In 1923, brothers Arthur, Earnie and Ed LeVahn purchased a business license from the city of Minneapolis for $10 to start their plumbing business, LeVahn Bros, on the northern edge of town. The brothers operated the business out of the original building for over 70 years, providing much of the plumbing contracting work as the north side of the city expanded. In the 1960s, Arthur’s son, Bob LeVahn, took over the business, adding more retail to the operation. Bob’s son, Loren LeVahn, took over the family business in the 1990s.
In 1995, Loren purchased Yes Hardware in the Minneapolis suburb of Maple Grove and moved the LeVahn Bros operation to the new retail front. He then partnered with their wholesaler, Hardware Hank, to offer hardware products in addition to their plumbing products and services. Current owner and fourth-generation family member, Andy LeVahn, says he is honored to have taken over the family business. He is proud of the business’s history and excited to celebrate 100 years in operation.
A Living Legacy
Andy LeVahn began working in his family’s hardware and plumbing business in 1995 during high school after his father purchased the hardware store and combined the two businesses into one.
“He didn’t push me to take over the store when I graduated high school, but he always made sure I knew it was a viable option for my future,” Andy says. “I said, ‘No thank you,’ and went off to college.”
At college, Andy continued to work in his family’s business part time during the school year and full time in the summer.
“I was an art major; I wanted to become an art teacher after graduation,” Andy says. “After I graduated college, I began working at the business full time while looking for other jobs but stayed with the store because it was something I knew and learned to love. I simply never left.”
Andy continued to work in his family’s business, slowly taking on more responsibilities as his father got older.
“Dad started to give me a bigger role as time went on, and I discovered that I really liked working in the store and helping customers solve problems,” Andy says “It was a natural progression for me to take over. Dad began taking a back seat and I transitioned into the store leader position.”
Even though Loren technically retired in 2018 and Andy became the operation’s owner, Loren still comes to the store from time to time and helps his son with accounting and behind-the-scenes work.
“Even though my father is retired, he is still active in the business,” says Andy. “He’s the kind of person who never stops moving, which has been tremendously helpful. He does a lot of the bookkeeping, which is a great help. I remember my grandfather doing the same thing when my father took over the business when I was young.”
Providing for the Community
Over the years, LeVahn Brothers has increased its community presence, from hanging banners at the local school stadiums to sponsoring little league baseball teams.
“For as long as we have been in this neighborhood, we have always given back to the community as a way of saying thank you for supporting our business,” Andy says.
As times have evolved and technology has changed, Andy has made it a priority to keep his operation involved with the community, and providing them with what they need, including bird seed, plumbing fixtures, plumbing repair parts and ice scrapers. This philosophy led him to invest in Pointy, an inventory tool that scans the barcodes of products and posts them to the store’s Pointy page. It shows customers what the store has in stock and, in turn, shows Andy what the customers are interested in purchasing.
“For local individuals searching for a specific product, our Pointy page comes up and shows we have the item in stock. This is a great advantage of the Pointy system as it only advertises to local customers searching for a specific item within a certain range of the store. I can keep up with stock by seeing how many I have of a certain product and what has been selling the most all through the Pointy system.”
Additionally, Andy is utilizing the Next Door App to share about his business and reach out to the local community.
“The Next Door App is like a digital word-of-mouth advertising platform,” Andy says.
The Next Door App is focused on keeping results local. For customers looking for plumbing services or hardware items on the app, the LeVahn Bros store shows up as a local trusted option with highly rated reviews from customers.
“I’ve had several customers come in recently saying they discovered our store through the Next Door App,” Andy says. “People find us because we have what they are looking for.”
A Year Long Celebration
Because LeVahn Brothers has been operating in the Minneapolis area for 100 years, Andy wanted to do something big to give back to the community that has continued to support his family’s business over the past century.
“Instead of doing a celebration weekend or day, we decided it would make more sense to try and capitalize as much as we could on our 100th anniversary,” Andy says. “We decided we are going to do a giveaway every month. If a customer spends over $10, they’re automatically eligible to enter a monthly drawing. Once we draw the name, the prize winner can come in and pick an item off of the prize shelf.”
Most community members haven’t realized LeVahn Bros is celebrating its 100th anniversary, so the giveaway has been great to spread the word, says Andy.
“It’s fun to explain to customers that we are celebrating our 100th anniversary and to see them get excited for us and enter into our monthly giveaways,” Andy says. “I couldn’t be more grateful for our community and will continue to give back time and time again.”