Napa Valley Marketplace Magazine Business Review December 2006.
By Craig Smith
“It is your baby!”
Dale Carriker, owner of Harbison Appliance Service and Sales, Inc. at 333 Third Street (between Silverado Trail and the Expo) hears that comment often of late. “I’ve been in a restaurant, and had somebody I didn’t know mouth it to me from outside,” Dale says with a smile.
The comments are typical of the responses Dale and the “Harbison Players” get after a new TV ad hits the airways. In the latest ad, Dale holds a baby, looks at the camera and, with a furrowed brow exclaims, “This is not my baby!” The baby, for anyone who hasn’t seen the ad, is also looking at the camera – and it has Dale’s face.
The ad is typical of the cable TV ads Harbison has been running for the past twelve years. “We used to run straight ads without much flare. One day the producer from the ad agency called and said he wanted to do something different,” says Dale. “I asked him what he had in mind, and he wouldn’t tell me. He said if I knew, I might chicken out. I trusted him, so we just showed up and did what he told us to do.”
The resulting ads have featured Dale and staff as Beach Boy/surfer types, singing cowboys, and of course, the current ad. People love ‘em, especially the latest one. They work for Harbisons as they show Dale and the staff in funny situations while extolling the latest appliance or sale at Harbisons. The “actors” enjoy making the commercials and are now better know as the “Harbison Players”
The “Harbisons Team” has years of experience in sales and service. Each one of the staff has appeared in the TV ads to the delight and sometimes embarrassment of their families and friends.
Charlie and Thelma Harbison founded the store in 1957; they sold Harbisons to Dale and his partner Dan Brown in 1976. Prior to that time, Dale was an electrician while his partner Dan was in the wholesale appliance business. It seemed like the perfect hometown business to the two young entrepreneurs when they “took the leap” and bought Harbisons. For many happy customers and employees it has been the perfect decision.
Dan retired from Harbisons in January 2002 and is now involved in community service. Dale has been a member in Rotary Club of Napa for 13 years and believes that Rotary is one of the ways he is able to give back to the community.
“We have a lot of fun, but we are serious about our business,” says Dale. “We are an independent, but we compete successfully with any of the Big Box stores.”
Dale makes that claim with confidence. Harbison Appliance is part of “Brand Source,” a national group with over 100 dealers in Northern California alone. The buying power of the group allows Dale and his team to take advantage of discounted pricing that he passes along to his legion of customers in regular sales. In addition to great pricing, Harbisons has access to the key brands that people expect, such as GE, Maytag, Jenn-Air, Monogram, Bosch, Amana, Viking, U-Line, Best and Broan.
In addition to Dale, that staff includes George Webster (25 years), Mike Webster (18 years), Kris Roberts (8 years), Tim Molloy (6 years), Ed Conrad (5 years), Sharon Arm (5 years) and Linda Berlind (3 years). These people give Harbison Appliance strong customer service.
Dale also rates his staff as among the best in the industry. They have been together for so long because they have fun and enjoy working together. It makes for a relaxing and enjoyable environment in the store, which customers appreciate. Now that Harbisons has been in business for 30 years, their customers are referring their children and grandchildren to them for their appliance needs.
Dale plans to stay in the business and enjoy the “Harbison Players” TV ads for a “long time.”
“It is too much fun to think of doing anything else” says Dale.
Asked if he had anything else to add, Dale laughs again. “Yes, I need to mention our Year End Clearance Sale starts December 26th thru December 30th and say thank you to all our great customers.”
Harbison Appliance Service and Sales is open Tuesday through Saturday, 9 to 6, and can be reached at 253-2141.