High expectations have helped this family business thrive for 58 years
My first real job was working for my father. You may think that sounds like I was living on Easy Street since I was related to the boss. I was 12 and did everything at his appliance repair business — from changing motors on air conditioning window units and water coolers to taking out the trash. In the evenings I worked at a fast food joint. Which job was harder? The one that required me to work for Wayne Thompson, co-founder of C&W Appliance Service. My dad expected a lot from his staff – and his expectations were twice as high for my brother and me.
It’s probably not surprising to learn that I went my own way after graduation. I worked as an inspector for aircraft maintenance quality control companies for many years. In 1990, I returned to C&W Appliance Service and performed almost every job at the company. Then we became parts distributors for Dacor and the company began transitioning to high-end appliance repair. Revenue doubled and in 2001, my father promoted me to president and CEO. Today, C&W Appliance Service is one of the oldest family-owned and -operated appliance repair companies in Texas.
Father’s lessons transcend the appliance repair industry
Dad always had pithy motivational phrases. I never thought much about them at the time, but those “Wayne-isms” have guided me and helped build his company into the success it is today. I’d like to share a few of my favorites.
- “Do what you must.”
Owning a business means you are responsible 24/7. Let’s face it — the toughest problems end up on the owner’s desk — whether it’s talking to an unhappy customer or discussing personal hygiene with an employee. Dad always said you should do two things you don’t want to do each day to build character. That lesson has helped me keep on top of issues or projects that I might prefer to postpone.
- “Hard work never hurt anyone.”
My father instilled a strong work ethic and led by example. He worked hard and expected the same of us. I had to learn every aspect of the business before he handed over the reins to the company. That knowledge and experience allowed me to gain the trust of my staff, and I never have to ask someone to do something that I’m not willing to do.
- “Take care of your employees.”
Service is an important part of our name. We don’t sell appliances — we sell service. Our employees set us apart from the competition so we invest in ongoing training. Our team is like family. (In fact, my active 85-year-old Aunt Joycee works in our parts department!) If employees have a problem that is interfering with their job performance, then they can talk with us and we’ll try to support them with the resources we have.
- “Your reputation precedes you.”
It’s one of the most important values that my father instilled. Almost 99 percent of our business comes from referrals from clients, parts distributors and manufacturers. Our reputation has enabled us to become the only factory-certified premier partner for Sub-Zero and Wolf in Dallas, Fort Worth, San Antonio and now Austin. We can choose which manufacturers we want to represent. Our standing also holds value with vendors and bankers and helps us recruit top talent.
- “Do the right thing.”
This is so important that we put it on our website and reinforce it with our staff. Keep your word, even when challenged. Showing up on time, keeping appointments, and sending a technician across town to work for a customer who knows him are all important. Doing the right thing also means that we can’t claim that some repairs are warranty work if it isn’t true.
Can you ever retire from a family business?
My father repeats Donald Trump’s quote from his father: “To retire is to expire.” He comes to the office almost every day and helps wherever needed – from assisting in the parts department to answering phones on busy days. Dad takes his role as chairman of the board very seriously, but at least he now allows himself 20 to 30 hours a week to work out at the Cooper Aerobics Center to stay fit.
Wayne Thompson really amazes me. I’m proud to lead the company that he founded 58 years ago and I’m blessed to have a father who cared about building character in his sons.
A lot of fathers do dirty jobs around the house, like repairing and maintaining appliances. If you want to give your dad the gift of time, call (855) 358-1496 and have us tackle one of the projects on his list. Yes, I think my father would be pleased that I’m suggesting a sale before signing off.