magazine every month and the best part is reading about other fabrication shops they get in there. That’s a big feather in our cap,” he said.
The Countertop Shop is located at 10406 Geiser Road, Holland. For more information, visit the web site www.countertopshop.net.
Toledo Free Press Senior Business Reporter Duane Ramsey contributed to this report.