LeVahn Bros. Plumbing and Hardware is a fixture in Maple Grove today. But you have to go back to 1923, when Warren G. Harding was president, to discover the origins of this local company that's celebrating 90 years in business in February.
At their retail shop in Maple Grove, LeVahn Bros. is the kind of place where you come to get answers. A fourth-generation family owned business, the hardware store has an old-school feel with aisles of tools and parts and employees that can answer questions about that doodad that you need to fix a leak or to install something.
"We try to stress the service and the expertise that we've got," said store manager Andy LeVahn. "People keep coming back because they know they can come in and get something and get out quickly and get the right thing the first time."
Andy LeVahn is the fourth generation of LeVahn's to run the business, but it was his great–grandfather, Art, and his two brothers who started LeVahn Bros. Plumbing in North Minneapolis back in 1923.
At the Maple Grove store, old black and white photographs adorn a wall depicting the early days of the business. Back then plumbers used a horse and buggy and later a Model T Ford to answer service calls, and a receipt from 1923 shows outfitting an entire house in Minneapolis with plumbing cost $68.14.
Today, the prices and the modes of transportation have changed, but LeVahn Bros is still a plumbing business. Andy's father, Loren LeVahn, the current business owner, added a hardware store to the business in 1994. The retail business brought the company to Maple Grove, and the plumbing/hardware store pairing has helped sustain the business.
"When the hardware store gets slow, the business in the plumbing seems to be a little bit better, so they can help each other out that way," said Andy LeVahn.
It's customers like Dennis Peterson of Maple Grove that help explain the company's true longevity though. Peterson is one of many loyal customers who frequent the shop on a regular basis.
"I'm sure I come in here at least once a month for something," said Peterson. "Some things I really need some help on, I come here cause they can help you more than the big stores can."
The roots of good customer service go back 90 years for LeVahn Bros., and the younger generation believes that's just as relevant today as in 1923.
"My great-grandfather started it in Minneapolis. They always try and put the customer first, and that's what we try and do also," said Andy LeVahn.
Alexandra Renslo reporting
Monday, January 28, 2013