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LeVahn Brothers Employs Plumbers to Provide Services and Supplies

Over the last century, LeVahn Brothers has evolved from a plumbing contracting business into a full-service hardware store with a focus on plumbing repair items.

chris crowe
Owner Andrew LeVahn and store manager Chris Crowe keep up with the latest trends in plumbing repairs to better serve customers.

Andy LeVahn took over the business from his father in 2018 and is the fourth generation to own and operate the business. Hardware Retailing spoke with LeVahn, who shares how he has established his operation as the go-to place for plumbing projects with certified plumbers on staff and more than 50 feet of shelf space dedicated to plumbing repair products.

Plumbing Product Must-Dos: Learn three ways to improve your plumbing category at hardwareretailing.com/improve-plumbing.

Offer an Expansive Inventory
LeVahn sets his store apart by stocking nearly every plumbing repair product a DIYer or contractor could need.

“DIYers make up around 75% of our clientele. A lot of DIYers are referred to us from big-box stores because we have the niche repair products they need,” LeVahn says. “We have also seen an increase in the number of contractors coming to us because we have a wider range of plumbing repair items than our competitors, and they know we will have an item in stock.”

LeVahn allots 30 feet of shelf space to faucet repair products, including items such as cartridges, stones and handles. Toilet repair products are given 20 feet of selling space to accommodate the large selection of seats, lids, tubing, bases and handles.

levahn brothers has an extensive plumbing inventory
LeVahn Brothers has an extensive plumbing inventory to provide customers with all the repair items they need.

“We have a large plumbing parts department that is constantly expanding,” LeVahn says. “If a customer comes into the store looking for a part and we don’t have it, we research, place an order and add it to our offerings a few days later.”

To build the store’s inventory, LeVahn and his staff listen to what their customers want and need.

“Listening to customers and finding parts they need is only the first step to what we do,” LeVahn says. “We also help educate them on the different parts and offer our repair services to finish a job quickly and efficiently. More often than not, customers ask for our services to get a job done, and we are happy to make that happen.”

Professional Support
LeVahn Brothers employs three certified plumbers, who provide plumbing services for commercial and residential customers, including installations and repairs.

“If customers have questions, need a specialty item or want to learn more about plumbing, our business is the place to go,” LeVahn says. “Because we started as a plumbing business and expanded from there, we have the know-how and experience our customers need.”

Certified plumbers have always been a part of the staff since the start of the business in 1923. The current professional plumbers on staff have been with LeVahn Brothers for five to 15 years.

The operation employs a plumbing estimator, who meets with customers directly to discuss their projects or repairs and finds the best solution. The estimator also assigns jobs to the plumbers on staff.

Offering certified plumbing services through the store has expanded the category overall and established the business as a reliable source, LeVahn says.

“When customers come to our store for a project and it seems complicated or would be better tackled by a professional, we steer them toward our affordable and reliable services to get the job done right,” LeVahn says.

He is excited to see how the business grows over the next century.

“We’ve been here for 100 years and plan to be here for 100 more,” LeVahn says. “It’s our history and continued commitment to plumbing repair services and items that keeps us moving forward.”

Celebration of the Century: As LeVahn Brothers celebrates 100 years in business, see how the owner plans to continue its legacy of being a go-to spot for plumbing. Read more at hardwareretailing.com/100-levahn.

ABOUT THE RETAILER
In 1923, brothers Art, Ed and Oscar LeVahn purchased a business license from the city of Minneapolis for $10 to start their plumbing business, LeVahn Brothers Plumbing. Established on the northern edge of town, LeVahn Brothers contributed heavily to the expansion of the city during the early twentieth century. The brothers operated the business out of its original building for over 70 years, offering repair items in store in addition to employing certified plumbing service professionals. In the mid 1990s, the store’s third-generation owner, Loren LeVahn, purchased a local hardware store and moved the business to the Maple Grove suburb of Minneapolis, expanding from plumbing retail and services into a full-line hardware store with plumbing services. Current owner, Andy LeVahn, has continued to expand the plumbing repair segment that was the core of the original business, employing certified plumbers and growing product selection.

oscar ed and art levahn began
Brothers Oscar, Ed and Art LeVahn began their plumbing business in 1923, with horse drawn carriages pulling piping around northern Minneapolis.
loren levahn andrew levahn
Third-generation family member, Loren LeVahn (center), helped expand the store from a plumbing business into a hardware store with plumbing services in the 1990s, continuing the legacy his grandfather Art (left) and father Robert started before passing down the family business to his son and current store owner, Andrew LeVahn.


MAINTAINING YOUR PLUMBING INVENTORY
A tidy and well-maintained plumbing category keeps things simple and inviting for customers to shop, no matter how big or small the category is. Here are five strategies to make sure your plumbing category stands out.

1. Keep bins full.
If bins are low or empty, customers could take their business elsewhere because they perceive the store doesn’t have everything they need.

2. Keep bins organized.
Even with full bins, make sure they are filled with the correct product. It’s easy for customers to pick up a fitting in one bin and put it back in the wrong place.

3. Straighten bulk items.
Make it easy for customers to browse bulk items, which can easily become disorganized.

4. Remove damaged packages.
Another way to keep bins organized is to remove items with damaged packaging. If a package is torn, remove it from the display and clean up any messes.

5. Dust faucets and fixtures.
Keep faucets and fixtures dust free with daily cleanings to keep them looking shiny and inviting for customers.

For more merchandising best practices and resources to improve selling skills, visit YourNHPA.org/trainers-toolbox.

Let Technology Sink In: Learn how the plumbing category is evolving with technology at hardwareretailing.com/smart-plumbing.

ASKING PRECISE QUESTIONS
LeVahn Brothers employees ask customers a series of questions to be sure they understand a customer’s project and can guide customers to the correct product.

Here are some questions you can train your plumbing department staff to ask customers who are looking for plumbing repair items.

WHAT KIND OF PRODUCT ARE YOU LOOKING TO REPAIR?
LeVahn often helps DIYers looking for a replacement or repair part for a fixture they purchased at a big-box store.

WHERE DID YOU PURCHASE THE PRODUCT?
With an abundance of online retailers, knowing where the customer purchased the item helps staff members know which repair item will work best.

WHAT IS THE SCOPE OF THE PROJECT?
Because LeVahn Brothers employs three certified plumbers, asking customers about the scope of the project can determine whether hiring a plumber would ensure customers achieve the best results.

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