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Susquehanna Life

Third-generation Growth Strategies in Local Business

Dec 18, 2015 01:19PM ● By Erica Shames

“Sunbury was a tremendous town,” said David Moyer. “The Pennsylvania and Reading railroads intersected in Sunbury, the trolley ran here, combined with the Susquehanna River and the logging industry—and it was right on the edge of the coal region. You’d see pictures of downtown packed with people. If you were in business, this was the town to be in. A lot has changed.”

Indeed. At one time, people shopped with the intention of keeping furniture for a long time—and people shopped locally. Furniture styles, country of origin and price points all have changed in the 80 years Benjamin T. Moyer Furniture has been in operation. David T. Moyer is the third generation to run the family business.

“I think we’ve transitioned well from generation to generation,” assessed Moyer. “Very few businesses make it to the third generation.” According to Forbes, 30 percent of all family-owned businesses survive into the second generation; only 12 percent survive into the third generation.

In fact, the foundation laid by the first and second generations is critical to the business’ success, Moyer believes. “I can’t imagine starting fresh now,” Moyer continued.  “It would be very difficult. The hard work of my grandfather and dad treating the customer right, and the way they did business, really has built that commitment to quality and customer satisfaction we’re known for.”

Brand name and track record of repeat business also are strengths. “We’ve been blessed to have 2nd and 3rd generations of families that buy from us because their grandparents bought from us,” said Moyer. “We’ll deliver furniture to New Jersey or Maryland because someone who is my parents’ age will tell their kids, ‘you’re buying good furniture, and come up to Moyer’s to get it.’”

Still, Moyer marvels at the number of people who still don’t know the store exists or have the perception that the store is small. In fact, Moyer’s is comprised of a 22,000-square foot showroom, and almost as much warehouse space. “Yesterday I had someone in the store who has lived in the area all their life and had no idea we were here! They were excited they found us. There’s even people who said they drove by the store and didn’t come in the first time because ‘it was so small.’”

Moyer also works hard to overcome another obstacle. “There’s this perception that people can’t come into our store because we’re too expensive,” he said. “I attend trade shows, and evaluate the products we buy, to make sure I have the right mix of different looks and the right quality at the price point. It’s got to be good quality. If it’s a great value at a great price, I’m going to buy it.”

Moyer sees the commercial side of the furniture business as a growth strategy for the future. “There seems to be a big void in the area—people who need furniture for their business or organization and they don’t know where to go except to click a button on a Web site. Then they don’t know what they’re getting. We give you the opportunity to see and touch it first before you buy. That’s a big growth area for us.”

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